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British Airways Loses $292 Million in 2001 - 2002-05-20

One of the world's major international airlines, British Airways, says it lost $292 million in the past year as trans-Atlantic business slumped following the terrorist hijackings in the United States last September.

These are the biggest losses reported by British Airways since the company was privatized 15 years ago.

However, investors snapped up shares of the airline in London stock exchange trading Monday. That is because analysts had forecast even bigger loses of as much as $500 million.

British Airways chief executive Rod Eddington blames the slump in air travel on the September 11 terrorist hijackings in the United States, and Britain's hoof-and-mouth disease crisis last year.

Mr. Eddington says his company also has been challenged by low budget airlines such as Easy Jet and Irish-based Ryanair. "We've changed how we price and distribute our short-haul product in part based on the learning from the no-frills carriers. We are keen to ensure that we capture a good chunk of the leisure market as well as the business market," Mr. Eddington said. British Airways began laying off about 13,500 workers last August, and it says its operating costs are now 12 percent lower they were a year ago.