British Airways has launched an Olympics marketing campaign that risks antagonising the outbound trade by declaring: “Don’t Fly. Support Team GB.”

BA says the campaign, to encourage Britons to stay at home during the London Olympics and Paralympic Games, is “tongue-in-cheek”.

The carrier says research highlights the benefit of ‘home advantage’ for athletes who perform in their own country.

The campaign follows uproar at a government-funded domestic tourism campaign in the spring which asked “Why would you want to go abroad?”

BA unveiled the campaign on Tuesday on Facebook and on TV during England’s European Championship game against Ukraine.

Its advert features a BA aircraft taxiing through London to the soundtrack of London Calling by The Clash. The tagline “Don’t Fly… ” appears as the aircraft reaches the Olympic Park. Similar ads will appear in print and outdoors.

BA head of UK sales Richard Tams said: “It’s a tongue-in-cheek campaign to emphasise the importance of people being in the UK for a once-in-a-lifetime event.

“We want to help get the nation behind our medal hopefuls. We believe every clap and cheer will make the difference.”

The carrier also launched a ‘Fly Britain Home’ promotion offering free flights to expats and friends and family of competing athletes.

Tams said: “Past experience suggests demand could be dampened during the Games. However, our campaign is about maximising support for Team GB.”

He added: “Trade partners who make BA bookings before July 6 can enter a draw to win one of 150 pairs of Olympic tickets.”