British Airways seeks more China's destinations

Updated: 2012-06-12 14:06

By Wang Wen (

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British Airways Plc will reduce its short-haul routes and expand long-haul routes, especially to China, in the next three to five years, when its orders of Boeing 787 are delivered, its chief executive officer said on Monday.

"The airline will show in more different cities in China in the future," said Willie Walsh, CEO of the International Airlines Group, which is the parent company of British Airways.

On Jan 24, 2011, London-based British Airways and Madrid-based Iberia Airlines SA announced an $8.5 billion merger, which created Europe's third-largest airline group by market capitalization. The airlines are already partly integrated but their business in China is still operated by British Airlines.

The carrier now runs 13 flights weekly between London and two Chinese destinations — Beijing and Shanghai.

The group has a list of 10 potential Chinese cities and has compiled a horde of related data for analysis of Chinese destinations popular with its customers, Walsh said in an interview last year.

However, the plan to fly to more Chinese cities will not be completed this year.

British Airways is still waiting for its Boeing 787 aircraft to operate on long-haul routes, Walsh said.

The carrier ordered 24 Boeing 787 in 2007 but the date of the first aircraft's delivery has not been released yet.

IAG purchased British Midland International recently. It is the second largest airline in the UK. The trade gave IAG more slots at Heathrow Airport, which is the busiest airport in the world.

"The purchase of BMI gave us the opportunity to have more slots and we will use them for long-haul routes," Walsh said, adding he was not satisfied with the UK government's policies on the aviation industry and describing them as "crazy".

"The government levies the highest tax on aviation industry in the world and forbids the airlines from expanding," he said.

The International Air Transport Association echoed Walsh's dissatisfaction.

"Some governments levy too high a tax on the aviation industry and they do not understand about the fact that aviation industry's growth could promote the country's whole economy," said Tony Tyler, CEO of IATA.