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Chief Executive’s review

Service improvements

I am greatly encouraged by the operational progress we made during the year.

This time last year we were struggling to recover from the disastrous opening of Terminal 5 at Heathrow. I predicted then that, within a year, Terminal 5 would have proved itself to be a really magnificent facility. Sure enough it has.

During the year we saw satisfaction ratings across our network rise by eight percentage points to 72 per cent. Some 21 million passengers have passed through Terminal 5 in its first year. Satisfaction levels among them have risen steadily through the year to 76 per cent.

We continue to beat our targets on punctuality, achieving a 20 percentage point improvement over the year. At Terminal 5 some 82.5 per cent of flights departed within 15 minutes of their scheduled time and we also achieved 99.5 per cent regularity.

We have significantly reduced mislaid or misdirected bags during the year. By March we were running at fewer than 20 bags per 1,000 passengers at Heathrow, some 72 per cent better than a year earlier.

The successful transfer of 21 of our services to Terminal 3 at Heathrow in February and March, where premium check-in is consolidated with our oneworld partners, is also helping.

We have had a similar improvement in satisfaction with the new Club World cabin, now rolled out to all our Boeing 747s and over half of our Boeing 777 fleet. We expect our new two by two seat configuration in Club Europe to be equally well received.

Statistics like these are the lifeblood of a successful premium carrier focused on delivering great service, and they put us in exactly the right place to achieve our long-term goal.

Global premium airline

We have set our sights on being the world’s leading global premium airline.

We have five key goals. They are to:

  • Be the airline of choice for longhaul premium customers;
  • Deliver an outstanding service for customers at every touch point;
  • Grow our presence in key global cities;
  • Build on our leading position in London; and
  • Meet our customers’ needs and improve margins through new revenue streams.

In our strategy and objectives we describe the steps we plan to take to meet these objectives and we describe what this will mean for our people.

This focus on premium markets may look strange at a time when premium traffic, according to IATA’s latest figures, has declined by around 19 per cent in the first three months of 2009, and when we have been forced to cut back our premium capacity by parking aircraft and reducing flying.

We check our vision against our short-term actions regularly and are convinced it remains valid. For a start, it marks a continuation of the work we have already done to improve our products and services. We remain convinced that this is the part of the market where we need to be powerfully represented when conditions improve – as they inevitably will.

We are backing the vision with sharper leadership. During the year we created a Management Board focusing on strategy and the operational and financial health of the business, and a Customer and Operations Executive whose job is to ensure we continue to make big strides in improving customer service.

OpenSkies aircraft

Our OpenSkies subsidiary – flying a premium service to New York from Paris and Amsterdam – is another example of great innovation and customer feedback has been excellent.

“So our work right now is all about getting the right balance between necessary short-term action to weather the storm, and sensible long-term planning and investment for the future.”

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