Public Relations

British Airways’ reputation nosedives amid strike action

By John Glenday | Reporter

September 9, 2019 | 3 min read

British Airways has seen its corporate reputation plummet to a four-year low after being beset by a perfect storm of IT failures, a data breach and 48-hour strike action by pilots.

BA pilots, today (9 September), have begun a two-day strike in an ongoing dispute over pay and conditions.

The run of bad news has battered the image of the flag carrier according to analysis by reputation intelligence specialists Alva, which found that its corporate image had slipped to a lowly 55th out of 65 companies in its Airlines Reputation Index.

British Airways

British Airways’ reputation nosedives amid data breach and strike action

This is the first time that the carrier has slumped to the lower quarter of the ranking and continues a precipitous trend that has seen BA fall from 31st spot as recently as January 2016, having been beset by at least one critical reputational risk every year since.

Alastair Pickering, chief strategy officer at alva, said: “Back in 2016, BA suffered a series of initial mini shocks to the company’s reputation caused by flight cancellations, drone strikes and lengthy delays caused by industrial action. Subsequent incidents resurrected the negative focus and an ‘echo effect’ was established in the media, where the brand was more exposed to future negativity through the referencing of former damaging issues.

The latest marketing news and insights straight to your inbox.

Get the best of The Drum by choosing from a series of great email briefings, whether that’s daily news, weekly recaps or deep dives into media or creativity.

Sign up

“Delays, cancellations, data breaches and IT glitches all point to systems failures at the company, which are all too easily linked back in stakeholders’ minds to the company’s internal focus on cost-cutting and efficiencies.

“But the situation is by no means terminal. Announcements like the planned £6.5bn investment programme aimed at revamping the passenger experience should help to address the growing customer cynicism.”

British Airways: The alva Reputation Case Study, is compiled from over 80,000 news sources and 100 social media platforms which form the basis of real-time analysis of millions of individual pieces of content each day carried out by a mix of AI, NLP technologies and human oversight.

The reputational hit follows an attempt by the airline to love bomb Britain in a centenary celebration.

Public Relations

More from Public Relations

View all


Industry insights

View all
Add your own content +