British Airways in 2013: Investing In Products, Aircraft and Technology
Accra , Feb. 28, GNA -The aviation industry in Ghana has grown immensely over the years, especially in the number of international airlines connecting to Kotoka International Airport in Accra.
There are currently about 24 international airlines operating in Accra, Ghana and many of them have been doing so for several years now.
British Airways (BA) has been operating in Ghana for the past 75 years and celebrated the anniversary last year with several activities including a launch and a press trip.
The airline began operating in Ghana in 1937 with the DH86 Diana class aircraft operated by Elders Colonial Airways, a one-weekly service between Southampton and Accra.
Since then BA has grown in leaps and bounds and currently operates daily flights to Accra on a Boeing 777-200 aircraft with a four-class configuration featuring innovative First class product, club world (business class), world traveler plus and world traveler.
Mr. James Wooldridge, BA Country Commercial Manager at a press briefing in Accra, said the airline had performed extremely well in 2012, with its popularity in the Ghanaian market spreading to other parts of Africa with the extension of services to Freetown and Monrovia.
He stated that British Airways’ outlook for 2013 was very positive, especially in Ghana because the country’s GDP was growing with the mining and oil and gas industries contributing to increased demand for air travel.
The airline would continue to offer daily services to London, working hard to maintain its great schedules. BA leaves London in the afternoons, arriving in Accra in the late afternoon and then leaving around 11:00pm to London. It arrives in London at 5:30am.
‘It may seem early but it’s great for passengers who have business in London, it allows them to rest and be ready for their meetings around 7:00 or 8:00am’ he stated.
Mr. Wooldridge said BA also had an extensive network with flights to North America which allowed passengers from Ghana a connection through Terminal Five in London onto other flights, as well as a full class aircraft everyday of the week.
He added that BA also had an online booking system designed to allow customers to manage the whole booking process themselves, including the buying and payment for tickets online with their registered credit cards on ba.com; choosing seats and making changes.
In order to eliminate most of the queuing at the airport, BA has also installed several self-service kiosks for passengers to check-in by themselves and print their boarding passes.
‘It’s quite innovative and easy to use and I’m pleased how that’s working’ Mr. Wooldridge said, adding that Terminal 5, equipped among others with great shops and fabulous lounges for their premium customers, had recently been awarded the world’s best airport by over 12 million airline travellers at a ceremony organized by Skytrax.
He explained moreover that the airline had offered great fares in 2012, making it very competitive and would be looking to continue to be competitive in 2013, and urged customers to watch out for more offers.
‘We’re gonna really be competitive again this year. We’re glad our market share continues to grow and we’ll continue to give our customers in Ghana the opportunity to travel on British Airways at very convenient times with great connections to North America and other countries and with a great airplane and product’ he declared.
British Airways has had a good relationship with the media in Ghana and has enjoyed immense support from the media, Mr. Wooldridge said.
He indicated he had often tried to be available to the media for ad hoc meetings, saying the relationship was continually growing and that he was looking forward to working more with the media in Ghana in and outside the country.
On BA investments, he said the airline was investing £5 billion (8billion dollars) in a whole range of areas that would benefit its customers. Mr. Wooldridge said the airline had ordered 24 Boeing Dreamliner and 12 A380s aircraft that were due to be delivered in 2013.
He pledged BA’s continued commitment to having and flying the Dreamliners in spite of recent battery problems with Boeing’s Dreamliners. He explained that it was not unusual for new aircraft to experience technical problems, and that was why BA had declined to be the first customers of the aircraft.
However, he said, they were working with Boeing and as soon as the problems were addressed they would fly the aircraft whose delivery was expected in May or June this year.
BA was also investing £100 million in its first class product, he said, adding ‘It’s a wonderful product and we’re getting rave reviews about the quality of the product and the quality of service’. The airline was also investing in on-board entertainment, catering and other technology for its crew.
According to Mr Wooldridge, BA crew had been equipped with IPads that allowed them to communicate directly with customers and get to know them at a personal level and to know their experiences on BA, and had so far received amazing feedback from their customers. They were also adding Smartphone technology that allowed their customers to manage their bookings on their Smartphone.
He said BA would also be focusing on adding more routes to its network and had already started with the addition of new routes, including Sierra-Leone and Liberia, to its West African network which, together with Accra (Ghana), Lagos and Abuja (Nigeria) bringing to five the number of destinations in the region.
‘Our strategy this year will be to remain competitive and to continue to grow our market share here in Ghana and my main focus will be to raise brand awareness through media events and advertising. The BA brand is a strong brand in Ghana and raising awareness is top on my priority’, Mr. Wooldridge stated and urged Ghanaians to watch out for great offers and promotions from the airline.