British Airways brings back second meal on long-haul flights as it fights flying competition with £4.5bn investment

Rebecca Smith
BA boss Alex Cruz announced plans to revamp the airline over the next five years
BA boss Alex Cruz announced plans to revamp the airline over the next five years (Source: Getty)

The boss of British Airways has unveiled a £4.5bn investment programme which includes boosting catering on long-haul flights, in an effort to revamp the airline in an increasingly competitive environment.

Over the next five years, funding will be plugged into 72 new aircraft including four new types for the airline, including the Airbus A350, the Boeing 787-10 and the neo variant of the Airbus A320 and 321.

The carrier is also planning to upgrade catering for economy customers on long-haul.

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BA's move to trimming back free food offered on flights, so passengers had to buy on board, has faced criticism, and chief executive Alex Cruz acknowledged the airline did not deliver it initially as well as it could have. He said improvements have been made to ensure a better, faster service for customers.

For longer flights, the airline will now make sure everyone has a full second meal, rather than just a snack.

More than a hundred aircraft in the existing fleet will get new interiors, while BA also plans the roll-out of "at-seat power" for customers, and fast Wi-Fi in all cabins across short-haul and long-haul.

Cruz made the announcement at the World Travel Market in London, saying: "We want to be the airline of choice for everyone. Every customer matters – short-haul or long-haul, economy or premium. So we must have an offer that is attractive to everyone."

BA's boss said the carrier was battling "a combination of competitive forces more challenging than at any point in our history", with the surge of low-cost long-haul airlines, the ongoing expansion of low-cost short-haul, the premium offerings of the Gulf carriers, as well as the resurgence of US transatlantic names.

The year to date has not been entirely smooth-sailing for BA, after facing criticism over its decision to axe free food and drink on short-haul flights, as well as the bank holiday trouble that meant an IT meltdown in May caused disruption for thousands of passengers.

"As a flag carrier, we are not granted some special immunity from the way the industry has changed," Cruz added. "Incumbency does not grant any privilege. We have no divine right to flourish and we don't ask for one."

British Airways has also announced a new route for next summer from London Heathrow to Figari in Corsica. BA will be flying 264 routes next summer, marking a 17 per cent rise over the past two years.

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