Norwegian continues to reshape its network at London Gatwick.
After suspending Singapore and launching Rio de Janeiro, it will switch its existing routes to Fort Lauderdale and Oakland to Miami and San Francisco International respectively.
The changes will take effect from Sunday 31 March 2019. Norwegian will fly to Miami daily and to San Francisco five times weekly.
Norwegian cites passenger demand and increased cargo capabilities for the decision. This is similar to low cost short-haul airlines who first started flying to secondary airports in Europe and then moved to primary airports as they reached maturity. Norwegian will continue to serve a number of cities in mainland Europe from Fort Lauderdale and Oakland.
This will leave Oakland with no direct service to London after BA suspended the route this year.
BA did also launch Fort Lauderdale after Norwegian. Its CEO Alex Cruz did say that serving Fort Lauderdale from Gatwick and Miami from Heathrow works well for passengers wanting a choice of Florida airports, so it looks like this will continue.
Virgin Atlantic has today, 31 March 2016, announced that it is to launch new routes from Manchester to Boston & San Francisco from late March 2017.
Boston will initially operate twice weekly (Wednesdays & Saturdays) and San Francisco will initially operate thrice weekly (Tuesdays, Fridays, & Sundays).
Flights will be operated by Virgin Atlantic’s fleet of Airbus A330 aircraft with Upper Class (business), premium economy and economy seating.
Virgin Atlantic has of course long had a presence in Manchester. It flies to Orlando, Barbados, Las Vegas, and Atlanta. The latter being the hub of its transatlantic partner and minority shareholder, Delta Air Lines.
However, what is noteworthy about today’s announcement is that first these routes seemingly are geared to attracting business as well as leisure traffic.
Furthermore, Virgin will, for the first time we believe, offer a significant number of short-haul connections at Manchester with Flybe from a large number of airports in the UK and Europe such as Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Exeter, Southampton and Newquay.
As such, today’s announcement could presage the development of small, but growing, hub for Virgin Atlantic at Manchester.
It is also good to see Virgin Atlantic expanding after a period of contraction at London Heathrow with the closure of its “Little Red” domestic flights to Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Manchester, as well as the closure of a number of routes such as Cape Town, Mumbai, Tokyo and Vancouver.
It also points to a very growing and competitive transatlantic market in the UK. Indeed, Boston and San Francisco are two recently announced routes by Norwegian at London Gatwick.
In terms of competitive response from carriers in London, we don’t expect any immediate response from British Airways or its parent company IAG.
BA attracted considerable criticism many years ago for withdrawing its final non-London international route, Manchester – New York JFK. BA would no doubt point to its growing transatlantic network in London, its codeshare partner American Airlines flights from Manchester to New York JFK, Chicago and Philadelphia and its IAG sibling Aer Lingus flights to North America from Manchester via Dublin (with the benefit of pre-clearance). That said, we have no doubt today’s developments will be watched with interest.
Virgin’s flights from Manchester to Boston and San Francisco are on sale at Virgin Atlantic.
In a further sign of US airlines continuing to narrow the historical gap in service levels between their European rivals, United Airlines is to provide complimentary beer and wine in economy class on long-haul flights to and from London Heathrow from 1 June 2015.
This is part of a package of service improvements announced by United Airlines. The airline will continue to charge for spirits in economy. Passengers will also have the option to purchase additional snacks in flight.
This move does, if we’re not mistaken, put United Airlines broadly on a par with Delta and American Airlines. British Airways and Virgin Atlantic continue to offer a full bar service free of charge in economy.
Whilst in the grand scheme of things, this is a very modest change and, in truth, only a reversal of a previous cut, it’s perhaps less likely other airlines will start charging for alcoholic drinks in economy.
United Airlines flies from London Heathrow Terminal 2 to New York Newark, Chicago, Washington Dulles, Houston, San Francisco and Los Angeles.
British Airways has confirmed that its next new route for the Airbus A380 will be San Francisco.
This is the sixth BA destination to be served by the A380.
From April 2015, the A380 will operate on one of BA’s twice daily flights between London Heathrow and San Francisco, five days a week.
The A380 will operate as BA287 & BA286 to/from San Francisco to London on Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. The same flight on Tuesdays and Wednesdays will continue to be operated by a Boeing 747, as will the second daily service, BA 285 & BA284.
BA currently operates the A380 on selected flights between London Heathrow and Hong Kong, Johannesburg, and Los Angeles. The A380 is also due to fly to Washington from 2 October and Singapore from Thursday 28 October.
Update January 2018:
BA currently flies the Airbus A380 from London Heathrow to San Francisco on one its daily flights (BA286 & BA287) on Monday, Thursday Saturday until Saturday 24 March 2018. The Airbus A380 operates daily from Sunday 25 March 2018 to Saturday 27 March 2018.
Virgin Atlantic has announced a significant over-haul of its network, suspending a number of non-US routes. Mumbai & Tokyo are suspended from 31 January 2015. Seasonal flights to Vancouver & Cape Town are suspended from 11 October 2014 and 26 April 2015.
An 11 hour transatlantic flight from San Francisco to London in a passenger configured BA aircraft may not seem the most conducive environment for 100 thinkers to come up with solutions to the world’s problems, but BA thinks otherwise with the launch of Ungrounded.