UK outlook bleaker than elsewhere, says BA chief

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The Independent Online

Economic recovery is at least two years away, British Airways chief executive Willie Walsh said today.

And the outlook in the UK is "perhaps bleaker" than in other countries, he added.

Speaking in India, Mr Walsh said: "For us in the UK, the outlook is certainly no easier than anywhere else.

"Because of the high importance of the financial services sector, it is perhaps a bleaker outlook than in other countries.

"At the moment, I would expect things to continue getting worse rather than better.

"I cannot see the bottom of this crisis yet. There is some distance to go, and I would expect this very difficult environment to last for at least another 24 months."

Mr Walsh was addressing the Indian School of Business in Hyderabad, to which BA has just opened a new route from Heathrow.

He also announced that BA intended to halve net carbon dioxide emissions from 16 million tonnes in 2005 to eight million by 2050.

Mr Walsh said: "Some people say that in economic times as desperately tough as these, we can afford to put climate change issues on one side. I could not disagree more.

"Halving net CO2 by 2050 is an extremely challenging target. But it is one I am sure we can achieve.

"We will make progress through investment in cleaner aircraft, use of alternative fuels, more efficient flight routings and the spread of emissions trading from Europe to the whole world.

"We have taken climate change issues very seriously for a long time. More than a decade ago, we became the first airline to publish fuel efficiency targets - and we have achieved an improvement since then of almost 30%.

"We are the only airline to have experience of emissions trading, and we have helped fund research into lower-carbon aviation fuels. We are currently working closely with Rolls-Royce to develop alternative fuel opportunities."