The Financial Times, famous for its industry-leading financial analysis and of course it’s salmon pink coloured pages, has reacted pretty furiously to a decision by British Airways to stop offering the print edition of the newspaper for free in the airline’s lounges and onboard its aircraft.
In a half page advert in today’s paper, the Financial Times said it regretted the “inconvenience caused to our regular readers by BA’s abrupt decision to end its long-standing partnership with the FT”. The paper suggested customers who might miss seeing the Financial Times in British Airways lounges and planes should purchase a discounted copy from airport retailer WHSmith or subscribe to the online version of the paper.
The advert is a pretty drastic step for the Financial Times to take and clearly the editorial and sales teams aren’t happy with BA’s decision to axe the title. The suggestion that British Airways made the decision “abruptly” is also interesting, suggesting the airline and newspaper weren’t in the midst of negotiations and instead British Airways made the decision unilaterally.
Perhaps the Financial Times is hoping to anger enough influential and high-spending BA customers to complain directly to the airline in the hope it will reverse its decision. Many frequent flyers have expressed their disappointment with the news but it’s unlikely to be a deciding factor in someone’s choice of airline.
It’s not the first time British Airways has cut a newspaper title, with the popular but controversial tabloid The Daily Mail being given the axe last year.
In response to today’s news, British Airways said it “regularly reviews what is on offer.” A spokesperson continued: “We offer a wide range of titles to give our customers plenty of digital and print options for news, business and leisure reading material.”
In fact, British Airways has recently become one of only six airlines globally to offer free access to the PressReader app that allows passengers to access thousands of publications. Currently in trial phase, BA customers can access the app between 24 hours before and three days after their flight, while all elites can access the app in British Airways lounges using a WiFi hotspot.
Other airlines that offer free access to the app include Air Canada, Cathay Pacific, Iberia, Turkish Airlines and Virgin Australia.
While British Airways already offers over 80 print publications worldwide, the PressReader app opens up a vast new library that passengers would otherwise not get access to – even the Daily Mail makes an appearance.
Admittedly, passengers will need their own smartphone, tablet or laptop but considering that 70% of airlines have either already removed printed media altogether or plan to do so within the next three years, then an app-based solution is a good compromise.
The benefits for the airline (and the environment are also significant). The Canadian-based PressReader suggests airlines could save $12.50 per flight by removing the offer of printed newspapers and magazines onboard aircraft – British Airways operates around 1,000 flights per day just out of London so that equates to savings of $4.5 million per year.
The Financial Times isn’t featured on PressReader which makes one wonder whether BA is planning a full-on rollout of the app (and the widespread removal of printed newspapers)?
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.