Rod Eddington, the new Australian chief executive of troubled British Airways, removed the velvet glove yesterday and axed the post of commercial director, incumbent Carl Michel (37), previously seen within the airline as the protégé and heir apparent to sacked former ceo Robert Ayling.

Industry observers, investors and BA staff alike have been waiting for Eddington to act and Michel’s departure was announced internally to staff on Tuesday. His job responsibilities - marketing alliances, subsidiaries, the cargo business and electronic commerce - will now he split among three less senior executives.

According to a BA mole, Michel’s head rolled not because the new ceo was critical of his performance but because he was anxious to impose his mark on BA’s management structure. But analysts opine that if Eddington plans other senior management changes he must act quickly before staff morale begins to suffer.

The general ambience of uncertainty that prevailed during Ayling’s reign did little for morale throughout the airline; this in turn contributed to what many frequent flyers saw as a general decline in the once highly regarded BA brand.

Meantime, Eddington is beginning to make his presence felt. Days before dispensing with Michel, he announced the sale of BA’s low-cost subsidiary carrier Go [WAMN: 7-Nov-00] and is shortly to unveil a reappraisal of BA's route network and major changes at its second London hub, Gatwick.

News source: Wall Street Journal