Air France-KLM, Europe’s second-largest flag-carrier by revenues, on Thursday warned that its results would deteriorate in the first half of 2012 after swinging to a loss in 2011, the FT reports. The group, which is grappling with a large debt load and high operating costs, reported a worse-than-expected net loss of €809m for the year to December 31, compared with a €289m net profit in 2010. The airline’s shares fell 1 per cent to €4.10 in early trading. Lufthansa, Europe’s largest flag-carrier by revenues, on Wednesday, surprised analysts by announcing a €13m net loss for 2011 compared with a net profit of €1.1bn in 2010. It underlined how many airlines are struggling with the weak economic environment and rising fuel costs, although Lufthansa’s challenges were exacerbated by the fortunes of BMI British Midland, its lossmaking UK subsidiary that is due to be sold to International Airlines Group, parent of British Airways.
Some potential suitors for American Airlines are looking for support, or perhaps an investment, from British Airways, the WSJ says, citing people familiar with the matter. Private-equity firm TPG Capital, which is considering investing in American Airlines parent AMR, has reached out to IAG, the holding company of British Airways and Iberia Líneas Aéreas de España, to gauge whether it would be interested in supporting a bid from TPG, or even investing alongside it. AA and BA are anchor members of the global Oneworld airline marketing alliance, giving them an interest in each other’s success. Other sources are cited as saying US Airways, which wants to merge with AMR, has been building a case to show why such a move would benefit British Airways.
Breaking pre-market news on Friday,
- IAG targeting an operating profit target of €1.5 billion in 2015 — statement. Read more
British Airways faces a bill of nearly €50m, the highest of any airline, when carriers around the world are brought into the European Union’s carbon emissions trading scheme next year, the FT reports. But BA and other large European carriers will face a relatively smaller burden than their rivals in the US and China, because they should get an average of 81 per cent of the carbon allowances needed under the scheme for free. The Chinese and American carriers will only get an average of up to 64 per cent, according to estimates in a report by Thomson Reuters Point Carbon using data from RDC Aviation. The airline industry’s total bill is expected to be €1.1bn ($1.5bn) at today’s carbon prices, the study says. The whole sector may only make a $4bn profit this year, the International Air Transport Association has forecast. The €50m bill BA faces amounts to €1.66 per passenger, much more than the €0.14 expected for Delta, its US rival on the lucrative London-New York route. US airlines have taken legal action against the EU’s move to make airlines flying into and out of the bloc pay for pollution, and Chinese complaints have prompted warnings of a trade war from European aircraft-maker Airbus.
British Airways could see a doubling of the £121.5m fine imposed on it by the Office of Fair Trading for conspiring to fix fuel surcharges, if the carrier decides to contest the settlement it reached with the watchdog in 2007. The FT says the airline has been reviewing the size of the penalty since the collapse of a related criminal prosecution brought by the OFT against four current and former BA executives last year. The fine is still outstanding as the civil case was put on hold during the criminal investigation. In the original settlement, BA’s fine was reduced by the OFT because it had offered the watchdog its full co-operation. It is understood if BA challenges the ruling, the watchdog could increase the fine by as much as 50 per cent.
Uh oh. Remember this time last year when Iceland’s Eyjafjallajökull volcano was causing £130m worth of losses a day for airlines?
Well, bang on time for the rapture, Iceland’s second and most active volcano Grimsvoetn has began erupting: Read more
British Airways has become the latest airline to face a sophisticated internet protest after a passenger posted graphic photos of what she alleges was an “absolutely disgusting” attack of bed bugs on two recent international BA flights, reports the FT. Zane Selkirk, a 28-year-old Yahoo product manager from Los Angeles, has published her own website, www.ba-bites.com, to make people aware of what she alleges is BA’s “unhelpful and unfriendly” response to her complaints.
Night flight restrictions at Heathrow will be eased over the next four days in an effort to help resolve the travel chaos that has left thousands of passengers stranded at Europe’s busiest airport, the government announced on Monday, according to the FT. “Operating hours will be permitted to continue until 1am and arrivals for repatriation flights will be allowed throughout the night,” said Philip Hammond, transport secretary, who was due to make a statement to parliament later in the day. His comments came shortly after British Airways urged passengers trying to fly out of its home hub of Heathrow to cancel their flights unless they absolutely had to travel. The BBC reports how the rest of northern Europe is also struggling yet Helsinki manages to stay open despite periodic blizzards.
Breaking pre-market news on Friday,
- British Airways returns to profit — statement. Read more
Breaking pre-market news on Wednesday,
- Deutsche Bank says sales and trading activity rebounded in September — statement. Read more
Breaking pre-market news on Thursday;
- Frank Timis’ African Minerals says Tonkolili investment deal delayed – statement. Read more
Breaking pre-market news on Friday,
- British Airways pre-tax loss increases to £164m from £148m – statement. Read more
Pensions. Boring, deathly things that people generally try to put off thinking about.
Unless when they weight down listed UK companies even more than usual, that is, which – thanks to trends in pensions accounting analysed by Citigroup on Monday — is looking a tad likelier. Read more
A deal struck by British Airways on Tuesday to plug the £3.7bn hole in its two pension schemes will restrict it from making any dividend payments to its new parent company, after its planned merger with Iberia, for at least the next two years, says the FT. The deal helps clear a potential obstacle to the BA-Iberia tie-up due to be completed by the end of this year.
