In the previous "Another 80 Gays" : Czech publisher 46) Markéta Navratilova (b.1975) is a member of the Prague Pride committee with 47) Czeslaw Walek (b.1975) who ran for election in Prague, as did 48) Václav Fischer (b.1954), the first openly gay Czech politician who was also an airline boss with links to Lufthansa, as was 49) Sir Michael Bishop, Baron Glendonbrook (b.1942).
49) Michael, Lord Glendobrook was Chairman of the airline BMI
(British Midland International). As with 48)
Václav Fischer’s Fischer Air in the Czech Republic, BMI was one of the
leading airlines in the UK.
Lord Glendonbrook joined
Mercury Airlines in 1963 and was its ground handling manager when it was taken over
by British Midland Airways (BMA) in 1964. In 1969 he became BMA’s general
manager. Under his leadership the airline grew and expanded its markets in
Europe. When BMA’s parent company decided to sell the airline Lord Glendonbrook
led a management buy-out with money from an American entrepreneur and he became
the company chairman. By the 1990s BMA was the biggest independent airline in
the UK. In 1991 he was knighted. Lord Glendonbrook had also expanded his own
interests and had become chair of Channel 4 television in 1993.
In 2001 BMA became BMI.
Lord Glendonbrook had the majority share stake in BMI and in 2008 sold it to
Lufthansa who already had 30% shares. In 2009 Lufthansa assumed full control of
BMI. In 2011 Lord Glendonbrook was created a life peer, a non-hereditary title,
and Lufthansa continued to own BMI until 2012.
Lufthansa has been one of
the leading airline companies to employ and market to the lgbt community. In
2002 they launched their GaySummer campaign, formed with the advice and support
from various leading lgbt venues in Germany, USA and UK.
To handle the sell-off of
BMI Lufthansa turned to its highest-ranking lgbt executive, the Senior Vice
President of Network, Fleet and Airport Relations, 50) Sadiq Gillani. He joined the company as Chief Strategy
Officer in 2011 when Lufthansa announced it would sell-off BMI. Sadiq was one
of a group of specialists brought in by the CEO of Lufthansa. Most of them,
like Sadiq, were non-German and traditionalists inside and outside the company
expressed concerns over the direction the company would take. Sadiq had the
trust of the CEO from the start and over the next few years he was named as one
of the top international executives.
Sadiq Gillani has appeared
on the Financial Times list of the Top 100 OUTstanding (lgbt) Business Leaders
in 2014 and 2015, and in their 2015 list of Top 100 Ethnic Minority Business
Sadiq’s experiences in the
airline industry goes back to 2006 when he joined Skybus and became its Vice
President of Network Planning. At the same time he was Senior Vice President of
the Seabury Group, an aviation consultancy.
Between them 48) Václav Fischer (b.1954), 49) Sir Michael Bishop, Baron
Glendonbrook (b.1942) and 50)
Sadiq Gillani can take us “Around the World in Just 3 Gays”. Their
airlines have taken passengers to virtually every country on the planet. To
continue our particular journey today, however, we’ll visit a city well-known
to Sadiq Gillani – Rio de Janeiro.
In 2010 Sadiq became
Executive Director and Chief Commercial Officer for WebJet Linhas Aéreas, a
domestic airline in Brazil based in Rio. He transformed the company into the
most profitable airline in the country. I may be only guessing, because I
haven’t looked that deeply into the matter, but it may have been Sadiq’s
successes with WebJet that caught the attention of Lufthansa. He left Webjet in
2011 to go directly to them. This was the same year (as well as announcing the
BMI sale) that Lufthansa announced that it was going to restart its direct non-stop
flights to Brazil, using Rio as the main final destination.
Lufthansa’s reasons for
restarting the flight was influenced by two events – the 2014 World Cup and the
2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games, both of which were held in Brazil. Rio was
seen as the key to the Brazilian market and many European companies also saw
this as an opportunity for expansion and investment.
As a partner of the German
Olympic Sports Association and official airline of the German Olympic and
Paralympic teams Lufthansa took the entire team, with its coaches, officials,
equipment and media teams down to Rio in 2016.
Germany’s lgbt 2016
Olympians included footballer Isabel Kerschowski, discus thrower Nadine Müller,
pole vaulter Martina Strutz, and beach volleyball player Kira Walkenhorst. No
doubt Sadiq Gillani would have been involved in the arrangements to get them
there. Flying over the city the teams from around the world would have had a
spectacular aerial view of most of the sporting venues. Some, like the marathon
runners, cyclists and race walkers, would have seen their race routes through
In their races the
cyclists and marathon runners went through the picturesque Flamengo Park, the
biggest public park in Rio. Lgbt Paralympic cyclists Allison Jones (USA) and
Megan Giglia (GB) competed in both the individual time trial and the road race
in Flamengo Park. The Park has been the venue for many marathons, cycling
events and race walks over the years (though Olympic race walk was held
elsewhere during Rio 2016).
I’ve mentioned quite a few
lgbt athletes, but to continue our 80 Gays journey we’re going to stay in
Flamengo Park because it was designed by an lgbt landscape designer, 51) Lota de Macedo Soares (1910-1967).
time : We run through
the park and pick up a Pulitzer prize before putting on our laurels.