This article was first published in the summer of 2019 as part of a 100 part series on the history of BA and its predecessor airlines. You can read the full series in numerical order, by theme or by decade.
If there’s one route more important to BA than any other, its London – New York.
Ever since the first transatlantic jet flight to New York, it has been an extremely important route to BOAC and BA, linking two major global financial centres.
In the late 1960s, BOAC boasted of five flights a day to London on either the VC10 or Boeing 707 aircraft. In 1970, BOAC opened its own dedicated terminal at New York JFK, ahead of its first Boeing 747 services to New York in 1971.
By the mid 1990s, BA operated seven services a day to New York.
London Heathrow – New York JFK is a route BA historically prioritises for newly refurbished aircraft and cabins. It was the first route to be guaranteed to operate with flat beds in Club World in 2000.
Today, BA flies to New York up to 12 times a day, largely with Boeing 747s each configured with 100 First and Club World seats. It is the only long-haul destination BA serves from all of London City, Gatwick and Heathrow.
It is one route where BA always faces new long-haul competitors, including now defunct airlines eos, Laker Airways and Silverjet as well as current rivals Virgin Atlantic and Norwegian. The one retrograde development is that it is of course no longer a route where you arrive before you leave.
BA did also recently lose the title of the largest international airline at New York to Norwegian, but with Norwegian now focused on cutting routes and profitability, that may change very soon.