After Terminal 5, British Airways seeks new operations supremo

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The Independent Online

British Airways has hired headhunter Whitehead Mann to search for a chief operating officer to replace the two directors who lost their jobs after the Terminal 5 fiasco at Heathrow.

This is a new role created after chief executive Willie Walsh sacked Gareth Kirkwood, director of operations, and David Noyes, director of customer services, in April after T5's bungled opening.

Carol Leonard, head of Whitehead Mann's board practice, is leading the hunt for a heavy-weight industrialist who can combine operations with customer services. BA sources said the post was created to provide strong backing for Mr Walsh but denied the chief operating officer would be a potential successor. Mr Walsh is expected to stay for another five years, although some analysts believe he should have resigned over T5.

Meanwhile, Ferrovial, the Spanish owner of BAA, will inject £400m into its airports to stop its bonds being downgraded.

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