BA 2023+ ex LHR/LGW – Where should they “expand”?/Can they really expand?

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  • sparkyflier

    As many of you know I do enjoy the analytics of identifying which routes airlines evaluate and what they eventually choose – especially from London where slots are supposedly limited, a recent example being what Virgin Atlantic might chose now that they are joining Skyteam and have also obtained slots from KLM.

    Over the years I have started a few discussions looking at what long haul routes BA might examine, but not actually had one of these in a while with Covid etc, so think now is the time to start another one!

    In the last years there have been many major developments impacting BA – Brexit, Covid – resulting in the total withdrawal of their 747 fleet and of course many markets closed due to travel restrictions (Asia), War in Ukraine, impacting on flying over Russia, and in recent months market turmoil in the Uk, much reducing the value of the Pound and also reduced disposable income for many.

    So where now that things are (fingers crossed) opening up do you think BA would be wise to be looking at from either LHR or LGW? Where are the opportunities for current market and the next 2-3 years?

    Routes from the regions are very, very unlikely so please keep your suggestions to London.

    Of course many routes have stopped – but could some come back? Suspended routes include Osaka, Seoul, KL, Muscat, Durban, Abu Dhabi and Damman.

    Indeed with Brexit (not making a political point, but now not being able to recruit from a wider labour market, and IMO reckless job losses when Covid arrived and according to some seen as not being a desirable employer, with BA still being short staffed, CAN they actually really expand?

    For example I was told by a savvy airline expert recently that BA does actually fly to Bangkok these days, but cargo only in the hold as they do not have the 14-16 crew needed to operate each wide-bodied flight.

    And now that the Pound is much weaker versus the US Dollar, how will this impact on the allocation of aircraft, routes and crew? For example I see much less Orlando and Las Vegas flights, which are mainly UK point of sale markets.

    Anyway, here are some of my thoughts to get the discussion started:-


    Kansas (mooted before and I found the analytics very persuasive) – 4 x 788 per week ex LHR
    Indianapolis – officially mentioned by BA before Covid – 4 x 788 per week ex LHR
    Outside bets – St Louis (former BCal/TWA/AA route) or Cincinatti (Delta flew this years ago from LGW I recall and a pharmaceutical centre).

    longer shot – Albuquerque, NM

    Central/South America/Caribbean

    A big recent development is that the UK no longer needs nationals of Ecuador, Peru and Colombia to have a visa to enter the UK. This I think will really make a difference to demand. And given IMO a market which can support both Avianca and BA think Bogota is low hanging fruit.

    Also pre-pandemic BA had started a route using 772 to Lima from LGW. Personally I think that was a lot of capacity and from the wrong airport, so I think there should be a tag flight (I know some of you do not get the benefits of these flights!). I suggest a LHR-Bogota-Lima -Bogota-LHR flight using 3 class 772 and crew resting in BOG – perhaps starting 3-4 times a week. At least try this and see how the markets prosper – perhaps Lima can have its own nonstop again after all.

    Ecuador I do not think can justify a route yet and so Iberia can cover that, but I do think BOG and LIM can do very well for business, leisure and VFR traffic.

    Panama City I have always mentioned. At least 4 weekly 788.

    Brazil I do not think BA will go further into as I think Virgin will strike a deal with Latam.

    BA have already announced new routes to Guyana and Aruba from LGW, but given many Caribbean currencies are pegged to the USD do not see much additional capacity being on offer, and of anything reductions, and allocating the resources to cheaper leisure markets.


    I really think BA have missed many opportunities here, and think overall they will not give this continent much attention, but with Rwandair thinking to join Oneworld, a route their to connect to their growing hub, or at least a code-share, will be a great opportunity to benefit from their network in East, Central and Southern Africa.

    I saw that BA is reducing Nairobi from 772 to 788 and wonder with VS joining Skyteam BA are anticipating more co-operation between VS and Kenya Airways.

    But in the recent Virgin route thread a poster I always find insightful suggested Kinshasa, having seen substantial traffic from the UK there, so given that a few years ago BA had a very profitable route into Luanda, but suspended this when the oil price crashed, I think a triangle route could be very rewarding indeed:-

    LHR-Luanda -Kinshasa-LHR 772 3x weekly.

    Sharm-el Sheikh – Years ago BA operated 772 from LGW there – with beach holidays in the Americas becoming arguably more expensive, could this be a worth looking at reviving?


