In Brief

BA to cut legroom on short-haul flights

Passengers will have less space than on Ryanair as airline steps up competition with budget fliers

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British Airways is to out-budget Ryanair, offering less legroom on some short-haul flights than its bargain-basement Irish rival.

Airbus A320 and A321 jets will, according to the BBC, get another two rows of seats, making 12 in total. Each economy passenger will lose around one inch of legroom and have only 29ins in which to sit. Travellers in business and first class will not be affected.

As a result, BA is now offering less room than Ryanair, although the Irish company will soon add another eight seats to its fleet. 

The planes will now have 180 seats, the same as Aer Lingus, Iberia and Vueling, says the BBC. BA also announced in November it will increase the number of seats on its long-haul flights by a fifth, making room for 332 passengers per Boeing 777.

Hannah Maundrell, editor-in-chief of Money.co.uk, told the Daily Telegraph the airline was playing a "dangerous game" and could be starting a race to the bottom.

She said: "[BA] should look to what's happened in the supermarket sector before they make any further cuts. Trying to compete with budget brands purely on price didn't work there and I'm doubtful whether it will here either. 

"Great customer service is what coaxes consumers into spending more and this is one area where BA simply can't afford to compromise."

BA's move follows its decision at the beginning of the year to drop free food on short-haul flights in order to cut fares and compete with budget airlines. It now offers sandwiches from Marks & Spencer for sale. 

In addition, last summer it reduced the number of free meals on long-haul flights lasting less than 8.5 hours. Instead of two meals, passengers in economy are now offered only one.

Meals in business and first, however, have not changed. 

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