Published on January 31st, 2018 | by Darren Paltrowitz0
British Airways’ Rob McDonald On Peter Frampton & BA’s New Service To Nashville
The largest airline in the United Kingdom based on fleet size, British Airways was founded in 1974. As a founding member of the Oneworld airline alliance, British Airways is a long-standing partner of American Airlines, Cathay Pacific, and Qantas. Its hubs are London’s Heathrow Airport and Gatwick Airport, and the airline currently serves over 180 destinations around the world.
On December 31, 2017, British Airways made a big splash in Nashville, Tennessee. In partnership with Nashville’s mayor Megan Barry, Derek Tennant, Storme Warren, Elysa Marsden, and British rock legend Peter Frampton, the city and branded partnered to host a pop-up British pub at Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park. Kicking off at 6:00 PM local time — which was midnight in the UK — a special British New Year countdown took place, including Jack Daniel’s Music City Midnight, fireworks, and British spirits. One lucky attendee even won a pair of tickets for travel on British Airways’ new service from Nashville to London for May 4, 2018, as presented by country superstar Keith Urban.
To learn more about the recent event and the overall kick-off of direct flight service between London and Nashville, I had the pleasure of speaking with Rob McDonald, Head of Global Marketing for British Airways. More on British Airways’ new destinations can be found at www.britishairways.com.
Where did the idea for the nonstop service between London and Nashville come from? Did it have anything to do with the growing international appeal of American country music?
Rob McDonald: British Airways has a long history of flying to the USA and a great joint business with American Airlines. In recent years we’ve introduced a number of new routes such as Austin and Oakland, so we’re delighted to also be adding direct flights from the UK to Nashville.
We believe it’ll be a really popular destination with the Brits, not just because of the incredible music scene — although that’s definitely a huge pull — but also thanks to its fast-growing economy, thriving culture, and strong connections to Europe. It’s no secret that Nashville is booming, so it’s the perfect destination to be the 26th U.S. city in British Airways’ network.
Your launch event to announce the nonstop service featured Peter Frampton. Had British Airways worked with Peter before?
Rob McDonald: No, this is the first time. We were honoured to be able to work with him. He’s an amazing musician!
When did you go to Nashville for the first time?
Rob McDonald: My first trip to Nashville was over New Year’s Eve. To ring in the year that British Airways brings nonstop flights between Nashville and London, we opened a pop-up British pub, and had Nashville Mayor Megan Barry and Peter Frampton lead the crowd in a countdown to the British new year at 6:00 PM Nashville time — midnight back in London. I also took the time to explore the city, and was blown away by the amazing live music scene, incredible food and overall friendly atmosphere. I’m looking forward to my next trip soon!
Do you have a favorite attraction or restaurant in Nashville?
Rob McDonald: There was too much to choose from and not enough meal times! But I loved Little Octopus, The Treehouse, and Henrietta Red.
Are there any similarities between Nashville and your hometown?
Rob McDonald: London also has an amazing music scene, from small venues to big stadiums. There’s also great food and culture. There’s so much to see and do, and I promise the locals are friendly! We can’t wait to welcome Tennesseans to the UK.
How did you wind up working for an airline? I ask because your LinkedIn shows studies in Spanish and also French Studies.
Rob McDonald: If you love languages, an airline is the perfect place to work. It’s diverse, complex, interesting and international. My first role within BA involved using those language skills on a daily basis.
Nashville route aside, what is coming up for British Airways?
Rob McDonald: Recently we announced that we are investing £4.5 billion — over $6 billion — for our customers over the next five years. We will take delivery of 72 new aircrafts during that period, install the best quality WiFi for all our customers and provide every customer with power at their seat. We are investing £600m specifically in Club World, including outstanding catering and luxurious bedding from UK retailer, The White Company. Plus, from 2019, a new seat with direct aisle access. We’ve also improved the quality and quantity of our catering in World Traveller and for this year we have announced six new routes so far including Nashville, with more to follow. 2018 is going to be an exciting year for us!
When not busy with the airline, how do you like to spend your free time?
Rob McDonald: In the mountains — I love the outdoors, cycling, skiing, and hiking. Between that and traveling, there’s not much time left!
Since this is a music-friendly website, what was the last concert you attended for fun?
Rob McDonald: When I was in Nashville with British Airways, I was lucky enough to see Keith Urban headline the Jack Daniel’s Music City Midnight. It was a huge — and free — celebration that brought in over 100,000 people to ring in the new year in the heart of Music City. He sang some of his classic hits and paid really heartfelt tributes to artists that died in 2017. His rendition of Tom Petty’s “Free Fallin’” was incredible.
Finally, Rob, any last words for the kids?
Rob McDonald: Come to London, and add on a side trip to Europe. There’s never been a better time to travel, so seize the day and cross the pond. This year!Tweet