Letter: BA: competition policy, sympathetic staff, smoke

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Sir: I read David Lilley's letter within a few hours of my arrival this morning (15 January) on a British Airways flight from Bombay during which, incidentally, I read and applauded your leading article on the Virgin/British Airways issue.

Like Mr Lilley, I was trapped in India, first in Bombay, then in Calcutta and again in Bombay, due to the strike action of the pilots of Indian Airlines. If Mr Lilley is a regular reader of the Independent, I am surprised that he did not know of the troubles in Bombay before he left the UK. British Airways was ultimately responsible for all my air travel, too, from and within India over the past 10 days. But, unlike Mr Lilley, I found, without exception, the British Airways staff in Bombay and Calcutta to be efficient, sympathetic and, against all the odds, successful in their endeavours both to get me airborne and to accommodate me in relatively safe hotels in Bombay.

While I would agree with Mr Lilley that staying in Bombay over the past week was extremely nerve-wracking, he is perhaps not aware that fast and foolhardy driving is endemic in India. My experience of travelling by car in riot- torn Bombay was no more terrifying than in Calcutta or in the depths of the countryside. It seems it is acceptable policy everywhere in India that the driver who holds the centre of the road and who hoots loudest and longest prevails. For all my present appreciation of British Airways, I am nevertheless delighted that their similar policy towards Virgin was ineffective.

Yours faithfully,


London, W4

15 January