There was an interesting interview in the Mail on Sunday yesterday with British Airways CEO Alex Cruz.
It was billed as his ‘first major interview’. Unfortunately, you can tell that the Mail had to agree to write a soft puff piece in order to get the story written.
(The irony is that the Mail is no longer available in British Airways lounges or at plane doors. But who knows if it will reappear next week?)
For me, the red flags started waving when the newspaper writes (and this is not a quote from Cruz, this was written directly by Ruth Sunderland) – “engineers in Cardiff are retro-fitting 128 long-haul planes in the existing fleet with new interiors”.
Did she mean the 130ish strong short-haul fleet? In which case, she purposely failed to mention that a toilet is disappearing, that the other toilet will be rammed into the back wall and reduced in width and that three extra rows of seats are being squeezed in, with all seats beyond row 12 having no recline. Or did she really mean the 130ish strong long-haul fleet, which is not having any sort of new interior?
Other red flags include news of “fast” wi-fi and “big” snacks for economy passengers. I’m also not totally convinced that the biggest “PR blow” in the last year was when Nicola Benedetti got a bit grumpy because BA refused to take her violin in the cabin because she hadn’t bought an extra seat. I’m sure we’re all relieved that Cruz “says the row has now been smoothed over”.
The more cynical among you may have got suspicious by the first paragraph when the reporter arrives – by total coincidence – at the same time as Cruz is doing a shift ‘on the ramp’ at Heathrow, helping to dispatch a plane. At least that hi-viz vest would have come in handy at last.
The only tough question comes over BA’s market position:
“We will continue to be a premium airline for the rest of our lives, there is no way around it” he says. How does scrapping the free food on short haul fit with that? “Whatever we do, BA will always have a premium edge to it.”
There is one new fact revealed, however. It seems that the new Club World cabin will have fewer seats. This was not an inevitable consequence of having new ‘all aisle access’ seats and products such as the Qatar Airways Qsuite show that you can deliver an amazing product with a fairly high density.
Despite the above comments, the article is worth a read.
And, despite my own comments, I do fully understand that Cruz is in a difficult position trying to compete with low cost carriers whilst paying up to £44.91 (Istanbul for eg) to Heathrow in ‘Passenger Service Charges’.
It is also true, however, that the upside of having multiple carriers competing on most routes from London is that you can ‘do a Waitrose’ and focus on hoovering up people who are not obsessed with price above everything else including comfort.
The idea that the public can choose anything from a London bus to an Uber Mercedes S-Class to get to the airport, and stay in anything from a hostel to a 5-star grande dame when its lands, but has no interest in anything but a low price when picking their flight has always been ludicrous.
How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (September 2023)
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.
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.
EDIT: Applications for this card are temporarily suspended due to IT issues with the British Airways On Business SME loyalty scheme.
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.