british airways swot analysis

British Airways SWOT Analysis 2024 With Recommendations

From the world’s favorite airlines, British Airways has fallen hard from grace. Although the airline company made over $21.2 billion in 2022, its reputation has kept on sinking. It’s a prime example of how cost-cutting isn’t always the answer, and we’ll explore this issue with the British Airways SWOT analysis.

British Airways: Company Overview

Company British Airways
Industry Airline
Founded 31 March, 1974
Founder British Government
Chairman & CEO Sean Doyle
Headquarter London, England, UK
No. of Employees 26,890++
Annual Revenue £3,693 million (FY 2021)

British Airways came into being from the formal dissolution of BOAC and BEA in November 1974. It entered the market with a strong initial showing, opening scheduled supersonic flights to the public. Unfortunately, its later headline appearances were mostly due to bad service, unreasonable costs, and infrastructure failures.

British Airways is still the flag-carrier airline of the UK. The company’s headquarters are in London, England. Its current CEO and chairman is Sean Doyle, and Stephen William Lawrence​ Gunning serves as the director and CFO.

Product & Services of British Airways
Global & Regional Airline | Engineering and Ground Handling Services | British Airways Global Learning Academy

British Airways Competitors
Easyjet | Jet2 | Virgin Atlantic | Thomson Airways | Delta Airlines | Monarch Air group | United Airlines | American Airlines | Southwest Airlines | Flybe

Did You Know?

Duchess Kate Middleton’s mother was a flight attendant for British Airways.

Strengths – British Airways SWOT Analysis

strengths of british airways

The Premium Economy Experience: British Airways triumphs over most of its competitors with its premium economy line. The seats come with 38 inches of pitch, are 18.5 inches wide, and have a comfortable leg rest and a footrest. Passengers have ample legroom and plenty of recline on their seats, along with numerous pouches, niches, and pockets to put their things in. The first meal is served hot, and the entertainment options and amenities are plentiful, making it one of the best economy experiences in the airline industry.

A Powerful Loyalty Program: British Airways’ loyalty program Avios, is a powerful, compelling customer retention tool. Avios points grant passengers various rewards for using the British Airways Visa Signature cards, the British Airways shopping portals, the company’s vacation portal, Avis and Budget car rentals, and more. While it shares the Avios program with Iberia, Air Lingus, and Qatar Airways, it also has its own tier points system. A passenger can have access to priority boarding, bonus Avios points, additional baggage weight, access to lounges, priority in seat choice, and more benefits as they travel using British Airways.

A Large Route Network: British Airways flies to over 200 destinations in 75 countries and collaborates with American Airlines, Iberia, and Finnair. The airline company’s coverage is large enough for any passenger to almost always have the shortest possible travel distance to their destination. British Airways offers more direct flights from the UK to the US and Canada than its competitors. Its wide network has also made traveling over the Atlantic ocean easier. Its wide reach allows the company to offer more flights, including over 20 flights from London to New York daily.

Massive Collection Of Aircraft: British Airways has over 280 aircraft in its possession. Currently British Airways has 30 Airbus A319-100s, 67 A320-200s, 22 A320neos, 14 A321-200s, 1 A321neos, 13 A350-1000s, and 12 A380s. As for the Boeing aircraft, the airline company has 43 777-200s, 16 777-300s, 12 787-8s, 18 787-9s, and 12 787-10 models. Its vast fleet with a large passenger capacity and facilities allowed the company to uplift 44.56 million passengers in 2019.

High Passenger Load: Unlike many of its competitors, British Airways has consistently maintained a high passenger load factor throughout the years. In 2011, the airline company had a passenger load factor of 78.2%, which kept increasing till 2019 and reached 83.6%. Within 6 months in 2022, British Airways’ passenger load factor was 76.4%, despite hitting a low 39.4% in 2021 due to the pandemic. The airline company’s highest passenger load factor was 94.0%, and it’s forecasted to reach 80.0% passenger load once more.

Weaknesses – British Airways SWOT Analysis

weaknesses of british airways

Poor Public Opinion: Despite its advantages, British Airways has a poor reputation among passengers. A recent review stated that on a flight from London Heathrow to Marrakech, the airlines changed the passenger’s pre-paid seats and charged them for selecting new seats. Another review complained that the flight was 30 minutes late, the crew made bogus announcements and disappeared, and then proceeded to charge passengers for even a glass of water. Most reviews have stated that the flight crew is rude and unhelpful, food options are limited and dismal, and making complaints achieves nothing.

