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Old January 15th, 2006, 06:56 PM   #221
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BA to cut up to 1,500 jobs under Heathrow consolidation plan - report
15 January 2006

LONDON (AFX) - British Airways PLC could cut up to 1,500 jobs as part of a plan to consolidate its Heathrow operations at the London airport's fifth terminal, the Sunday Express reported, citing research by Deutsche Bank.

The job losses are likely to fall on check-in staff and baggage handlers as BA eliminates duplication between the two terminals it currently uses, the Sunday Express said. The airline employs 43,000 people worldwide, including 5,000 at Heathrow.

A BA spokesperson said the job loss estimate was 'pure speculation'.

'Terminal 5 is a major focus for us, but it has not even been built yet. It is far too early to be talking about numbers at this stage.'

The report comes as pilots' unions are warning of possible strike action over proposed changes to BA's retirement benefits scheme aimed at cutting the airline's 1.2 bln stg pensions deficit.

BA shares closed 6 pence lower at 331 pence on Friday, valuing the company at 3.5 bln stg.
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Old January 25th, 2006, 12:21 AM   #222
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UK PRESS: UK Police To Get Internal Air Passenger Details
24 January 2006

LONDON (Dow Jones)--U.K. police and security services are to be given access to advanced travel information on more than 40 million passengers who travel on domestic flights and ferries under legislation to be announced Wednesday, the Guardian reports.

Airlines will have to provide the personal online details of all passengers as they book seats and subsequently check in at the airport.

The Guardian reports the system will enable police to check names against watchlists for terrorist suspects and wanted criminals and to develop a profiling system of those worthy of further scrutiny.
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Old January 28th, 2006, 02:34 AM   #223
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Long shot from Glasgow: A Scottish airline is rolling out no-frills flights to the US this June
Andrew Clark, Transport correspondent
28 January 2006
The Guardian

The no-frills ambience of an easyJet or Ryanair flight works wonders for thrifty European travellers. But can the low-fares, minimum-fuss, budget airline model succeed for long-haul travel across the Atlantic and even further afield?

Already Zoom, a Canadian airline, is offering fares as low as pounds 89 one-way from Glasgow, Manchester, Gatwick, Cardiff and Belfast to eight Canadian cities.

Scotland's budget carrier FlyGlobespan wants to be the next off the block. It is starting a route from Glasgow to Orlando, Florida, in June with tickets on sale from pounds 149 each way. FlyGlobespan's chairman, Tom Dalrymple, has indicated that he hopes to expand further with routes to Las Vegas, Los Angeles, South Africa and even Australia through a pounds 600m fundraising this year to pay for additional aircraft.

Dalrymple told a Scottish newspaper: "You are looking at 10 jets at $100m each. It is not a complicated sum."

To date, the bigger players, such as easyJet, Ryanair, FlyBe and BmiBaby have shown no interest in long-haul. They maintain that there is plenty of scope yet in Europe without the expense and risk of cracking a whole new market.

A senior source at one leading budget carrier said: "We've always argued that somebody would try it - but it's not going to be us."

Any low-cost flight across the Atlantic would probably require passengers to pay extra for drinks, movie screens, snacks and hot meals.

There are, however, potential problems. One of the key reasons for the budget sector's short-haul success has been through milking their hardware more intensively than the likes of British Airways and Lufthansa by introducing 20-minute turnarounds and high utilisation of planes. On the longer haul routes, this competitive advantage will be hard to achieve: most traditional airlines' long-haul jets are in the air almost constantly anyway.

Arguably, FlyGlobespan's offering is not a genuine no-frills alternative because the airline is providing business class and premium economy cabins as well as its "no frills" seats. All seats have power outlets for PCs and video games.
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Old February 3rd, 2006, 11:17 AM   #224
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Norman Foster has been chosen to design the huge new Heathrow East project so Heathrow terminals will feature the work of Richard Rogers at Terminal 5 (also designed Madrid Barajas) and Norman Foster who designed London Stansted and the vast airports at Hong Kong and Beijing.


