Every year, British Airways parent company, IAG, holds an investor day for the financial community to update it on what is happening. The 2017 event took place on Friday.
The 126 pages of slides from this are available to the public. It is less painful than sitting through the entire five hour conference call.
Here are a few highlights from the slides, which cover all of the IAG operations:
“BA is a premium brand for all customers”
Profitability, punctuality, lost baggage and aircraft availability metrics all improved
Additional £200m added to the (notional) ‘£400m invested in Club World’ (don’t read much into this, the number is padded by replacement capex, necessary capex – new planes need seats! – and the new Gatwick lounges which many believe the airport funded to persuade BA to move)
New Club World seat to be rolled out from 2019 (no mention if just on the new A350 fleet or more widely)
Boeing 747 fleet to be refurbished from 2018 but phased out by 2024 (this process appears to be accelerating from earlier timetables)
Additional seats to be added to the new Boeing 787 aircraft (how? – they were designed to be pretty dense in the first place)
Boeing 767 aircraft to leave the fleet in the short term
Rome added to the list of 2018 lounge refurbishments (plus JFK and Aberdeen)
New long-haul Economy catering from January 2018 with ‘improved quality’
Changes to be made to the way the short-haul buy-on-board service operates (fewer choices, implication a crew member from Club Europe will help out)
Self-service boarding to be extended to EU short-haul from the current domestic trial
Overall performance of the maintenance unit is, financially, still behind the market due to high costs
Iberia financial performance much improved in a difficult environment
Additional 9 seats added to Iberia’s A320 fleet
Vueling ‘recovering customer trust’ after mass cancellations in 2016
Vueling wants “smart, digital, young and value maximising customers” (!)
Low-cost long-haul flights bring in ‘80%-90%’ of the revenue of a full service airline with ‘10%-20%’ lower costs
LEVEL currently running at 90%+ load factors and is profitable
Potential for 15-30 LEVEL aircraft flying by 2022 (IAG has suggested it could use some of Monarch’s Gatwick slots)
Aer Lingus performing well
New A320NEO LR fleet will open up much of US Eastern seaboard for single-aisle long-haul operation
Avios and loyalty
There was virtually no mention of Avios Group in the presentation, apart from the following bullet points which are copied verbatim from the slides:
“New management team in progress
Avios launched with EI and VY programmes
Single group points bank by June 2018
Customer improvements planned for BA and IB programmes
Progressive introduction of Dynamic Pricing from 2018
Group loyalty review in progress”
The ‘single points bank’ project has been mooted for years and is already substantially behind schedule. The idea is that you will have one single Avios account, and all your activity from BA, Iberia, Aer Lingus etc will drop into it.
This will be more complex than the ‘Miles & More’ model, however, because there is not one single status / tier programme shared across the IAG airlines. It will also require the various Avios airlines to harmonise their redemption and earning partners. It’s not easy, which is why it is taking a long time.
‘Dynamic Pricing’ could mean anything. This could work in a positive way with, for example, extra availability being released on busy flights for people willing to pay a premium. Many airlines, eg Emirates, already do this. BA already does it in a small way, allowing Gold members to get a seat on any flight for double Avios.
The negative risk would be moving to something that gets you nearer to a ‘revenue based redemption’ model, with mileage more closely linked to the cash cost. This is a crazy model, however, and not even the major US airlines have dared try it in its purest form. You only need to look at the, ahem, success of Nectar in the UK to see how excited people get about a ‘revenue based redemption’ model.
I would also stress the benefits of SIMPLICITY, which dynamic pricing can mess up. Too many people I meet in the loyalty industry think that their members spend all day, every day, focused on their miles and points and are willing to understand complex schemes. I don’t believe that, which is partly why we only publish stories in the morning and why most of our readers pop in at 9am for 5 minutes and then get on with their jobs.
The decentralised nature of Avios Group (which doesn’t even operate from the BA offices, it is down in Sussex) makes me think that it will fight any attempt to make points less valuable.
The wildcard here is new CEO Drew Crawley, who I’ve not met yet and cannot measure. He was parachuted in, literally overnight, after Gavin Halliday resigned to run Etihad Guest.
If you want to learn more about any of this, there are 126 slides you can work through via the link in the first paragraph. Get yourself a very large cup of coffee first.
What you will come to realise, however flippant we may be occasionally about the way the BA is run, is that (obviously) there is far, far more going on than is ever apparent to those of us on the outside.
How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (February 2024)
As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Avios points from UK credit cards. Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses!
In February 2022, Barclaycard launched two exciting new Barclaycard Avios Mastercard cards with a bonus of up to 25,000 Avios. You can apply here.
You qualify for the bonus on these cards even if you have a British Airways American Express card:
There are two official British Airways American Express cards with attractive sign-up bonuses:
You can also get generous sign-up bonuses by applying for American Express cards which earn Membership Rewards points. These points convert at 1:1 into Avios.
Run your own business?
We recommend Capital On Tap for limited companies. You earn 1 Avios per £1 which is impressive for a Visa card, along with a sign-up bonus worth 10,500 Avios.
You should also consider the British Airways Accelerating Business credit card. This is open to sole traders as well as limited companies and has a 30,000 Avios sign-up bonus.
There are also generous bonuses on the two American Express Business cards, with the points converting at 1:1 into Avios. These cards are open to sole traders as well as limited companies.
Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Avios. This includes both personal and small business cards.