British Airways is understood to have appointed Optimedia to handle media planning and buying for its new low-cost airline.
The account is understood to be worth up to 20m for the launch of the new European service alone.
BA snubbed its roster agency M&C Saatchi last month when it confirmed it had appointed HHCL & Partners to research the market.
Optimedia handles 20m media buying in the UK for BA which it picked up in 1995 from Zenith when M&C Saatchi won the creative and media planning account from Saatchi & Saatchi. But, significantly, it is the first time that media planning will come out of M&C Saatchi.
Optimedia is M&Cs preferred media buying agency. However, M&C is hatching plans with former Zenith chief executive Christine Walker to launch its own media planning and buying agency next month which will carry Walker’s name in the title.
This is the first indication that BA intends to launch the service, possibly at the end of this year. Until now, BA has only said it is researching the market, but the appointment of a media planning and buying agency suggests the plans are more advanced than suggested previously.
BA is planning to launch the service with a new brand name in response to the success of low-cost rivals easyjet, Debonair and Ryanair on their European routes.
The new service is expected to operate a similar service to easyjet, flying between cheaper, second-tier airports that are less congested.