British Airways World Cargo pushed sales up by 36.7 per cent to £175m in the first quarter, while volumes rose by 2.1 per cent to 1.1m cargo tonne kilometres.
In its interim management statement, the airline said cargo yields increased by 33.9 per cent, driven by demand, mix and fuel surcharges.
BAWC managing director Steve Gunning said: “It is encouraging to see the improvement in yields. However, it is imperative that the introduction of capacity in the market remains rational and measured.”
BAWC is replacing its three Boeing 747-400 freighters with new Boeing 747-8 freighters in early 2011. The 747-8f has an increased range of 4,475 nautical miles, as well as 16 per cent more cargo volume than the 747-400f. This means it is able to hold seven additional pallets, while maintaining the same nose and door loading capabilities for industry-standard 10-foot high pallets.
Gunning said: “Our investment in the new Boeing 747-8f reinforces our commitment to the air cargo industry and demonstrates the importance British Airways places on cargo. The increased range and the environmental benefits that the 747-8f provides will significantly benefit our customers. Long-haul freighters form an integral part of our overall business strategy – providing flexibility and capacity on resilient and growing lanes – as we strive for continued excellence in all key areas of the business, including product range, customer service and, of course, network offering.
BA as a whole made an operating loss of £72 million for the first quarter compared to a profit of £94m last year.
Chief executive Willie Walsh, said: “Despite both revenues and cost being hit by the closure of UK airspace following the Icelandic volcanic eruption and the impact of industrial action, our financial performance improved during the quarter from underlying revenue increases and further cost reductions.
“The impact of all disruptions was in line with previous estimates, some £250 million in the quarter.”
“We have achieved some major strategic milestones in the last couple of weeks. Our transatlantic joint business with American Airlines and Iberia has received regulatory approval from the US and EU authorities and will start this autumn. In addition, we’ve received the green light from regulators for our merger with Iberia.”
The airline aims to break even at a profit before tax level for the full year.