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British Airways is big loser as public stay grounded

British Airways is big loser as public stay grounded

Nearly half the British public have vowed to fly less in the coming year to help the environment, according to a new survey that will alarm airlines struggling with record fuel prices and the fallout from the credit crunch.

An exclusive poll for The Times shows that 46 per cent of consumers have pledged to cut air travel while 23per cent will fly only with those airlines that have a clear green strategy.

More than three quarters - 81 per cent - feel that airlines still are not doing enough to tackle social and environmental issues.

The survey also reflects the strength of anger towards British Airways over the Terminal 5 debacle, in which hundreds of flights were cancelled and which forced an apology from Willie Walsh, the BA chief executive.

Nearly two thirds of the public believe that Mr Walsh should have resigned and 57 per cent say that they are unlikely to fly with BA again.

More than 80 per cent believe that the chaos at Terminal 5 has damaged the reputation of British industry.

Giles Gibbons, the founder of Good Business, said: “The fact that over half say they are unlikely to fly BA in the future as a result is very striking. If even a fraction act on this intention, it will have a real and sustained impact on BA into the future.”

The survey comes amid growing concerns about airlines' financial health given spiralling fuel costs and the marked downturn in consumer spending.

Both easyJet and Ryanair have given warning this year that profits will miss City expectations and analysts fear that BA will follow suit over the coming months.

BA raised its fuel surcharge yesterday to £79 for a one-way, long-haul journey to cope with the bigger fuel bill.

The public's perception of the efforts made by airlines to address environmental concerns is slipping, with each carrier's rating down on a year ago.

Virgin Atlantic remains the airline with the best reputation for tackling environmental issues after Sir Richard Branson's high-profile “green” campaigns of the past two years.

He has vowed to dedicate all the profits from his transport businesses over the next decade to developing alternative fuel sources.

In February, Virgin flew a Boeing 747 with one engine powered by biofuel.

Ryanair comes bottom, while easyJet, its low-cost rival, is judged fourth, below BMI and BA.

Last year easyJet called for all aircraft operating since 1990 to be grounded by 2012 to reduce carbon emissions.

Andy Harrison, chief executive of easyJet, also unveiled a design for a new “eco-plane”, insisting that it was capable of cutting CO2 emissions in half by 2015.

Mr Gibbons said: “Virgin maintains the clear advantage over everyone else. It came to the issue before everyone else did and started taking action.”

The survey, carried out by Populus, shows that the idea of carbon off-setting has yet to take off, with 41 per cent still unsure about what the term means.

Approximately half do not know what projects they are funding when they do offset.

— McDonald’s publicity blitz over healthier food and better working conditions appears to be winning over the public. The burger chain has achieved its highest rating in the index that measures people’s attitudes towards some of Britain’s biggest brands — 39. This means that the majority of consumers still avoid it, but the rating is up ten points on a year ago.


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