Willie Walsh, the CEO of British Airways parent corporation IAG, describes the airline as catching up to competitors in the race to the bottom. Walsh appointed former low cost carrier Vueling head Alex Cruz to lead that charge at BA. And he tells investors that passengers need to:
BA led the way with basic economy fares (hand baggage only or HBO fares), reduced legroom in their own densification efforts (European business class has the same pitch as American’s new ‘no legroom’ coach product.
British Airways has gotten a lot of heat for eliminating meals in short haul economy, but they’ve eliminated drinks too. They charge for hot water even if you bring your own tea bag. If you want extra strong tea you have to buy a second tea bag. And they’re British.
Via Head for Points we now know the effect that BA’s changes have had on their reputation. YouGov has has released data on changing customer perceptions of British Airways.
No airline measured — not even United, with its massive PR problems over the last year — has fallen in perception of quality and value as much as British Airways.
Looking at value for money, the decline started earliest among those who fly with British Airways. The drop among BA customers’ perception in this area started in autumn 2016, shortly after the introduction of inflight food and drink charges for short-haul flights. But the general public’s view began to change notably in May 2017, at the time of the brand’s much-publicised IT problems.
This drop is across all segments of the British Airways business.
British Airways no longer has a positive net promoter score among its own customers. They obliterated their reputation very quickly. And data shows that customers have become more likely to leave British Airways for a low cost carrier. So rather than making BA more competitive, they’ve given up their competitive edge. There are lessons here for US airlines as well.