For the past three summers, British Airways’ subsidiary BA CityFlyer has run seasonal weekend routes from London Stansted.
The reason for this is that London City is closed for part of the weekend. Instead of leaving its fleet of Embraer aircraft sit idle, some are positioned to Stansted airport.
Routes from Birmingham, Bristol and Manchester soon followed. However, there are now signs that BA CityFlyer is scaling back its ambitions.
All routes from Birmingham and Bristol have been suspended for next summer. BA CityFlyer has also scaled back its ambitions at Stansted. Some routes have been cancelled. Others have been cut in frequency. There are similar changes at Manchester.
Last year British Airways launched a series of summer seasonal weekend routes from London Stansted to Faro, Ibiza, Malaga and Palma. That was considered a success. This summer BA will continue to fly to Faro, Ibiza, Malaga and Palma as well as launching new routes to Florence, Geneva and Nice between early May and late October.
BA will fly to Florence twice a week from Saturday 20 May 2017 to Saturday 28 October 2017. It will fly to Geneva once a week from Friday 19 May to Saturday 28 October 2017. It will fly to Nice once a week from Saturday 20 May 2017 to Saturday 8 October 2017.
Flights will be operated with Embraer aircraft with a two class, Club Europe business class and EuroTraveller economy, service.
As BA also flies to these destinations from some, or all of, London Heathrow, Gatwick and City airports. As such, it should be possible to “mix and match” flights between different London airports if that is more convenient.
British Airways is to launch a new route from London City to Manchester.
Interested? Well don’t get too excited. There’s just one return flight a week and it only operates from Sunday 21 May to Sunday 1 October 2017!
However, there is method behind the madness. Allow us to explain:
London City is closed from Saturday afternoon to Sunday afternoon. As this would leave BA’s fleet of Embraer aircraft otherwise sitting on the ground, last year it ran a successful experiment of summer weekend leisure flights from Stansted. BA is now looking to extend this to other UK airports and Manchester is the latest airport to gain weekend leisure routes.
BA will offer weekend leisure flights from Manchester to Alicante, Ibiza, Malaga, Mykonos, Nice and Palma from late May to October 2017.
As BA needs to move aircraft from London City to Manchester to operate the flights, it has also opened this flight for sale to passengers.
Flights from Manchester are on sale now at ba.com. The only exception are flights between Manchester and London City which go on sale on 21 February 2017.
Please note that the timetables below are indicative only. There may be changes to the schedule depending on the strength of forward bookings.
Whilst food & drink should initially be complementary in EuroTraveller, at some point in the summer BA is expected to extend its Marks & Spencer Buy-On-Board to all London City flights and London Stansted and Manchester weekend leisure flights.
With the exception of Alicante, all of these routes are also served by BA from Heathrow and it should be possible to “mix and match” direct flights with indirect flights via London Heathrow (or via Iberia in Madrid in some cases). If booking connections take care not to book connections from different London airports as any travel between London airports will be at your own expense and not recommended. Continue reading “BAs launches London City – Manchester (sort of..)”
British Airways is to return to London Stansted airport after a long hiatus with the launch of weekly summer seasonal flights to four destinations: Faro, Ibiza, Malaga, and Palma de Mallorca.
Flights will operate to each destination once a week at weekends.
Flights will be operated using a single Embraer E190 jet, offering a Club Europe business class and EuroTraveller economy service.
Flights launch on the weekend of Saturday 28 and Sunday 29 May 2016 and will run for the duration of the summer season.
Whilst not explicitly mentioned in the airline’s press release, the launch of the routes seems to be driven by a desire to use an aircraft that would otherwise be parked at London City airport.
The announcement is clearly good news for BA flyers who live close to London Stansted.
However, some of the flight times are not the most convenient.
The scheduling of flights also looks tight, with 45 minute turnarounds between most flights. Delays across the weekend could easily build up.
That said, Faro, Ibiza, Malaga, Palma Mallorca are all served by BA from London City, Gatwick and Heathrow (except Palma de Mallorca does not operate from Gatwick). It is of course possible to “mix and match” London departure & arrival airports in one booking.
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.
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.