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In the News

BA squeezes costs

Penny Brooks

7th March 2017

Consumers looking at booking a flight for their holiday will compare prices and departure times, and generally make a decision based on those two issues. They tend not to compare another variable between the airlines - the amount of legroom between the seats.

The more legroom there is, the fewer seats on the plane. BA has found that by reducing the legroom by just one inch, it can add a further two rows on its Airbus A320 and A321 aircraft - that is another 12 seats in total, raising the potential revenue significantly. This will mean that they are offering 29 inches of legroom - the same as Easyjet, but an inch less than Ryanair, which could make a big difference to taller passengers, and which Ryanair are likely to play up in their adverts.

Simon Calder, travel editor of the Independent, told the BBC the increase would bring the number of seats on BA planes to 180 which matches the total on parent company IAG's other airlines Aer Lingus, Iberia and Vueling. Last November BA also said it would increase the number of economy seats on its long-haul Boeing 777 aircraft by almost a fifth, from 280 to 332, by increasing each row to 10 seats instead of 9, meaning that each seat must become narrower.

But as Easyjet plan to increase seats on their Airbus planes from 180 to 186, and Ryanair aim to squeeze another eight seats on its planes, BA have only two options: in a classic example of Porters's theory, they can either compete on costs by doing the same as the others, or differentiate by offering higher value service and charging a higher price for it. If customers are not prepared to pay that higher price, that choice is a no-brainer.

Penny Brooks

Formerly Head of Business and Economics and now Economics teacher, Business and Economics blogger and presenter for Tutor2u, and private tutor

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