Ever since British Airways introduced Buy On Board catering on its short-haul economy cabins at Gatwick and Heathrow in 2017, its CEO Alex Cruz has been adamant that it was only a matter of time before its major European network rivals followed suit.
To date, neither Lufthansa, nor Air France and KLM have done so. They have instead preferred to grow low cost brands such as Eurowings and Joon. In London, Eurowings has long taken over all Lufthansa flights to Germany, outside of its hubs in Frankfurt and Munich.
However SWISS, a subsidiary of Lufthansa Group, has now made the first move. It is to introduce Buy-On-Board catering, branded as Swiss Saveurs, in economy on all flights to and from Geneva, excluding Zurich and New York from Spring 2018. The exact launch date has not been specified. The menus are being developed by the Swiss retailer Globus.
SWISS at Geneva is analogous to BA at Gatwick. It’s an important airport, but not its primary hub, and it faces strong competition from easyJet.
However, SWISS’s approach is different to that of BA and even Eurowings.
All economy passengers will be entitled to complimentary water and a SWISS chocolate. Passengers purchasing Economy Classic and Economy Flex tickets will also receive a complimentary snack. However, any other drinks and food will have to be paid for.
Is this a precursor to Lufthansa introducing Buy On Board across all of its network airlines wisely tested on a small scale first? Or is it simply a competitive response in Geneva?
Either way, like the introduction of basic economy on long-haul, it is all becoming very inconsistent and convoluted. From experience of Eurowings having passengers with different catering entitlements in the same cabin does slow down the service and cause confusion when passengers change seats.
What is left of complimentary catering on European short-haul is probably not long for this world and in the longer term it’s probably for the best that there is consistency across all airlines.