Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Is Willie a Willy?

So there is a recession on and a credit crunch. Two ‘all business class’ airlines failed in the last year, both did not use ‘hub’ airports and carried limited amounts of passengers to the US.

I used Silverjet and I loved the service – flying from Luton with a great purpose-built terminal of its own, the service was great for a £1,000 return flight to New York. I was not the only one to think so – as I bumped into Martin Johnson’s knee and Mark Blundell too on two separate trips.

But it crashed, so to speak, and burnt. Even with a nice big Boeing, it did not attract the customers and Luton is one of the more accessible of airports with lower cost, nearer parking – Silverjet offered valet parking service too.

Now BA has launched a new service. From the short take off airport at the City, it has a specially converted Airbus 318 to carry only 100 passengers in total and only 32 in equivalent flat beds of Club Class to New York. Ah, there is a catch too. The A318 cannot take off on the short runway with a full load of fuel that would get it to New York and so it has to refuel on the way which means a stop at somewhere like Shannon.

I have criticised Willie Walsh, CEO of BA, before for his dreadful lack of strategy and his series of knee jerk reactions to the market conditions. But this folly in the face of tried and tested failures in the same sector will go down badly with all those staff who have taken early retirement, worked harder or taken a salary holiday in order to pay for his whims. This is a real humdinger of a poor idea and it frankly deserves to fail in the face of much better thought through services by smaller companies that he harried to put out of business.

Easyjet have criticised it also as a shuttle service for rich bankers which sort of puts it into perspective as we all are now commanded to hate such people by our Supreme Leader who has now issued laws and ultimatums to bankers and all Tories for causing the financial mess we are in. Poor old Willie has taken a good aim at his foot and blasted at it with gusto. Perhaps the resultant pain will wake him up.

At a time when BA has called for an extra £600m in cash and tried nonsensical cuts to try and compensate for the horrendous losses of last year, this was one investment that could have waited or have been binned.

But nope Willie is a real willy, for sure.

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