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Last Updated: Friday, 4 November 2005, 11:59 GMT
Gate dispute cost BA up to 45m
BA tailfins
BA saw its Heathrow flights grounded for two days in August
British Airways has estimated that this summer's Gate Gourmet dispute cost it between 35m ($62m) and 45m.

The airline saw its Heathrow flights grounded for two days in August after ground staff walked out in sympathy with sacked workers at its caterer.

Releasing its results for the three months to 30 September, BA saw its pre-tax profit fall 18% to 241m.

The drop came about because last year's figure was boosted by the sale of shares in Australian carrier Qantas.

"[The Gate Gourmet dispute] does not have a material impact on the quarterly financial comparisons as the airline also suffered operational disruption in the same period of last year," BA said in its statement.

'Reasonable results'

In a BBC interview, BA's chief executive Willie Walsh described the second quarter figures as a "reasonable result in the circumstances".

Yet investors - which had been expecting strong results - seemed relatively disappointed, and BA's shares closed down 7.75 pence, or 2.4%, at 306p.

We must ensure a successful move to Heathrow Terminal 5 in 2008 and redouble our efforts to make British Airways more focused and better able to serve all of our customers
BA boss Willie Walsh

Pre-tax profits for the second quarter were down from 293m for the same period in 2004 when the Qantas sale brought in 86m.

The airline's second quarter turnover was up 8.2% to 2.2bn, from 2bn a year earlier.

Mr Walsh added that the airline still needed to do more to reduce its costs.

"It is clear, however, that we need to re-energise our drive on controllable costs," he said.

"We have demonstrated time and again that it is possible to offer world-class service while improving unit costs.

"Costs are up in most areas. Fuel was the biggest single contributor, up a staggering 51.3%.

"We must ensure a successful move to Heathrow Terminal 5 in 2008 and redouble our efforts to make British Airways more focused and better able to serve all of our customers."




BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
An eventful year in the life of British Airways



SEE ALSO:
New BA boss criticises strikers
03 Oct 05 |  Business
New boss as BA faces turbulence
02 Oct 05 |  Business
Aer Lingus ex-chief to head up BA
08 Mar 05 |  Business
BA-American deal faces obstacles
18 Dec 01 |  Business


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