Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Free Willie

Oh will someone put poor Willie Walsh out of his misery.

I blogged last month about an article in BA's HighLife magazine about how videoconferencing was 'perceived' by users as not to replace the benefits of flying to meetings. It was a piece of wanton propaganda as clearly they had taken slim evidence from middle managers and not looked at the issue from the point of view of the recession, the cost, high management's viewpoint about extensive unnecessary travel within their companies and the environmental issues. It basically said that videoconferencing and the like did not replace business travel - a sweeping statement.

Poor Willie - after just launching a new Business Class-only service for a £5,300 flexible round trip from London City Airport to New York on which only 32 people can travel, he asserts business people only fly because they have to. That much may be true, but if they have to travel, what on earth would compel them to take such a flight, at such a cost when it has to stop at Shannon on the way as it cannot get off the ground with a full load of fuel to make the full trip? I would argue, that long before a businessman would consider such a trip, they would have exhausted the far cheaper options out of the main airports by all other airlines, assuming that videoconferencing does not cut the mustard for their purposes at the start.

It seems he misses his own point. Such a service is pure luxury and the domain of the super rich firms who have no regard for money - like City banks. While we may bleat about bonuses, the range of travel options to such elite are ultra-luxurious whether they lose money or make it, good times or bad. That service really is only for the too-rich and stupid. The fact it uses Concorde's old flight number is a terrible lack of knowledge as to why Concorde was meant to be effective - it got there faster than anything else. This service arrives after normal ones.

Two major attempts in the last few years to tackle the Business Class-only market failed dismally at a time when there was more money around. This really is a dreadful use of BA's valuable resources at a time when staff are being squeezed for every penny of saving and customers are having parts of the offering withdrawn and being sold back to them at premiums.

Willie really is not doing a good job for his airline.

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