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Chief Executive’s review

Willie Walsh, Chief Executive

We must and will take tough action this year to ensure we come through. However, mixed with the challenges we see opportunities ahead.

It is hard to exaggerate the severity of the current economic conditions.

During the year the credit crisis spread quickly from the US to the rest of the world provoking a global downturn that has left no single region and very few business sectors untouched.

Added to that, we saw the value of sterling plunge; a collapse in consumer confidence; the continuing suffocation of credit markets; record oil prices; and a rout among the businesses that are among our most important customers, most particularly financial services.

Airlines across the world are being battered by this storm. We have seen some 35 carriers go out of business or forced into rushed mergers.

Despite some fantastic progress in our business, our profits went into reverse falling to a pre-tax loss of £401 million.

Meanwhile, competition remains fierce, particularly at Heathrow and on important transatlantic routes. The need to deliver world-leading customer service and operational performance, to invest boldly and meet stringent environmental standards are, if anything, more acute than ever before.

But we went into this recession financially strong and we are absolutely convinced that we have the team, the talent, the short-term strategy and the long-term vision to overcome the current challenges and emerge as a better, leaner, more sustainable business.

We must and will take tough action this year to ensure we come through. However, mixed with the challenges we see opportunity ahead.

“At Terminal 5 some 82.5 per cent of flights departed within 15 minutes of their scheduled time and we also achieved 99.5 per cent regularity.”

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