British Airways weighs flight cuts as oil prices bite

Mumbai: British Airways is considering plans to ground some of its flights in an attempt to deal with the soaring cost of fuel. BA will now examine flights on a ''route by route basis", Willie Walsh, the airline's chief executive, said.
BA, which lost £3 billion due to the oil surge, is prepared to follow the example of Qantas and mothball aircraft if necessary, Walsh told a summit of the International Air Transport Association.

He said the airline will be looking at some routes to see if it can take out some frequency, adding, there is no option but to take capacity out.

While the company has a healthy balance sheet, he said, it doesn't make sense with oil at $130 a barrel to operate unprofitable flights. ''We can't afford to be complacent," he said.

While it is unlikely that destinations will be axed entirely, some services on popular routes will be reduced, he said.

The changes are likely to take place in the autumn when the energy crisis and the credit crisis will combine top raise costs and shrink market.

British Airways, he said, is also trying to cut fuel bill by making planes as light as possible. It will carry less water and oxygen cylinders to reduce weight – to the minimum prescribed by the civil aviation authority.

British Airways has also decided to strip all paint off planes brought in for a refit, before respraying. This will help shed 400 kg of the weight of a Boeing 747, airline sources said.