We have to admit to have always been sceptical about the concept of low cost long-haul travel. Whilst the concept has been much talked about and there have been a number of low cost long-haul carriers in Asia Pacific (such as Qantas offshoot JetStar), it has not gained traction in Europe.
That is until now. Norwegian has established a small base at London Gatwick, albeit this has not translated into financial success. And now Lufthansa has launched a low cost long-haul carrier under the name Eurowings.
It will be based in Cologne and initially offer flights to Bangkok, Phuket, Dubai, Varadero and Punta Cana. Flights will launch from late October 2015 and connections are available from London Heathrow and other UK cities.
Some good news for British Airways passengers at London Gatwick. The airline has announced that, from the start of the Summer 2014 season on 30 March 2014, it will increase the frequency of flights on the following routes:
Punta Cana (Dominican Republic) increases from 2 to 3 flights a week
Antigua increases from 5 to 6 flights a week
Kingston increases from 3 to 4 flights a week
St Lucia increases from 6 to 7 flights a week
Orlando increases from 10 to 13 flights a week
The increase in frequency has been enabled by the addition of one more Boeing 777 aircraft, taking the number of Boeing 777s stationed at London Gatwick to 10. This is itself something of an achievement for BA at London Gatwick bearing in mind the number of slots that now need occupying at Heathrow.
It is a little disappointing that BA has not chosen to use the extra capacity to launch a new route, particularly to the East where BA has previously expressed the potential for growth in long-haul leisure routes from London Gatwick. However, there is a logic in adding frequencies to routes not served by daily flights to increase the number of outbound/inbound options for passengers.
Of note is the increase in flights to Orlando, which increase once again to 13 weekly and has historically been something of a stronghold for Virgin Atlantic. It is also interesting to note there has been no increase in flights from London Gatwick to Las Vegas which remain at thrice weekly, and complemented by daily flights from London Heathrow.
Hopefully the trend of steady growth in BA’s long-haul leisure operation at Gatwick is one that will continue.