Business travelers boost airline profits

A British Airways plane lands at Heathrow Airport in London, England.

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STEVE CHIOTAKIS: British Airways reported a profit today for the first time in a couple years. Airlines were particularly hard hit during the recession, as we all know.

But as the BBC's Rebecca Singer reports, it looks like business travelers are back and giving airlines a lift.


REBECCA SINGER: On a plane flight, the real money comes from the business and first class cabins. And when companies tightened their purse strings during the recession, business travel fell dramatically.

Willie Walsh is the chief executive of British Airways. He says the company has suffered two years of monster losses but that major cost cutting and great staff had turned things around.

WILLIE WALSH: To get the business back into profitability has been a very, very hard job and I think everyone at BA deserves great credit.

Walsh says the great results aren't just impressive in the face of the the economic downturn. The airline also is dealing with a labor dispute with cabin crew which resulted in several days of strikes. And don't forget the Icelandic volcanic ash cloud which stopped flights across Europe back in the spring.

In London, I'm the BBC's Rebecca Singer for Marketplace.

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