BA increases fuel surcharge for long-haul passengers

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British Airways today said it would more than double its fuel surcharge for long-haul passengers after seeing oil prices continue to soar.

British Airways today said it would more than double its fuel surcharge for long-haul passengers after seeing oil prices continue to soar.

From Wednesday, the charge for a single long-haul flight will rise from £2.50 to £6 with the surcharge for a return journey rising to £12.

The move, which follows a 45 per cent rise in fuel prices in the last 12 months, was announced as BA said it had achieved pre-tax profits for the three months to 30 June of £115 million, up from losses of £45 million a year earlier.

The first quarter performance - described as "reasonable" by the chief executive, Rod Eddington - was at the top end of market expectations.

However, Mr Eddington said fuel and employee costs represented the biggest challenges facing the airline, which is currently involved in a pay dispute with baggage handlers and check-in staff. It is also braced for higher pension contributions of £133 million a year.

The surge in oil prices means BA faces a fuel bill of more than £1.1 billion in the 2004/05 financial year - £225 million more than last year and £70 million higher than estimated in May.

By increasing the fuel surcharge for long-haul customers, the company estimates it can recoup £70 million of the extra fuel costs.

With passenger numbers on an improved trend, BA said revenues grew 5.1 per cent to £1.9 billion in the three months to June 30. Operating profits of £150 million compared with £40 million for the same period last year when the Iraq war and Sars caused the "most testing period in aviation history".

Mr Eddington said: "These are reasonable results but currently fuel and employee costs remain our biggest challenges."

The increase in the fuel surcharge will apply to new bookings made in the UK. The short-haul fuel surcharge will remain unchanged at £2.50.

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