British Airways sees 'no signs of recovery' after record loss

British Airways has posted its biggest loss since its 1987 privatisation.

BA: posted biggest loss since 1987
BA: posted biggest loss since 1987

The company announced a pre-tax loss of £401m for the year to 31 March, plunging from a revised profit of £922m during the previous year. The loss dwarfs the one it nursed in the year after the September 11 terrorist attacks in 2001. The carrier, hit by rocketing fuel costs, has cut more than 2,500 jobs since last summer. Chief executive Willie Walsh said he saw 'no signs of recovery anywhere'.

The reaction?

BA's woes led morning broadcast and online news last Friday. The losses were significantly worse than market expectations - BA's shares dropped by nine per cent on Friday morning, before recovering during morning trading. Analysts pointed to difficult global conditions for airlines, high fuel costs and poor dollar exchange rates. But BA itself came under fire for its botched launch of Terminal 5.

Who are the PR players?

Julia Simpson is BA's head of corporate communications and the firm runs its UK PR operation almost exclusively in-house. BA has used Brunswick for financial PR projects, but has no retained City agency. It brought its consumer PR in-house from Porter Novelli last year.

What happens next?

It is difficult to see anything but a tough 2009 for BA. While fuel costs are coming down, the airline is seeing low-cost airlines stepping on its toes. The airline will concentrate on boosting passenger numbers, but finds it difficult to compete on price with easyJet and Ryanair. The airline will have to hope its merger with Spanish carrier Iberia not only receives regulatory approval, but boosts passenger numbers to turn around its fortunes.

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