British Airways’ chief executive Alex Cruz pledged that the airline’s new HK$45bn (£4.5bn) investment programme would improve the flying experience for all customers.
Reaffirming British Airways as a premium airline committed to customer choice, he outlined the unprecedented competitive pressure the company faced and voiced his determination to create a stronger national carrier to benefit customers and remain at the forefront of world aviation.
Speaking at the World Travel Market in London, Cruz said his strategy at British Airways was designed to enable increased investment for customers and wider availability of affordable fares.
The HK$45bn (£4.5bn) investment over the next five years would include:
- 72 new aircraft, including four new types for the airline: the Airbus A350, the Boeing 787-10 and the neo (new engine option) variant of the Airbus A320 and 321;
- New interiors for 128 aircraft in the existing fleet;
- At-seat power for customers in all cabins;
- Upgraded catering for economy customers on long-haul;
- Roll-out of fast Wi-Fi in all cabins on short-haul and long-haul.
Stressing his desire to shape a “British Airways for everyone”, he said the airline would continue to offer more low fares, such as the current HK$300 (£30) one-way offer on a range of routes in the UK and Europe, so it could take on all types of airline competitor. And it would keep extending its route network to destinations customers wanted.
“We want to be the airline of choice for everyone. Every customer matters – short-haul or long-haul, economy or premium. So we must have an offer that is attractive to everyone,” he said.
To coincide with the speech, the airline announced a new route for next summer from Heathrow to Figari in Corsica. British Airways will be flying 264 routes next summer – a rise of 17% in two years.
He also highlighted HK$2bn (£200m) of additional investment in Club World cabins, following a HK$4bn (£400m) injection unveiled last year. He described customer feedback on recent improvements in catering and bedding as “fantastic” and identified New York JFK, Rome and Aberdeen for major lounge refurbishments in 2018.
Cruz told his audience that British Airways was facing “a combination of competitive forces more challenging than at any point in our history” with the growth of low-cost long haul airlines, the continuing expansion of low-cost short-haul, the premium offerings of the Gulf carriers and the financial revitalisation of US transatlantic operators.
“As a national flag carrier, we are not granted some special immunity from the way the industry has changed,” he said.
“Incumbency does not grant any privilege. We have no divine right to flourish, and we don’t ask for one.”
He added: “I am passionate about setting British Airways on the right path to deliver for our customers and fulfil our potential. If we continue to embrace change while staying true to our values, there is no limit to what we can achieve.”