BA Profits Soar but Ticket Surcharge Stays; PASSENGERS MUST STILL PAY EXTRA [Pounds Sterling]20 'DUE TO HIGH OIL PRICE'

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Byline: ROBERT LEA

BRITISH AIRWAYS today warned that fuel surcharges which add [pounds sterling]20 to every ticket are likely to stay in place for the rest of the year because of the soaring price of oil.

The surcharge, which was slapped on last May, will remain for the "foreseeable future", BA executives said.

British Airways issued the warning even though latest trading figures show the carrier is on course to record its biggest profits since the turn of the millennium.

"We have no plans to take the surcharges off," said finance director John Rishston.

"Though we are reviewing them on a week-by-week basis, they will remain while the oil price remains high. The oil price is 53 per cent higher than it was in 2003 and we believe it will stay there for the foreseeable future, which we see as being over the next year."

However, if other airlines begin to undercut BA it is reserving the right to change its mind.

"The decision will be made on several elements including the oil price and a review of our competitive position," added Mr Rishston. …