Stephen Humphreys took up his role at BA in 2015 after a 10-year absence. His experience includes senior regional and sales positions with Qantas in Australia and a time as managing director of Stella Travel Services in New Zealand.
Speaking at the ITT Odyssey Supper at the Houses of Parliament last night (Thursday), Humphreys said that for too long BA had been “a bit inwardly-focused, a bit detached”.
“We’ve been getting on with a lot of work but we’ve moved away from our responsibility in the industry and we’re keen to change that,” he told guests.
“I hope that in the activities we’re doing and the support we’re providing to ITT we’re taking some steps in that direction.”
When quizzed further on the issue, Humphreys added: “In the UK in particular our brand is strong, and our BA.com presence is also strong. Almost half our UK business comes through there. We need to keep that in balance.
“That said, I think BA needs to play a very active and vital role within the industry. I want to make sure we’re participating in groups like this, investing time, effort and money in the industry in the right ways.
“How that plays down to commercial relationships with individual agencies – that’s a different case. Of course we invest where we see value.
“In terms of being a participant in the industry I want us to step up more and be more visible and more supportive.”
Meanwhile, Humphreys described BA’s recent move to withdraw its free food service in economy on short-haul flights as a “no-brainer”.
Asked whether the move had been “worth it”, he said: “It was a decision that we thought about long and hard and had been on the agenda for discussion for at least a couple of years. We stepped away from it on a number of occasions.
“Financially, it’s a no-brainer. It’s absolutely the right decision to make. And if we get the delivery right – and we still have some way to go on that quite frankly – it will make a discernable difference.
“Generally the feedback from people was that they didn’t really value the food. It didn’t play a role in their decision-making process and it was a mediocre offering. If we have good choice, good quality and reasonable pricing it will be a good call.”