Sean Doyle, the new-ish boss of British Airways gave a rare interview with a Sunday newspaper in July in which he talked about a number of things relating to running an airline in 2023, but the headline news was that he was set to re-introduce free hot drinks in economy on ‘longer’ short haul flights as well as handing out ice creams between meals on long haul routes.
OK, perhaps it isn’t surprising that a British paper chose to lead on the tea angle, but the question is, why did BA stop giving out drinks in the first place, and what has happened to make them change their mind?
There’s a variety of elements to that answer. One of them is that Doyle may want to distance himself from his predecessor’s bumpy tenure. Another might be that he wishes to distance the brand from the run of bad headlines and cancellations it has endured over the last year relating to staff shortages and ancient IT systems failing.
Of course BA is not alone in battling with systems that are not fit for purpose. Inside the issue you’ll read how Wizz
Air has been hauled over the coals by regulators who are fed up dealing with customer complaints that the airline has apparently been unable to deal with.
The third point is that BA was in danger of becoming just another budget carrier. There was a time when the airlines slogan was ‘There are other ways… and then there’s BA’.
With the number of short haul airlines screaming for your business online, usually with prices that BA couldn’t match, it needs to find its identity again and offer passengers a real point of difference. The trouble is, I think it will take more than a cup of tea to do that.