British Air Sure Isn't Coasting

A radical plan could make it an even more formidable competitor

On Sept. 18, some 300 senior managers from British Airways PLC assembled for a crucial powwow at the Ramada Hotel just off the busy runways of London's Heathrow Airport. Although BA led the world's airlines in profits last year, the message they heard from CEO Robert Ayling was anything but complacent. "We must do better because our competitors have caught up, and we are slipping back to the middle of the pack," he warned. Then Ayling dropped a bombshell: BA will be asking for 5,000 volunteers to leave the company over the next 18 months.

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