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BA unveils £7bn transformation plan

British Airways has announced an array of new initiatives to transform the airline, unveiling a £7 billion transformation plan at its first ‘In the Skies’ showcase event in London.

Above: British Airways' new short-haul seats.
Courtesy BA

Sean Doyle, British Airways’ Chairman and CEO, outlined his modernisation plan, committing to delivering a world class customer experience, modernising IT, growing pride among colleagues and focusing on sustainability, as well as driving on-time performance. He said: “We’re on a journey to a better BA for our people and for our customers, underpinned by a transformation programme that will see us invest £7 billion over the next two years to revolutionise our business.

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"We’re going to take delivery of new aircraft, introduce new cabins, elevate our customer care, focus on operational performance and address our environmental impact by reducing our emissions and creating a culture of sustainability. 

"We’re also heavily investing in the development of a new ba.com website and app and are laser-focused on transforming our business and fixing any pain points for our customers.” 

Ba.com and app
As part of its investment programme, British Airways has confirmed plans to overhaul its digital user experience with a new website and mobile app offering deeper personalisation. The new ba.com browser is already in BETA testing with platforms designed to offer a range of new services, including empowering customers to self-serve if they wish, taking control of and making changes to their journeys online, rather than having to call one of the airline’s customer care centres to alter their plans. Initial changes will start to roll out by the end of the year.  

WiFi enhancements for customers
With more customers looking to remain connected with the world from their seats, from April 3, British Airways Executive Club Members will start to be able to send messages free of charge on a single device using the airline’s WiFi - whatever cabin they’re travelling in. The service will be available on every WiFi-enabled aircraft within two weeks of the rollout date.

The airline has also become the first to offer a WiFi-enabled inflight customer care solution to solve issues in the moment – even at 35,000ft. Created especially for British Airways by Microsoft, customer care teams on the ground are now able to connect with cabin crew colleagues across more than 300 flights a day. The functionality allows crew to help solve any unexpected issues before a flight lands at one of the airline’s more than 200 destinations.

Operational excellence
The airline is investing £100 million in machine learning, automation and AI across its operation, driving improvements from bookings to baggage handling and helping to revolutionise its operation, speed up departures and respond to disruption. Innovative new tools are helping to predict delays (prompting pre-emptive action to reduce disruption) and analyse real-time weather, aircraft capacity and customer connections data to help teams make better decisions. Since the introduction of the systems, alongside a number of new processes and ways of working, the airline has seen improvement to its on-time departures.   

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British Airways is also creating around 350 new roles at Heathrow to improve customer experience at its home and hub airport and is investing in new equipment, such as baggage tugs and towing vehicles.

The airline is also investing £750 million in its IT infrastructure to move 700 systems and thousands of servers to the cloud by early next year.   

New lounge design concept
The airline is proud to announce that it is set to open another brand-new lounge, this time in Dubai, which is relocating to a new larger space at Dubai Airport later this year. This lounge will be the first to feature British Airways’ new lounge design concept, followed by the opening of its Miami lounge in 2025. The new Dubai lounge will replace the existing lounge facility at the airport, offering more space and more features for customers. The airline has also announced lounge refreshes in Lagos and Seattle, these follow recent lounge refurbishments at Heathrow Terminals 5 and 3, as well as Edinburgh.  

New cabins and seats
New short-haul seats and cabin interiors will feature on the next generation of British Airways’ Airbus A320neo and A321neos, with eight aircraft set to arrive from May this year. The airline is working with the best of British suppliers from England, Scotland and Northern Ireland, with the new short-haul Euro Traveller and Club Europe seats reflecting a modern yet classic British interior. The re-designed cabins will also be fitted with extra-large bins for overhead luggage.

Investment in First  
As the only European carrier to offer First Class between the UK and US, British Airways is to introduce a brand-new and exclusive First suite. The airline expects the new seat to make its debut at the end of 2025 into early 2026 as part of its A380 aircraft refurbishment.  

New Routes
British Airways’ flights from London to Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur are set to return. The services will re-start in October and November respectively, further demonstrating British Airways’ commitment to expanding its network to Asia post pandemic.  

The airline will operate daily flights between the Malaysian capital city and London Heathrow on a 787-9 aircraft, as well as three flights a week between the Thai capital and London Gatwick on a 777-200ER.

British Airways is also returning to Abu Dhabi on 20th April, as well as welcoming Agadir in Morrocco on 31st March and adding Izmir in Turkey to its network on 18th May.

Sustainability
Taking significant and urgent action to address aviation’s impacts is critical to make the industry much more sustainable in the long term. Through the BA Better World programme and its commitment to People, Planet, and Responsible Business, British Airways continues to innovate to drive continual improvement in its environmental, social, and governance business performance and meet its net zero target by 2050 or sooner.

Last week the airline’s parent company, International Airlines Group (IAG) announced its largest SAF purchase agreement to date with e-SAF (power-to-liquid) producer ‘Twelve’, which will supply advanced e-SAF made from carbon dioxide, water and renewable energy to support IAG’s five European airlines, including British Airways. The next-generation fuel will reduce lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions by up to 90% versus conventional jet fuel. IAG is the first European airline group to announce an e-SAF deal and the agreement will enable it to continue increasing its SAF use towards the goal of 10% by 2030.
 

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