Unapologetic Willie Walsh is the CEO of IAG, parent company of British Airways, Iberia, Aer Lingus and Vueling. And here’s what he expects from customers:
He refuses to apologize for that slide in a financial presentation.
“Willie Walsh has always been unapologetic about the airline industry’s inability to make proper returns and this time he wasn’t going to be outdone by the colourful language of one of his rival airline CEOs.”
So it should come as no surprise what he has to say about cabin crew striking, or customers who don’t like getting less service for the same ticket prices. At around 2 hours 48 minutes and 37 seconds into this BBC program Walsh is interviewed.
On the airline’s cabin crew strikes he says it’s “unfortunate but it’s futile and it’s not having any impact” which isn’t quite true since there have been some cancelled flights, but his point is that as in the past British Airways can continue to operate through a cabin crew strike — their ‘Mixed Fleet’ flight attendants who are lower paid than their ‘Worldwide Fleet’ came about in the first place as a result of Worldwide Fleet flight attendants striking, and bringing on replacements. Now the replacements can be replaced. And punished.
And on the airline’s changes to short haul and domestic, an end to free food and drink for instance (imagine paying for hot water onboard in which to place your own tea bag on a British airline) he describes British Airways as merely ‘catching up’ in the race to the bottom:
..there are 4 major airlines in our group and three had been charging for food and drink in the economy cabin for several years, British Airways is just catching up with the trend in the industry which is very much moved to giving customers choice.. we believe it’s a much better offering
And his message to customers? “If they don’t like our service and our prices they’ll go somewhere else”
Indeed they may on connecting flights or non-stops to other European hubs but given slot constraints at Heathrow there’s not much room for competition out of the main airport in one of the most important cities in the world.