01 March 1998

AFTER WEEKS of rumblings EasyJet has translated words into action and has issued a writ against British Airways. It seeks an injunction to prevent the world's favourite dirty tricks practitioner using what EasyJet terms 'monopoly profits' to cross-subsidise BA's new low-cost, direct-sell carrier Go. Says EasyJet: 'This legal step follows the refusal of BA in correspondence with EasyJet lawyers to give an undertaking that they will not cross-subsidise 'Go'. BA confirmed the writ had been received by its lawyers but, eyes cast piously heavenward, declared it had not abused its position and would be 'vigorously defending' the action. Consumer interests were the motivation for launching 'Go', weaseled BA: 'Indeed we are convinced it will widen and improve the choice available to passengers.'<BR><BR> One of the many impartial observers unconvinced by BA's protestations of innocence is the Consumer's Association, which has written to EC competition commissioner Karel van Miert, expressing its concern that Go will attack its rivals through predatory pricing. Says CA: 'The arrival of BA/Go will lead to higher fares in the long run.' Its letter argues that Go is designed to limit the growth of existing low cost airlines and will restrict the entry of new low-budget carriers. CA has sent similar letters both to transport commissioner Neil Kinnock and Emma Bonino, the consumer affairs commissioner.