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British Airways forecasts profit

Following a record first half year British Airways is on target to meet its full year profit target and pay a dividend for the first time since 2001.

BA reported an operating profit of £556 million for the six months ended 30 September 2007, a margin of 12.5%. Attending a conference in Dublin at the weekend, BA chief executive officer Willie Walsh said, "Given we had a record first half, we're on track to deliver a 10% operating margin," reports Bloomberg.

Profits at BA were up 26% and costs down nearly 4% for the half year to September. But Walsh warned then "Fuel costs remain a major challenge and our fuel bill for the year is expected to top £2 billion for the first time". BA has ordered 36 new long haul aircraft and hopes these will reduce fuel bills.

"Both the Airbus A380 and the Boeing 787 are truly 21st century aircraft with huge potential. The Airbus A380 will work well on high density routes and the Boeing 787 gives us the flexibility to open new routes and grow existing ones," said Walsh.

British Airways plans to begin flights from continental Europe to the USA by the middle of next year following the open skies treaty between the US and European Union. Among the European cities being considered are Paris, Milan, Frankfurt and Brussels, while John F Kennedy airport in New York is the preferred airport in the USA, Walsh told Bloomberg.

BA recently announced the launch of new shorthaul routes from Heathrow to Malaga and Gatwick to Alicante, Faro, Gibraltar, Ibiza, Malaga, Palma and Tunis. BA subsidiary BA Cityflyer is also launching four new routes next summer from London City airport to Amsterdam, Barcelona, Nice and Warsaw.

Written by: Nick Purdom