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High-flyer Willie on knight flight?

Byline: Murplys Law

HOW long before ''Wee'' Willie Walsh makes the leap to become a fully fledged member of the British establishment and lands himself a knighthood?

Once criticised for being too cosy with the Labour regime, the British Airways boss has now been spotted turning up at that bastion of Tory privilege - the Carlton Club in London.

With the Tories a strong bet to be in power in Britain next year - if Gordon Brown holds on that long - Willie is probably right to be switching horses.

He was accompanied to the party in the club, where most members have some title or other, by former Unionist MP David Burnside.

Burnside, currently a unionist MLA in Stormont, was the BA former PR man blamed for a particularly dirty campaign against rival airline boss Richard Branson.

Burnside, whose company New Century Media was hosting the summer party, told Willie BA was a strong company and not in need of any state bail-out.

It is a case of poacher turned gamekeeper for Willie, who was once a chief negotiator for the Irish Airline Pilots Association in his own flying days.

He later became Aer Lingus boss, and was criticised by Bertie after he pushed for a management buy-out. Then Taoiseach Bertie later described Walsh's offer of the Aer Lingus stock market float as a time "when management wanted to steal the assets for themselves through a management buyout, shafting staff interests."

So how long will it be though before his new friends recommend he joins the ranks of Ireland's other Knights of the Realm - Terry Wogan, Bob Geldof, Michael Smurfit, Tony O'Reilly?

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jun 28, 2009
Words:274
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