Air Transport World

Four into one: British Airways aims for cost reductions, mulls network changes as it consolidates its Regional airline activities into newly created CitiExpress. (PROFILE).(Company Profile)(Statistical Data Included)

The integration of British Airways' separate Regional airline operations has had a rather longer gestation period than might have been expected when plans to combine the units first were announced 13 months ago. Inflict, it was only this past April that the strategy was finalized and approved by the board of directors.

The reason for the delay: BA's Future Size and Shape strategic review, unveiled on Feb. 13, influenced the reorganization process intrinsically. "A significant part of BA's announcement was the transfer of 16 RJ100s that were based at Gatwick into the regions, replacing the 737s and the A319s that we operated out of Manchester and Birmingham respectively. Once we knew what our fleet was going to be, we then looked into what would be the best way to deploy these assets," explains David Evans, GM-UK Business and the person responsible for carrying out the integration program unveiled this spring.

Central in this strategic review was the formation of British Airways CitiExpress from April 1 to integrate the group's Regional activities, leading to an 8% reduction in passenger capacity by April 2004 and an anticipated [pounds sterling]20 million ($29 million) in annual cost savings over the current and next financial years. "It marks the beginning of a much-overdue simplification process," stares a London-based analyst. "[BA] had this multitude of airlines and brands, which caused confusion toward the customer and made operations quite complicated and not cost-effective."

The consolidation involves four airlines: British Airways Regional, with bases in Birmingham and Manchester; Bristol-based Brymon Airways, and the British Regional Airlines Group comprised of British Regional Airlines--a BA franchisee--and Isle of Man-based Manx Airlines. …

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