Glitchy, Insecure Technology: The airline company has had a long-running issue with dated technology, causing fatal glitches and bugs that take hours to fix. As recently as 2019, British Airways passengers were hit with up to 22-hour delays or cancellations due to a technical issue in the airline company’s system. Passengers from Cancun to Gatwick had their flights delayed by 21 hours, and Pittsburgh to Heathrow flights arrived 12 hours late. Other than offering an official apology, British Airways failed to handle the issue promptly.

Aggressive Cost Cutting: British Airways’ recent leadership has been more focused on cost-cutting than on improving customer experience. The aggressive measures taken have only jeopardized the airline’s operations and left it crippled, causing massive costs in attempts to fix them. The company’s intercommunication has gotten so poor that its staff remains clueless about flight delays and cancellations, while IT issues can shut down the entire system at any moment. In 2017, depriving the IT sector caused the airlines to pay over $144 million to recover from the fallout, yet the company has ignored the harmful impact of mindless budget cuts.

Fallouts With Staff: The Airlines company has failed to uphold a good relationship with its staff, causing complaints, strikes, and protests. In 2019, British Airways pilots went on strike, demanding better payment and training programs. The pilots’ union BALPA claimed that the cost-cutting and simplification measures had ruined the airlines’ image. Due to British Airways’ stubbornness, the strike eventually caused fares to go up by 2100%, leaving customers unwilling to use its services.

Opportunities – British Airways SWOT Analysis

opportunities for british airways

Competing With Luxury Airlines: By competing in the premium airline space, British Airways can reduce the number of competitors down to a handful. The airline company can focus on passengers who are willing to pay more for better service than making a profit from the volume of sales.

Restructuring The Loyalty Program: Instead of sharing its loyalty program with other airlines, British Airways can develop one of its own. Other than Avios, the airline company already has a tier system in place. It can simply allow the same tier points to be used to claim Avios benefits and avoid having to share passengers with other airlines.

Diving Into Logistics: British Airways can repurpose its older aircraft models for logistics. This decision would allow the airline company to deal with potentially lower passenger load factors caused by focusing on customer experience and luxury. To ensure complete success, the company can sign B2B contracts with companies that need their resources or products delivered fast and across borders.

Threats – British Airways SWOT Analysis

threats to british airways

Sinking Stakeholder Impression: British Airways has been losing its reputation with its stakeholders to the point where they are harshly criticizing the company. In 2021, Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker commented that British Airways would be rated as 2 out of 10 airlines, and at that point in time, he owned 25% of British Airways. He commented that the management had lost focus and tried to turn British Airways into a budget airline when it was the exact opposite. If the majority of stakeholders are similarly disappointed in the future, the company may lose its backing completely.

Losing Ground To Virgin Atlantic: While Virgin Atlantic doesn’t offer as many destinations as British Airways, the airline is much better in just about everything else. Virgin Atlantic soundly beats British Airways with its superior, higher-value loyalty program and in flight-experience. Virgin Atlantic also has fewer extra fees and no hidden charges, while British Airways is often blamed for making passengers pay for even basic complimentary services. Continuously giving ground to Virgin Atlantic may lead to British Airways losing passengers completely on the same routes.

Dated And Understaffed IT: Since 2017, British Airways has been randomly and frequently hit with technical issues, which have caused numerous flights to be canceled and delayed. As recently as March 2022, the airline company experienced a technical issue that took down its system globally. Passengers were delayed more than 2 hours, although later flights were claimed to be on time. These issues have been brought upon the company through cost-cutting and understaffing of its IT services, which can eventually lead to a critical failure that its system may not recover.

[Bonus Infographic] SWOT Analysis of British Airways

british airways swot analysis infographic template

Recommendations for British Airways

British Airways can try these improvements to restore its image.

  • British Airways should invest more in its IT services and update its system.
  • The company should go back to providing a premium experience.
  • The airline can create its loyalty program with unique benefits.
  • The company can form B2B contracts with touring agencies to offer packages.
  • British Airways shouldn’t charge for typical complimentary services.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Checking in online is recommended, especially for domestic flights with no seat allocation.

British Airways lets passengers carry a laptop bag or handbag that weighs 7kg.

Final Words on British Airways SWOT Analysis

British Airways has fallen hard from its former glory, but shows no signs of stopping its chain of ill-fated decisions. Attempting to compete with budget airlines will surely sink it. To recover from its mistakes, the company must prioritize creating the perfect passenger experience and put effort into updating its system.


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