Almost a year on from the shambolic opening of British Airways’ spanking new Terminal 5 at London Heathrow, evidence is beginning to emerge of the damage it has caused to BA’s brand.
According to the Business Superbrands survey for 2009, carried out by the UK-based Centre for Brand Analysis , BA’s brand position in the UK has plummeted from number 8 in 2008 to number 36 this year.
To rub salt into the wound, the survey also reveals that BA’s arch-rival, Virgin Atlantic, has improved its brand position in the UK to number 25, up from number 28 in 2008.
T5 opened on 27 March last year amid a fanfare from BA about how wonderful it would be, and how it was an “opportunity of a lifetime” for the carrier. But things did not go smoothly and the opening quickly turned into a highly-publicised disaster. To read my full account of the run-up to T5′s opening, the shambles that followed and the desperate attempts to pick up the pieces, visit my 2008 end of year blog.
On releasing the survey, Stephen Cheliotis, chief executive of the Centre for Brand Analysis, said: “Our research suggests that the more discerning business professionals might have had enough. After another turbulent year, including the T5 debacle, [BA] has for the first time fallen out of the Business Superbrands Top Ten.
“This is a worrying sign for an airline that is heavily reliant on its business customers, and with competition for flyers at an all-time high, and pressure on airlines so intense, clearly a reduction in the brand value of British Airways could in financial terms be significant.”
For its part, BA is keenly aware of the impact the opening of T5 had on its reputation. To counter this, it launched its “Terminal 5 is working” ad campaign, and has set aside part of its website to showcase what passengers now think of the terminal.
I’ve been through Terminal 5 once, after the dust had settled and it was doing what it was supposed to do, and I was impressed. The question is, how many former BA passengers have been put off for life, and how many will show their forgiving side and give the carrier another chance?