British Airways' ex-chairman Colin Marshall dies

AP News
Posted: Jul 11, 2012 9:54 AM

LONDON (AP) — Colin Marshall, who guided British Airways on its transition from state ownership to privatization, has died. He was 78.

His family said that Marshall died July 5 after a long illness.

Marshall had a range of business experience including executive positions with Hertz Corp., Avis Inc., Norton Simon and Sears Holdings before his appointment as chief executive of British Airways in 1983.

As chief executive, Marshall was credited with greatly improving the airline's passenger service.

"Customers take the basics for granted and increasingly want a company to desire to help them, to treat them in a personal caring way," he said. He devised a training for all employees called "Putting People First."

BA was transformed from a loss-making carrier, and Marshall was given a knighthood after the airline was privatized in 1987.

Marshall was appointed chairman in 1993 after John King stepped down over a fight with Virgin Atlantic, which claimed it was being smeared by BA. BA eventually apologized and paid damages.

Marshall retired as BA chairman in 2004.

He was appointed to the House of Lords in 1998, taking the title of Lord Marshall of Knightsbridge.

He is survived by his wife Janet and his daughter, Anna Birkett. A private cremation was planned, the family said.