BA Adding Three 747-8 Freighters to Fleet

BA Adding Three 747-8 Freighters to Fleet

British Airways will add three 747-8 freighters, Boeing’s latest-generation aircraft, to its fleet, dramatically scaling up its capabilities in a cargo business that expanded more than 36 percent in the latest quarter, the carrier said Friday.

BA signed a five-year wet lease agreement with Global Supply Systems, a subsidiary of Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings, to operate the freighters starting in early 2011, when they will replace three 747-400s in operation for BA World Cargo.

“BAWC is a vital link in the global logistics chain, and it will be one of the first air carriers in the world to benefit from the 747-8F’s leading-edge technology,” William J. Flynn, President and Chief Executive Officer of AAWW, said.

By the Numbers:
BA Seeks Damages from Other Carriers in Cargo Cartel

The 747-8 freighters allow for 16 percent more cargo volume, which means it can accommodate seven additional pallets.

BA’s Cargo revenue grew by 36.7 percent in the quarter from a year ago and cargo yields jumped 33.9 percent, driven by demand, cargo mix and fuel surcharges.

Cargo volume, measured in cargo tonne kilometres, increased by 2.1 percent.

The cargo business did better than the passenger operations, where a series of troubles pushed BA into the red for the eighth straight quarter. The airline said, however, it still expects to break even for the full year despite booking wider first quarter losses after strikes and a volcanic ash cloud grounded flights.

The $254 million net loss in the three months to June 30 compared with a $229 million loss in the 2009 period, gave the carrier cumulative losses in the past two years to $1.3 billion.

Revenue rose 2.3 percent to $2.99 billion.

But the carrier’s underlying financial performance is improving, according to BA chief executive Willie Walsh.

“The trends in our passenger and cargo traffic continue to be positive with yields up and costs down,” Walsh said.

BA recently got the green light from European regulators to merge with Spain’s Iberia as well as the final go-ahead from the US to form a transatlantic alliance with American Airlines.

--Contact Bruce Barnard at