Saturday, April 26, 2008

The Independent, a large and well respected UK publication, published an article revealing "that derogatory remarks about race [at British Airways] are so common they are treated as normal."

This information was exposed by a current Brutish Airways pilot, Captain Doug Maughan, who decided "to go public with his complaints after struggling to persuade BA's management to take racism among its senior staff seriously. He has complained by email to BA's chief executive, Willie Walsh, but says no action was taken."
According to Captain Maughan, "[w]hat is common among white flying crew in BA is the use of mildly derogatory, sometimes jokey, language about other races, mainly aimed at black and Asian groups. Because it's so common, it's hard to tackle: it's ... the norm and rarely even noticed."

These revelations will certainly not surprise many. Nonetheless, I congratulate Captain Maughan for having the courage to tell the world the truth about the cultural attitude towards Black and Asian peoples at Brutish Airways. It is never easy to do the right thing, particularly in this case where Maughan had repeatedly complained to Brutish Airways officials and even received threatening emails for doing the right thing.

I must also commend The Independent for taking the time to focus on the inhumane and degrading treatment received by 136 Nigerians on the March 27th Brutish Airways flight. Many other publications in the U.K. and around the world have ignored this story, but thanks to the Independent's investigative work, and let's not forget The Daily Mirror (which covered the story first), Nigerians have a voice in demanding that all customers, regardless of their color or national heritage, be treated equally and respectfully.

Brutish Airways has seemingly not taken the threatened boycott and Nigerian demands for an apology seriously. The company, under its leader Willie Walsh, who I again say should be fired, has shown its disregard for Nigerians by ignoring summons to meet with Nigerian federal government officials. The company has also refused to properly address concerns raised by the boycott organizers. These actions, or rather non-actions, more than anything else, are a clear illustration of what Brutish Airways really is. I leave you to draw your own conclusions.

Hattip to Chxta for kindly sending me the link to this news story.

Further Reading:
- Nigerians, 'Brutish' Airways & Respect Pt. 1
- Nigerians, 'Brutish' Airways & Respect Pt 2
- Finally, Some Concrete Nigerian 'Action' on Brutish Airways & BASSA
- Hope Fades Away (Chxta)

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11 Curiosities. Add Yours.:

For the love of me said...

'In August 2005, the catering firm Gate Gourmet, which wanted redundancies among its full-time staff, brought in 130 temporary staff to handle the holiday workload. The firm's 600 staff went out on unofficial strike, and were sacked. About 1,000 BA staff walked out in sympathy.As a result, 900 flights were grounded and BA lost £45m.'

I followed the link to the independent, and the above caught my attention. Nigerians must learn to stand up for one another. For those who want to keep flying BA cos of little incoveniences like calling to cancel a booked flight, I hope we take a leaf from this.

Nine said...

Am I surprised?Not particularly,no.Given recent events,institutional racism does seem to be their thing.It doesn't help,though,that our government never does give the impression it cares.

Maybe this report will help by getting other,more proactive organizations involved.Either way,they've lost me as a customer.I'll fly KLM.

Beauty said...

My comments on this issue should come as no surprise for I am a jaded traveller that will only fly BA. But then, my trips are mainly within the EU where the rule of law works better than in most places. Racism and tribalism are one of the same. The same people that will call my wife "that white woman" in Africa have their like minded others that point at me and label me "that black man". My point is, "Those that live in glass houses should not throw stones".

The casual racism label is not representative of BA.com as a company. It is mostly staffed by nice, lovely and dedicated people from my experience. Any short fall in services is promptly resolved and there is a simple complaints procedure. The pie is in the numbers of people that use it for the quality of service.

BA.com is a business that serves people and it is this quality of service and gratitude that has prompted my comments. To hurt the whole company just because of a few bad eggs is unfair. Bad press may hurt its share price (a lot of people's pensions) but as it is not as bad as a lot of people painted it, the company will come back fighting. Oh please, do not involve the inept Federal Government of Nigeria.

Anonymous said...

LOL.... Nigeria and this British Airways stuff. Well, KLM anytime for sure ...

guerreiranigeriana said...

hat tip to chxta too...*tips her hat*...

...i think the government should step it up...na by force that nigerians will boycott ba if ba can't fly into nigeria at all...

...but, and maybe i should do my own research...but are there any african operated airlines that fly from abroad into naija and vice versa?...i would much rather support their airlines than any european ones...this is what we are hearing for the brutish, or british, whatever....can't imagine that the italians, dutch, germans, etc are that much different...(and as much as that sounds like a generalization, i'm just being realistic)...or what would it take for nigeria or even ghana to start an airline?...purchase some quality new planes and start small, until they are sure of demand and then grow from there?...

...@beauty...i would agree with you except that this pilot has written to complain and there has been no action...if the company was soooo splendid, it would have quickly responded to quell any racism expressed by its staff, as it tarnishes the company's image...furthermore, the way they are responding to nigerians' outrage clearly shows they don't give a hot f*ck...so, neither should we...if the employees of ba care so much and are worried, they should prompt their senior management into action or strike...all this chicken shit, cowardly inaction is for the birds and why the status quo remains the same...no more weak excuses...either buck up or shut up...if you choose to keep flying ba, that's your choice...i pray such an incident never happens to you...if it does, i hope others won't have the 'blah' attitude you have and leave you to protest on your own...

TheAfroBeat said...

