New British Airways boss Alex Cruz has pledged to make the carrier more competitive but ruled out adopting a “low-cost” model.
Cruz, who took over as chief executive and chairman on April 4, said it would be “mistake” to turn the flag carrier into a low-cost airline but admitted the carrier was still debating whether to charge for inflight meals on short-haul flights.
In his first UK media briefing, he said: “I have been hired to make BA more competitive. Some of this will be cost reduction but some of it will be how we trade. It would be a mistake to make BA a low-cost carrier.
“We are still putting together a tangible vision. We are absolutely looking at how we can make BA more competitive overall and looking at every single part of the experience. In order to compete in the short-haul market we must be able to provide fares which are competitive.”
He added: “We are looking at how we can make our premium experience more premium.”
Commenting specifically on recent reports the airline could charge for inflight meals on short-haul flights to reduce costs, he said: “If we do decide to move to a buy-on-board set up for European short-haul flights, it will be by far the best proposition of any airline that does it.”
This could mean introducing a pre-order facility or by offering a wider variety of meals, he suggested.
The cost of on-board meals runs into “tens of millions” of pounds, but he added: “Moving to ‘buy on board’ doesn’t necessarily mean you get rid of all these costs.”
Cruz also came out in favour of staying in Europe. “I think the UK has more to gain than staying outside,“ he said. “My personal view is I think it would be best for the UK to stay in Europe.”
Cruz also used the briefing to announce that BA would launch a flight to Santiago in Chile from Heathrow next January.
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