British Airways' big sell-off: Champagne flutes and trolleys

By Russell Hotten
BBC News

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BA china- and glass-wareImage source, British Airways
Image caption,
China and glassware offered in First Class are up for grabs

Can't think what to buy your loved one for Christmas?

How about a British Airways drinks trolley? A First Class cabin bread basket or slippers, perhaps? Or even a hot towel (available cold)?

On Monday, the cash-strapped airline began selling off thousands of items of surplus stock, from champagne flutes to bedding.

Other items include an insulated box from a Boeing 747 kitchen, yours for £75, and serving trays - £10 for five.

The move comes months after BA decided to auction some of its precious artwork hanging in offices and airport lounges, including a £1m-plus work by Bridget Riley.

BA's profits have evaporated and the airline is making thousands of job cuts because of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on air travel.

Last month, BA's parent company IAG reported a £5.1bn loss for the first nine months of 2020, a dramatic reverse from the £1.6bn profit made during the same period in 2019.

But the latest sale is not just because it needs to save every penny, the airline says.

Changes in the mix of aircraft fleet and in-cabin service, plus the likelihood that BA will be a slimmer operation until air travel picks up, mean its warehouses are full of items that will never be used.

Image source, DutchScenery
Image caption,
Meal/equipment boxes from planes are up for sale

BA retired its 747 aircraft this year, and has put some memorabilia in the sale.

And while the event is not quite a sell-off of the family silver, the airline is getting rid of stacks of English bone china made by William Edwards, including plates, soup bowls, cups, saucers, and butter dishes. A set of four William Edwards pasta bowls is £40.

Carolina Martinoli, British Airways' director of brand and customer experience, said it was the first time the airline had organised such a sale.

"We know that these special items will fly and we are delighted to be able to offer them in time for Christmas to give people the opportunity to make it memorable during a difficult year," she said.

'Unusual items'

Rob Burgess, of the frequent flyer website, said that from the reaction among the community using his site "it appears there's a huge appetite to buy".

"I think it is partly nostalgia, and partly because it is actually excellent value for money given the suppliers that BA uses. Some items such as the day blankets have already sold out along with the brandy and champagne glasses."

The metal boxes used in the aircraft kitchens seem to be going fast, he added, probably simply because it's a chance for people to "get their hands on some unusual items".

Aircraft items and memorabilia can be hugely popular among enthusiasts. For example, Concorde products are among the most sought-after. At the top-end of collectibles, the famous dropped nose cones fetch hundreds of thousands of pounds on the rare occasions they come up for auction.