Flybe launches new routes from Heathrow to Aberdeen and Edinburgh

London Air Travel » Edinburgh

Flybe Bombardier Dash 8 Aircraft
Flybe Bombardier Dash 8 Aircraft (Image Credit: Heathrow Airport)

Flybe today, Sunday 26 March 2017, launches new direct flights from London Heathrow to Aberdeen and Edinburgh.

The first Flybe flight to depart London will be BE2122 to Aberdeen at 09:45.

Flybe will fly to Aberdeen & Edinburgh up to 3 & 4 times daily on weekdays. Flights will operate with reduced frequencies on Saturdays and Sundays. Flights will operate from London Heathrow Terminal 2.  

At launch, Flybe will codeshare with Cathay Pacific, Emirates, Etihad Airways, and Virgin Atlantic. Flybe also has interline agreements in place with United Airlines, Delta, Qantas, and TAP.

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Flybe to launch direct routes from London Heathrow to Aberdeen & Edinburgh from 26 March 2017

Flybe has today announced it is to launch direct flights from London Heathrow to Aberdeen and Edinburgh from 26 March 2017.

The slots to operate these flights will be sourced from British Airways.  As a condition of the purchase by its parent company, International Airlines Group, of bmi British Midland from Lufthansa in 2012, IAG is required to make slots available to eligible airlines for certain designated city pairs including London to Aberdeen and Edinburgh. The process is overseen by independent trustee.

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Jet Time to operate for BA to Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow & Copenhagen

London Air Travel » Edinburgh

London Heathrow Terminal 5 (Image Credit: British Airways)
London Heathrow Terminal 5 (Image Credit: British Airways)

British Airways is to sub-contract the operation of selected flights from London Heathrow to Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Copenhagen to Danish charter airline Jet Time from Sunday 27 March 2016 until the end of October.

Although no specific reason has been given for this move, it is likely to be due to the fact that BA has gained additional slots at London Heathrow following the closure of Virgin Atlantic Little Red.  

Under slot usage rules, airlines are required to use their Heathrow slots for at least 80% of the time, or risk forfeiture of the slots.

Flights operated by Jet Time will be flown with Boeing 737-700 aircraft.  

The sub-contracting arrangement is known as a “wet lease” which means that the flights will also be operated by pilots and cabin crew of Jet Time.

BA maintain that the in-flight service will be the same on all flights.  Flight numbers are also unchanged.
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Virgin Atlantic Little Red has closed

Virgin Atlantic’s “Little Red” short-haul airline which operated flights between London Heathrow, Manchester, Edinburgh and Aberdeen using aircraft and crews leased from Aer Lingus has ended operations as of Saturday 26 September 2015.

London Air Travel » Edinburgh

Airbus A320 aircraft in Virgin Atlantic “Little Red” livery

Virgin Atlantic’s short-lived “Little Red” UK domestic network has now closed. Virgin Atlantic has now reverted back to being an exclusively long-haul airline.

Little Red’s last flight was VS3025 from Aberdeen to London Heathrow late on Saturday 26 September 2015.

The short-lived subsidiary operation of Virgin Atlantic, lasting a little over two years, flew between London Heathrow and Manchester, Edinburgh and Aberdeen.

It was born partly out of the requirement for British Airways to make slots available to competitors as a condition of the takeover of bmi British Midland by its parent company, International Airlines Group.

In the absence of any alternative airline coming forward to bid for the slots, the slot pairs forfeited by British Airways will now revert back to the airline.

This leaves British Airways as the sole operator of UK domestic flights from the North of England and Scotland to London Heathrow.

In terms of the impact of the closure of Little Red on connectivity to London Heathrow, British Airways is required to make seats available on its UK domestic network got connections to Virgin Atlantic and other airlines which codeshared with Virgin Atlantic Little Red such as United Airlines and Air New Zealand.

What happens at Heathrow after Virgin Atlantic Little Red closes?

Virgin Atlantic’s “Little Red” flights from London Heathrow to Aberdeen and Edinburgh will end on Saturday 26 September 2015. Until another airline bids for the slots, they will revert back to British Airways.

London Air Travel » Edinburgh

Airbus A320 aircraft in Virgin Atlantic “Little Red” livery

Virgin Atlantic’s “Little Red” flights from London Heathrow to Aberdeen and Edinburgh will end on Saturday 26 September 2015.

These flights were operated with slots forfeited by British Airways as a consequence of the takeover by its parent company, International Airlines Group, of bmi.

The trustee appointed to oversee the release of these slots did re-advertise them. The deadline for applications was 2 April 2015.

In the absence of any announcement to the contrary, we can only deduce that no bidder has come forward. This means that the slots will revert back to British Airways.

It also cannot be a co-incidence that BA has just announced an additional 7 flights a week from Sunday 25 October 2015 to Paris Charles de Gaulle, Amsterdam, Milan–Malpensa airport, Zurich, Geneva, Newcastle and Edinburgh. In addition, BA will add an additional 4 flights a week to Manchester.

Finally, it’s worth noting that holders of Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles can redeem their miles for Virgin Little Red flights from 7,500 miles. Flying Club members can also earn bonus miles on Little Red flights before it closes.

Virgin Atlantic begins closure of “Little Red” with suspension of Manchester

Virgin Atlantic’s has suspended its “Little Red” short-haul flights between London Heathrow and Manchester as of late March 2015. Virgin Atlantic “Little Red” will continue to fly between London Heathrow and Aberdeen and Edinburgh until Saturday 26 September 2015.

