03 August 2008

Scotland loses out

Almost 1,000 flights to/from Scotland will be cut, following the "worst trading environment the industry has ever seen" in the area. British Airways, who plans to make the cuts, is doing so following an 88% drop in its pre-tax profits for the first quarter of this financial year. At the start of BA's winter schedule 66 return flights linking London with Aberdeen will be scrapped.

There is a possibility that the soon-to-be-axed flights could get a reprieve in the spring of 2009 - or at least some of them could - depending on the profits the airline makes over the summer and autumn, plus the cost of fuel, and its likely price by 2009, will also play a large part in the decision.

A total of 618 return flights between London and Glasgow and Edinburgh airports are to be scrapped each week in order to meet the 3.1% reduction in capacity BA is begrudgingly instigating for its winter schedule. The bad news was made even worse when Willie Walsh, BA's chief executive, announced that fares "would inevitably rise" in order to reflect the additional fuel costs being incurred. It's staggering to learn that BA's annual fuel bill totals £3 billion, having got to this figure due to a 49% rise in the cost of kerosene.

Business federations and MSPs have joined in unison in their condemnation of the massive cuts to services.

It makes us wonder just how the airlines would have reacted to a similar free concessionary fares scheme being imposed upon them as it has to bus operators in England, Wales and Scotland, and what proportion of their flights would be axed as a result in poor reimbursement rates.