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BA sees no impact on bookings from Brexit uncertainty

British Airways has not detected any change in ticket bookings as a result of uncertainty around Brexit.

"We are not seeing any evidence of the Brexit impact," said Willie Walsh, chief executive of BA parent IAG, during a results briefing today.

He acknowledges that Ryanair and other airlines have warned how their operations could be affected, especially by a no-deal Brexit. But he insists: "We don't see any impact on bookings or the profile of bookings going forward in terms of the visibility that we have."

Walsh suspects that BA's heavy reliance on London and the UK southeast may be one explanation for the carrier's apparent resilience. "Maybe… we are not exposed to the whole of the UK as they [competitors] would be," he says.

Nevertheless, BA has put in place contingency plans for the UK's scheduled departure from the EU on 31 October. These, Walsh notes, are based on "a sensible Brexit". He says the carrier will be flexible in adjusting capacity if bookings fluctuate.

As BA's fleet of 33 Boeing 747s is "nearly fully" depreciated and a number of early 777-200s are "effectively" fully depreciated, the carrier would be able to park aircraft relatively easily if capacity had to be reduced.

Within its short-haul operations, BA could return leased aircraft to their owners or transfer equipment to IAG sister carriers, Wash also notes.

He sees IAG as having "a lot of flexibility" as regards deployment of its fleet.

The group could, he suggests, benefit from other airlines' disappearance in the event of a downturn.

IAG is in an "extremely strong [position] relatively to others", argues Walsh. "Anything that is going to impact on us is going to have a huge disproportionate impact on a lot of airlines out there who are in a very weak position today."

Noting that IAG has been through previous economic downturns, he adds: "We know what to do."

Walsh cites also IAG's "determination" to assert its position in the market.

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