01 September 1999

BRITISH AIRWAYS IS CONSIDERING legal action against other European airlines for allegedly operat-ing illegal loyalty bonus schemes for the travel trade. Robert Ayling [whose alter ego many believe to be Biggles] has the Luftwaffe - sorry, Lufthansa - firmly fixed in his sights, along with those other Beastly Foreigners Air France, Alitalia and KLM. The prospect of legal action has been triggered by the £4.4m fine imposed on BA by the EC for the payment of 'illegal' loyalty bonuses. BA insists that it acted no differently to the other airlines and fears that the EC will not move fast enough to impose an EU-wide ban before its rivals deprive BA of passenger traffic. 'We feel we have been singled out', complained a BA spoke. Meantime, BA has revamped its extant incentive scheme to comply with EC requirements. Travel agents will continue to receive a basic commission of 7% on ticket sales plus a further 3%-4% for 'staff training' and 'value-added' services that create more business. The additional bonuses are, of course, unrelated to prioritising the interests of the world’s favourite airline ahead of its rivals.