British Airways, which offers some of the world's best long-haul premium service in its first class and Club World business-class cabins, said today that its premium traffic declined by 13.7 percent in January. That's as measured by passenger revenue miles flown, compared with January 2008.
This sharp decline in premium passenger miles flown comes even as British Airways, like most competitors on the industry's highly lucrative long-haul premium routes, has been discounting and offering promotions that include free nights at London hotels with the fare.
B.A. is a bellwether for the industry. The decline in premium traffic, much of it dependent on the now-staggered financial services business, is a still-underreported crisis for the major airlines. Few of them have yet 'fessed up to the real crisis in premium traffic -- on which several U.S. airlines have bet a good chunk of the farm.
Obviously, this is a very good time to book international premium-class fares if you are so inclined.
From the B.A. statement today:
"British Airways added more discounted fares to its World Offers sale for travel between January and September 2009 with reductions on a range of longhaul destinations including New York, Cape Town and Grand Cayman and shorthaul destinations including Paris, Venice, Milan, Vienna and Prague..."