For as long as most of us can remember, British Airways has been a constant presence in Caribbean skies, living up to its promise in the old slogan “the world’s favourite airline” and delivering the quality of service befitting a four-star rating.
Now, however, Britain’s flag carrier looks set to take a step down, with aviation research firm Skytrax saying it is likely to cut BA’s rating to three stars out of five.
The move would bring BA in line with budget airline Ryanair, Uzbekistan Airways, Ethiopian Airlines, and Myanmar Airways, and would see it fall even further behind five-star rivals such as Etihad and Singapore Airlines.
The prospective downgrade comes hot on the heels of last week’s IT shambles which grounded flights and resulted in passengers being stranded across the Caribbean and around the world.
BA, which has had four stars since the ratings began 18 years ago, has been widely accused of becoming more like a budget airline under chief executive Alex Cruz, despite typically charging significantly higher fares.
Critics have claimed that Cruz’s “ruthless” cost-cutting was partly to blame for last week’s IT fiasco. Unions blamed the massive failure on a decision to cut hundreds of IT jobs and outsource roles to India, although BA insisted the shutdown was caused by a power supply problem.
Cruz, 50, has reportedly resisted calls to resign after being accused of spearheading a slow and chaotic response to the crisis.
The airline has also sparked a passenger backlash by ditching free snacks and drinks on short-haul services, planning to cut leg room on some flights and slashing perks for business class.
There have even been complaints of BA regularly running out of food on board. Edward Plaisted, chief executive of Skytrax, told The Sunday Times: “In many cases, they (BA) don’t meet a four-star standard.”
He said that Aeroflot – which is 51 percent owned by the Russian government and was once infamous for its inedible food and rude staff – now has better in-flight catering and better service.
He described Aeroflot as “a shining example of an airline that’s transformed themselves” – compared with BA, which “has not invested in the same way.”
British Airways, which faces a four-day strike over pay by cabin crew from June 16, said it was close to announcing improved service and food for Club World passengers as part of a £400million investment. Caribbean 360