British Airways will resume its flights to Sharm El-Sheikh starting 15 September, following a decision by both the Egyptian and British governments, said Regional Customer Service Manager at British Airways Sherif Barsoum. In an interview with Daily News Egypt, Barsoum said his company achieved a growth rate amounting to 10% in the past year; however, this year’s growth rate is not expected to register more than 7%.
When will British Airways resume its flights to Sharm El-Sheikh?
The company has decided to resume its flights to Sharm El-Sheikh on 15 September, according to its schedules. However, the decision regarding the date is subject to the approval of the British government. Flights were suspended in the wake of the Russian aeroplane crash at the end of October 2015.
We chose mid-September because it is the same season that British Airways began its flights to Sharm El-Sheikh last year, which is when the company begins its winter season flights.
How do you find the level of security measures at Egyptian airports, especially Sharm El-Sheikh Airport?
First of all, no place in the world is 100% secured. Places where citizens expect to be the most secure can be penetrated, but there are different levels of security. These levels increase or decrease upon certain measures and considerations, most important of which are the equipment the countries have and the training airport personnel receive.
The Egyptian government has become aware of the importance of these measures. The level of security in all Egyptian airports, particularly in Sharm El-Sheikh Airport, has increased. Security measures in Egyptian airports, whether Luxor, Sharm El-Sheikh, Cairo, Hurghada, or Marsa Alam, have improved by 80% compared to eight months ago, which is the biggest factor the company relied on when planning to resume flights to Sharm El-Sheikh.
How many flights to Egypt does the company organise and what are the destinations the company is targeting?
British Airways operates only seven flights to Cairo International airport after suspending flights to Sharm El-Sheikh. We intend to increase the number of flights to airports in Borg El-Arab, Luxor, and Hurghada in 2017. The company transports 400 passengers to and from Cairo daily, adding up to 134,400 passengers annually.
What losses did the company incur after suspending flights to Sharm El-Sheikh?
It is not possible to know the exact amount the company lost, but it was making four weekly flights transferring 150 passengers per flight and 600 passengers weekly. The planes’ occupancy rate was 100%, which means it lost 16,800 passengers since the flights were suspended to Sharm El-Sheikh Airport.
What is the size of the company’s losses this year compared to last year?
The loss the company incurred in the first half of this year is 40% down from the same period last year.
Is there a plan to overcome the losses?
The expected plan is to stop the line that incurs losses, exactly like any project that is not rewarding to its owner. The idea of freezing all of the company’s operations in Egypt because of the Russian aeroplane crash has not yet been proposed. The company continued working in the local market during the period of the revolution.
Does British Airways intend to organise charter flights?
The company has no intention to provide charter flights in the next period because British Airways is a service-integrated company. Also, although it has not been owned by the government since 1984, it is recognised as the national flight company in the United Kingdom.
How many aeroplanes does the company have to Egypt in present?
The company renovated and replaced the current fleet in Egypt because it has been working for 26 years. Boeing 767s were replaced with Boeing 787s, a new, high-technology model. The last flight with the old model will be on 29 June. Fourteen old planes were replaced with 22 planes from the new model. The company has received eight planes until now and is receiving one every month and a half.
How much can a passenger’s luggage weigh?
British Airways gives customers many options for carrying heavy weight luggage. Standard tourist customers are allowed 23kg bags while upgraded customers and first class customers are allowed 32kg bags. Moreover, the company sells additional bags for a flat rate of $60, while other companies price additional bags per kilogram. Customers who have the company’s card are allowed an additional bag after flying a certain number of miles and moving from the bronze to the silver category. Gold customers have the right to carry as many bags as they want as they pay the company approximately 2,000 sterling pounds annually.
How many tickets are sold annually?
The company sells tickets at its offices in airports, City Stars Mall, tourism companies, foreign offices, and online. Tickets sales in December 2015 reached EGP 5.6m, but decreased to EGP 5m in January, EGP 4m in February, and EGP 2.9m in March.
How much revenue has the company gained since the beginning of this year?
There is no precise number of the company’s revenue this year, but we suffer from a decline amounting to 100% compared to 2010.
How did the company solve its problem with Egyptian banks?
British Airways managed to transfer its entire dues in Egyptian banks during the past period, which amounted to EGP 40m and endured the devaluation of the Egyptian pound against the US dollar. We agreed with the Egyptian government to transfer 50% of the company’s monthly profits to our offices abroad at the price of the bank after deducting salaries and airport charges. Our problem was not with the government and it owed us nothing, we just wanted to transfer our revenues to our offices abroad.
What are the banks that the company deals with and is there any intention to change them?
We work with the Commercial International Bank (CIB) and HSBC, and there is no intention to change either of them or work with other banks.
How many offices does the company own internally?
We have two branches of the company: one at the airport and one at City Stars Mall. We are also contracted with 50 tourism companies that sell our tickets as well as online service.
What is the company’s expansion plan internally and externally?
Locally, we target launching flights to Sharm El-Sheikh and Hurghada airports as well as some airports in Italy, Hungary, some Greek islands, and the US at the beginning of October.
Are there currently any negotiations between the company and the Ministry of Aviation or other government institutions?
We are negotiating with the government to increase the number of weekly flights to Cairo to fourteen flights a week instead of only seven flights.
What are the biggest markets for British Airways on a global and regional level?
Our greatest sales are in the United Kingdom and the US with a total of 45 flights per day. East Asia is also a large market. In the Arab region, Dubai is our largest market, followed by Muscat, Doha, Jeddah, and Riyadh.
What is the size of the company’s growth during this year?
The company achieved 10% growth in 2015, and I expect it will not exceed 7% this year.
How many passengers travel on the company’s fleet?
There are 40 million passengers who travel annually on our fleet of 280 aircrafts, through 190 airports located in 80 countries.