Alex Cruz, the chief executive of British Airways, heads an impressive line-up of aviation high-fliers at WTM London – the leading global event for the travel industry.
The British flag-carrier has experienced severe turbulence this year – a disastrous computer crash in May cost an estimated £80 million, and some of its cabin crew went on strike during the peak holiday months of July and August.
Called ‘British Airways: A year of mixed fortunes’, the title of his session at WTM London reflects the bumpy ride he has been on during 2017 – but Cruz will also talk about how BA plans to compete with no-frills rivals at one end of the market, and premium competitors at the top end by changing the airline’s approach to service.
Cruz will be interviewed by WTM aviation expert, John Strickland, Director of JLS Consulting and himself a former BA employee.
Strickland will ask about BA’s new strategy, which has seen the end of free snacks for peckish passengers on short-haul flights.
Cruz made his name as boss of Spanish low-cost airline Vueling – part of BA’s International Airlines Group – so he has strong no-frills credentials.
However, he also faces fierce competition at the premium end of the market, with long-haul rivals in the US and Gulf, so BA is investing in improved service and innovation for first-class and business-class passengers. The new strategy of meeting the needs of price sensitive customers on the one hand and on the other, satisfying the important premium customers will be key to BA’s future success.
Meanwhile, part of the charm offensive to win back the public’s affection has included a safety video featuring Hollywood stars such as Sir Ian McKellen, Gillian Anderson, Thandie Newton, Warwick Davis and Jim Broadbent.
Strickland will also present a session entitled ‘Turbulent Skies and Challenging Times for the Airline Business’.
He will examine the hurdles facing airlines, from Brexit to terrorism, as well as the sector’s successes, as passenger demand remains strong globally.
WTM London, Senior Director, Simon Press said: “We have a first-rate reputation for bringing the top names in aviation to WTM London. Last year we had Sir Tim Clark, President of Emirates, and Willie Walsh, CEO of IAG.
“And this year is no different as we present two of the industry’s pre-eminent business leaders from prominent airlines, at a critical point in aviation.
“Visitors to WTM London will have an unmissable opportunity to hear directly about the issues that matter from these key captains of industry.”
The aviation sessions take place on Monday 6 November at The Inspire Theatre from 15.30.
• 15.30 – 16.00
Turbulent Skies and Challenging Times for the Airline Business
With John Strickland
• 16.45 – 17.30
British Airways: A year of mixed fortunes
With Alex Cruz and John Strickland