BA sees more Africa routes after Iberia merger

* Merger will open markets, eyes new destinations

* Forecasts 10 pct revenue increase this year for Africa

By Jeremy Clarke

NAIROBI, April 14 (BestGrowthStock) – The merger between British
Airways (BAY.L: ) (BA) and Spain’s Iberia (IBLA.MC: ) will result in
increased access to African destinations for European and Latin
American holidaymakers, BA’s chief executive said on Wednesday.

Willie Walsh said BA planned to expand operations into
Africa, including taking a delivery of new aircraft in 2012
earmarked for increasing the frequency of flights into the
continent.

“(The merger) is an opportunity to provide additional access
from the Spanish market into Africa and Kenya will be one of the
destinations that will benefit,” Walsh told reporters in the
Kenyan capital, Nairobi, via video link from London.

Walsh said BA would be able to build on Iberia’s existing
networks, including a strong presence in Latin America, to open
up the African market via Madrid and London.

“Part of the expansion will include new services from Madrid
to a number of African destinations … that is an objective of
the combined British Airways and Iberia company,” he said.

“We see these (new Boeing 787s) as being an excellent
aircraft to serve the African market and to allow us to expand
frequencies and look at new destinations in Africa.”

Extra flights in coming years will boost the region’s
crucial tourism sectors, Walsh said, adding east Africa should
also expect an influx of tourists both en route and returning
from the football world cup in South Africa, beginning in June.

“We are forecasting a 10 percent increase in revenue for
Africa this financial year, which ends March 31 2011,” said
George Mawadri, BA’s Kenya commercial manager.

Tourism in Africa has suffered from the global economic
downturn and Kenya, where tourism is the third largest foreign
exchange earner after horticulture and tea exports, was hard hit
by the country’s bloody post-election violence in early 2008.

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($1=77.05 Kenyan Shilling)
(Editing by Richard Lough and Simon Jessop)

BA sees more Africa routes after Iberia merger