Largest European airline increases daily flights to the US, possibility of closer links with Spanish operator...
British Airways will be restoring many of the services that were axed last autumn, in a sign that the airline is pulling out of the revenue dive stemming from the September terror strikes in America.
BA is to increase the transatlantic Concorde service from six to seven flights a day from next April, and will restore some of the sub-sonic London to US services.
The move comes a month after BA announced widespread cutbacks, and follows a better-than-expected revival in takings after demand slumped following the terror attacks, BA chief David Noyes said.
"This downturn is going to be a lot shorter than after the Gulf War," Mr Noyes, BA vice-president for North American sales, told The Times newspaper. In a separate report, BA chiefs are said to be pursuing a tie-up with Spanish flag carrier Iberia, in their latest effort to forge an industry partnership.
The service increase, which will add an extra flight a day on routes from London to New York, Washington and Boston, follows reports from the UK airports operating firm BAA of reviving passenger numbers.
While passengers on North Atlantic routes were 7.7% lower last month than in February 2001, that figure represented a "substantial recovery" when compared with the annual 31.3% drop recorded in October, BAA said. British Airways also said it was attracting a greater share of the market for tickets sold in the US for travel to the UK. "Our market share across the corporate sector has increased by 4-5%," Mr Noyes said.
BA, which in January was forced to abandon efforts to link up with American Airlines, has applied to European competition authorities for permission to operate a joint venture on routes between Britain and Spain, the Financial Times said.
The airlines are being viewed by analysts as largely complementary, with BA strong on North Atlantic routes, while Iberia is Europe's leader on services to Latin America. Consent for the deal would allow the airlines to co-ordinate schedules and share revenues and profits.