Home Estate Planning British Airways’ chief unveils £7bn ‘modernisation’ with free in-flight Whatsapp, new seats and glitzy first class

British Airways’ chief unveils £7bn ‘modernisation’ with free in-flight Whatsapp, new seats and glitzy first class

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British Airways has unveiled plans to splash out £7bn on a raft of new changes to the airline at a showcase event in London.

The proposals include new first class suites and airport lounges, free of charge onboard messaging on apps including iMessage, Teams, Facebook and Whatsapp and an £850m investment in AI, machine learning and IT infrastructure across the business.

Passengers wishing to use messaging apps and internet access must sign up to BA’s loyalty scheme. Passes range from £4.99 to £21.99 and BA plans to begin rolling out the service from April 3.

Chief executive Sean Doyle outlined the “modernisation” plan yesterday evening at an event near the City of London.

“We’re on a journey to a better BA for our people and for our customers, underpinned by a transformation programme that will see us invest £7bn over the next two years to revolutionise our business,” he said.

“We’re going to take delivery of new aircraft, introduce new cabins, elevate our customer care, focus on operational performance and address our environmental impact by reducing our emissions and creating a culture of sustainability.”

He added: “We’re also heavily investing in the development of a new ba.com website and app and are laser-focused on transforming our business and fixing any pain points for our customers.”

The announcement comes not long after British Airways was voted among the worst airlines in short-haul and long-haul, in a survey conducted by consumer champion Which?

Alongside free in-flight access to messaging apps, passengers can look forward to a brand new first class cabin on its A380 aircraft, which will be rolled out near the end of 2025.

New lounges are also planned for Dubai and Miami, with “loung refreshes” in Lagos and Seattle.

Passengers flying with BA can also look forward to a host of new route choices. Services will return from London to Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur, beginning in October and November respectively.

BA is also returning to Abu Dhabi on April 20 and adding Agadir in Morroco and Izmir in Turkey to its network in March and May respectively.

As part of the transformation, some 350 new roles will be added at BA’s hub Heathrow to improve customer experience.

British Airways is owned by the IAG, an airline conglomerate which also operates airlines including Vueling and Iberia.

The group reported a record £3bn annual operating profit in its recent results after travel demand rebounded from the pandemic.

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