British Airways has turned in an 88% drop in operating profit to £89 million ($131 million) for the first nine months of this year, and generated a pre-tax loss of £70 million for the period.

It has yet to clarify its quarterly figures. Last month BA had warned of a £50 million third-quarter operating loss, and it is maintaining its full-year expectations of a £150 million operating loss.

The carrier's nine-month revenues were up by 6.2% to just over £7 billion but BA had to absorb a 48% increase in its fuel expenditure to £2.2 billion.

BA chief executive Willie Walsh says costs were up by more than £1 billion to around £7 billion, as a result of the fuel-price rise and weak UK currency.

"We have already taken several actions to offset the unprecedented economic conditions," he says. "We have increased our sales activity in markets with stronger foreign currencies to benefit from exchange and continue to offer competitive fares in both premium and non-premium cabins."

Non-fuel costs reached £4.7 billion, up by £335 million.

BA's capacity for the nine months to the end of December was largely unchanged, but yields were up 9.6%. The airline attributes this to benefits from exchange and price increases of 5%. Passenger load factor was down 2.3 points to 78.4%.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news