British Airways has announced, via The Sun, that it has terminated its contract with Marks & Spencer to provide ‘buy on board’ food for short-haul economy passengers.
In a short statement, BA said:
“We’re off on a new flight path.“
“We look forward to announcing our exciting new buy-on-board proposition with a great British brand that customers have told us they love.”
This is believed to be either Greggs or Waitrose, with The Sun reporting that both companies have submitted proposals.
There could be a link with Avios dropping Tesco, with Waitrose potentially getting the on-board contract and becoming the Avios supermarket partner. This also makes it less likely that M&S/Ocado will get the Avios deal.
But M&S doesn’t really provide BA catering …..
It is a common misconception that M&S actually ‘provides’ the food in short-haul economy. In truth, Tourvest – the supplier – buys a small number of M&S items and adds them to its existing range of products. If you count down the menu, the percentage which is branded M&S product is relatively small.
Whilst introducing buy on board was controversial when introduced, in truth it was a mercy killing for the existing offering. BA had actually fallen behind other airlines – on BA, you would get a drink and a small bag of pretzels. There was no other alternative even if you were hungry. Other carriers, whilst charging, did at least have a full offering.
Unfortunately, BA screwed it up. In various trips with Vueling, easyJet and Ryanair over the past couple of years, it has been clear that all have a far broader range – with better availability – than British Airways. Simply swapping an M&S sandwich for a Waitrose one, both of which are likely to come from the same factory anyway, won’t change that.