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Colin Marshall

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Colin Marshall (Photo by Peter Jordan//Time Life Pictures/Getty Images)
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 Marshal 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.

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

He was appointed chairman of BA in 1993, and retired in 2004.

He is survived by his wife Janet and his daughter, Anna Birkett.

The family said a private cremation was planned.

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