Virgin Atlantic has launched a new route from London Heathrow to Austin, Texas.
The airline will fly from London Heathrow to Austin–Bergstrom International Airport four times weekly from Wednesday 25 May 2022.
Flights will operate on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. It’s not immediately clear whether the route initially operate on a summer seasonal basis or year round.
The route will be operated with a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft.
This is Virgin’s first ever route to Texas and its first new route to the US in many years. It is even longer since Virgin launched a destination in the US that is not a hub of its transatlantic joint business partner Delta.
Norwegian is to launch yet more long-haul routes from London Gatwick with the addition of Chicago O’Hare and Austin to its network from late March 2018
Norwegian will fly to Austin three times weekly from Tuesday 27 March 2018 and Chicago O’Hare four times weekly from Sunday 25 March 2018.
The launch of Austin will create a second link between London and the city. Currently, British Airways is the only airline to fly direct between London and Austin.
Yet more expansion by Norwegian is a major headache for both BA and Virgin Atlantic. Norwegian can now claim to serve two US states not served by Virgin Atlantic: Illinois and Texas. Virgin Atlantic suspended Chicago this year.. BA has also coveted being the exclusive operator of routes such as Austin as it gives the airline pricing power in the market.
British Airways has today announced it is to upgrade its recently launched London Heathrow – Austin route from a three class Boeing 787 to a four class Boeing 777 from Sunday 25 October 2015.
The announcement has been confirmed in a press release from the city of Austin.
This will increase capacity from 214 to 224 seats on each flight. This may seem a modest increase, but the difference is 14 first class seats, 13 additional business class seats, from 35 to 48, and 15 additional premium economy seats, from 25 to 40. The number of economy seats will actually fall from 154 to 122.
This continues the trend of very successful new transatlantic route launches by BA in recent years. At a recent investor update, International Airlines Group CEO Willie Walsh said he considered that there are three-five additional US cities BA could serve profitably, so we should expect to hear more new route announcements in the coming years.
The owners of Heathrow and Gatwick are currently campaigning for their respective airports to gain an additional runway (a third runway in the case of Heathrow and a second runway in the case of Gatwick) as part of The Airports Commission’s appraisal of the options for additional runway capacity in the South East of England.
The nub of Gatwick’s campaign under the banner “Gatwick Obviously” is that, as well as being able to secure a new runway at much less cost, additional capacity at Gatwick is essential to provide effective competition between Gatwick and Heathrow.
Key to Heathrow’s campaign for a third runway is that additional capacity is essential to secure links between the UK and international growth markets in Asia and elsewhere.
Today, 3 March 2014, at 12:35, a Boeing 787 operating as British Airways flight BA191 will depart from London Heathrow Terminal 5. 10 hours and 25 minutes later it should land at Bergstrom International airport in Austin, Texas, completing the inaugural flight from London Heathrow to Austin.
Initially the service will operate five times a week, increasing to daily from 5 May 2014.
This is the first new transatlantic route launched by BA since Las Vegas in 2009 and San Diego in 2011.
It is noteworthy as this is the first route launched specifically for the Boeing 787 which has, to date, been used to either replace Boeing 767s on transatlantic flights or Boeing 777s on “thinner” Asia routes.
Although much has been made by BA and its parent company International Airlines Group that the Boeing 787 will aid the launch of new routes between London and Asia, we expect further transatlantic routes to by opened up by the 787, particularly because of the support provided by BA’s transatlantic joint-venture partner, American Airlines.
Not only do more routes give BA network strength against Delta and Virgin Atlantic, but also the Middle Eastern carriers who have only begun to scratch the surface of the North America market.
British Airways has today confirmed that it will launch a new direct route from London Heathrow Terminal 5 to Austin, Texas (Austin–Bergstrom International Airport) from Monday 3 March 2014, just in time for the SXSW festival!.
The route will initially operate five times weekly (not Wednesday and Saturday) until 5 May 2014 when it will operate daily. The precise flight times depend on the day of operation until the flight goes daily.
Austin is one of the fastest growing populations in the United States. The announcement is significant in not only providing London with a direct route to Austin, but also this is the first new route to be launched that will be operated with the Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner.
Although BA has made much of how the Boeing 787 Dreamliner will open up new routes to Asia, this announcement does demonstrate how much potential there is in BA’s traditionally strong transatlantic market.
The route announcement also follows a trend of BA launching new transatlantic routes to US cities where it is either the sole operator of the route to London Heathrow, and in some cases, Europe. This may provide some clues as to which new US cities will announced next.