As the merger of British Airways and Iberia goes live this week, we reflect on a year with British Airways at the forefront of aviation history
This week saw the inauguration of International Airlines Group (IAG), the company formed by the merger of British Airways and Iberia, with Willie Walsh officially taking his place as the CEO of the new organisation. This marks the end of a remarkable 12 months for British Airways, with some unprecedented developments, putting British Airways yet again at the forefront of the aviation industry. Here British Airways looks back at the top ten landmark moments of last year leading up to one of the largest and most anticipated airline mergers in history.
Willie Walsh, Chief Executive of IAG, said: “IAG has a great future ahead of it. The first two airlines in the group, British Airways and Iberia, will retain their strong brands and have complementary networks that operate from two of the biggest hubs in Europe. The merger will lead to annual synergies of €400 million from year five and benefit IAG shareholders and British Airways’ and Iberia’s customers and staff. British Airways and Iberia are the first two airlines in IAG but they won’t be the last. Our goal is for more airlines – but, importantly, the right airlines – to join the group. Today is the first step towards creating a multinational multi-brand airline group.”
1. IAG: a new company is born
This week, the merger of British Airways and Iberia was officially completed, as International Airlines Group (IAG) officially became listed on the London Stock Exchange and Willie Walsh was installed as Chief Executive Officer. Both airlines will continue to operate under their existing brand names and the new company will carry over 62 million passengers a year to over 250 destinations. By combining British Airways’ extensive network to North America and Asia with Iberia’s to Latin America, customers will have considerably more choice of destinations and frequencies. The new company’s headquarters will be in London, with board meetings taking place in Madrid.
2. Airline alliances – British Airways and Iberia form Joint Business Agreement with American Airlines
In addition to the merger, last year British Airways and Iberia received approval from the European Union and the US Department of Transportation to form a transatlantic joint business agreement with American Airlines, providing customers with greater access to a global network of more than 500 destinations, discounted fares and more convenient connections. The joint business also gives greater rewards to frequent flyers who will be able to “earn and burn” miles on both British Airways, Iberia and American flights across the Atlantic.
The joint business will enable the airlines to launch new routes that would not have been economically viable for a single airline and a new route from Heathrow to San Diego which is due to launch on 1 June 2011.
3. British Airways launches New First
British Airways’ new First cabin took off in February 2010, following a £100 million investment by the airline in its flagship brand. Drawing on British Airways’ rich heritage, the new cabin offers an exclusive experience based on classic design and understated luxury, with features including a 60 percent wider bed at the shoulders, a 15” in-flight entertainment screen, a personal wardrobe and Anya Hindmarch washbag with amenities by D.R. Harris & Co. and REN.
The design of the new cabin was inspired by premium British brands and was made more contemporary to create an intimate private jet experience onboard. At the heart of its Quink blue and cream design is an enhanced bed – wider with a new “intelligent” mattress and the finest 400-thread Egyptian cotton bed linen.
The roll out of the new British Airways’ First Class cabin continues and will be completed in 2012.
4. New state-of-the-art product across all classes in the Boeing 777-300ER
British Airways this year became the first U.K. airline to take delivery of the long range Boeing 777-300ER, which is longer, quieter and more fuel-efficient than its predecessors and showcases the future face of British Airways. Kitted out with the all-new First, World Traveller Plus and World Traveller cabins, which were also launched this year, the 297-seat aircraft offers a four-class configuration which also includes Club World. The introduction of the new aircraft reinforces British Airways’ commitment to delivering on its promise to offer the best travel experience to its customers and reduce its carbon footprint. The new World Traveller and World Traveller Plus cabins now feature new in-flight entertainment systems providing customers with 50 percent more choices on movies and doubling the range of TV and music options.
5. British Airways Goes Private
This was also the year that British Airways launched a new private jet service – Private Connect – exclusively for British Airways customers flying within North America and the Caribbean.
The “PrivateConnect” service gives customers “pay-by-the-trip” access to a network of private aircraft operated by CitationAir and its parent, the Cessna Aircraft Company.
An on-line registration and dedicated phone number allows British Airways customers to simply “pay and go” with a credit card, avoiding the long-term commitment and up-front fees normally associated with private jet hire.
