The Future for BAA

By | Category: Travel rumblings

This morning BAA announced its financial results for 2010. It made a loss but the chief executive calls this “robust” and confidently expects to present a “strong increase in profits” this year.
Now let’s get down to the important stuff. How is BAA going to treat its passengers in the future? Apparently on BBC Radio 4’s File on Four tonight, Colin Matthews – the Chief Executive – will say that Heathrow will double its fleet of snow clearing vehicles to more than 100. This is part of 3 strategies that were confirmed in BAA’s presentation, one of which is “Making Every Journey Better.” There is a long way to go before that is achieved since satisfaction levels are still stuck in the middle as compared to a group of competitors . It still has areas of passenger concern. The amount of baggage that is “misconnected” (what a lovely word meaning “fouled up”) hasn’t significantly been improved. Punctuality at Heathrow is no improvement on the previous year either. (The presentation doesn’t give figures for its other airports.) Heathrow is getting a wonderful new terminal 2 in a few years time and there will be a new baggage tunnel to help speed up luggage delivery.
Those of you outside London will be nodding off and no wonder. The report, the presentation and the press release hardly mentions BAA’s other airports. This is because one of their other strategies is to focus on Heathrow. It is almost as though they have accepted the decision by the Supreme Court not to allow them to appeal against the sell-off of a Scottish airport and Stansted. Except that it was only a fortnight ago that they launched their big plan for the future of Glasgow Airport. Could Edinburgh then will be the one they opt to sell as no master plan has been produced there yet? Edinburgh’s last master plan was in 2006 (as was Glasgow’s) so maybe one is imminent. Funny how their master plans are every 5 years – just like the old communist blocs’ plans and look what happened there! And what of the future of Southampton and Aberdeen airports?
From the passengers’ point of view what matters is service, a quick hassle-free move through the airport and that is it. Edinburgh is the only one of their airports to make it into the top 5 in Europe for customer service. And will that or any other airport other than Heathrow get a look-in at big improvements if the main focus is to be there? BAA lauds the fact that the net income from passengers from retail efforts is up by 12% to an average of £5.29 per passenger and the huge investment it is continuing to make. If the service isn’t there; if the satisfaction isn’t there then competition from Gatwick to its London base and from whichever airport it loses in Scotland might do more than anything else to improve the lot of the traveller going through its remaining airports.
Earlier, I asked how BAA intended to treat its passengers, one of it’s three key strategies. I still haven’t found that part in any of the documents

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