British Airways Chief Executive Officer Alex Cruz defended his decision to start charging for food on short-haul routes, saying the measure was necessary in order to compete in an environment of falling ticket prices.

“Given some of the fares in the marketplace, we make no apology for making ourselves more efficient in various ways so we can consistently compete effectively,” Cruz said Wednesday in London. He added that BA remains, “and always will be,” a premium airline.

The unit of IAG SA scrapped free meals on European flights in January, inviting passengers to buy onboard snacks and sandwiches from Marks & Spencer Group Plc. Cruz, who moved from discount unit Vueling in 2016, has also overhauled BA’s loyalty program and come under fire for planning to board passengers in the same class according to how much they paid. The carrier is seeking to compete with network peers Air France-KLM Group and Deutsche Lufthansa AG and fend off discount specialists including Ryanair Holdings Plc.

Questioned at the London Aviation Club by former BA Concorde pilot John Hutchinson, who labeled the change of food policy a “complete disaster,” Cruz insisted that the switch provides customers with more choice and significantly better quality.

The CEO, who reports to IAG chief Willie Walsh, has also instituted a redundancy program and restructured BA’s pension plans. At the same time he is overhauling the Club World business-class offering and spending $4.5 billion on 72 new aircraft due in the next five years.

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Photo Credit: British Airways recently started charging short-haul passengers for food. It sells items provided by retailer Marks & Spencer. British Airways