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What Alex Cruz had to say at World Travel Market yesterday

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World Travel Market, the UK’s biggest trade show of any sort, runs at Excel in East London between Monday and Wednesday this week.  Monday is restricted to the media and key buyers and is when the real business gets done.

British Airways Chairman and CEO Alex Cruz gave a speech and did a Q&A yesterday afternoon.  It was one of his first major appearances since taking on the job.  He made some big announcements but they were things that regular HFP readers will already know, many of which were initially flagged in the Investor Day presentation on Friday which I covered here.

The following bullet points, however, were of interest.  Some of the following information is new and the rest has not been widely discussed:

Alex Cruz World Travel Market

British Airways is about to announce a new Summer 2018 route to Figari in Corsica.  This has not yet been formally announced and is not yet bookable.  (EDIT: 10am Tuesday, it is now announced and should be bookable.) If you fancy booking Avios flights there for next Summer, get your diary out and start planning.  The official announcement, which will coincide with seats becoming bookable, should happen in the next few days.

Club Europe catering is to be completely redesigned and relaunched in late 2018.  This appears to be an admission – which I totally agree with – that the recent changes were not done properly, at least on shorter routes.  I admit that feedback on the food on longer short-haul flights is much improved.

Economy passengers with status (probably just Gold) or travelling on fully flexible short haul tickets should get ‘special treatment’ in flight when it comes to catering.  There is not a cast iron guarantee that this will happen, or what form it will take, but Cruz understands it is an issue.

An admission that adding Club Europe to domestic flights was done to protect long-haul Club World revenue.

A full second meal to be re-introduced in Economy on long haul routes.  ‘Wrong decisions’ had been taken on long-haul Economy catering in the past.

Alex Cruz World Travel Market

Cruz is keen to add more US destinations to the network.

The number of routes with First Class will be progressively reduced but it is definitely staying.

In terms of Avios, he has noted what the US carriers have done in terms of revenue-based earning but does not feel that this exact model is what he wants.  He is keen for Avios to massively increase the numbers of places where you can collect points.  There was also an implication that the ‘dynamic pricing’ discussed last week will relate to last minute bookings, or possibly the Etihad model where you can book any seat on any plane if you are willing to use enough points.  (Of course, extending ‘part pay with Avios’ so it is uncapped would achieve this very easily without causing much disruption.)

So, food for thought.

PS.  This article would usually end here.  However, there is an interesting coda.  Alex Cruz and I travelled back to West London together last night.  It wasn’t planned, but we ended up standing next to each other on the tube from Canning Town to Westminster, where we both changed onto a District Line before I jumped out at Sloane Square.  No chauffeur car or entourage for Alex, to give him credit.

I am not going to talk about what we discussed because it would be unprofessional, but I took the opportunity to stress a few of my key tenets about how loyalty schemes work and what can go wrong.  As always, once you’ve spent some time with someone you see them in a different light and I did find him a thoughtful and surprisingly down to earth character.


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Comments (85)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Mikeact says:

    Food for thought indeed.

  • Sam Wardill says:

    The economy food thing is interesting. To be honest, all he needs to do is what Qatar does which is ask Gold / Full Fare for meal choices when greeting them. This makes the CSD greeting more meaningful. Of course a proper upgrade offering (like Qatar) would also be appreciated. Also the upstairs economy cabin is nice on Qatar A380 and seat free where possible too. I certainly appreciated my Qatar Platinum on my recent Economy trip to Sydney (outward I got all the benefits listed above and my return was upgraded all the way – happy days).

  • JamesB says:

    Sounds like Mr Cruz got BA so close to the cliff edge, he peered over and did not like what he saw. Hopefully cuts have come to a hault now that many seem to be being reversed.

  • TripRep says:

    Wow chance meeting indeed, nice to hear your own personal thoughts on Alex, I guess its very easy for us to be critical on poor customer service and a weaker product without knowing the inner workings of BA. Clearly he wants his efforts to be successful, however misguided. That said, if he knows his staff repeatedly & deliberately mislead pax, then that is never excusable.

    • JamesB says:

      I doubt it was chance, would we not normally expect Rob to be in Uber way out East? Investigative journalism?

      • Peter K says:

        Rob has quite often gone on the tube in previous articles so it could be chance, but who knows. If you had the opportunity to speak in person to someone that could really make a difference you’d put effort in to do it as would I.

        • Rob says:

          Nah, Jubilee Line is by far the quickest way across London. Forget the car.

  • JK says:

    Did you ask him why he agreed to wear that silly hi-viz vest on TV?

  • Daniel says:

    Interesting, I had special treatment on a recent LUX to LHR flight in Y. Was offered anything, just took a bottle of water though. I saw a few people ask for champagne. Left it until 10 minutes before landing though so a bit late really…..

  • Talay says:

    So you had Cruz at your mercy and he escaped your clutches ?

    He should be thanking his lucky stars that it was not some disgruntled individual shunted off their Amex 241 flight at the last minute to make way for someone “more important”.

    Also, headlines this morning could be so vastly different if perhaps he had been stuck in a Tube strike, left bewildered and alone, devoid of accurate information, through some computer glitch perhaps and with only a poor apology as compensation.

    He would have felt right at home !

  • Yuff says:

    I flew CE to Mallorca, last week, and was called by my surname, every time, I was served which I thought was quite impressive. I have thought the food, in CE, has been pretty good on the flights I have taken this year.
    What wasn’t impressive was not having my first choice, on an F flight to Dubai, 2 weeks ago on a 787. 8 seats and 2 meals, of my choice loaded, the 2nd choice was very pleasant and the service was excellent…. although my wife always feels the stewardesses aren’t as pleasant to her.
    I’ve also flown Ryanair, twice in the last week, and the only good thing about them is the cost and I’m not sure that’s enough to keep me flying with Ryanair, although one of the flights was a ridiculous 4.99 for each of us 🙂

    • Mike says:

      Stewardesses ? So 60’s 70’s, it’s cabin crew

      • siwife says:

        …or Flight Attendant when singular….

      • Yuff says:

        Actually I should have used the word Stewardess, as it should have been singular, and easier than typing female flight attendant, which really is a bit of a mouthful 🙂

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