New Delhi: British Airways may consider partnering with an Indian carrier for hub-and-spoke operations in line with its relationship with American Airlines depending on how the market develops over the next 2-3 years, a top official said. “India is the second largest market (for British Airways) after North America in terms of (traffic) volume or number of seats. ...Our business model (with American Airlines) is to carry traffic to the hubs in the US from where they fly them to other destinations (within the US)," BA’s chief executive Keith Williams said here.

“We will see how the market develops over the next 2-3 years. It is too early to judge at present," Williams, who was here at a function to mark the completion of nine decades of the premier British carrier’s operations to India, said.

British Airways currently operates 49 flights a week, with two daily flights to Delhi and Mumbai, apart from daily flights to Chennai, Bangalore and Hyderabad. “As far as the Indian market is concerned, the network model should be smaller airports feeding into the hubs. In LHR (London Heathrow Airport ), almost 40% of passengers are transfer passengers," Williams said. In hub-and-spoke operation, an airline routes all of its traffic through one central hub or hubs.

Asked whether British Airways would consider operating superjumbo Airbus A-380s to Delhi or Mumbai as passenger traffic has gone up substantially, the Williams said the two daily flights were working fine as these at different times were “convenient and beneficial to the customers".

The airline, which currently flies jumbo Boeing-747s, was considering introducing the Dreamliner Boeing 787-9 to Delhi “due to its fuel-efficiency", he said.

Air India, which also operates two flights a day to London, too operates a Dreamliner on this route. PTI