British Airways’ profits have collapsed under pressure from the high price of oil, falling to about one-eighth of their value a year ago.
The fall led BA chief executive Wille Walsh to declare: “We are in the worst trading environment the industry has ever faced.”
The airline made £37 million in the three months to June, down from £298 million in the same period in 2007. Operating profits fell from £266 million to £35 million.
Walsh blamed: “The combination of unprecedented oil prices, economic slowdown and weaker consumer confidence.”
BA will cut capacity for this winter by over 3% – a reduction of 6.4% on the schedule originally planned. It will suspend services from Gatwick to Newquay, Sarajevo, Dresden and Poznan from October 26, pull out of planned start-ups to Valencia and Oporto, and delay the launch of a service to Hyderabad until December 6.
There will be a reduction in frequencies on other routes, mostly short-haul services from Gatwick.However, flights to Narita, Hong Kong, New York and Washington will also be affected.
Services to Narita will be reduced from two to one a day and to New York JFK from 10 a day to nine.
BA head of UK sales Adam Daniels said passengers would be re-booked on alternative flights and the sales team would be in touch with travel trade partners today.