The first episode of four-part series British Airways 24/7: Access All Areas airs tonight – 5th September – on Channel 5 (UK) at 2100 GMT, treating viewers to a unique insight into one of Britain’s most iconic brands.
Filmed over a nine-month period, with narration from award-winning actor James Nesbitt, the series goes behind-the-scenes, giving viewers a unique insight into how the airline is investing an unprecedented £6.5 billion for customers.
Alex Cruz, British Airways’ Chairman and CEO, said: “It’s fantastic that Channel 5 has been able to capture key moments in British Airways’ one hundredth year.
“The series opens the doors of our aircraft, engineering hangars and even boardroom, like never before, giving viewers a rare insight into the drive for transformation that informs everything we do, the investments we’re making for our customers and, most importantly, shines a light on the people who work day and night to keep our hugely complex global operation running, to bring Britain to the world and the world to Britain.”
Over the next four weeks viewers will follow the airline’s people as they purchase new aircraft, open new routes, overhaul premium service, try out new meals, maintain aircraft and much more.
Filmed at locations including Osaka, New York and Toulouse, the first episode sees Gavin Shearer, British Airways’ Aircraft Delivery Manager, at Boeing’s headquarters in Seattle as he prepares to purchase the airline’s thirtieth fuel-efficient Boeing 787 Dreamliner. British Airways is taking delivery of 73 new aircraft as part of its five-year investment plan. The episode sees Gavin and his team working against the clock with the aircraft manufacturer to finalise the deal and fly the new aircraft to Heathrow in time to operate its first flight to Toronto.
“Buying a new car is stressful enough” said Gavin. “Buying a new aircraft is a bit like that, but a lot more expensive and a lot more complicated. It really is an enormous privilege to be in charge of delivering these incredible, modern planes for British Airways, but I’m just one small part of a huge team responsible for making sure the aircraft is ready to enter service for our customers in just a few days.”
Existing aircraft are also being given a makeover as part of the airline’s major investment programme. At British Airways’ engineering base in Cardiff viewers see one of the airline’s long-haul Boeing 777 aircraft stripped down and completely refurbished as never seen before, with new cabins fitted, complete with new seating, lighting and entertainment systems.
Filming also captured the British Airways team as it prepared for a visit from Her Majesty The Queen at the airline’s headquarters to celebrate its hundredth year of flying. As part of the visit, Her Majesty toured the airline’s museum and reminisced with volunteer Jim Davies, who joined the national carrier as a booking agent almost 36 years ago. “We have never had such an important visitor at our headquarters and I don’t think I’ve ever seen such excitement” said Jim. “Thousands of my colleagues came out to welcome Her Majesty and it was the honour of my lifetime to show her the special memorabilia we’d kept from her flights, like tickets, photographs and a royal book that she always signs when she flies with us.”
Meanwhile, viewers see British Airways’ food chiefs travel to Vienna to work with chefs from luxury hospitality company Do&Co on the airline’s multi-million pounds investment to develop dozens of new menus.
British Airways’ chef Mark Tazzioli masterminded the huge project. “Airline food is anything but plain. People think it’s just chicken or fish, but that view is so outdated. We create menus for every different region we fly to, to cater for every palette and diet, and that’s in addition to the fifteen special meals we also offer our customers. We’ve just created a new superfood salad for our First cabin plus fresh, handmade ravioli and a special chicken stir fry for our World Traveller Plus customers which taste just as you’d expect from a top restaurant.”
And the documentary team was on hand at Heathrow to capture the arrival of the airline’s first A350 aircraft, which burn up to 25 per cent less fuel and are fitted with its new business class cabin and latest generation business class seat, Club Suite – described as a gamechanger for aviation.