British Airways chief executive Willie Walsh says new subsidiary airline OpenSkies will not compete with BA.

OpenSkies will operate independently of BA, with a staff of 300-350.

Engineering and service contracts will initially be with BA, but thereafter the carrier’s management will be free to outsource work.

“Managing director Dale Moss will be the driving force at OpenSkies,” said Walsh. “He will be free to contract with anyone.

“The airline has to be financially independent and I expect a profit. But we are clear it will not compete against BA. It will operate in markets that BA does not.”

After launching from Paris and Brussels, OpenSkies will look to Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Milan, Madrid and other European business centres.

Walsh said: “It will target business travellers, but fares will be competitive in the various markets.”

Tickets will be sold through and a dedicated OpenSkies website.

New carrier was named by BA employee

The OpenSkies name is the brainchild of an unnamed British Airways employee, who will have saved the airline a fortune in fees that would have been paid to an outside agency to devise the brand.

The operation will break new ground for BA, but chief executive Willie Walsh is confident of success despite evidence of a downturn in business demand for short-haul routes and increasing fears of a US recession.

Walsh said: “One of BA’s strengths is our position in the US. We have been talking to the banking and investment community in New York and Boston and they want a
superior product. Demand also exists in most European markets.”

He suggests competitors such as Air France, which will take on BA at Heathrow at the end of March when it begins flying to Los Angeles, have still to match BA’s business-class cabin.