Norman Foster chosen to design Heathrow East terminal
http://www.heathrowairport.com/porta...00147e120a____

BAA today outlined its vision to continue the transformation of Heathrow Airport beyond the completion of Terminal 5.

BAA revealed the early stages of a proposal, which considers the demolition of Terminal 2 and the Queens Building, the oldest parts of the airport, to build a single, state-of-the-art facility capable of handling up to 30 million passengers. The size and location of the site would allow BAA to build without unduly disrupting day to day operations, and allow easy connection to existing road and rail infrastructure.

Following today’s announcement, BAA intends to discuss the idea formally with airlines to assess the viability of the project. The project would also be dependent on regulatory support from the Civil Aviation Authority. Very early indications are that an incremental net cost of £1.0 - £1.5 billion would be required to deliver this proposal, but the figures depend on timing and the airlines’ requirements.

The idea, called Heathrow East, would create a new terminal to match the main Terminal 5 building in terms of scale and ambiance and equal or surpass it in terms of form and function. Passengers would benefit from contemporary design and planning, including an enhanced retail experience, while the new building would help Heathrow meet its targets for lower energy use. If the proposal were to receive the go-ahead, it would also allow BAA further options for the closure or redevelopment of Terminal 1 and the space it occupies. The plan does not involve any net increase in passenger capacity.

The combination of Terminal 5, Heathrow East and planned modifications and renovations to Terminals 3 and 4 would result in a transformed Heathrow, with unrivalled global connections, quicker and simpler transit, and convenient public transport links.

Mick Temple, Managing Director, BAA Heathrow said:
“The significant increase in capacity created by Terminal 5 gives us a once in a lifetime opportunity to look at the rest of Heathrow and think creatively about how we can use our current very limited space better. We are excited by the idea of Heathrow East, but at the moment it is still just an idea. We aim to discuss the possibilities with our airlines and the CAA to see if we can make it a reality. Our vision is to create the world’s greatest international hub airport in the world’s greatest city.”

Mike Forster, Business Strategy Director, BAA Heathrow commented:
“If we go ahead with this development it would help Heathrow to become an airport with terminal facilities and an airfield layout consistent with both efficient operations and a world-class experience for passengers. For passengers, our vision translates into a much easier journey through the terminals and unrivalled onward connectivity - by air and by easy access to road and rail links.”
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Old February 4th, 2006, 02:34 AM   #225
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British Airways Third-Quarter Profit Up
3 February 2006

LONDON (AP) - British Airways PLC reported a 1.7 percent increase in third-quarter profit Friday on the back of an increase in business passengers.

BA, which is facing tough competition from low-cost carriers such as Ryanair Holdings PLC and easyJet PLC, said net profit for the three months to Dec. 31 was 117 million pounds ($207.8 million), up from 115 million pounds a year ago.

Revenue rose 8.7 percent to 2.13 billion pounds ($3.8 billion).

"These are encouraging results which reflect better revenue and the continued efforts of our people to strengthen the business," said Willie Walsh, British Airways' chief executive.

Walsh said the increase in revenue was driven by increased traffic volumes in the premium cabin, boosted by "significant" promotional activity.

Chairman Martin Broughton said BA expects revenue to grow by more than 8 percent this financial year, supported by yield improvement.

BA shares fell 2.6 percent to close at 315.75 pence ($5.61) Friday on the London Stock Exchange.
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Old February 4th, 2006, 08:16 AM   #226
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UK urged to impose airline insolvency ticket levy

LONDON, Feb 4 (Reuters) - Parliamentarians urged the government on Saturday to impose a levy on all passengers flying out of Britain to cover them in case their airline collapsed.

Aviation Minister Karen Buck last year rejected a recommendation by the Civil Aviation Authority to add one pound ($1.80) to the fare of all outbound flights to replace the existing ATOL bonds tour companies hold to cover insolvency.

The House of Commons Transport Committee, in a scathing report, said Buck should reverse her decision, given that less than half of passengers would be covered by ATOL protection by 2010.

It said only one in ten travel insurance policies included cover for air carrier insolvency.

