British Airways boss says rich tourists will make up for poor business class sales


British Airways boss says rich tourists will make up for poor business class sales

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Wealthy passengers expected to fill premium cabins.

British Airways chief executive, Sean Doyle, has backed wealthy tourists to cushion airlines from the decline in business flying.

The CEO believes rich holidaymakers buying premium seats will make up for the huge decline in business and first class travel.

Doyle also believes that BA’s £6.5bn investment in refurbishing its business class cabins and lounges since 2018 had been worth it.

“The reason we’re very compelled by the investments is we have a significant premium leisure segment,” he told an industry webinar.

“A lot of people who travel in our premium cabins are travelling for leisure, or visiting friends or relatives.

“That’s been growing over the last decade and we think that will continue to grow – and that gives us a very effective buffer if the corporate segment is not recovering at the pace of other segments.”

Doyle said he believes office working would recover and lead to more in-person meetings as companies become frustrated with Zoom calls.

“I think we will see business travel recover because people do business with people, not organisations,” he said, though he acknowledged that “we will never get back to the old days”.

Doyle also shared his optimism about the near future, as the the vaccination drives taking place in both the UK and US continue.

“I think the US is a great opportunity to get up and running again. … Opening up an air corridor is something that can be easily achieved if we have the will on both sides of the pond.”