Will no-frills airlines get a shake-up?

By | Category: Travel news

Will Willie take on the no-frills airlines?

At the end of last week, IAG, the holding company for British Airways and Iberia announced their results. As part of that, it was announced that their no-frills subsidiary, Vueling, had done well. The Times wrote, “The boss of British Airways has thrown down the gauntlet to low-cost airlines by setting out plans for an aggressive expansion of Vueling…”

I read other newspapers and the BA press release but couldn’t find the words the newspaper used. It might be the reporter sexing up a story or it might have been the answer in reply to a question. Whatever the reason, such a response would be welcome by passengers.

Why?

Because the largest no-frills – Ryanair – has been getting away with treating passengers less like customers and more like baggage for years. They would argue that they provide what passengers want – a cheap flight and that their passengers expect no more and will get no more. Vueling , on the other hand, delivers a much more attractive proposition to passengers. There is less hard sell in the aircraft; their staff seem politer and more flexible and they fly to the places that they say rather than 60 miles away.

If The Times is correct and that Willie Walsh, the boss of BA, Iberia and Vueling, is really going to expand then passengers should benefit. But the success of Vueling was built not by Walsh or by being absorbed into the BA/Iberia group but by its management led by Alejandro Cruz de Llano, a Spaniard based in London who commutes to the head office in Barcelona. He built the airline up based on some set ideas. Two of these were that “paying less doesn’t mean enjoying less services or comfort,” and that “there’s always room for improvement. Unlike some other airlines I could mention they also have a Quality Committee which “analyses feedback from our customers and, every three months, assesses the actions that we implement in all areas in order to improve their level of satisfaction.”

Walsh recognised that the management was important when he bought the airline keeping them in place.

So if Cruz de Llano and his team are being given resources to expand the Vueling brand and to take on the Ryanair’s of this world it should only be to the benefit of us passengers.

(CD-Traveller apologises for their being no link to the story in The Times. As its content is paid-for, readers would need to pay to read the story)

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