Eddington to open inquest into BA debacle

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The Independent Online

Rod Eddington, the chief executive of British Airways, will tomorrow begin a review of last week's staff shortages at the national flag carrier that left thousands stranded and more than 100 flights cancelled.

Rod Eddington, the chief executive of British Airways, will tomorrow begin a review of last week's staff shortages at the national flag carrier that left thousands stranded and more than 100 flights cancelled.

The company's senior operational management, including Mike Street, director of customer services and operations, will be called to account for the failures, although the airline said yesterday that reports of high-level sackings were "pure speculation".

Mr Eddington said he would take "whatever action was necessary" to make sure the staff shortages were not repeated. Nevertheless, he is under growing pressure, having embarked on a strategy to cut 13,000 jobs from the airline to shore up its financial position. This has resulted in gaps in staffing levels at crucial times in areas such as check-in.

The strategy of shrinking BA to make it more profitable was begun by Bob Ayling, Mr Eddington's predecessor.

A spokeswoman said: "There was a higher than normal level of people who left their jobs earlier this year. We started recruiting to replace these people, unfortunately it took longer than anticipated. However, the first group will be starting this week after finishing their training, and final criminal record checks have been done."

BA is recruiting 200 people to fill up its check-in rosters. Mr Eddington spent the bank holiday weekend at Heathrow helping queuing passengers.

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