The chief executive of the company which owns British Airways says any decision by Britain to leave the European Union (so-called Brexit) would have no “material impact” on the business.
Britain will hold a national poll on 23 June 2016 to find whether its citizens favour staying in the EU or departing. Attitudes against the EU have hardened, focussing on the inability of the EU to control its borders, Britain’s opposition to many EU policies, the mass influx of migrants into the EU and consequent build-up of migrants in camps around Calais, plus the high level of immigration and how it is changing British society.
London as a city is now predominantly non-white, the percentage of white British living there having fallen over the past 40 years from 86% to just 45%. Some 600,000 people in Britain’s capital are there illegally and 57% of births are to migrant mothers. Not all of that relates to the EU but it serves to focus attention on the issue.
Willie Walsh, chief executive of International Airlines Group (IAG) which owns BA as well as Ireland’s Aer Lingus and Spain’s Iberia, says the possibility of Brexit is causing uncertainty in the market.
Walsh told the BBC Radio 4 Today program: “We have taken advice from a number of sources, we have looked at this internally, we have undertaken a risk analysis.
“Obviously there is uncertainty in the market which is weighing on people’s minds. But our view is should there be a vote we don’t believe it will have a material impact on our business.”
His comments came as IAG announced an operating profit before exceptional items of EUR 2.3 billion (AUD 3.5 billion) in 2015, an increase of 68% on the previous year’s figure.
Chief of rival airline Ryanair, Michael O’Leary, said recently he would campaign to keep Britain in the EU.
British Prime Minister David Cameron favours staying in the EU – the position taken by O’Leary – but popular Lord Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, favours leaving.
The campaign for Britain to leave the EU enjoys an eight-point lead when people’s likelihood to vote is taken into account, according to a poll for The Independent over the weekend.
Some 52% of people said they would vote to leave, with 48 per cent saying they would back remaining.
Written by Peter Needham