When BA’s parent company, International Airlines Group, bought bmi last year much was made of how the extra slots would enable BA to expand its long-haul network. So it was something of a surprise when last May BA announced it would launch new routes to Leeds-Bradford (initially 4 daily) and Rotterdam (3 daily) from 9 December 2012. Neither are the most exciting destinations on the BA route network but both seem like a clear move to capture traffic from KLM.
The precise performance of individual routes by revenue and yield is obviously commercially sensitive information that no airline would disclose publicly. However, the CAA does publish details of passenger volumes by route and where, as is the case for London Heathrow to Leeds-Bradford and Rotterdam, an airline is the sole operator on a route, we are able to see an indication of route performance.
So here are the passenger volumes (in both directions) on the Leeds-Bradford and Rotterdam routes since December:
December 2012 – 5,580
January 2013 – 7,763
February 2013 – 9,326
March 2013 – 9,996
December 2012 – 5,962
January 2013 – 6,392
February 2013 – 7,139
March 2013 – 8,425
Assuming 248 rotations (2x4x31) to and from Leeds in March (excluding cancellations) 9,996 passengers indicates an average load of 40 passengers per flight. Assuming 186 rotations to and from Rotterdam in March, 8,425 passengers indicates an average load of 45 passengers per flight.
Both routes clearly need to improve over the coming summer season for them to be sustainable in the long term. They both suffer in part from not being “night stop” routes which means there is no early morning departure to Heathrow for passengers wishing to do a full business day in London.
Whilst this is some way to go before the routes can be considered a success and viable in the long term, the trend in passenger volume is moving upwards. Leeds-Bradford was also reduced to thrice daily and moved to Terminal 5 from 31 March 2013 so we should see an improvement in that routes performance in the coming months.