During an internal event live-streamed to the airline’s 30,000-strong workforce on Friday, British Airways chief executive Sean Doyle promised to restore connections with employees.
Doyle stated that he would “redefine” BA’s position in the airline industry by putting a “premium proposition at the center” of everything the company did.
After the event, Doyle told the Financial Times, “We want people to come off a British Airways flight and talk about it as if it’s something new.”
The Irish businessman will undoubtedly have his job cut out for him: he must somehow improve British Airways’ widely criticized customer service while also repaying a massive debt mountain.
At the same time, he’ll have to mend a strained relationship with employees who were disproportionately affected by BA’s cost-cutting tactics in the early days of the pandemic.
Doyle’s final assignment may be the most difficult. According to many reports, the results of an internal staff satisfaction poll were “sobering.”
Doyle has committed to addressing staff problems but has made it plain that there isn’t enough money to raise pay, which is the greatest concern among employees as the UK faces a cost-of-living crisis.
Doyle, avoiding concerns about undoing salary cuts imposed during the outbreak, said the airline’s priority was repaying a £2 billion government loan.
The money isn’t anticipated to be repaid in full until 2026 at the earliest, so the finance department will be scrutinizing every decision the airline takes for the foreseeable future.
Doyle admitted that the airline made faults in how it handled staff cuts in 2020 when he wasn’t the CEO, but vowed that the company will learn from its mistakes.
Some staff, on the other hand, were not convinced by Doyle’s vision. Friday’s event was even “more demoralizing,” according to some.
Nonetheless, Doyle claims that he will return staff to the company’s “heart.”
Immediate measures to the airline’s coveted concessionary staff travel privileges and parental leave are among the immediate measures being taken to try to restore morale.
Doyle’s predecessor was successful in securing major investment from parent firm IAG for the much-improved Club Suite business class seat prior to the pandemic, and this has been maintained even during the pandemic.
However, BA’s cost-cutting strategy will be carried out over most of the remainder of the company.
“Any airline can go out and buy products off the shelf and put them on a plane,” Doyle says. “It’s actually the confidence and the style and the intimacy that we deliver in service that is going to be a differentiator.”