"There is no evidence of sound, or indeed any serious analysis underpinning the government's decision", the committee said.

"The government has taken the wrong decision to reject the CAA's case for the levy to finance the return journeys of passengers stranded by the collapse of their air carrier and to provide refunds.

"Meanwhile, the government is spending time embedding voluntary arrangements for repatriation which do not guarantee the stranded passenger a flight home and which are bound to be structurally fragile. This is an amateurish approach.

"An opportunity to improve consumer protection has been lost."

Under the ATOL scheme tour operators selling flights and holiday packages are required to lodge a financial bond which the CAA can use to recompense passengers if the operator fails.

But the increasing numbers of independent travellers buying flights directly from an airline are not covered by the scheme.

Big airlines such as British Airways and Ryanair had opposed the levy, saying it would mean their passengers would be subsidising compensation for travellers on less well-established carriers.

The Department of Transport said it did not believe that passengers should be compelled to protect themselves against the failure of an airline.

"There are many areas where insurance is wise but the government does not make it compulsory," said a DoT spokesman.

"The government will nonetheless consider carefully the Transport Committee report."
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Old February 6th, 2006, 01:29 AM   #227
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Luton Airport near London suspends all flights due to obstruction on runway
5 February 2006

LONDON (AP) - London's Luton Airport suspended all flight arrivals and many departures Sunday after a private jet overshot a runway when landing.

The airport, a base for short-haul flights to British and European destinations, said Sunday's departures on budget airline easyJet had been canceled. Arriving flights were diverted to other English airports.

A spokeswoman for the airport said a private jet carrying one passenger and three crew had overshot the runway and was stuck in mud. She said no one was injured in the accident.

The airport said it hoped to restore normal service Monday morning. It advised passengers due to fly to check with their airlines before setting out.

Accident investigators were probing the cause of the accident.
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Old February 7th, 2006, 05:28 PM   #228
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London route falls victim to cuts as JAL losses triple
By MARIKO SANCHANTA
7 February 2006
Financial Times

Japan Airlines, Asia's leading carrier, yesterday reported wider third quarter net losses and said it would halve the number of weekly flights between Tokyo and London in an effort to cut costs.

Net losses for the three months to the end of December nearly tripled to Y11.1bn (Dollars 93m), compared with a Y3.7bn loss a year earlier. The former flag carrier blamed high fuel prices - 30 per cent more than the same period last year - and sluggish domestic and international demand on some routes.

As part of its efforts to bring its international operations back to profit by 2007, the carrier confirmed it would suspend four international routes: Tokyo to Las Vegas; Osaka to Los Angeles; Komatsu to Seoul; and Hiroshima to Seoul. These represent 10 per cent of its international capacity.

JAL also said it would halve its flights between Tokyo and London to seven flights per week from 14, and reduce its Tokyo-Bangkok route to 14 flights per week from 21.

"I was surprised by the Tokyo-London cut, because though it's small in terms of what it might save JAL, it's quite a high-profile route," said Eiro Taniguchi, analyst at Standard and Poor's in Tokyo. "JAL's mission of making its international operations profitable by next year could be challenging, because factors like passenger demand and oil prices are out of its control."

Domestically, JAL said its business and individualpassenger demand was stagnant, due to negative publicity stemming from a series of safety-related incidents. Total domestic passenger demand fell 1.5 per cent from a year earlier.

"On domestic flights, demand from individuals such as business travellers was slow, while group tours were brisk," said Toshiyuki Kawarabata, a vice president at JAL.

JAL maintained its full-year net loss forecast of Y47bn. For the year to March 2006, JAL expects the safety issues adversely to impact its revenue by Y32bn; total revenues are expected to be Y2,195bn.

JAL said tourist demand to China had not recovered from the anti-Japan riots last April.

The third quarter results of All Nippon Airways were in contrast to JAL's. Last week, ANA said third-quarter net income almost doubled to Y10.2bn on strong travel demand and the company raised its full-year profit outlook by 70 per cent to Y17bn.
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Old February 9th, 2006, 05:36 PM   #229
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BAA Handled 10.1M Passengers In Jan
9 February 2006
Edited Press Release

LONDON (Dow Jones)--BAA PLC Thursday said its seven U.K. airports handled a total of 10.1 million passengers in January, an increase of 1.9% on the same month last year.

