Can $5.9 Billion Restore British Airways?

Image: PHOTO: British Airways vows to get better. (photo via Flickr/Cory W. Watts)
Image: PHOTO: British Airways vows to get better. (photo via Flickr/Cory W. Watts)
Patrick Clarke
by Patrick Clarke
Last updated: 12:40 AM ET, Wed November 8, 2017

British Airways is eager for a fresh start after a year loaded with mishaps.

According to The Telegraph, the U.K.'s flag carrier will invest $5.9 billion (£4.5 billion) in an effort to improve its fleet, in-flight offerings and staff.

"The glory days are coming back. I firmly believe that our best days lie ahead," CEO Alex Cruz said during a speech at the World Travel Market in London on Monday.

British Airways' investment will go toward 72 new aircraft as well as upgrading nearly 130 existing planes. Enhancements will focus primarily on Internet service. According to Cruz, the airline seeks to offer passengers the "best Wi-Fi in the sky."

The airline is also eyeing other in-flight improvements, including better staff training, convenient at-seat charging stations and enhanced long-haul catering for economy passengers through the introduction of a second meal.

"The low-cost model is now spreading to long haul," added Cruz. "If you don't change habits formed in cozier eras you will shrink and ultimately risk irrelevance."

British Airways has been plagued by negative headlines this year, including multiple computer system outages that left thousands of customers stranded. The airline also irked travelers by doing away with in-flight meals and reducing legroom. A series of other bizarre incidents only compounded its problems.

"We have learned some hard lessons this year and where we have fallen short we are doing our best to put it right. I know the introduction of buy-on-board catering on short-haul economy had its critics. I know we did not deliver it initially as well as we could have," said Cruz, via The Sun.

As Cruz alluded to, the emergence of budget carriers has placed immense pressure on British Airways to enhance its product. If the airline isn't content to lower fares to match the competition, it'll need to work quickly to improve the passenger experience from takeoff to landing.

Dependable Wi-Fi and more onboard dining offerings are certainly a good start.

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