BA’s boss Alex Cruz has stressed what he sees as the carrier’s continued position as a “premium airline”, while recognizing the “intensity of competition in the European short-haul market”.

Speaking at the annual Aviation Club lunch for the first time since 2012 (when he was CEO of Spanish low-cost carrier and now IAG member Vueling), Cruz said that low fares “do not happen by magic”, and stressed that the carrier makes “no apology for making ourselves more efficient in various ways so we can consistently compete effectively”.

Alluding to BA’s introduction of a buy-on-board service at the start of this year, Cruz said that “There has been quite a focus on our short-haul product in the course of this year”, and took the opportunity to set out what he believes “differentiates us from the market” – something which he said can be overlooked “in the hurly-burly of debate”.

The list included “far and away the best networks from London’s two most central airports, Heathrow and City”, “a fantastic loyalty programme”, “the best punctuality record on departures from London of all the ‘big three’ short-haul carriers”, and being “the only UK operator to offer customers a choice of cabin on short-haul flights”.

Cruz also stressed the continued investment in the airline’s Club World product, with new catering and bedding being rolled out from the initial Heathrow-New York JFK launch route to Newark and Boston this week, and San Francisco and San Jose (California) next week.

He also said that “the vast majority of our long-haul fleet will be embodied with wifi by the end of next year”, and 72 new self-service bag drops will be added at Heathrow – triple the current number.

Looking forward Cruz highlighted BA’s forthcoming centenary year in 2019, which he said was a “fantastic, inspiring and motivating anniversary”, adding mischievously that “2019 looks a special year for the UK too”.

The full transcript of Cruz’s speech can be seen at