Passengers, job hunters benefit from BA deal


British Airways has promised
cheaper fares and more pilot jobs as part of a route-sharing deal with US
carrier American Airlines and Spanish airline Iberia.

The three businesses have announced
four new routes to start from April, including a BA service between Heathrow
and San Diego.

A BA spokesman said the deal would
see it recruiting 80 pilots – about the same number the airline asked to take
voluntary redundancy last year.

He said the link-up also creates posts
for many cabin crew, but these positions will be filled by the 1,250 staff the
airline announced it would be taking on last year.

The new deal will mean the three
carriers will share the marketing of 2,600 flights.

The joint business – which has been
approved by competition authorities – sees them co-operating on flights between
the EU, Switzerland and Norway and the US, Mexico and Canada.

American Airlines (AA) has said it
will also be taking on hundreds of staff previously made redundant, including pilots
and cabin crew.

Asked if BA would use AA or Iberia
staff if BA cabin crew went on strike this Christmas, BA chief executive Willie
Walsh said the link-up had “no bearing or relevance” on any BA
industrial relations matter.

Mr. Walsh said that if a customer
bought a ticket on the BA website, the price would be the same on American
Airlines’ (AA) and Iberia’s websites.

The airlines will keep their
identities and Mr Walsh stressed the carriers would “not be seeking to
provide exactly the same type of service”.

BA’s Heathrow-San Diego service
will start next June.

Antonio Vazquez, chairman and chief
executive of Iberia, said the tie-up would see Madrid airport becoming one of
the main gateways for flights between North America and Europe.

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