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BA to increase Gulf winter schedule capacity by 3%

Airline plans to deploy larger Boeing 777-300 aircraft on Gulf routes.
British airways, NEWS, Aviation

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British Airways’ Gulf bookings going forward have not been affected by industrial action from its cabin crew earlier this year and the UK carrier is planning to increase its capacity in the region by three percent this winter, the airline’s CEO confirmed on Monday.

“Looking forward our bookings have not been affected by the experience that our customers have seen during the industrial action,” said Willie Walsh, BA's CEO.

This is despite the fact that in July the carrier reported a 13.5 percent drop in passenger traffic in the Middle East and Africa between April and June as a result of delays resulting from both the Icelandic ash cloud and industrial action.

“Traffic, and as a result profitability, in the first quarter, has been affected by seven days of volcanic ash in April, and 23 days of industrial activity in May and June,” BA said in a statement released by the London Stock Exchange in July.

However, Walsh was adamant that in the Middle East region there was “significant increases in demand” and the airline is planning to increase capacity and aircraft size on its Gulf routes.

“We believe there is some scope for capacity and we will be increasing slightly our flying there next winter, and we are looking to put larger aircraft the [Boeing] 777-300, which we have taken delivery of.

“The Middle East will be one of the destinations which will use the 777-300. That with allow for some increase in capacity and that aircraft will enter into service at the end of this month, the beginning of September.”

“Overall we are looking at a three percent increase in capacity in winter 2010 versus 2009,” he confirmed.

BA, Europe’s fourth largest carrier, suffered numerous periods of industrial action earlier this year and BAA – the operator of six major UK airports – has just averted strike action later this month after a full day of talks with the same union on Monday.

The strike action would have caused the closure of six UK airports, including London Heathrow, London Stansted, Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Southampton.

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