Alex Cruz has not always done the popular thing, but the changes he has made have made British Airways a more financially stable airline.
Since taking over as CEO and chairman of British Airways in 2016, Alex Cruz has endured his fair share of criticism over some of the changes he made to the airline, particularly with regards to food on short-haul flights.
But Cruz, speaking at Skift Forum Europe in London on Tuesday, said the changes were necessary in turning the carrier into a more customer-focused airline as well as one that is much more financially stable.
“When we started this new phase of British Airways, there were many decisions to be taken with regards to the direction of the company, and some of those decisions that were made early on were indeed probably less welcome than others,” Cruz said.
Cruz said there was plenty of work still to be done, and estimated that the airline was a third or a quarter of the way through the process. It is investing $8.7 billion (£6.7 billion) in product improvements over the next few years, which includes new seats, food, lounges, and technology.
“It’s a long journey; it’s only been three years, amazingly enough, but there is a great deal to do,”he said.
Part of the changes came as a result of changes to the overall aviation market particularly in Europe, which meant British Airways had to be more competitive on pricing.
“We have to remain competitive in many respects,” he said.
British Airways now is in a much better financial state than it had been in the past and this has allowed it room to invest.
“A great deal of work went into that over a long period of time probably the last 20 years. Once we achieved that and we proved to our shareholders and we gave money back to our shareholders, the next logical thing to do was to go and ask for the money and get the money and invest in the passenger experience, which coincided with my arrivals,” he said.
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Photo credit: Alex Cruz, CEO and chairman of British Airways, speaking at Skift Forum Europe. Cruz says BA still has work to do. Russell Harper / Skift