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British Airways confirmed the extent to which it has been
hit by industrial action when it released its June traffic figures Monday,
showing revenue passenger kilometers fell 11.1 percent.
The result is particularly bad given that RPKs in June 2009
were down 3.8 percent from the same month in 2008. Available seat kilometers in
June 2010 were down 8.6 percent, with more than half of the capacity cut
accounted for by nine days of stoppages by cabin crew in a long-running dispute
with the airline.
In total, there have been 23 days of industrial unrest since
the beginning of May. Coupled with the closure of European airspace by the
volcanic ash crisis in April, BA has had a woeful three months, with RPKs
falling 14.9 percent and ASKs down 11.3 percent. More optimistically, however,
the airline said strengthening yields partly offset lower volumes in June and
that "underlying market conditions continue to show improvement."
Hopes that the cabin crew dispute can be resolved rose on
Tuesday when the leadership of their union, Unite, distributed ballot papers to
members without making a recommendation on whether to accept or reject a new
offer from BA. Previous ballots have been accompanied by hostile recommendations.
The results are expected in a fortnight.
In other BA news, the European Commission's competition
directorate confirmed to Reuters on Tuesday that it still expects to announce
by the end of the month whether to approve a proposed transatlantic joint venture
involving the United Kingdom flag carrier, American Airlines and Iberia.