British Airways (BA) has reported a 75% drop in operating profit and a net loss for the first half, but despite difficult trading conditions says it remains "on track" to booking a profit at operating level for the year.

The Oneworld alliance carrier says in a stock exchange statement that operating profit fell to £140 million ($222 million) in the six months to September from £567 million in the same period last year.

Pre-tax profit fell to £52 million from £616 million and a net loss of £42 million was recorded, compared to a net profit in the year-earlier period of £500 million.

Revenue increased 6.4% year-on-year and BA says it now expects full-year revenue to increase by "at least 4%", up from previous expectations of 3%. Costs increased £711 million during the half and "remain a key challenge".

However it says that "we remain focused on delivering a small operating profit in the current financial year and sustainable profitability in the medium and long term".

CEO Willie Walsh adds: "This is a good performance given the incredibly difficult trading conditions. The six month period will be remembered as one of the bleakest on record. The period was hit by a crisis in the banking sector, record fuel prices and several airlines going out of business.

"We have made good progress with our plans to offset the difficult conditions. We have reviewed the summer 2009 schedule and plan to reduce capacity by some 1% compared with summer 2008. We have revised capital expenditure plans and remain focused on cost control and our strong cash position."

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news