BA’s brand can only stand strikes for so long

Stephan Shakespeare
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WITH BA cabin crew once again voting to support industrial action, we’ve had a look at the impact that the strikes have had on public perceptions of the airline, now part of International Airlines Group (IAG).

Back in the autumn of 2009 BA had an impressions score in the high 20s. Then came the announcement of strikes over the Christmas period and by the turn of the year that score was -18.

Those strikes were declared illegal and did not happen, the BA score started to rebound and had reached 19 before a second ballot saw new strikes – which this time did go ahead – and the score dived again to 15.

Once again the rebound was swift, and interestingly unimpacted by the ash cloud stopping all air travel in the UK for days, but another strike a month later again saw perceptions quickly drop and then rebound to a high of 19 before the December snow completed a miserable year for BA.

So what does this pattern tell us? BA is a brand that is very susceptible to bad publicity and perceptions are badly hit by the strikes, but it is also a very resilient brand with a strong legacy and an ability to recover quickly.

The speed of recovery however has slowed with the most recent strike leading to questions about how many more times BA can drag itself out of the troughs it so frequently falls into.

The good news for our national airline is that the strikes are barely registering outside of this country with perceptions virtually unaltered in other countries such as the US and Germany.

Stephan Shakespeare is founder and chief executive of YouGov.