Soon, the legroom on British Airways short-haul flights will rival that of its low-cost carrier competition.
Later this year, the flag carrier of the UK plans to reduce seat pitch in a portion of its domestic A320 and A321 fleet from 30″ down to 29″, putting the airline’s legroom on par with budget carrier easyJet and one inch tighter than Ryanair.
Legacy carriers in the United States, by comparison, all align around 30–31″ seat pitches.
The tighter seat pitch will allow British to add extra rows to the economy cabin, positioning the airline to better compete with low-cost carriers, which have been eating into the airline’s profits. The recent campaign to charge for in-flight snacks is also part of the same effort.
Interviewed by Skift earlier this year, CEO Alex Cruz, who came to British Airways from discount carrier Vueling, said he wants to make the already profitable carrier think more like a budget airline and better compete with the likes of easyJet and Ryanair. British Airways’ costs are often multiples higher than those of its competitors.
Last week IAG, the parent company of British Airways and Iberia, hit a 12-month high on the London stock exchange, closing at £571 per share on Friday.
Consumers, however, are less excited about the news. Following publication of the airline’s plan last week, many unhappy British Airways flyers, including the CISO of The Telegraph took to social media to vent.
— Stephan Freeman (@StephanFreeman) March 6, 2017
A thread complaining about the new buy-on-board meal options, meanwhile, has amassed over 1,300 posts over on Flyer Talk.
Indeed, as British Airways continues to cut service to stifle competing low-cost carriers, many are concerned that the once great flag carrier of the UK will soon become indistinguishable from a budget airline. As long as IAG’s stock continues to surge, however, the cost cutting may continue.
Photo credit: A British Airways passenger jet takes off from Heathrow Airport in west London. The carrier is shrinking the size of seat space on some intra-Europe aircraft. Stefan Wermuth / Reuters