But British Airways has always had a resilient brand, with the public prepared to forgive and forget quickly. That allows it to recover from these dips quicker than most (one only has to look at the 2010 chart to see how quick the rebound was after the first two strikes for evidence of that: the decline was very steep but the recovery started almost instantaneously and was nearly as steep). In 2011, the PR crises of 2010 were avoided and that has allowed BA to continue its recovery – this time without the fallbacks, seeing a slow but steady rise from +17 to +26. The climb saw it overtake Qantas and Singapore Airlines early in 2011, move past Emirates in the late summer to take second place, and it is now closing in on Virgin Atlantic, which has seen a very slight decline through 2011 from +30 to +27.
If current trends continue and British Airways suffers no more setbacks then 2012 could well be the year where it regains its mantle as Britain’s favourite airline.
Stephan Shakespeare is the chief executive of YouGov