BA offers bank account to its high flyers

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BRITISH AIRWAYS is to launch an offshore deposit account for high- flying passengers in a move that takes the airline further into the provision of a full range of banking and financial services.

The new deposit account will be operated in conjunction with Royal Bank of Canada, and will enable customers to carry out transactions such as bill payments and cash withdrawal 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The minimum deposit will be pounds 10,000. The account, to be operated from RBC's Jersey branch, will pay tax-free interest at the rate of 4.13 per cent.

BA estimates that as many as 600,000 of its three million Executive Club members could be interested in the account.

The typical target customers will be high-income earners with dual citizenship who have homes in more than one country, spend a large part of their time overseas and fly at least 36 times a year.

The deposit account will be launched in June. If it proves popular, BA and RBC will look at offering other financial services such as term deposits, investment management, mutual funds and trusts.

But Charles Weiser, the head of BA's financial services division, stressed: "We have no interest in launching a bank and we have no intention of doing so." He said that unlike Prudential's Egg, for instance, the aim of the BA deposit account was not to attract a given level of savings or offer the most competitive rates, but to be an additional service to customers.

Although BA is targeting the account at Executive Club members, it is open to anyone, even if they do not fly with the airline. The account is designed to complement customers' traditional bank accounts, not replace them.

BA already offers travel insurance, travellers' cheques and co-branded credit cards, and last month started a travel loan service enabling passengers to borrow up to pounds 15,000 to pay for holidays.

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