IHG

Simon Talling-Smith, Executive Vice President Americas, British Airways

May 1, 2010
2010 / May 2010

How is British Airways recovering from the economic challenges the airline industry has faced?

British Airways will stick to its core strength — product excellence. We are a premium airline and will continue to offer the best product and service. At the same time, we are always interested in growth where markets prove opportunistic.

We are also very excited about new programs, especially our Face-to-Face campaign, which gives companies support and incentives to travel on BA to conduct their meetings in person. The goal is to keep entrepreneurs alive and to reach out to the individual traveler first. We know the importance of small businesses and their role in helping an economy into recovery. Through various research, including Harvard Business Review, we have found 95 percent of entrepreneurs and business travelers believe that face-to-face meetings are the key to success in building long-term relationships; and 87 percent agree face-to-face meetings are essential for “sealing the deal.”

Global Traveler readers show zero to limited signs of decreasing their travel. Can they expect BA’s frequencies to remain the same? How is BA reaching out to those who need your global network?

In the United States, frequency changes are minimal. If necessary, we will fly smaller aircraft. Globally, there will be a reduction in some frequencies, such as Tokyo, but that is always subject to change. We would prefer to trim capacity, maintain yields and continue with our investment programs. We have a $100 million investment in lounges in London, and we are continuing a $30 million investment in Club World seats.

To strengthen our global network, our Face-to-Face program will reach the core of those who need it most, the individual business traveler and small- to medium-sized businesses. BA will partner with companies who need to connect with people in the U.K. and our gateways beyond the U.K.

Additionally, www.ba.com has helped to ease the travel experience. Doing everything online in your office with a cup of coffee in hand sheds minutes in the airport while minimizing conflicts during check-in. As for our lounges — you’ll love them when you see them.

With airlines looking to cut costs, what will distinguish BA from other carriers for premium passengers?

The service element at British Airways is hard to copy. We have a very experienced work force that prides itself on service. We are continuously investing in training, which differentiates us from our competitors. We are seeing companies cut back on training, but we continue to build our programs, particularly our premium training, a program to rival any of the finest hotels and restaurants. Business travelers need people who understand what they want and can react to changes. At BA, we understand this.

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