British Airways has had its debt reduced to junk status by credit rating agency Moody’s over mounting fears of its rising investment cost and weakening passenger demand.The downgrade also comes in the wake of BA’s warning that it would make an operating loss of ?150m this year compared to a previous estimate of break even.
Willie Walsh has said that British Airways does not need clearance from its pension regulator for its planned merger with Iberia.“There is no cash involved - it is an all-share merger. We don’t see any issue with our trustees. This will lead to a stronger company,” Walsh told The Times newspaper.
British Airways has warned of widening losses as the downturn, weakness of sterling and high fuel prices erode its cash-cow premium market.The UK flag-carrier saw pre-tax losses slump to £70m for the nine months to 31 December 2008, down from a £816m profit for the same period the year before.
Hot on the back of its profit warning, British Airways has suffered a further blow, this time from ratings agency, Standard & Poors, which has downgraded the airline’s debt rating to “junk status”.S&P said it was placing the carrier’s debt rating on “credit watch with negative implications”, only one level above its non-investment grade.
British Airways has issued a profit warning, saying it would make an annual operating loss of around £150 million after costs rose by more than expected, compared to a forecast repeated earlier this month of a small operating profit.The principal culprit was currency movements, which the airline blamed for an 8% year-on-year rise in non-fuel costs, compared to previous guidance of 5%.
British Airways is to roll out inflight mobile phone technology, starting with its new business-class only London City Airport - New York JFK route in autumn.Passengers travelling on the twice-daily route will be able to send and receive texts and emails during the flight, as well as access broadband through their laptops. However the carrier has held back on introducing voice calls to gauge customer feedback over air rage concerns.
British Airways has put its OpenSkies expansion plans on hold and is instead divesting aircraft in its mainline fleet that had previously been earmarked for its new offshoot airline.
The ongoing conflict between British Airways and its cabin crew looks set to be reignited after chief executive Willie Walsh said that pay increases this year would be restricted to less than one percent.The pay deal for cabin crew ends this month, and Mr Walsh said that the new deal for 2009 would be based on the UK’s retail price index in December, which was 0.9 percent.
Cash-strapped passengers continue to leave British Airways’ premium class, with numbers sliding 12.1 percent last month. Economy class remained relatively more stable, down just 1.7 percent.The total number of passengers carried in December fell 119,000 to 2.5 million, with the biggest fall in Asia Pacific. BA’s load factor was down 0.2 percent to 76.7 per cent. The airline also suffered a slump of 14.3 per cent in its cargo division as export volumes around the world fell.
British Airways has announced it is scaling down operations at Gatwick that will include cutting more than 100 jobs, operating 15% fewer departures and withdrawing four aircraft.The reasons for the move are thought to be the worsening economic climate and BA’s shift of its London operations to Heathrow Terminal 5, which has been sped up by the Open Skies agreement between the EU and the US.
British Airways is planning to merge with Qantas before Iberia, according to The Times.The deal would involve the creation of a dual-listed corporate structure between itself and Qantas, followed by the merger with Iberia.
British Airways has revealed that it is exploring a potential merger with Qantas Airways. The company released a confirmation statement but was careful to point out that there is no guarantee that a deal will take place.