@ Guerri, there's Virgin Nigeria (owned 51% by Nigerian institutional investors and 49% by Virgin Atlantic), Kenya Airways, South African Airways and others i'm sure which fly out of Lagos daily. We certainly need more, but in the meantime, we've got alternatives to BA for the purposes of a boycott. The truth is the aggregate demand for flights in/out of Lagos is much greater than the supply, hence why all the major Lagos-London carriers (BA, VA, VN) are constantly full. Most Nigerians are hassled by European embassies/consulates when they attempt to apply for Schengen visas, so alternative (not much better) airlines are not very attractive for those who can't deal with trying to get a schengen transit visa.

@ Beauty, it's a shame pensions have to be affected when the few racist managers at BA are called out by the media, but if the shareholders care as much about their stake in the company as I suspect they do (hell, my parents own BA shares so i'm speaking for them to), they'll vote for new management at the next shareholder meeting; and they'll push for a new CEO who enforces their customer service policy equally across nations.

Thanks for keeping the heat up on the Brutes!

Beauty said...

"The fault, dear Brutus, lies not in our stars but in ourselves." Julius Caesar. That is all I could reply @guerreiranigeriana that seemed to think descending into the backwater jungle of strikes and retaliation will get a resolution to a business problem. A lot of airlines that did not recognise that they were in the customer service business have gone burst, Ngn Airways Inc. The magic at BA's main rival is simply "M.75 Entertainment at 35,000 feet". BA had better return fire by ensuring that it is seen as a customer success plc. So you see, being part of this debate showed that one cared.

@TheAfroBeat, I don't think fund managers will run from BA but a good way forward will be for shareholders to register their protest. A softly softly approach is better than the hot heads wanting an ugly war. Before you go to war, make sure that you will win!

Institutionalised racism exist but the courage to go forth in order to get a result that will make life better for others is the holy grail. After all the pilot is BA staff.

Atutupoyoyo said...

Atutu don his robes as the devil's advocate:

M'lud the manner in which we have received such "brutish" abuse has been nothing short of disgraceful. The efforts we have made to repond have been formidable - but ultimately doomed to failure.

All rebellion without a clearly defined cause merely foreshadows disappointment.

What do we seek from BA exactly? Apolgies? Directed to whom exactly? Compensation? Unprecedented price slashes? Courteous staff? Better quality of plane food? Or are we prepared to hold this grudge for life? In short, what is our cause? Not our reason, that much is clear - there has been a grave injustice, no what is our cause?

As pessimistic of the long term chances of this boycott (5 very vociferous protesters I know have used them in the past two weeks alone) as I am I cannot help but admire the ability of Nigerians to rally around a cause no matter how fruitless. I hope it is a portent of greater unity particularly for this our generation.

The reason for my pessimism? BA will not get hurt. In the unlikely event of a serious threat to their annual profits, they will slash prices to Lagos and Abuja. You will not be able to see for the dust raised by the stampede of people rushing to buy tickets. It is marketing 101. They will do this for a few months and the prices will go up again. We will continue to be treated poorly primarily because we will continue to act poorly. Why would we reasonably expect a plane to wait for us whilst we shed the excess 80 kilos we have squeezed into our luggage? Why would we spend wasted minutes begging, bribing and cajoling the check-in assistants to allow us to carry three pieces of hand luggage thereby wasting valuable time in an industry that is heavily time sensitive?

Let us boycott BA by all means but let us search ourselves as well. Let us use this period of unity and general discussion to question what part we can play as perfect passengers ( and yes there is such a thing). Which airline is devoid of its bullshit? Let us use these forums as a means to avoid the day that we are in the position where we have to boycott BA, KLM, Virgin and Lufthansa.

The fault, dear "Brutish" lies not in our air carriers but in ourselves......


@ Atutu: good points made. I am in agreement with most of them. Now, if you ever have time, read Part 1 & 2 of my reaction to this Brutish Airways incident. I threw out some ideas that the petition organizers could use to transform the passions of Nigerians on this matter into something extraordinarily positive.

If you were aware of my Nigerian Proclamation project from May of 2007, then you know I am big on taking a stance whether or not concrete, direct gain will result. I believe in making a statement however i can and that might not always get the attention of the Big Boys, but it will educate the small number of people that see it, regardless of whether they agree with me or not.

Thus, even if petition and boycott prove to be a failure, I will still feel good at the end of the day because I did what I believed in to be right. I can only hope that by taking a stance, I will encourage my 3 young children to stand on the side of what is right and not be afraid to disagree when their spirit moves them.

As such, I will continue to support the boycott and encourage the Brutes to apologize to Mr. Omotade and create a racial sensitivity program, if they haven't figured out they need one already. If they can afford to slash ticket prices in this economic climate and choose to do so to weaken the resolve of Nigerians and others that are fed up with their disrespect, then good for them and more grease to their elbow.

It was good to see you around these parts, Uncle Atutu...

@ everyone: thanks for your insightful comments. They are definitely respected no matter what side of the debate you fall on. Your opinions definitely help me think through the issues a lot harder.

God bless!

Anonymous said...

He complained to Willie Walsh? The same guy responsible for the whole Heathrow T5 Debacle? Sheeoh!! Well, this matter is not going to die down..

The book is really good, dude.. highly recommended.

Anonymous said...

British Airways is currently going through a crisis. Why aren't able to organize a boycott the Nigerians, for the first week in each month. Is this is done on mass, it will draw BA's attention to the unrest and racism will be addressed. I note that the last time Nigerian boycott BA it cost by 50 million and the check in staff were re-trained.

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