    Asia is hard to plan for with some markets needing to fly over Russia and of course China is not very open yet. I see VS could tap into some markets here in conjunction with Skyteam partners, but do think BA should go back to BKK and also try a Phuket route. These markets would capture a premium leisure perhaps finding the Caribbean or Indian Ocean too expensive now. I think direct flights would prosper as I think many do not want to go via the Gulf on QR or EK etc.

    So BKK daily with 789 and Phuket 3 x weekly on 788.
    I hope KUL also comes back.

    Another factor not covered much above is VFR traffic – Virgin have really tapped into Pakistan and doing very well there. Are there other markets you think should be tapped into?

    I look forward to your thoughts on which routes you think could be lucrative or at least worth evaluating, and of course any insight or believable rumours!


    Hi Sparky

    Nice to meet you the other week.

    If I was BA at the moment and given demand – a 3rd daily to Singapore but maybe at slightly different times to compete with the SQ early departures out and day flights back. (If it is about yield rather than romantic ideas of where to fly).

    Sao Paulo – double daily

    Bogota / Lima is not impossible – Lima flights through summer for 2023 already busy and a lot of demand.

    Male – Year round.

    Given the USD then maybe Sydney via LA (or SEA) as well to pick up on the LAX-SYD markets where ticket values are very high for these stand alone sectors. Can price LHR-LAX-SYD through flight much higher than the SIN route to not cannibalise yields.

    Of course where I’d like them to fly would be much broader.

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    [quote quote=1245007]Given the USD then maybe Sydney via LA (or SEA) as well to pick up on the LAX-SYD markets where ticket values are very high for these stand alone sectors. Can price LHR-LAX-SYD through flight much higher than the SIN route to not cannibalise yields.[/quote]

    Hello Tim, that’s interesting.

    When I entered the travel business at the end of the 1960s BOAC used to operate that route with its Super VC-10s. (Of course there were more en route stops as the VC=10 lacked range)

    It was appreciated by discerning travellers thanks to the VC-10 !

    Would it work today ?

    Not so sure given the amount of competition and the fact that BA would be a fifth freedom carrier across the Pacific and we know that such airlines invariably sell at a discount.

    Yes the USD is strong now but exchange rates can change.

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    I do like this topic. Always interesting to see people’s thoughts. Mine are

    North America

    Minneapolis – Daily 787-8
    Detroit – Daily 787-8
    Indianapolis – 4 weekly 787-8
    Cincinatti – 3 weekly 787-8

    All the above Delta heartland.

    Tampa – Move from LGW to LHR.

    Asia/Far East

    Heathrow – Singapore – Auckland Three weekly on a 787-10
    Heathrow – Manila Daily on a 787-9


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    [postquote quote=1245008]

    Hi Alex

    Having worked in Sydney a few years back – I was always amazed at the TransPacific (TP) fares back then (being British I’d typically convert costs in my head to GBP even if dealing in AUD).

    Given the massive change in exchange rate – even more of a reason to think whether BA / VS or any European carrier might want to go to Australia that way via US mid-west / West Coast given the fare yields they could command. But challenge almost is to sell the flight as 2 separate rotations rather than customers on tickets to Australia as this massively dilutes the yield if going that way.

    Having spoken to some US / Canadian carriers – they don’t want to sell fares LON – Australia for the very reason it is massively more profitable to sell the 2 markets separately (TA and TP).

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    Think CVG really should be a VS route given the number of Forbes 500* I believe are there in connection with being a regional DL hub.

    * if not Forbes – big ruddy business based there – but can’t remember the exact name!!


    Hi Sparky,

    I always enjoy your posts, and happy to add my two cents/pence worth to the discussion, although some might be repeats of what others have already said.

    For North America I could envision exit LHR, flights to San Jose, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Portland (Oregon), Detroit,
    Exit LGW as more Leisure San Antonio, Daytona Beach (vastly under-utilized airport and flights from CLT/ATL are packed with connecting traffic), Albuquerque and possibly even Tucson (seasonally). Winnipeg would be nice to see back as well maybe only seasonally.

    For Central/South America, I was happy to hear of Aruba, and agree Panama City is a must, Bogota, Lima all make sense. KLM does a great deal of triangle routes in these areas and apparently do well on the Guayaquil/Quito triangle, great leisure route.

