Summary of the headline figures:
In February 2003, overall load factor remained flat at 66.1 per cent. Passenger capacity, measured in Available Seat Kilometres, was 3.5 per cent below February 2002 and traffic, measured in Revenue Passenger Kilometres, was lower by 5.6 per cent. This resulted in a passenger load factor down 1.6 points versus last year, to 70.0 per cent. A number of operational issues have impacted the month including, snow and ice at London Heathrow and major snow storms at many of our US east coast gateways and security alerts at Heathrow and Gatwick. The fall in traffic comprised a 14.3 per cent reduction in premium traffic and a 5.6 per cent decrease in non-premium traffic. Cargo, measured in Cargo Tonne Kilometres, increased by 0.9 per cent.
The economic and political environment is challenging as the threat of war and terrorism grows.
British Airways criticised the Civil Aviation Authority for failing to revise its new pricing regime at Heathrow airport which will allow the airport operator, BAA, to raise landing charges by up to 50 per cent over the next five years.
The airline believes the new charges, which will come into force on April 1, 2003, are stacked against airlines and passengers and go way beyond the requirements needed to fund BAA’s capital programme over the next five years.
British Airways introduced a short term policy to allow customers to change their ticket reservation free of charge on long haul economy tickets, including restricted tickets that currently do not allow changes. The new arrangement applies to reservations made between 14 February and 17 March 2003 which can be changed anytime up to 31 May 2003, for travel until the end of December 2003. Customers can choose to change their destination, dates or class of travel.
A three month internet trial began on a British Airways 747-400 aircraft, on services between London Heathrow and New York using Connexion by Boeing broadband system. Passengers can plug in their laptop from their seat and access personal and work emails, corporate intranets and the web.
British Airways, its oneworld partner Iberia and franchise partner GB Airways announced new codeshare routes from February 20 on services between London Heathrow and Seville, Valencia, Malaga, Santiago de Compostela and Bilbao and services between London, Gatwick and Madrid, Barcelona and Bilbao.
Iberia added its code to nine GB Airways operated services; London Gatwick and Almeria, Girona-Costa Brava, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, Mahon-Menorca, Malaga, Seville and Valencia, and London Heathrow to Malaga.
British Airways and its oneworld partner Cathay Pacific Airways increased their code-shared destinations to nineteen with the announcement of extra code-share flights to Seoul, Copenhagen and Lisbon.
From 4 March 2003, British Airways will add its code to a daily Cathay Pacific flight between Hong Kong and Seoul providing smoother connections and improved choice for passengers travelling to Asia Pacific.
At the same time, Cathay Pacific will add its code on selected British Airways` European flights operating between London Heathrow and Copenhagen and Lisbon providing smoother European connections for passengers travelling on Cathay Pacific’s flights between London and Hong Kong.