FOXTROTS

 

 

Fox – sly.  Trots – left-leaning (Trotsky) plus its more insalubrious meaning.

Foxtrots – leading the industry in a dance.

 

 

February 26 2012

 

 

PAGPFT: British Airways and Open Skies (the airline).

 

T

HIS is PAGPFT (pronounced PAG-puffed; People Are Getting Paid For This) at its best.

 

 

 

British Airways has made so many businessplan mistakes with its subsidiary, Open Skies (despite the name, an airline). It now plans more.

 

OS was a business- and first-class-only airline. But it now plans to add economy class – undermining most of what it has been trying to do since BA bought the already-failing L’Avion (despite the name, an airline) and changed its silly name to an English-language silly name, Open Skies, in 2007.

 

Bizarrely though, BA says OS’s new ‘Eco’ class (yes, really, that’s its name) will offer “access to a premium travel experience”. Er, how is that? Can passengers look into the business-class cabin?

 

The following is what BA plans for its subsidiary. I quote directly because it is funny on its own (paraphrased for reasons of space):

 

“From June, Open Skies will have three classes – ‘Eco’ will join the ‘Biz Bed’ and ‘Prem Plus’ – which was ‘Biz Seat’. ‘Biz Bed’ is the business class cabin.”

 

Note well, ‘Prem Plus’ is not actually ‘premium’; the top class is ‘Biz Bed’. Clearly, the marketing department is an intellect-free zone. But…BA is correct in one comment – “Open Skies is a unique product on the market”.

 

There is more. “All passengers will get access to priority lanes.” So all OS passengers get special treatment. But doesn’t that mean it is no longer ‘special’?

 

However, don’t take my word for it…what does the market think of OS? Well, after five years, the OS route network is back to where it started – just one route, New York-Paris.

 

If BA want my (unpaid) advice, there are two things they must do:

 

1. Change OS’s name to British Airways. Bye bye ‘Open Skies’.

 

2. Offer the BA service product. If BA believes there is more demand for premium seats on the route (although this latest move to add economy-class indicates the opposite), then make the first-class or business-class cabin larger. And dump those intellectually shrivelled cabin-class names.

 

 

Simple really. If they don’t do these two things, it means they cannot accept the loss-of-face it would mean for BA chairman Willie Walsh, who thinks OS is a brilliant idea. He gets a good salary as well.

 

 

 

The Fox