A likely story... "Welcome aboard this British Airways flight"

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The Independent Travel
Today, your flight to Oporto, Faro or Malaga was operated by British Airways; tomorrow it will be flown by GB Airways. For the past few years BA has energetically subcontracted some routes to small, independent carriers. The airline says these offer "a style of on-board service and product closely resembling British Airways' own service." Some BA staff regard the exercise as creeping cost-cutting. And passengers are plain confused.

Suppose you book a flight from Paris Orly via Heathrow and Toronto, to Halifax in Canada. Your ticket will be issued by BA. It will show BA flight numbers and, if you pay enough for it, will earn you Air Miles. But at no stage will you fly on BA.

The first leg is on TAT, BA's French subsidiary. Then Canadian Airlines takes over, taking more care of you in a "two class Canadian service standard". The final hop from Toronto is on the same airline, in a 737 whose only trace of Britishness is the BA flight number.

Most curious of all, the brand-new airline Flying Colours tomorrow begins operating BA's routes to Tampa, Nassau, Grand Cayman and San Juan. Yet the plane will still bear BA colours, because BA is lending Flying Colours a DC-10 for the services, and will still maintain the plane. BA is also supplying a captain, first officer and engineer, and, of course, selling the tickets. Indeed, the only element that Flying Colours appears to be supplying is the cabin crew.

So, the confused traveller may ask, why bother?