London Air Travel » Edinburgh

Airbus A320 aircraft in Virgin Atlantic “Little Red” livery

The winding down of Virgin Atlantic’s short-lived UK domestic operation “Little Red” has started with the London Heathrow – Manchester route now suspended, some two years after it first launched.

Virgin Atlantic’s “Little Red” operation will continue to fly from London Heathrow to Aberdeen and Edinburgh three and six times daily until Saturday 26 September 2015.

It’s also worth adding that holders of Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles can redeem their miles for Virgin Little Red flights from 7,500 miles. Flying Club members can also earn bonus miles on Little Red flights.

What will happen to the “Little Red” Heathrow slots?

Some of the slots used by Little Red were from Virgin Atlantic’s existing slot portfolio, so some will revert back to Virgin Atlantic.

Many of the slots (at least nine) were forfeited by British Airways as a consequence of the acquisition of bmi by its parent company, International Airlines Group.

The trustee appointed to oversee the release of slots has re-advertised the slots. The deadline for applications is 2 April 2015.

If there is no bidder, the slots will revert back to British Airways.

There are no obvious candidates for the slots. However, a potential candidate would be easyJet if it felt inclined to launch flights at Heathrow to support its increased targeting of the business market.

Virgin Atlantic to end “Little Red” short-haul flights

Virgin Atlantic has announced the closure of “Little Red” short-haul flights from London Heathrow. Flights to Manchester will cease on Saturday 28 March 2015 and flights to Aberdeen and Edinburgh will cease on Saturday 26 September 2015.

London Air Travel » Edinburgh

Airbus A320 aircraft in Virgin Atlantic “Little Red” livery

After much press speculation and claims by rivals about poor load factors, Virgin Atlantic has today confirmed it is to close its “Little Red” short-haul operation from London Heathrow.

Flights between London and Manchester will cease on Saturday 28 March 2015.

Flights between London and Aberdeen and Edinburgh will cease on Saturday 26 September 2015.

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Sunday Times: Virgin Atlantic to close “Little Red”

The Sunday Times (of London) has reported on Sunday 7 September 2014 that Virgin Atlantic is to suspend “Little Red” short-haul flights from London Heathrow to Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Manchester.

London Air Travel » Edinburgh

Airbus A320 aircraft in Virgin Atlantic “Little Red” livery

The business section of today’s Sunday Times leads with a story (subscription required) that Virgin Atlantic is to close its “Little Red” domestic operation from London Heathrow to Manchester, Aberdeen and Edinburgh.

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“London Airways” reinstates European flights from UK regions

London Air Travel » Edinburgh

British Airways Logo (Image Credit: British Airways)
British Airways Logo (Image Credit: British Airways)

A few years ago, British Airways earned itself the moniker “London Airways” amongst some frequent flyers.

A long struggling regional operation, latterly known as “BA Connect”, offering flights from Birmingham, Manchester, Southampton and other regional airports was sold to Flybe in late 2006.

BA’s sole remaining international flight from a non-London UK airport, Manchester to New York JFK, was cancelled a couple of years later. This left BA, excluding franchise partners, operating international flights only from London airports.

Whether this was the right move strategically depends on your point of view. There is the argument that BA is right to focus on London which is one of the largest centres of premium business traffic in the world. There is also the argument that BA failed to make the necessary moves to adapt its cost base to changing market conditions and maintain its resonance in the UK market.

Yet tonight, Sunday 1 June, the very last departure of an any airline at Edinburgh airport is a BA Airbus A320 operating as flight BA8990 direct to Ibiza.

The flight will arrive on the white island shortly after 02:30. One hour later it will return to Edinburgh as BA8991 to land in Edinburgh at 05:40. Just in time for one of the first of 25 flights BA will operate from Edinburgh to London Heathrow, Gatwick and City airports on Monday.

So what’s going on?

For some clues, we can look at the Civil Aviation Authority statistics on aircraft utilisation by different airlines.

An easyJet Airbus A320 aircraft spends, on average, 10.9 hours a day in the air. The equivalent number for British Airways is 8.4.

The difference can in part be explained by Heathrow. Parking and slot restrictions and the need to offer business friendly timetables for “out and back in a day” business travellers mean that not all aircraft can return to Heathrow overnight.

Nonetheless the difference is significant as far as profitability is concerned. Legacy carriers have traditionally lost money on short-haul operations but have relied on more profitable long-haul operations to offset them. Rising fuel prices and intense competition from new entrants means this is no longer possible.

Some airlines, like Lufthansa, have transferred some short-haul operations to lower cost subsidiaries. In Lufthansa’s case this is Germanwings.

BA seems to be opting for a number of initiatives to improve short-haul profitability. And this is one of them. By flying from Edinburgh to Ibiza overnight the aircraft is working for six hours that would otherwise be spent idle on the ground in Edinburgh.

The one downside is of course that if the aircraft decides it doesn’t want to leave La Isla Blanca there will be a lot of disgruntled commuters in Edinburgh on Monday morning!

At the moment this is just a tentative step with two weekly return flights to Ibiza, increasing to three later in the peak of the Ibiza season. However, if this is considered a success then expect the initiative to be extended to other regional airports next summer.

Flybe launches new routes from London City

London Air Travel » Edinburgh

Flybe Bombardier Q400 aircraft
Flybe Bombardier Q400 aircraft (Image Credit: Flybe)

Flybe has this morning, 23 April 2014, announced it will set up a base at London City airport, launching new routes to Belfast, Dublin, Edinburgh, Exeter and Inverness from Monday 27 October 2014.

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