BA: We’ll break even in 2011

The
chief executive officer of British Airways, Willie Walsh, has said that the
beleaguered company is targeting a break-even result next year.

The
airline announced recently that its net loss has increased to $613 million for
the financial year ending 31 March. During 2008-09 the carrier lost $517
million.

Despite
the current dispute with the Unite union over conditions, staffing levels and
pay that has led to the cancellation of many transatlantic flights, including
those between Grand Cayman and London Heathrow, and the enforced no-fly due to
volcanic ash, Mr. Walsh said that the cost base has improved and the company
was seeing some signs of improved market conditions.

“Despite
a GBP1 billion drop in revenue during the year, our determined efforts on cost
control mean that costs have reduced at a comparable level and our operating
loss is virtually the same as in the previous year.

“Returning
the business to profitability requires permanent change across the company and
it’s disappointing that our cabin crew union fails to recognise that,” he said.

Revenue growth

The
company is looking to target revenue growth of 6 per cent in the next year,
said a statement.

“Market
conditions are showing improvement from the depressed levels in 2009/10, Cargo
is showing significant signs of improvement. Passenger revenue is recovering,
with increased corporate activity, particularly across the Atlantic; yield is
expected to continue to improve from the strengthening position [of the final
quarter of 2009],” it read.

On
8 April BA signed a merger agreement with Iberia with a deal likely to be
completed by the end of 2010, according to Mr. Walsh. A final proposal will be
presented to regulators before 30 June. BA is also pursuing a possible link-up
with American Airlines which may be approved by US and European regulators by
the end of the summer.

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