AS PART OF a major cost-cutting programme, British Airways hopes to generate up to half its £9bn annual revenues from online ticket sales within three years.

Among a range of measures, including an un-specified number of job losses, the airline aims to achieve 'a sharp reduction in the cost of sales, partly through the use of e-ticketing'. Never averse to a juicy paradox, a BA spoke added: 'This does not mean we are going to cut-out the travel agents.' That happy breed, BA insists, will continue to earn their commission by placing bookings online in tandem with direct sales.

But as one EC2 bookie observed: 'The first thing they’ll do if they are serious about selling tickets online is cut out the travel agent.'