“BA likely to End Business class on short Haul routes”!Back to Forum
Anonymous7 Feb 2010
Willie Walsh has not stated “BA likely to end business class on short haul routes.”
That is a poor reporting of the facts by the Times and a deceptive suggestion of the attribution of the headline quote by MackRoberts9, who has a peculiar dislike of an airline he never flies, since his best buddy was made redundant by BA a while ago.
The linked article states:
Mr Walsh said: “Short-haul premium will never recover. That part of the business has changed for ever and we have to address it.”
BA is understood to be reviewing its short-haul operations and the premium seats could be removed from planes operating out of Gatwick and regional airports.
However, BA may hold on to premium in short-haul flights operating from Heathrow, to take advantage of business-class transfer traffic.”
The article in the Times is itself inaccurate. BA does not operate any shorthaul business class cabins from regional UK airports, and has not done so for a number of years.
Prime business and transfer traffic routes with Club Europe cabins from Heathrow and London City are safe, and the flexible seating approach employed by BA ensures that providing a business class cabin is more sustainable in the current challenging environment.
So, what is really at risk are the few Club Europe services from Gatwick, especially those largely leisure routes with increasing competition from Low Cost Carriers.
These Gatwick routes include destinations such as Izmir, Paphos, Dubrovnik, Faro, Salzburg, Pristina and Tirana.
Club Europe has always been vulnerable on such heavily trafficked leisure routes where there is strong LCC competition, and it is right it should be removed to better align with passenger expectations as passengers trade down to less expensive cabins.
It is easy to reconfigure BA aircraft back to offering a CE cabin quickly should demand return.7 Feb 2010
It concerns me personally as I fly BA from AMS to MCO every 7 or 8 weeks via LGW in Club Europe and Club World (no First on the LGW-MCO run for some time now). I pay full fare, and expect that even on the short connecting flight I should get what I pay for. I likewise fly to BGI once a year from AMS as well, connecting in LGW to First on the BGI sector. Should CE be discontinued out of AMS to LGW I will seriously think of changing my flights to Lufthansa for MCO, and AA to BGI (BRU-JFK-BGI). I am a staunch BA supporter, but the more they keep changing the things I value in them, the more likely I will switch to another carrier. I Live in Belgium but travel out of AMS for the mentioned services as BA serves LGW from AMS,11 Feb 2010
As VK says, flexible seating means that the business cabin is expandable and contractable. It surely isn’t difficult or expensive to offer a premium service in a separate section of the cabin, even if there are very few passengers wanting it on each flight.
For me at least CE is a big attraction of flying BA for short leisure trips.
BA really should not just float these ideas without managing the message.
One awful thought strikes me – if BA is struggling at Gatwick might they hand the whole EOG operation over to flybe?11 Feb 2010
This story has be blown way out of proportion, although Walsh doesn’t help in these matters constantly hinting at plans or ideas and establishing this worrying sense of inevitability. Heathrow & City won’t be touched so that’s already the vast majority of CE services saved, whilst at Gatwick I would assume frequencies to say Jersey for example with heavy finance and transfer traffic would more than likely retain it’s CE cabin. In reality it may just be 5 or 6 destinations like those identified by VK without short-haul business in the future as opposed to BA’s entire European operation which these articles seem to imply! I also believe the same papers exaggerated the story that a staggering 4 new BA aircraft wouldn’t be fitted with First! Outrageous!11 Feb 2010
Personally, I think BA and LX has figured out how to get slightly more yield out of leisure travellers with the restrictive business/club fares (or upgrades) based on restrictive economy rules. BA has recently modified the cheapest to include a Saturday night stay requirement which essentially eliminates the use of these for business travel unless you can book back to back trips. The combined price and service level of BA and LX elevates these two to the top of my personal travel (and I always suggest to my management to use these fares if flexibility is not required.)
Many airlines have discussed discontinuing Club/Business in Europe, but my sources in the LH Group made it clear that it is a necessity for an elite group of travellers and for feeder flights to intercontinental flights to continue this. Prior to the latest aviation crisis SAS conducted a survey among their EuroBonus Gold members, and 10% of their top fliers made it clear they would move their travel somewhere else if SAS discontinued business class in Europe. Nevertheless, SAS has scrapped their 3-class offer from Stockholm and only offered 2-classes (economy, economy extra) to certain destinations such as Dublin, Milan, Barcelona and other holiday destinations.
With the current flex cabin structure of aircrafts it is fairly simple to change layout to accommodate different level of passengers.
The bigger issue is perhaps if BA is truly committed to LGW in the long run, or if they will try to consolidate traffic at LHR overtime through a mix of route elimination and buying slots if cash is available.11 Feb 2010
As a regular CE traveller on LGW-JER I certainly hope this is not a route to loose CE. It is usually full at all times of the day.
It would be a shame to loose CE on other routes, even on holiday some of us just don’t want to be hurded the same as the low cost.11 Feb 2010
Or even “lose” CE.
I have never been hurded, though friends at Eton might have been…either way it sounds uncomfortable.
I think CE to JER is pretty safe, as long as BA continues to fly the route…it still has a fair proportion of premium leisure, businesspeople and of course Alan Whicker with whom I shared Row 1 a few years ago on one of his regular “trips into town”.
Of course, CE will only survive if people continue to pay to fly in that cabin; fares are getting steeper for advance purchase (most places were reachable for around £200 rtn for the past five years; this is not even the case in the Sale these days).11 Feb 2010
As VK mentions, the lowest J fares now have a Saturday night requirement, which is a retrograde step and not great for those of us on the occasional TP run!
I guess that BA has determined that it is the right thing to do, although it may result in lower loads?11 Feb 2010
I think the re-imposition of the Saturday night rule is a daft move especially as premium shorthaul travel is already difficult to justify.
I have simply changed my travel pattern to “weekend” in London; other travellers may not be able to do so, and BA/CE will lose out as a result.11 Feb 2010