BA legal threat over low-cost flights

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The no-frills airline EasyJet is threatening legal action against British Airways over its plans to set up a low-cost offshoot.

Easy Jet began operating its service between Scotland and Luton two years ago, and over that period one in 10 British Airways passengers on the routes to Edinburgh and Glasgow has switched to the low-cost carrier. Its fares, starting at pounds 29 one-way plus tax, have proved so successful that the original "fleet" of two borrowed Boeing 737s has been expanded to comprise seven aircraft of its own, with another 12 on order at a cost of pounds 300m.

British Airways is so concerned about the amount of customers it has lost that executives are studying the viability of launching a low-cost airline of its own.

At the Association of British Travel Agents convention in Tenerife yesterday, BA said it would decide whether or not to go ahead by the end of the year.

EasyJet's Tony Anderson said his airline would seek legal redress if BA went ahead with the idea: "BA is a dominant player in the UK travel industry, and as such it has a special responsibility not to take action that is aimed specifically at forcing low-cost competitors out of the market."