Next year is set to be a big one for British Airways. The airline will be celebrating a major milestone its history – it’s 100th anniversary – an accolade that few other airlines can even come close to. BA charts its history back to an airline called Aircraft Transport and Travel Limited (AT&T) which launched the world’s first daily international scheduled air service in August 1919.
But it’s not only birthday celebrations that British Airways can look forward to in 2019. The airline will also be taking delivery of its first Airbus A350 and with it, BA will unveil a brand new (and long-awaited) Business Class product – or as British Airways likes to call it, Club World.
While critics of the airline lament it’s ‘race to the bottom’, the airline has in fact been investing something in the region of £600 million to improve Club World and other premium focused aspects of its business over the last 12-months. And whatever British Airways is doing, it seems to be working…
In the last few weeks, BA’s parent company, International Airlines Group (IAG), reported very healthy profits for 2017 – £2,655 million across the group’s portfolio of airline’s despite the IT Meltdown at British Airways which is said to have cost the airline around £100 million.
And now we’ve learned British Airways will be spending some of that money on a brand new uniform for all of its customer-facing staff. In a memo sent to staff, the airline said it planned to launch the new uniform next year to coincide with its anniversary celebrations.
On top of that rumour, we’ve even heard suggestions from staff that acclaimed British fashion house Burberry has been selected to design the new look for the airline’s 40,000+ employees.
It’s been over 10 years since British Airways launched a new uniform. The current look was designed by Welsh fashion designer, Julien Macdonald and was unveiled in 2003. Macdonald was apparently an outside and rather controversial choice of designer – more famed for his plunging necklines and risque evening wear than conservative uniform attire.
At the time, Macdonald explained his inspiration for the design, saying:
“I wanted to create a uniform that puts the glamour back into flying. It couldn’t get any worse than the one they’ve had for years,”
Referencing a Paul Costelloe-designed uniform which was introduced in 1993 and which featured long pleated skirts and jackets with lots of shoulder padding.
“The old uniform made the cabin crew look like someone’s old granny queueing for a bus, because it was so unflattering. It must have been terrible for a 20-year-old to have to wear something like that,” commented Macdonald.
Having recently left Givenchy when British Airways launched its 2003 uniform, Macdonald’s was the first to offer female staff the choice between wearing a skirt or trousers. He also designed a pilots uniform specifically for women – the first time this had been done in the airline’s history.
Top British milliner Stephen Jones also designed a new hat for BA’s cabin crew although it’s not believed this is always worn by all female flight attendants at the airline.
What British Airways has up its sleeve for its new look next year remains to be seen. Apparently, staff will be getting a say in key decisions and we would expect a degree of ‘wear testing’ before its rolled out to all of the airline’s employees.
It looks like BA will have some faily major announcements planned in the coming months.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.