Although there were mixed results in different market segments, overall conditions remained subdued, the company said.

In total BAA's airports recorded a 4.2% rise in the number of air transport movements during January, while cargo tonnage increased 2.6%, the biggest margin of growth since last April, it said.

The best performing area, excluding North America, was long haul, which grew by 6.8%, it said.

This was helped by a 98% increase in passengers on newly expanded Indian services, it said.

European scheduled traffic was up by 4.5% and Irish by 3.7%. Less strong was Domestic traffic, which grew by 1.1%, it said. At Heathrow a combination of reduced capacity and lower load factors resulted in a drop of 7.4% in passengers carried on U.K. routes, it said. The 17.7% drop in European charter traffic almost precisely matched a similar cut in capacity as operators switched more services from charter to a low cost scheduled format. North Atlantic traffic fell by 3.4%, it added.

Among individual airports the fastest growing was again Aberdeen where a renewed surge in North Sea oil activity helped produced a 15.9% increase in passengers, it said. In the London area Heathrow recorded a drop of 0.6% while Gatwick was up by 2.1% and Stansted by 6.9%. Southampton saw growth of 9.4% as it continued to be buoyed by an expansion in Domestic services, while Glasgow and Edinburgh registered increases of 4.3% and 3.6% respectively, it said.
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Old February 13th, 2006, 04:46 PM   #230
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EasyJet founder says opposes Ferrovial BAA bid

LONDON, Feb 13 (Reuters) - EasyJet founder Stelios Haji-Ioannou said he opposed any takeover of UK airport operator BAA Plc by Spain's Grupo Ferrovial SA , saying it would reduce competition and raise airport fees.

"My initial view as a shareholder in an airline is that further consolidation in the European airport sector should be avoided," Haji-Ioannou, whose family owns 41 percent of easyJet, said in comments emailed to Reuters on Monday.

"BAA is too dominant already and should have been broken up, not allowed to merge with another airport owner."

Ferrovial said last week it was considering a bid for BAA, which owns London's Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted airports, sending shares in the UK firm up as much as 22 percent.

Scottish Widows, one of BAA's biggest shareholders with a 3.46 percent stake, said on Monday it would likely back a bid of more than 900p a share, valuing the group at more than 9.5 billion pounds ($16.5 billion).

"Shareholders are looking for something north of a 9 (900p). The company will struggle to defend a bid at this level," Robert Waugh, head of UK equities at Scottish Widows, said.

BAA shares were up 0.2 percent at 780-1/2p at 1141 GMT. Analysts said last week a bid for BAA could go as high as 900p although they were still sceptical an offer would emerge.

Other major shareholders contacted by Reuters declined to comment on Monday.

Ferrovial already owns stakes in Britain's Bristol Airport and Belfast Airport. BAA owns seven UK airports including Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Low-cost carrier easyJet flies from Stansted and Gatwick airports but is based at London's Luton Airport, owned by another Spanish company, Abertis .

"Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted should not belong to the same company. Competition between airports is what keeps airport fees low for the consumer," Haji-Ioannou said.

A British Airways spokeswoman said last week the airline was not concerned about a possible bid by Ferrovial.
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Old February 15th, 2006, 03:55 AM   #231
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hkskyline
London route falls victim to cuts as JAL losses triple
By MARIKO SANCHANTA
7 February 2006
Financial Times

Japan Airlines, Asia's leading carrier, yesterday reported wider third quarter net losses and said it would halve the number of weekly flights between Tokyo and London in an effort to cut costs.

Net losses for the three months to the end of December nearly tripled to Y11.1bn (Dollars 93m), compared with a Y3.7bn loss a year earlier. The former flag carrier blamed high fuel prices - 30 per cent more than the same period last year - and sluggish domestic and international demand on some routes.

