BA to axe 1,200 jobs in overhaul of routes

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The Independent Online

British Airways is to reduce capacity by 10 per cent next summer and axe around 1,200 jobs as part of a sweeping drive to cut loss-making routes and return its network to profitability.

British Airways is to reduce capacity by 10 per cent next summer and axe around 1,200 jobs as part of a sweeping drive to cut loss-making routes and return its network to profitability.

The airline yesterday announced that services on 10 routes, mostly out of Gatwick, would be moved, scaled back or scrapped altogether. A much more wide-ranging overhaul of Gatwick's short-haul European network is due to be unveiled before Christmas by Rod Eddington, BA's new chief executive.

BA had originally planned to cut capacity by 8 per cent next year but Mr Eddington has decided that more radical surgery is needed. BA's European operations lost £300m last year, of which Gatwick accounted for more than £100m. BA is also to sell four of its Boeing 747 jumbo jets to Virgin Atlantic, owned by Sir Richard Branson, and replace them with wide-bodied, twin-engined Boeing 777s operating at greater frequencies on more profitable routes

The net effect of the changes will be to increase BA's total flying hours next year even though there will be a 9 per cent reduction in capacity at Heathrow and a 15 per cent reduction in capacity at Gatwick.

Mr Eddington said that the network and fleet strategies he had inherited on arriving at BA had been exactly right. "But they do not go far enough, fast enough. We must address poorly performing routes and assets that are not adding value."

A BA spokesman added that Gatwick was "strategically crucial" and the airline would retain a significant presence at the airport. "But it has to be profitable too," he added.

The job losses are expected to come largely from natural wastage and, if necessary, voluntary severance programmes.

The routes being scrapped altogether include Heathrow to Kuala Lumpur, Jersey, Paris Orly and Tehran and Gatwick to Ljubljana and Salzburg. Services to Miami and Rio de Janeiro currently operated from Gatwick will be switched to Heathrow whilst the Gatwick services to Verona and Gerona will be scaled back.

However, BA plans to increase frequencies from Gatwick to Buenos Aires by switching from 747s to 777s. It also intends to resume direct flights from Heathrow to Melbourne and from Gatwick to San Diego and Phoenix. There will also be more flights this winter to Rome, Prague, Munich, Frankfurt and Barcelona.

The overhaul of Gatwick's short-haul route network will result in BA dropping or scaling back on loss-making routes used to provide feeder traffic for long-haul services and focussing instead on pointto-point services. A similar shift in route strategy is already under way at Heathrow.

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