British Airways has revealed details of major modifications to BA.com in a bid to further increase sales through its booming direct sales channel.
The airline has set a target of 50% distribution through BA.com by 2008, up from around 30% today.
Among the changes will be a new website design that will replace classic three letter airline codes with more consumer-friendly terminology, head of BA.com Carsten Willert said.
There will also be enhancements to the Executive Club booking functionality, which will decrease the number of screens, making it easier to navigate; and a connecting journey tool, allowing users to book onward journeys based on availability; and search for the lowest price.
The ‘calendar-led’ functionality will give customers flexible travel dates and an option to search for the best price on journeys originating outside of the UK.
“Today, customers can do a limited search for the best prices, on say the London-New York route, but with the new capability they will be able to search for the best fare on the Frankfurt-New York via London route, for example,” Willert said.
It is believed the strategy will give BA more leverage to opt-out of its current distribution agreements, under which the airline guarantees it will not undercut the fare available through the GDS, according to Willert. The current GDS agreements expire in March 2007.
Last month, British Airways revealed plans to slash its traditional UK direct sales operations, paving the way for more investment in its online strategy.
The move, which BA said was a “response to changing customer behaviour and increased sales on its BA.com website”, is part of a broader savings plan aimed at saving the airline £225 million in 2006-07 and a further £225 million the following year.
The proposed changes will affect roughly 300 staff employed in 17 high-street travel shops, corporate travel agency Worldlink based at Heathrow and its back-office support areas, as well as a further 100 staff in the Belfast call centre.
BA has already reduced its UK call centre headcount from 2,200 to 800 people since 2001.