As part of its efforts to bring its international operations back to profit by 2007, the carrier confirmed it would suspend four international routes: Tokyo to Las Vegas; Osaka to Los Angeles; Komatsu to Seoul; and Hiroshima to Seoul. These represent 10 per cent of its international capacity.

JAL also said it would halve its flights between Tokyo and London to seven flights per week from 14, and reduce its Tokyo-Bangkok route to 14 flights per week from 21.

"I was surprised by the Tokyo-London cut, because though it's small in terms of what it might save JAL, it's quite a high-profile route," said Eiro Taniguchi, analyst at Standard and Poor's in Tokyo. "JAL's mission of making its international operations profitable by next year could be challenging, because factors like passenger demand and oil prices are out of its control."

Domestically, JAL said its business and individualpassenger demand was stagnant, due to negative publicity stemming from a series of safety-related incidents. Total domestic passenger demand fell 1.5 per cent from a year earlier.

"On domestic flights, demand from individuals such as business travellers was slow, while group tours were brisk," said Toshiyuki Kawarabata, a vice president at JAL.

JAL maintained its full-year net loss forecast of Y47bn. For the year to March 2006, JAL expects the safety issues adversely to impact its revenue by Y32bn; total revenues are expected to be Y2,195bn.

JAL said tourist demand to China had not recovered from the anti-Japan riots last April.

The third quarter results of All Nippon Airways were in contrast to JAL's. Last week, ANA said third-quarter net income almost doubled to Y10.2bn on strong travel demand and the company raised its full-year profit outlook by 70 per cent to Y17bn.
Bad news! Hopefully BA, Virgin, or ANA will step in and add an additional 7 weekly London-Tokyo flights to cover the drop in frequency from JAL.
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Old February 15th, 2006, 06:38 AM   #232
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INTERVIEW-UK watchdog says may eye BAA bid if pricing impact

LONDON, Feb 14 (Reuters) - Britain's consumer watchdog said on Tuesday it would look at any takeover bid for UK airport operator BAA Plc if it had the potential to lead to higher prices or harm consumers.

"We look at something like that on the criteria we have in our guidelines," Office of Fair Trading (OFT) Chief Executive John Fingleton told Reuters.

"Could it lead to higher prices or some other form of harm to consumers as a result of market power?"

Spain's Grupo Ferrovial SA said last week it was considering a bid for BAA, which owns seven UK airports, including London's Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted.

BAA inherited a monopoly on ownership of London airports when it was privatised in the 1980s. Fingleton declined to say whether he envisaged any hurdles to a possible takeover bid for BAA.

OFT Chairman Philip Collins noted BAA's returns on the London airports were heavily regulated by the Civil Aviation Authority.

The OFT last year referred a planned takeover of Britain's Exeter airport in southwest England by a consortium including Ferrovial and Australia's Macquarie Bank to the European Commission.

The consortium walked away from a deal after the OFT said the deal could affect services to airlines and passengers. The OFT investigated after third parties raised questions about the deal.

EasyJet founder and shareholder Stelios Haji-Ioannou told Reuters on Monday he opposed a BAA takeover, saying it would reduce competition and raise airport fees.

Ferrovial already owns stakes in Britain's Bristol Airport and Belfast Airport.
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Old February 19th, 2006, 06:42 PM   #233
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British Airways Denies Imminent Pension Cut
19 February 2006

LONDON (Dow Jones)--British Airways PLC (BAB), the U.K. airline, Sunday denied it is set to cut its staff pensions by up to a third following a U.K. press report.

The Business, without identifying its sources, said BA discussed the pension cut with staff and union representatives last week, with a decision due next month.

However, a British Airways spokeswoman told Dow Jones Newswires the story was "utter fiction. We have not tabled any proposal at this stage."

The spokeswoman also said the company isn't in talks with anyone over the sale of its Air Miles unit.
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Old February 24th, 2006, 08:28 PM   #234
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Britain probes 'dangerous' landing of Iranian plane

LONDON, Feb 23, 2006 (AFP) - Investigators are to probe an incident in which a Iranian airline apparently descended at a dangerously low level to a British airport and was forced to abort its landing, transport officials said Thursday.

The Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) will look into why the Mahan Air jet on the scheduled six-hour flight between Tehran and Birmingham, west central England, was forced to "go around" and land at the second attempt.

"AAIB officials have gone to Birmingham where the plane and its flight data recorder are being detained (at the airport)," said a spokesman for the Department for Transport, of which the AAIB is an offshoot.

The incident happened at about 12:00 pm (1200 GMT) Thursday, the airport said in a statement.

Aviation security expert Chris Yates told BBC News 24 television he understood the plane involved was an A310 Airbus with an unspecified number of passengers on board and was operated by the Tehran-based carrier.

"At six miles (9.6 kilometres) out, the plane should have been coming in at about 1,800 feet (548 metres) but seems to have been logged by air traffic controllers at 600 feet (182 metres).

The air traffic controller noticed the plane's altitude and told the pilot to climb as fast as he could before making a successful landing at the second attempt.

"This could have been a dangerous incident," he added.

Mahan Air became the first private airline in Iran in 1992 and launched in 1993, expanding from domestic routes to 21 destinations in 10 countries, employing 1,400 staff, according to its web site.

It first introduced A310s into its fleet in 2001 and now operates 11 Airbus aircraft, it added. It also flies into Manchester, northwest England.
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Old March 3rd, 2006, 04:44 PM   #235
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British Airways Feb Passenger Capacity +3%
3 March 2006
Edited Press Release

LONDON (Dow Jones)--British Airways said Friday that in February 2006, passenger capacity, measured in Available Seat Kilometres, was 3% above February 2005.

Traffic, measured in Revenue Passenger Kilometres, was higher by 3.6%. This resulted in a passenger load factor up 0.4 points versus last year, to 71.2%, the airline said.

The increase in traffic comprised a 7.1% increase in premium traffic and a 2.9% increase in non-premium traffic.

Cargo, measured in Cargo Tonne Kilometres, was down 1.1%. Overall load factor was down 0.6 points at 67.3%.

Market conditions remain broadly unchanged as significant promotional activity is required to maintain seat factors, British Airways said.
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Old March 3rd, 2006, 04:54 PM   #236
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British Airways Feb Passenger Capacity +3%
3 March 2006
Edited Press Release

LONDON (Dow Jones)--British Airways said Friday that in February 2006, passenger capacity, measured in Available Seat Kilometres, was 3% above February 2005.

Traffic, measured in Revenue Passenger Kilometres, was higher by 3.6%. This resulted in a passenger load factor up 0.4 points versus last year, to 71.2%, the airline said.

The increase in traffic comprised a 7.1% increase in premium traffic and a 2.9% increase in non-premium traffic.

Cargo, measured in Cargo Tonne Kilometres, was down 1.1%. Overall load factor was down 0.6 points at 67.3%.

Market conditions remain broadly unchanged as significant promotional activity is required to maintain seat factors, British Airways said.
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Old March 9th, 2006, 08:20 PM   #237
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British Airways Plans to Cut $780 Million
9 March 2006

LONDON (AP) - British Airways PLC, which is facing tough competition from budget airlines and coping with surging fuel costs, announced another cost-cutting program Friday.

BA said it plans to reduce costs by 450 million pounds ($780 million) over the next two years in a move that is likely to lead to further job losses.

The carrier also said that its fuel bill for 2006-2007 was forecast to rise 400 million pounds ($695 million) to 2 billion pounds ($3.5 billion), raising the possibility of further fuel surcharge increases on passengers' tickets.

The airline said revenue growth for 2006-2007 was forecast between 4 percent and 5 percent. Total costs for 2006-07, excluding fuel, were forecast to be flat with increases offset by cost efficiencies.

The savings target and the fuel forecast were contained in BA's 2006-2008 business plan revealed to analysts Friday.

The airline also said it plans to invest nearly 200 million pounds ($350 million) on its booking Web site and new on-board services, including a new Club World seat and on-demand films in all cabins.

"This plan will make us fit for the future," said Chief Executive Willie Walsh. "Better management of our costs and having an absolute focus on customer needs will give us a lasting platform for success."

