British Airways (BA) plans to undertake significant network adjustments next year in the Caribbean market and on the "kangaroo" route in response, respectively, to increasing passenger taxation and a strategic venture with Australian partner Qantas.

BA has blamed an "unfair tax burden" for its decision to reduce capacity next summer from London Gatwick to the Caribbean. The move will see it transfer capacity to Florida, which BA says "is a destination under the UK government's current aviation tax system that has a rate 20% less than the Caribbean".

The big loser in BA's Caribbean shake-up is Montego Bay, which from next summer will lose its twice-weekly service from Gatwick. Frequencies are also being reduced to Barbados, St Lucia, Tobago and San Juan in Puerto Rico. However, weekly frequencies will increase to Kingston (from two to three) and Antigua (from six to seven).

Meanwhile, BA's Gatwick-Orlando frequencies will rise from seven to 10 a week.

"The Caribbean is a very important destination for us. However, we can't deny the reality that demand is not as high as it has been," said BA chief executive Keith Williams. "Taxation is most certainly a factor in this and sadly, a factor in our decision to reduce our frequencies next summer."

According to the airline, a family of four flying in economy between the UK and Florida pays £240 ($369) in air passenger duty (APD) tax, whereas travelling to the Caribbean, they pay £300.

BA has been vocal in its opposition to the UK government's increasing APD levies and Williams said the legislation is "in need of reform".

Meanwhile, the reorganisation of BA's London-Australia "kangaroo" route services are tied to the major restructuring of Qantas's international operations announced in August. The changes from the 2012 summer season will see BA effectively cutting one of the two daily flights between London and Sydney, but increasing frequencies from London to Hong Kong.

Both airlines will cease the London-Australia flights they operate via Bangkok, but each will maintain Bangkok services enabling their passengers to connect between the two in the Thai capital.

BA is increasing London-Hong Kong weekly frequencies from 14 to 17 as part of a deal with Qantas, whose Melbourne-London flight will terminate in Hong Kong with passengers transferring to BA for the London leg. Capacity on BA's remaining London-Australia service (via Singapore) will be increased from a Boeing 777-200ER to a 747-400.

Source: Flight Daily News