BA on course for £1 billion profit

British Airways reported a £788 million profit for the nine months to December, up 35% on 2006 despite a £72 million rise in the fuel bill in the last quarter of the year, putting it on course for a £1 billion profit for the year.

BA’s operating profit rose more than 28% to £734 million on a nine-month turnover of £6.6 billion, with the carrier reporting an operations margin of 11% – the highest it has achieved.

Capacity increased by less than 1%, but passenger traffic provided £5.7 billion of BA’s turnover – a 1.7% rise year on year, largely driven by a 4.2% increase in premium Club World and First Class traffic on long-haul routes.

The airline reported short-haul premium traffic has weakened and economy traffic to the US and Canada “remains soft”. The biggest reduction in costs came on the wage bill, down almost 7%.

Announcing the results, BA chief executive Willie Walsh also unveiled plans for a business-only service between London City Airport and New York, to be launched next year.

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