WDC campaigners at the IAG AGM
WDC campaigners at the IAG AGM

Rob Lott's question to the IAG board

I would like to thank the Board for allowing me the opportunity to ask a question here today. Given the on-going poor financial performance of SeaWorld Entertainments Inc., does the Board still feel it is an appropriate company with which to do business?

British Airways continues to sell tickets to SeaWorld parks which currently operate facilities in Florida, Texas and California in spite of serious - and very public - safety and welfare concerns.

Since the death of one of its orca trainers, Dawn Brancheau, in 2010 and the subsequent BAFTA-nominated film, Blackfish, documenting this tragedy the value of SeaWorld stock has plummeted from a high of US$39 in May 2013 to $20.50 today.

2014 attendance figures in the company’s parks show a similar dramatic drop. SeaWorld California is down 12% and SeaWorld Florida is down 8%.

High profile musicians such as Willie Nelson, Heart, REO Speedwagon and Bare Naked Ladies have all cancelled their appearances at SeaWorld over their treatment of orcas.

In December 2014 Jim Atchison, SeaWorld’s CEO stepped down after the share price fell to $15 as profits slumped 28% percent to $87.2 million from $120.7 million a year earlier.

Several class action lawsuits against the company are currently in play in Florida and California.  In San Diego, the suit alleges SeaWorld violates two California advertising laws by profiting from false statements that “are misleading to reasonable consumers.”

Last month SeaWorld’s CFO, James Heaney, resigned.

One state lawmaker in California has introduced a bill that would ban live whale shows and force SeaWorld to relocate its whales to a larger pen.

The company is now on a $50 million cost cutting exercise and has laid off an estimated 300 staff.

British Airways is the UK’s national airline and reflects national values in so many of its programmes. The last dolphinarium closed its doors over 20 years ago in the UK and there is neither political will nor public desire for them to reopen.

SeaWorld's corporate partnerships continue to  suffer. Virgin America, Alaska Air and Southwest Airlines have all pared back sales and marketing deals with the theme park.

We respectfully ask IAG to do the same and to seriously consider British Airways’ future relationship with this outdated and failing organisation.