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Royal Mail hires new boss who triggered strike threat at Heathrow

Mr Thompson stepped down after just two years at the helm after facing disruptive strike action led by the Communication Workers Union (CWU) over pay and working conditions.

The former Apple and Ocado executive sought to modernise Royal Mail by refocusing its delivery business towards parcels, amid fierce competition from delivery rivals such as Amazon and Evri.

However, Mr Thompson, who received an annual salary of £750,000, was accused by union chiefs of trying to turn the Royal Mail into a gig economy employer.

Ms Gilthorpe will take over from interim boss Martin Seidenberg, who temporarily took on the role alongside his existing position as chief executive of IDS following Mr Thompson’s exit last year.

Ms Gilthorpe, who was appointed chief operating officer of Heathrow in 2020, is leaving after nearly 15 years at the UK’s biggest airport.

She was among the favourites to become the new chief executive of Heathrow last year, a position that was ultimately handed to Thomas Woldbye, the boss of Copenhagen Airports.

Ms Gilthorpe is currently a non-executive board member of the green travel body Jet Zero Council, a core part of the Government’s promise to achieve net zero aviation by 2050.

She previously sat on the board of US aircraft operating giant Signature Aviation, and held director roles at BT and broadband network Openreach.

Ms Gilthorpe said: “Royal Mail is a great British brand with a long and proud history.

“Now is the time to ensure it has a successful future too, working in partnership with our employees, customers and all our stakeholders to continue to modernise Royal Mail and deliver the high standards of service our customers rightly expect.”

Royal Mail has been lobbying the Government and regulators to scrap its legal requirement to deliver post six days a week. The company argues that the requirement has become a financial millstone as letter volumes decline.

Delivery volumes have fallen by more than 10 billion letters in the past two decades. Royal Mail has increased the price of all postage stamps twice in the past six months to try and offset some of the cost of maintaining its delivery network even as volumes tumble.

Regulator Ofcom called for a “national debate on [the] future of [the] UK’s postal service” in January as it set out a range of proposals for how to save money.

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