We look back to the launch of BA’s all-business class London City-New York JFK route.
On the face of it, the idea that direct flights between London City and New York JFK might be possible was absurd. London City has a short runway, suitable only for short-haul aircraft, and New York is a long way away (3,459 miles, or eight hours in flying time).
And even if a short-haul aircraft could make that distance, the number of passengers on board, and the cargo, and the extra fuel would prove decisive against the route.
The solution was to reduce the number of seats to 32, making it business class-only, minimise the cargo, and reduce the fuel load by stopping at Shannon to take on most of the fuel. As an added bonus, flyers could clear US customs in Ireland, enabling them to arrive in JFK as domestic passengers.
The inaugural flight took place on September 29, 2009, and we reviewed it almost immediately online (we were on the second flight, a day later) and in our November issue.
We also reviewed the London-bound leg a few days later (which is nonstop as there is no need to refuel in Shannon).
The original flight, BA001, was joined by a second, BA003, in the same year, although this was dropped in 2012 after US customs officials shortened their hours, removing one of the major advantages of taking the flight.
It resulted in the service being reduced from ten times a week to five times (London City has restricted hours on weekends).
Despite the challenges, the service is celebrating its tenth anniversary this year. To celebrate Business Traveller is giving away a pair of business class tickets on the service – for your chance to win visit businesstraveller.com/competitions.