Web pushes BA short haul into profit

An aggressive marketing and online booking strategy is paying off for British Airways after announcing today that its short-haul business is profitable for the first tine in ten years.

The airline, which still relies heavily on its long-haul routes for a significant chunk of its business, revealed the recovery in the European operations during the unveiling of its financial results.

BA also said its online check-in system had been “very well received” by customers.

The turn around in the fortunes of the short haul business comes less than a year since ex-Aer Lingus boss Willie Walsh took over as chief executive.

In recent months BA.com has been at the forefront of a concerted effort to go head-to-head with the likes of Ryanair and EasyJet in the competitive European short-haul market.

It has attempted to channel ticket sales through the site, especially in recent weeks with a massive sale on short-haul routes.

Earlier this year the airline announced plans to slash ticket prices by half to around 60 destinations in Europe.

Walsh said: “Our short-haul business is now in profit for the first time in ten years but we have still more to do.”

BA revealed a pre-tax profit of £620 million for the 12 months ending 31 March, up from £513 million during the previous period.

The airline’s operating margin increased by 1% to 8.3%, but Walsh reiterated a long-term goal for BA to achieve a 10% margin by 2008.

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