BA calls in HHCL to create new airline

British Airways is planning to launch a cut-price European airline and has appointed HHCL & Partners as a strategic marketing and advertising partner to help develop its scheme.

British Airways is planning to launch a cut-price European airline

and has appointed HHCL & Partners as a strategic marketing and

advertising partner to help develop its scheme.



Officials from the airline held meetings with at least four London shops

before appointing HHCL to the project, which is expected to go live next

year.



Cut-price air travel is one of the fastest-growing segments of the

airline market and BA’s chief executive, Bob Ayling, set up a project

group to investigate the best way for BA to win a slice of this

business.



A source told Campaign this week: ’BA is looking to set up a separate

company under the BA corporate umbrella. It’s still very early days and

it hasn’t yet decided how it will happen, when it will happen or where

it will fly to.’



Another insider added: ’It is looking at the whole area and how best to

approach it.’ One option thought to be under discussion is a tie-up with

other airlines, but it is possible that BA will go ahead with the plans

on its own.



Because of the need to maintain a separate identity for the no-frills

operation, it is understood that the incumbent on the main BA account,

M&C Saatchi, was not invited to pitch. Neither was Bartle Bogle Hegarty,

which just missed out on the hotly contested main account in 1995 and

was awarded its Air Miles account earlier this year.



Rupert Howell, the managing partner of HHCL, declined to provide details

about the account but admitted to winning the business.



’I can confirm that we’re looking at the emerging European leisure air

travel market with BA,’ he said. A BA spokesperson also confirmed the

appointment.



The next stage is to develop a business plan to put before the BA

board.



This is a task for which HHCL has appropriate experience, since it

helped Midland Bank set up its standalone banking brand, First

Direct.



The BA initiative will come as a surprise to airline industry

observers.



EasyJet, one of the pace-setters in no-frills flights, has accused BA of

showing a ’snooty indifference’ to its activities. Until now, major

airlines have had a reputation for forcing out low-cost rivals and have

always been fearful that lower fares would make some routes uneconomic.



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