Breaking pre-market news on Tuesday,
- British Airways agrees deal with pension trustees – statement. Read more
British Airways chief executive Willie Walsh threw down the gauntlet to striking cabin crew staff on Monday, saying he would hold out against industrial action “for as long as it takes”, reports the FT. His comments came as flight attendants staged a third round of five-day strikes. Their action is due to end on Wednesday but the union may ballot cabin crew on further action if no agreement is reached with BA.
Unite, the key union for British Airways staff, is preparing to ballot its 11,000 BA cabin crew members on fresh industrial action, raising the threat of disruption to holidaymakers in the peak summer season, reports the FT. Union leaders said a new strike ballot could be only a week or so away, as union members staged the second day of their latest five-day walk-out. At issue is the union’s demand that BA restore travel concessions stripped from cabin crew who walked out in March.
More British Airways flight attendants turned up for work than were needed on Monday, the airline said, as the Unite union launched a wave of strikes. However, reports the FT, thousands of passengers around the world had travel plans disrupted, however, after cabin crew walked out for the second time in two months at BA, which last week announced a record annual pre-tax loss of £530m.
Thousands of British Airways passengers face travel disruption on Monday after the airline appeared to snub an 11th hour offer to avert the planned strike action by cabin crew, reports the FT. Negotiations between the airline and union officials reached a stalemate after BA responded coolly to a last-minute offer from the Unite union to halt the walk-out if the airline reinstated travel perks for its members. The first of three five-day strikes was to begin at midnight Sunday.
British Airways has unveiled its worst annual losses in more than two decades after an economic downturn that has seen airlines around the world plunge into the red, reports the FT. The UK flag carrier reported a pre-tax loss of £531m for the 12 months to the end of March, its largest loss since it was privatised in 1987. Although the loss overshadows the £401m deficit BA suffered in the previous financial year, it is some £40m lower than what many analysts had forecast.
Breaking pre-market news on Friday,
- British Airways reports annual loss before tax of £531m; targeting revenue growth of 6 per cent and break-even at pre-tax profit level in current financial year – statement. Read more
Unite, the union representing British Airways cabin crew, said it would go to court on Tuesday to seek to overturn a judge’s last-minute ruling that blocked a series of planned walkouts, the FT reported. Tony Woodley, joint leader of the Unite union, questioned whether workers still had the right to strike after Mr Justice McCombe on Tuesday granted an order against the union, giving a reprieve for passengers who had faced weeks of travel chaos.
British Airways averted 20 days of cabin crew strikes after the High Court ruled that the Unite union did not properly inform members about the results of a ballot on the action, reports the FT. BA’s legal victory, its second to end a Unite strike in five months, will bring relief to passengers who faced four five-day stoppages from Tuesday. But BA warned that the emergency injunction could not undo disruption for some who were due to travel in the early days of the walkout. The airline hopes to restore a full schedule at Heathrow from the weekend.
The cake has been bought.
The dress has been fitted.
Travel disruption continued across Europe on Wednesday despite the lifting of aviation restrictions after authorities reassessed the risks posed by of the cloud of Icelandic volcanic ash, the FT reported. As flights finally took off, airlines were counting the cost of more than five days of disruption, estimated at $1.7bn by the International Air Transport Association. Britain finally reopened its airports on Tuesday night amid mounting frustration from airlines, which spent the day watching countries across Europe allow their airports to reopen as the volcano ash cloud dispersed, while Heathrow and other large UK airports remained shut.
Britain finally lifted flight bans on Tuesday night after airlines and officials agreed on a way to deal with the volcanic ash that brought much of Europe’s skies to a standstill over the past six days, the FT reported. The news came as it emerged British Airways had already been trying to fly 26 passenger jets into London even though the capital’s airports remained closed amid fears volcanic ash from Iceland remained a risk to aircraft.
A fresh ash cloud from Iceland was reported to be heading in the direction of the UK and Ireland on Tuesday, causing uncertainty over plans to open some airspace, the FT reported on Tuesday. “The volcano eruption in Iceland has strengthened and a new ash cloud is spreading south and east towards the UK. This demonstrates the dynamic and rapidly changing conditions in which we are working,” Nats, the air traffic control group, said on Monday night. British Airways scrapped plans to resume short-haul flights on Tuesday although the carrier still intends to fly long-haul services from 4pm, subject to the full and permanent opening of airspace, it said in a statement.
So British Airways CEO Willie Walsh took to the skies this weekend — Icelandic volcanic ash, and the small matter of its closure of Europe’s northern air routes, be damned.
Airline consolidation took centre stage on both sides of the Atlantic on Thursday as British Airways and Iberia reached agreement on their planned tie-up while US Airways resumed talks on a deal with United, the FT said. US airline shares jumped in reaction to United’s discussions with US Airways, which surprised investors after the companies called off talks nearly two years ago. The response to the more advanced BA-Iberia deal was less dramatic, having been factored in after the carriers announced a memorandum of understanding on the merger last November.
British Airways and Iberia announced a definitive merger agreement on Thursday, ending nearly two years of often strained negotiations on the creation of a Europe’s third-largest airline group, the FT reports. The companies, which have both been battered by competition from low-cost carriers and the global downturn in business travel, said the merged group would boast a 408-aircraft fleet and carry more than 58m passengers a year to 200 destinations.