The viability of long-haul low-cost operations remains "unproved", in the opinion of British Airways chief executive Alex Cruz.

Speaking at the Skift Europe Forum in London today, Cruz said that the rise in London-New York passenger numbers following the entry of low-cost operators had provided evidence that "there is extra demand that was not being served, apparently".

But he describes these passengers as "very price-sensitive", and says there remains the question of "whether you can make money serving that demand".

He adds: "It appears this hasn't been proved just yet."

BA parent IAG decided to sell its 3.93% stake in long-haul budget carrier Norwegian earlier this year, Cruz notes.

Commenting on BA's decisions to axe its services from London Gatwick to Oakland last year and to end flights from the UK airport to Fort Lauderdale later this year, Cruz says that "ultimately those routes need to make sense themselves".

He also points out that rival Norwegian has also now exited both routes.

Cruz says BA will continue to look to add new routes to US cities with populations of 500,000-1 million that currently lack direct European connectivity. For many passengers, the UK airline is merely providing a "gateway" for US travellers to mainland Europe.

BA's new Club Suite business-class seat – to be deployed on the airline's Airbus A350s and ultimately rolled out across the rest of its long-haul fleet – was the last "missing" piece required in order to offer "the best business class" offering across the North Atlantic, Cruz argues.

Asked if he was concerned about the planned entry of JetBlue into the transatlantic market in the coming years, Cruz said the combination of BA's new product, its fast wi-fi and improved training for its cabin crew would give his airline the edge in terms of its business-class offering.

Source: Cirium Dashboard