London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing – 31 January 2022

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Sean Doyle, Chief Executive & Chairman, British Airways (Image Credit: British Airways)

Welcome to London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing for the week beginning 31 January 2022.

Sean Doyle Sets Out His Vision For BA

Did you receive an e-mail from BA CEO Sean Doyle yesterday morning?

With a sense of optimism that the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic is behind it, BA held an event for staff and journalists last Friday to set out a plan to rebuild the airline.

This follows a number of senior management changes, including a new Director of Business Recovery.

Speaking to the Financial Times on Friday Sean said:

“Putting the premium proposition into the heart of what we do is going to be key”

And with echoes of Colin Marshall and “Putting People First”:

“Any airline can go out and buy products off the shelf and put them on a plane. It’s actually the confidence and the style and the intimacy that we deliver in service that is going to be a differentiator” 

In an e-mail sent to passengers yesterday, Sean promised to address much criticised call centre wait times with new systems.

Complimentary water and snacks in short haul economy will stay. Catering in other cabins – so often a target for cost cutting – will be improved. As will at seat ordering of food & drinks in BA lounges.

A new baggage tracing system is also promised.

BA has already confirmed that the Club Suite will be featured on all Heathrow based Boeing 777 aircraft by the end of this year. Whilst Sean has committed to retro fit the seat on “as many aircraft as we can, as quickly as we can”, no firm dates are given for refurbishing Airbus A380 and Boeing 787 aircraft.

Other investments planned before COVID-19, such as refurbishing lounges at Heathrow, are not mentioned.

Irrespective of individual micro issues, the reality is it will be some time before there is stability to the airline’s schedules. Regardless of travel restrictions, with Airbus A350 and Boeing 787 aircraft deliveries delayed, BA will be a significantly smaller airline for some time yet.

Its parent company IAG is carrying a huge debt burden which will affect investment decisions. Some hard numbers from IAG when it announces its annual results next month will provide more clarity on investment plans for the coming years.

“A Royal Departure”

The Queen will celebrate her Platinum Jubilee later this year, with a special public holiday on Friday 3 June.

It was 70 years ago today, on 31 January 1952, Princess Elizabeth bid farewell to King George VI, Queen Elizabeth and Princess Margaret at London airport.

With Prince Philip, Princess Elizabeth left London at midday on a specially adapted BOAC Argonaut “Atlanta” G-ALHK aircraft for a world tour of Africa, Australia and New Zealand. The first leg was to Nairobi, via Libya for a change of crew and refuelling stop.

The trip was cut short following the death of King George VI. Princess Elizabeth returned to London airport a week later from Kenya on the same BOAC aircraft as Queen Elizabeth II.

You can see footage from London airport on 31 January 1952 in the Pathé News report below.

Desert Island Discs

BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs celebrated its 80th anniversary last weekend.

Two of the most prominent aviation figures from the BBC’s archive of interviews are Sir Richard Branson from 9 June 1989 and Lord King from 19 April 1991.

The contrasting styles of Lord King and Sir Richard Branson are very much evident. Whilst Lord King does come across as a little cold at first he does warm up later into the interview.

The interview with Lord King covers much of his time at BA. The interview with Sir Richard Branson barely touches on Virgin Atlantic, just five years’ old at the time. The relationship between the two airlines, which was to soon sour significantly, isn’t mentioned in either interview.

There are no prizes for guessing one of Lord King’s musical choices.

Also of interest this week:

“Wonder wheels: why aircraft tyres are a miracle of engineering” by BA pilot Mark Vanhoenacker (Financial Times)

News from London Air Travel you may have missed:

BA will co-locate all flights at New York JFK with American Airlines at Terminal 8 from 1 December 2022, ending 50 years of operations at Terminal 7. (London Air Travel)

Late post publication updates:

[Reserved for updates throughout the day]

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2 thoughts on “London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing – 31 January 2022”

  1. BA really needs to invest in online self service / manage my booking functionality… allow customers to do more things online at a time that best suits them.

    Investing more in digital & ensuring it’s an awesome customer experience will reap rewards & improve their Net Promoter Score (NPS).

    Also, please remove as many pain points as possible.

    It’s a right faff having to call BA Holidays in London during UK hours if you happen to be outside of the UK and need to do something that only their call centre can deal with. 🤯

    It would be awesome if we could message you quickly & easily using Signal or WhatsApp. Living in South East Asia for the last two years, being forced to phone you or use Twitter feels so backwards. Here dealing with government departments, doctors, businesses of all shapes & sizes, you name it – all done using WhatsApp. 🤩

    Something else that needs sorting is bus gates at outstations when airbridges are available. It’s penny pinching and takes the shine off of what might have been a rather pleasant flight with British Airways.

  2. i have my flight to Toronto Cancelled for September and rebook to go out at 5 pm and not 1 pm now
    with no reason or any compensation as i had to cancel an overnight hotel please pickup

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