Saturday 22 October 2016

British Airways to start charging customers for food on flights

Mile high menus

Harry Yorke

Published 16/05/2016 | 10:45

A British Airways Airbus A320. Photo: Deposit
A British Airways Airbus A320. Photo: Deposit

In a bid to compete with its low-fare airline rivals, British Airways is set to abandon its policy of giving away complimentary meals to all of its passengers.

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Alex Cruz, who became chairman and chief executive of BA in April, believes the carrier should begin charging short-haul customers for upmarket meals and snacks.

Mr Cruz is understood to be considering bringing in Waitrose to provide premium range products to customers, in a move to boost the company's revenues from short-haul flights.

In recent years BA has struggled against its competitor easyJet, which has charged customers for food and drink since it first took to the skies in 1995.

Business has been particularly challenging at Gatwick, where easyJet now flies 42 per cent of the airport's passengers.

Up until now, BA has maintained a policy of free food, promising customers that "Whenever and wherever you are travelling, we offer a complimentary snack or meal and bar service."

While customers on longer BA flights to destinations such as Greece and Turkey are still treated to a three-course meal, the introduction of a new premium product range could offer the carrier a new stream of revenue.

Its rival Flybe offers Food Doctor pots of couscous and lentils for £3, while easyJet sells passengers warmed focaccia sandwiches for £4.50.

Airport retailers such as Boots and Pret A Manger have also also increased the range and quality of food available to take on board.

A spokesman for BA said:

“We are constantly reviewing every element of the experience our customers receive, including the in-flight catering, to ensure we’re delivering what they want.

“We are always innovating, for example, our new pre-paid meal option for customers travelling on our long-haul economy flights is proving enormously popular.

"The meals are an alternative to the normal complimentary menu, which remains on-board. Customers can instead choose to pre-order and pre-pay via for one of six enhanced meals, including gourmet dining, great British breakfast and taste of the east."

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