Just two years into a five-year £5 billion programme of investments, British Airways has already reached some significant milestones, says Chief Executive Keith Williams. He told customers at an event in Lagos that the airline had expanded its network, which now includes new African routes, and was acquiring new aircraft, enhancing products and introducing innovative technology to better serve its customers.
As a result of acquiring bmi, British Airways now serves 19 routes in 16 African countries. It flies more often to more places in Africa than it has ever done since it first opened routes to the continent 80 years ago. The acquisition also enabled it to grow its overall route network, giving customers access to 20 more destinations. British Airways is now operating the biggest Heathrow schedule in its history. Together with its franchise, codeshare and oneworld partners, it offers a global network of over 600 destinations.
Williams says that new aircraft, such as the Boeing 777 ER are coming onto the fleet, embodied with new World Traveller Plus and World Traveller cabins and a sophisticated in-flight entertainment system which offers nearly double the previous choice.
“We are making improvements in every cabin. The rollout of our new First is nearly complete. Bringing together balanced privacy, comfort, space and contemporary British design, it draws on the airline’s heritage, focusing on quality and attention to detail.
“In May 2013 we take delivery of our first Boeing 787 Dreamliner and two months later, our first A380 superjumbo. These new aircraft will enable us to further develop and grow our network, achieve considerable fuel savings compared to the aircraft they replace, and bring the outstanding 777-300 levels of customer comfort to a wider audience,” Williams said.
BA’s main base at Heathrow Terminal 5 is delivering a consistently good customer experience, taking the Skytrax Award for the best airport terminal in the world earlier this year. Since Terminal 5C opened, 93% of customers walk directly on and off the aircraft without the need for buses.
The innovative use of technology is also helping to improve customer service in the air and on the ground says Williams. Senior cabin crew have now all being given iPads, allowing them to provide more intuitive, personalised service. Special software enables them to instantly identify where each customer is seated, whether they are travelling with anyone, what their Executive Club status is and whether they have any flight connections or special meal requests. Issues can be logged with ground-based colleagues and solved while the flight is airborne.
More than a million customers have now downloaded British Airways apps, which make the check-in process faster and more convenient. A feature for iPhone users now also enables them to book their flights from their phones.
“Nigeria was the first market outside of the UK where we launched our new advertising campaign: To Fly, To Serve. Through our programme of investments and product and service enhancements, we’re making that brand promise a reality,” Williams said.