Ministry boosts BA

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The Independent Online

The Ministry of Defence is considering leasing six surplus 767 aircraft from British Airways to boost its fleet.

Last week BA grounded the planes as part of its strategy to cut flights by 9 per cent. The fleet has now caught the eye of the Government, which needs aircraft to move troops and cargo around the world.

If the MoD strikes a deal, it will be a big boost for the ailing airline. BA is locked into long-term leases on the aircraft through a syndication of British banks. With the sudden decline in the airline sector after the terrorist attacks on the US, it would find it difficult to lease the fleet to another commercial operator.

It is understood that the MoD is interested in using the planes for up to five years. Industry sources revealed that to hire one 767 for a month would typically cost £200,000. The MoD, however, would be in a position to negotiate a significant discount.

According to Whitehall sources, BA executives discussed the idea with Transport Secretary Stephen Byers earlier this month.

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