Max Kingsley-Jones/LONDON

Go, the British Airways low-fare affiliate, says the primary reason behind the move to almost triple its fleet to 13 aircraft over the next 15 months is to enable it to boost its route network, but the airline denies that it plans to take over routes from its parent.

The London Stansted-based carrier now operates five ex-Philippine Airlines Boeing 737-300s, including four leased from General Electric Capital Aviation Services (GECAS) and one from Indigo Aviation. Go will add six new 737-300s over the next 15 months leased from GECAS, along with two more secondhand aircraft, boosting its fleet to 13 737-300s. The move will also see the size of its workforce doubled, to more than 400 people.

Go launched operations in late May and now operates services to Bologna, Copenhagen, Edinburgh, Lisbon, Milan, and Rome. The airline's sales and marketing director, David Magliano, says that the addition of more aircraft is being undertaken primarily to enable Go to boost its route network, but will also enable frequencies to existing destinations to increase. "More routes should be announced by the end of the year," he says.

There has been much speculation that BA's long-term strategy for Go could see some of the marginal short-haul routes operated from London Heathrow and Gatwick switched to Stansted and allocated to its low-cost affiliate. This would assist BA in releasing the 267 weekly slots at Heathrow and Gatwick to meet the European Commission's requirements for approval of its alliance with American Airlines. It could also later provide a way of freeing valuable slots at the two London airports for BA to use on more lucrative long-haul services.

Such a move was all but confirmed recently by BA's chief executive Bob Ayling, who said that with the airline's short-haul operations under pressure to remain profitable, some routes could be dropped and "-maybe Go could take over".

Magliano, however, is quick to deny any collaboration with its parent: "We are completely separate from BA and have no plans to take over any of its routes," he says. "Go chooses its destinations independently of what BA is doing-we do not collude on route planning."

Source: Flight International