BA said the plans could lead to job losses and that the fuel surcharge situation was "under constant review." That appeared to change the company's stance slightly from last month when Walsh said there were no plans to change the surcharge.

BA shares rose 1.9 percent to 322.75 pence ($5.61) on the London Stock Exchange.

The business plan covers the period up to March 2008 when the airline moves nearly all its operations into the new Terminal 5 at Heathrow airport. The terminal is still under construction.
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Old March 10th, 2006, 05:38 AM   #238
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BA has preliminary deal to acquire 10 x B777-300ERs
http://www.airliners.net/discussions....main/2648732/

BA has reserved a slot in Boeing's production schedule for 10 x B777-300ERs. Superb planes! BA's CEO, Willie Walsh, says he will not take delivery of new long-haul aircraft until Heathrow Terminal 5 is open. The order is also dependent on the success of his plans to cut costs and resolve BA's pensions crisis. However expansion of BA's long-haul fleet now seems to be on the cards!
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Old March 16th, 2006, 02:58 AM   #239
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British Airways to Close Travel Shops
15 March 2006

LONDON (AP) - British Airways PLC said Wednesday it will close its travel shops across the country as more people book flights over the Internet.

BA said the closure of its 17 stores would likely cost around 300 jobs, with another 100 posts expected to go because of the likely closure of its booking call center in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

The carrier said its travel-shop business was forecast to post "ever increasing losses" in the years ahead, despite efforts to reduce costs and improve sales.

In contrast, the company's Web site took a record 22,000 bookings in one day in January, equivalent to one booking every four seconds.

Telephone calls to the airline's call centers have also fallen by more than 60 percent since 2001.

BA closed call centers in Glasgow and London and said the remaining services in Belfast and Newcastle and Manchester in northern England remained too large.

"It is clear that an increasing number of our customers want to book and organize their travel plans with BA via the Internet," said the airline's Commercial Director Martin George. "This is a travel industry-wide trend and we have to ensure that our business reflects this."

British Airways shares fell 1.4 percent to close at 337.25 pence ($58.60) Wednesday on the London Stock Exchange.
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Old March 22nd, 2006, 02:02 AM   #240
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British Airways announces end to long lines at check-in desk for domestic passengers
21 March 2006

LONDON (AP) - Travelers on British Airways PLC domestic routes soon will no longer have to wait in line at the check-in desk before catching their flights.

Beginning April 25, customers will need to go online or to airport kiosks to check in for their flights, BA said Tuesday.

The change comes as low-cost airlines such as Ryanair and easyJet have already made attempts at quicker customer service and ahead of BA's planned move to a new terminal at Heathrow, due to open in spring 2008.

"Making the airport experience simpler and speedier for our customers is the cornerstone of our vision for Terminal 5," said Martin George, commercial director for BA.

The regular check-in desks will become areas to drop off luggage and staff will be available at the kiosks to assist passengers, who can print out tickets from home up to 24 hours before the flight.

Online check-in will not be available to those traveling with children or infants until July.

The airline said it expects 80 percent of its customers to use the self check-in system by the time it moves to the new terminal.

British Airways shares were up 2.1 percent to 362 pence (US$6.36; €5.22) on the London Stock Exchange.

Low-cost airlines, such as Ryanair Holdings PLC and easyJet PLC have already begun introducing methods to shorten lines at their check-in counters.

In January, Ryanair unveiled a plan for all European Union passengers with just hand luggage to be able to check in online. Those checking in baggage would be charged 2.50 pounds (US$4.39; €3.61) per bag and must declare each bag when booking online.

The airline also said customers who print tickets from home will be given priority boarding and can skip lines at the boarding gates.

Earlier this year, easyJet announced that it was launching internet check-in for U.K. passengers. The airline said it had plans to make the online service available to 90 percent of its British customers by April, and it is rolling out the service to customers across Europe.

The airline is offering the option of skipping check-in at the airport only to those with hand luggage. The process allows travelers to "maximize every minute of their day" said easyJet spokeswoman Samantha Day.
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