British Airways CEO Hints The Airline’s Cost-Cutting Days Are Over

British Airways CEO Sean Doyle has hinted that the airline’s cost-cutting days are over. Doyle made the comments during an interview with Eurocontrol when asked if cost-cutting was the way forward for the airline.

British Airways, Sean Doyle, Cost Cutting
British Airways’ new CEO has suggested that the airline’s cost-cutting days are over. Photo: Getty Images

Over the past few years, British Airways has gained a bit of a reputation for certain cost-cutting measures taken by senior management at the airline. The most notable example was when the airline replaced complimentary refreshments in short-haul economy with a buy-on-board menu. This is a move that rival airline Lufthansa has since replicated. These measures became affectionately known as “enhancements” by the airline’s frequent fliers.

“You’ve got to stay competitive”

During an interview as part of Eurocontrol’s Straight Talk series, Sean Doyle was asked whether cost-cutting was the way forward for British Airways. Doyle revealed that airlines have got to offer value for money and stay competitive. He commented,

“Ultimately, you’re there to serve your customers’ needs, and I think everything we will do, will be driven by customer insight … We know value for money is important for customers and I think that places a little an onus on us to be efficient, but at the same time, we know that investment is important to customers.”

British Airways, Sean Doyle, Cost Cutting
Doyle revealed that keeping customers happy was an important target. Photo: British Airways

Doyle revealed that British Airways would be driven by what customers want and their expectations of the brand, adding that he doesn’t think cost-cutting and quality service are incompatible with each other. He went on to reveal that some cost-cutting may occur, but only where necessary to ensure value for money and competitivity,

“At the heart of what airlines have to do is offer value for money, and you’ve got to stay competitive. If that means addressing areas where you’re not competitive or wasting money, I wouldn’t apologize for doing that.”

Stay informed: Sign up for our daily and weekly aviation news digests.

Are small steps already being taken?

As mentioned, British Airways’ decision to cut the provision of onboard catering in short-haul economy was pretty unpopular with many of the airline’s passengers. However, while not wholly undone, British Airways has taken some positive steps.

British Airways, Sean Doyle, Cost Cutting
Recently the airline has partially backtracked on its short-haul economy complimentary catering removal. Photo: British Airways

During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the airline suspended its buy-on-board catering service. However, this was replaced by complimentary snacks and water. Since then, the airline has replaced its buy-on-board proposition with a new ‘buy before you fly’ offering called Speedbird Cafe. However, while paid catering returned, the free water and a snack didn’t disappear.

Instead, other airlines appear to have followed suit. Rival airlines in the Lufthansa Group have ditched their free snack offering in place of a buy-on-board menu. However, some may argue that this is better than the food that was being served in the cabin.

Do you think the days of cost-cutting at British Airways are over? Let us know what you think and why in the comments below!