British Airways has announced that it will scrap all meals, except breakfast, on its short-haul flights. Passengers on flights after 10am, which last less than two-and-half hours, will only be served drinks and snacks, andwill not have the option to buy food. The measure, starting next week, comes as the airline is trying to trim costs, hoping to save £22m a year.
On the other hand, as a passenger I would have hoped that they would have passed the saving on to the passengers. BA clearly prefers to keep the airfare the same and give less value to the customers. Cost cutting is about cutting the costs of producing the end product. It isn’t about cutting the value of the product you offer and hoping that nobody notices.
It seems that the Irish klutz who is running the airline - remember last month’s jackassed idea of asking the staff to work for free – doesn’t realise that the only difference between short haul routes on his airline and Ryanair, is that flights on BA cost four times as much.
Let me explain why this is a big mistake. BA cannot compete with the low cost airlines on domestic routes because it operates from international hubs because it has to connect with its international flights. Heathrow and Gatwick and the other BA airports are more expensive than Stansted , Luton etc because there is more demand for the slots, so anybody travelling say from Glasgow to London has the choice of say Ryanair (via Prestwick & Stansted) or BA (via Paisley & Heathrow/Gatwick). They can either cary their own luggage to the plane and fight for their seats on Ryanair or they can go with BA.
So what sort of service should BA provide? A no-frills but higher cost service than Ryanair, or a service that still caters for its passengers with sme care at a time when airtravel is becoming an ever more painful experience?
Unfortunately Willie Walsh is a former pilot, which is why he never sees things from the passengers or the non-pilot point of view (BA pilots were allowed to negotiate a separate pay deal from the rest of the staff in the last pay round, which caused considerable disgruntlment amongst other cabin crew according to an insider I spoke to recently). It also explains why he doesn't understand that if all we wanted was cheap fares for the experience of sitting for a couple of hours in a cramped seat in a metal tube travelling at 450 mph at 30,000 feet, we wouldn't fly with BA unless there was no other choice.