Air Transport World

Britannia: a market-driven airline: U.K. charter carrier aims to cut costs by modernizing its fleet, reducing the work force and 'rethinking' scheduled services. (Britannia Airways) (company profile)

U.K. charter carrier aims to cut costs by modernizing its fleet, reducing the work force and rethinking' scheduled services. By Arthur Reed.

Luton, England-increased competition in the charter sector from new-entrant airlines and a severe downturn in the package-holiday business in Britain have led Britannia Airways' revised senior management to carry out a major rethink of the airline's strategy for the future.

Britannia, which with annual passenger carryings of around 7 million claims to be the country's leading leisure airline and its second-largest carrier after British Airways, will (1) reduce employment by about 250, mainly through voluntary redundancies and early retirement, (2) improve its customer service, (3) dispose of its older Boeing 737-200s, (4) acquire six 757s, four next summer, the remainder by summer' 92 and (5) place a "major" order next year for an aircraft type in the 150-seat bracket as a long-term replacement for its 737-200s.

The majority of the redundancies will come from among engineering staff, due to the decrease in maintenance requirements from a reduced-age fleet and a net reduction in aircraft numbers, and from pilots and cabin staff through what the airline terms improved efficiencies in the basing of these personnel.

Currently, the airline operates 25 737200s, seven 737-300s and nine 767-200s. A further six 767s are on order for delivery by 1993 and there are options that can be taken by 1995 on an additional eight. 6-month strategy review

The significant menu of changes now being introduced at Britannia was thrashed out in a 6-month strategy review by the airline's management under its chairman, Dave Hopkins, and managing director, Roger Burnell, and published this past May under the heading Flight Plan for the 1990s. its impact on the airline was explained in detail by Burnell and other senior executives to employees at a series of presentations at the Luton Hoo stately home near here. Detailed consultations with unions and employee representatives on the ways in which the changes are to be implemented are continuing at this writing.

Burnell, 39, arrived at Britannia as MD in October, 1988, from a similar post with the tour operator Lunn Poly, a sister company to Britannia within the Thomson Travel Group, which in turn is part of the Thomson Corp., the newspaper, publishing, information technology and travel congolmerate, headquartered in Toronto. Burnell had been with the Thomson group for 14 years and previously held senior posts with Thomson Holidays and Horizon Holidays.

This past May, Hopkins announced that he would leave the airline as chairman at the end of October to pursue his own business interests. …

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