Cabin Work May Follow Low-Cost Reorientation
Despite numerous attempts, network airlines have a poor record of trying to muscle into the low-cost carrier (LCC) segment.
Unions are a common roadblock, with existing staff unwilling to see pay and conditions watered down, even for ostensibly separate subsidiaries.
Nonetheless, British Airways has revealed it is talking to unions about plans to replace its short-haul network from London Gatwick with a new low-cost operation from summer 2022.
The flag carrier’s last attempt at an LCC was Go Fly, which launched out of Stansted in 1998 and was sold off only three years later.
Now, though, with BA’s most lucrative revenue stream—corporate travel—in the doldrums, the airline is seeking to rejig its strategy.
“For us to run a sustainable airline in the current environment, we need a competitive operating model,” BA told staff in a memo seen by travel website Headforpoints.
No details about the new carrier’s potential aircraft were revealed, but BA has a fleet of almost 150 Airbus A320-family aircraft to draw on, which raises the possibility of cabin conversion work for its UK engineering facilities, or possibly even for Iberia Maintenance in Spain, which is also part of BA’s parent group, IAG.
BA can also draw on the experience of another IAG subsidiary, Vueling. In June, the Barcelona-based LCC revealed that it would support Iberia’s expansion of maintenance facilities in the city by using the El Prat facility for all its A320 maintenance work.
However, BA’s plans may disconcert Vueling, which already operates to numerous European destinations from Gatwick and may fear a repeat of past mistakes: one factor leading to Go Fly’s sale was a concern that it was cannibalizing existing traffic from the company.