ONLY the dedicated aircraft spotter may have realised what was happening, but history was made at Kai Tak this week when a Boeing 747 in strangely familiar livery touched down at Kai Tak for the first time. Closer examination of what appeared at first glance to be just another British Airways (BA) flight arriving from London would have shown that a new airline had taken to the skies - British Asia Airways (BAA). Painted in the same colours, the aircraft looked remarkably similar to all the others in the BA fleet, albeit with the new company's name painted on the fuselage. The tail fin, however, gave the game away. Instead of the traditional red, white and blue of the British flag with a BA crest, the new 747 sported two bold Chinese characters representing British and Asia. And inside, while all the menus and fitting may have looked like BA standard issue, they too had been printed with the new BAA logo. The changes were all made so that this one new aircraft, the only one in the BAA fleet at present, can make two calls a week at Taipei. Political sensitivities between Beijing and the rest of the world over the recognition of Taiwan have led to BA joining other established international carriers in going to extraordinary lengths to arrange flights to the country. BA's director of regions and sales, Mr John Watson, insisted yesterday that the effort was worthwhile. ''There are costs associated with establishing any new route,'' said Mr Watson. ''Maybe they've been a little more in this case because we had to get the air service agreements and bilateral agreement issues sorted out. ''So yes, we put a lot of effort in, we worked hard at it. But we believe it's going to make money.'' The new BA offshoot is banking on the increasing trade links between Britain and Taiwan along with the growing number of Taiwanese tourists visiting Europe to fill seats on the aircraft. The growing number of Taiwanese children and students being educated in Britain could also prove to be a substantial source of demand. BAA's aircraft will run non-stop from London to Hongkong twice a week and will then fly the extra leg to Taipei. BAA has also negotiated air rights for the Hongkong to Taipei leg, which means it will be able to sell tickets to local passengers. Cathay Pacific and China Airlines already fly a total of 23 flights a day between Hongkong and the Taiwanese capital but BAA believes there remains sufficient demand for the extra capacity it will be providing. The agreements signed will limit the airline to just two flights a week for the foreseeable future. The launch of the Taiwan service by BAA has coincided with the introduction of a new once-weekly non-stop London to Beijing service. Until now, BA passengers have had to take a non-stop flight to Hongkong and then fly on to the Chinese capital. Far East general manager Roddy Wilson said the Hongkong to Beijing run would be kept on for the time being, despite the introduction of the new non-stop run from London. Mr Watson leaves Hongkong at the weekend to meet executives from Qantas, the Australian carrier in which BA has just taken a 25 per cent stake. While the two airlines are under an obligation to compete against each other on their Europe to Australia services - the so-called kangaroo routes - they are allowed to co-operate in other areas.