British Airways unveils Open Skies network shake-up

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LONDON, Sept 19 (Reuters) British Airways Plc unveiled a shakeup of its network on Wednesday, boosting U.S. flights for next summer as market liberalisation looms under the EU-U.S. Open Skies treaty due to take effect in March.

''The airline will increase frequencies from Heathrow to New York JFK, Seattle and Washington and from Gatwick to Orlando,'' BA said in a statement.

In total, BA will offer 41 daily flights to 18 U.S. cities next summer. A comparative figure for this summer was not immediately available.

Its changes also include a surprise termination to flights to Detroit from March 30, 2008, where BA said profits had fallen.

''Despite the fact we have operated in the Detroit-London market for over 50 years, we see no possible upswing in the business and have, therefore, decided to utilise the aircraft on other routes where it can make a profitable contribution to the airline's bottom line,'' BA said.

BA will also change this winter's schedule with the end of loss-making direct flights to Harare from Oct 28.

A spokesman said BA would continue to serve Harare, however, through a flight routed via Johannesburg.

The Johannesburg-Harare leg will be operated by franchise partner airline Comair which flies in BA colours, he said, noting one factor behind the high cost of direct flights from the UK to Harare is that jet fuel is not available in Zimbabwe, forcing airlines to truck it in from South Africa.

REUTERS DKS HS1830

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