6. A Flying Start with British Airways and Comic Relief
In June, British Airways launched “Flying Start”, a new global charity partnership with Comic Relief, with a pledge to raise up to £8 million by 2013 for vulnerable and disadvantaged children in the U.K. and around the world. Comic Relief is a UK wide charity, which aims to create a just world, free from poverty. It is perhaps best known for two major fundraising campaigns that take place in alternate years – Red Nose Day and Sport Relief. Last year, British Airways gave over £5 million to charitable causes, through customer and other donations.
7. Leading the way in carbon emissions reduction
This year, two major announcements by British Airways showed the airline is one of the leading forces globally in terms of minimising the environmental impact of the aviation industry.
In February, British Airways, in partnership with the Solena Group, unveiled plans to establish Europe’s first sustainable jet-fuel plant, with the aim of using the low-carbon fuel to power part of its fleet from 2014.
The new fuel will be derived from waste biomass and manufactured in a state-of-the-art facility that can convert a variety of waste materials, destined for landfill, into aviation fuel.
The self-contained plant will be sited in east London, and will convert 500,000 tonnes of waste per year into 16 million gallons of green jet fuel through a process that offers lifecycle greenhouse gas savings of up to 95 percent compared to fossil-fuel derived jet kerosene. This volume of fuel would be more than twice the amount required to make all of British Airways’ flights at nearby London City Airport carbon-neutral.
In addition, British Airways, along with other powerhouses of the aviation industry including Airbus, IATA and Gatwick Airport, announced their backing of a pioneering project by Cranfield University to look at harvesting algae to produce jet fuel in commercial quantities.
The consortium, called the Sustainable Use of Renewable Fuels (SURF) will address all major considerations for the successful use of fuels from a renewable source like microalgae. The University already has a pilot facility on campus which is growing and processing algae for bio-fuels but the eventual aim is for Sea Green to be an ocean-based facility for the sustainable production of commercial quantities of biomass for biofuels.
8. New Phone App launched with Mobile Boarding Pass
In July this year, British Airways launched a new mobile application that allows customers to save time by checking-in on their smartphones. In an exciting new development for customers, Executive Club iPhone users were exclusively able to use the new App to display new Mobile Boarding Passes on their phones, which can be scanned at check-in to speed up and enhance the boarding process. This facility has now rolled out to include Blackberry and Android-operated mobile smartphones.
The App’s easy-to-use and stylish new interface, also gives customers instant access to their Executive Club details and updates on flights. The new App ensures customers have even greater functionality and have access to real flight information about their upcoming bookings, full integration with their Executive Club details, and easily and smoothly guides customers through each stage of their flight process.
9. Kingfisher Codeshare
Following Kingfisher Airlines’ inception in to the oneworld alliance earlier in the year, British Airways announced it was to start code-sharing with Kingfisher Airlines, in a move that represents British Airways’ first code-share partnership with has an Indian airline. British Airways’ code has now been placed on 11 domestic Indian routes and one route to Sri Lanka operated by Kingfisher Airlines while Kingfisher Airlines’ code was placed on nine British Airways’ routes from Heathrow to the U.K. regions and continental Europe. The airlines’ customers can now book their whole journey on each other’s websites, earn frequent flyer points on the code-share routes and gain access to each other’s airport lounges. Back then, British Airways Chief Executive, Willie Walsh, said: “India remains one of our most important longhaul destinations. The code-share with Kingfisher Airlines will give our customers easier access to Indian domestic routes and Sri Lanka flying on a young, dynamic, high quality airline.”
10. Flagship airport Heathrow Terminal 5 Welcomes Its 50 Millionth Customer
British Airways’ Heathrow hub passed a landmark moment as Terminal 5 welcomed the 50 millionth customer through its doors during the busy summer season, in its third year of operation.
Since opening in March 2008, Terminal 5 has become an acclaimed facility by travellers around the world – and is looking forward to the launch of further improvements.
Heathrow is the world’s busiest airport and Terminal 5’s efficiency and levels of customer service have helped to raise punctuality to record levels. As measured by industry standards, British Airways has improved its punctuality at Heathrow from an average of around 50 percent of on time departures each month when it was split located in Terminal 1 and 4, to an average of around 80 percent since moving to Terminal 5. Many days the airline can achieve 90 percent of on time departures at Terminal 5.
In addition, thanks to Terminal 5, British Airways now has the best baggage performance of any major European hub based carrier and overall levels of punctuality and baggage operations will improve even further when a new £300 million third part of the terminal campus, known as T5 C, opens for customers later this year.