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BRITISH Airways is buying up the regional airline which runs the "lifeline" air links to the Highlands and islands of Scotland.

BA said the pounds 78million British Regional Airlines Group (BRAL) deal showed "the importance we put on our regional customers and staff".

And it pledged to run more frequent flights on the 24 routes affecting Scottish airports.

But there's unlikely to be a big cut in fares as BA is effectively taking over the existing operation.

Paul Eddington, chief executive of BA said: "The deal is a great opportunity for us to further improve regional flying.

"We will be able to better match capacity to demand and more closely integrate the regional networks to give customers a better, more cohesive schedule."

BA also said that there will be no job losses among BRAL's 247 staff in Scotland.

The services which will come completely under the BA wing include the so-called "rural lifeline" flights between Shetland and the mainland, Kirkwall to Aberdeen, and Stornoway to Glasgow.

The complex network also includes services between Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow to Belfast, Cardiff and Southampton.

The deal means BA once again takes over the running of the Inverness to Gatwick service and the Edinburgh to Paris flight.

Last month, BA came under fire over the cost of BRAL internal flights.

It's cheaper to fly from Glasgow to New York than to Stornoway, according to the latest figures. A return flight to the isles costs pounds 259 compared to just pounds 235 to the Big Apple.

BRAL was formed in a sell-off by British Midland, whose chairman Michael Bishop will make pounds 20million from cashing in his 26 cent stake.
COPYRIGHT 2001 Scottish Daily Record & Sunday
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Copyright 2001 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Money Page
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Mar 9, 2001
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