KM I agree with you to a degree re LHR. However this is also a double edged sword for BA – as it limits it to how much it can expand unlike say KL at AMS or AF at CDG. Hence the need to buy other airlines for their slots.
This however does not seem to have stifled competition at all and I definitely do not see a barrier to entrants. EK operates FIVE A380’s per day from LHR to DXB direct. Significantly more frequencies than from any other european airport to DXB. And yet, BA still manages to fill 2-3 aircraft per day to DXB. In fact, despite the huge number of EK/EY/QR flights to LHR again dwarfing any of these airlines operations to other cities european or otherwise, BA has not withdrawn from one middle eastern route.
It’s the same with other direct flights too. Take two other routes with the creme de la creme on them – HKG and SIN. There is a choice for anyone wanting to fly LHR-HKG direct. In fact CX are flying the route up to four times a day. Again, more than CX serves and other european city. Singapore Airlines also flies to it’s hub from LHR four times per day – yet BA has held it’s own on the same route nicely.
It’s the same with BKK, PEK, PVG, ICN, SYD, JNB, NRT, JFK, LAX, BOS, ORD, MIA…well you get the picture. The overwhelming majority of routes that BA flies from LHR competes with another airline that also flies nonstop on the same route. And in many cases more than one other airline.
Now personally, i’d prefer to fly CX or SQ or EY any day over BA. Yet, obviously there are people out there be it because of price or schedule or whatever else that are filling up BA aircraft.