Air UK flies back to profit after three years in red

AIR UK, the country's third biggest scheduled carrier, returned to profit last year after losses of pounds 31m in the previous three years.

Andrew Gray, managing director, said yesterday that the airline had achieved a significant turnaround from a loss of pounds 10m in 1992 to a profit of pounds 200,000 in 1993.

He was speaking as Air UK announced plans to launch three new routes this spring from its base at London Stansted and to invest a further dollars 80m-dollars 100m in a fleet of eight turbo-prop aircraft.

With increased frequencies on existing services, Air UK expects to carry 12 per cent more passengers this year. Last year it carried a record 2.2 million passengers - up 9 per cent on 1992.

Air UK, owned 85 per cent by British Air Transport Holdings and 15 per cent by KLM of the Netherlands, had expected to confirm the turbo-prop order this week.

But fierce competition for the contract between British Aerospace, Fokker, Bombardier of Canada and the French- Italian consortium ATR, is delaying a decision.

The new routes being launched from Stansted are to Munich, Copenhagen and Belfast's harbour airport. They will bring the number of domestic and international destinations served by Air UK from the airport to 17.

Flights are also being increased to Paris, Amsterdam and Dusseldorf from the beginning of April.