BA scraps free meals on short flights

LONDON: British Airways PLC is scrapping all free meals - except breakfast - on its short-haul flights as the airline continues to trim costs amid a recession-driven downturn in demand for travel.

BA said Wednesday that the decision to cut meals on flights lasting less than two hours would save the airline around 22 million pounds ($36 million) each year.

The measure, to be introduced on Monday, adds to cost-saving plans by the carrier that also include proposed large-scale job losses and pay cuts.

Passengers on short-haul flights currently usually receive a sandwich. That will be replaced by a bag of nuts or other snack, alongside drinks.

The move brings BA closer to low-cost carriers like Ryanair Holdings PLC and easyJet PLC, which charge passengers to buy food on board.

But BA stressed it remains a full-service airline, saying breakfast would continue to be served on flights before 10am.

The airline said it had conducted research before making the change, finding that passengers did not require substantial refreshment on flights under two-and-a-half hours.

"When you fly with British Airways, the in-flight catering is top-class and, unlike some other airlines, it is free," it said.

"It is not unusual to make small changes to avoid waste and save money where it makes sense and it meets customers' changing tastes."