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Mon 3 Mar 2003 04:00 AM

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BA spinning around

Customer feedback, no other schedule changes and status quo in Iraq has forced the UK’s national airline to revise flights to the GCC for the second time in a week.

It seems that chopping services and changing schedules has proved a little too much for British Airways to handle after the airline decided this morning (March 03) to revise its services to the GCC region for the second time in the space of a week. After comprehensive changes last week, BA has now returned to something resembling a normal service.While other airlines took the wait and see attitude, BA, following travel advice by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, confirmed last week, that all flights to Oman would be suspended, flights to Dubai would be reduced to just one a day and that all services to the Gulf would now need to stop via Larnaca. “The change in schedule is part of a carefully planned series of measures, which allow British Airways to maintain a smooth and safe operation to the region,” Steve Allen, area manager, Southern Gulf told Arabian Business, when the initial changes took place last week.However, it appears that the carefully planned measures have caused more disruption and horror stories than anticipated. One passenger, attempting to travel to Damman, Saudi Arabia, explained that BA, as part of its smooth transition had offered a return flight to the eastern province, which included Heathrow-Larnaca-Doha-Manama and then a bus journey to Dammam. BA was quick to point out that the new changes were as a result of customer feedback.“Over the last week, we have spent a great deal of time studying the schedule to ensure our customers receive the best service possible under the current circumstances,” said Allen.With operators such as Gulf Air and Emirates Airlines waiting on the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) to take the final decision on changes to flight paths and European rival Air France announcing it would be increasing schedules to the Middle East and Asia, British Airways, it seems has been forced into this volte-face. Unfortunately, while the UK’s national carrier has restored services to Muscat and Dubai and combination flights have been scrapped, GCC services will still be operating via Larnaca for the foreseeable future or until BA revises its schedules, which in the current climate could mean any time soon.

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