There is capacity at LHR – but no slots. What is needed is larger aircraft flying longhaul.
BA makes money by having a large hub in London Heathrow/New York JFk (and to a lesser extent Gatwick) where it can manage costs through economies of scale.
While having a few longhaul flights from Manchester might seem a good idea, the cost of basing a 777 away from home base, the cost of crewing away from home base, the cost of marketing to a non-London target audience must all be taken into account.
Being “full in all classes” and “prices being the same” as exLHR does not really tell us anything about the profitability of a flight; margin is the key to all this and BA can operate at a lower cost exLHR than it can exMAN, and (in general terms) the regular and frequent potential for high margin fully flex fares and Business/First trafffic is considerably higher from the South East than is the case from the North West.
This is for three reasons:
1. The generally higher population and number of international business sited close to LHR which need employees to travel regularly
2. The higher per capita income prevalent in the South East
3. The enormous global catchment area which can connect through LHR on a BA flight, which wouldn’t be possible in MAN as it is not a Hub airport
I would of course like to see BA focussing on longhaul and European flights from other UK destinations, but other carriers can do this more efficiently while BA focusses on the markets it knows best: exLHR, Premium, International Connecting traffic and Transatlantic and an emerging focus on India.