    Africa where my heart is you have already mentioned my thought but also feel so many former BA/BCal destinations need to be reconsidered, especially with the smaller capacity highly efficient aircraft, and the triangle opportunities, countless pairs exist. With Comair having collapsed Harare, Lusaka, Gaborone, Windhoek, Maputo, Durban, and so many others are no longer served and could be looked at. Dar es Salaam is missing, Kampala, Lilongwe, the list goes on, and when you look at the price premiums in Africa there must be money to be made. I imagine the only concern are the Middle East carriers via their hubs and the two reigning African carriers KQ/ET covering most destinations. But if there were direct flights on a flag carrier like BA, I am sure custom would move to BA immediately just from the perceived safety and quality image alone.

    Those are my thoughts. Just finally, as someone else pointed out, no direct LHR flight to Auckland seems really a shame, and I wonder if there couldn’t be a return for BA to Auckland?

    Anyway, more than two cents worth but great fun to think about.

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    [quote quote=1245013]Those are my thoughts. Just finally, as someone else pointed out, no direct LHR flight to Auckland seems really a shame, and I wonder if there couldn’t be a return for BA to Auckland?[/quote]

    Indeed, dutchyankee.

    I have a copy of BA’s 1988 timetable and back then our national airline served both Auckland and Christchurch (in addition to Perth, Adelaide, Brisbane and Melbourne).

    What you say sounds good and especially now that Air NZ has quit the UK (every news piece we have posted on this matter has elicited so many reader comments) but I suspect BA will continue to serve NZ using feeder flights with Oneworld partner Qantas from Sydney.


    So will it be Cincinnatti ?

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    1640 hrs. Now being reported by US aviation media @IshrionA (Ishrion Aviation) that BA will indeed launch Cincinnati flights on June 5.

    Five weekly flights. B787 aircraft.


    I wonder whatever happened for plans for the 3rd daily to Seattle (with the 1130p departure from Seattle). (so that would make it 1 daily AA and 3 daily BA).


    I would say that both Bangkok & Kuala Lumpur should be the priority. Huge demand is there and building on those routes.

    Then I would say another good route would be LHR-HKG-MNL if BA can get 5th freedom rights on the Hong Kong to Manila sector once a day. Lots of Filipinos now working in UK and it would make sense to tag on MNL to the HKG route rather than have the aircraft sitting on tarmac at HKG.

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    Thank you for your contributions and bold suggestions so far. Some very interesting posts.

    Re the news on Cincinatti although I listed this as an outside bet, allow me to be slightly underwhelmed. It seems any destination/city/state government that will not give abundant “incentives” does not stand a chance of a new BA route. I do however appreciate that this route actually serves 3 states, none of which have a direct UK link.

    TimFitzeraldTC it was a pleasure to meet you to and as mentioned I have enjoyed your insight and contributions on this forum over the years.

    Re Sao Paulo interesting to hear you think that level of demand is there. And I think this will go up with Lula coming back.

    Your suggestion of a transpacific routing to SYD was fascinating – but think your suggestion of Seattle I think is perhaps the more interesting one – given it is a hub for Oneworld partner Alaska Airlines which would capture much traffic from many states in the West and North and maybe Canada too. Your point about yield will be interesting to BA but given the interest in Auckland as well – how about LHR-SEA-SYD 4 x weekly and LHR-SEA-AKL 3 x weekly?

    Agree with Male year round – although all apart from TK European carriers also suspend this in the Northern Summer.


    Interesting to hear about Manila and your thoughts on demand, especially given cwoodwood’s excellent post in a separate thread on the new abundance of 5* hotels there.

    But could a routing via BKK work or even via Vietnam, and if the latter from LGW using 772?

    Re 787-10 I think BA crew would not be happy to have that plane on such a long flight as it has no crew rest facilities. Personally I think that is cruel considering it does routes up to 10 hours away. Also I understand the 789 has greater range.

    And to all who suggested Auckland – how about a LHR-Bali/Denpasar-AKL route, capturing demand from UK to both Bali and NZ, and demand from NZ to Bali? This would capture business, VFR and tourist traffic.

    dutchyankee on Africa we are always on the same page. And in addition to Comair collapsing – so has arguably SAA. No routes to Europe and hardly any in SA or the region. So as you say – Windhoek, Gabs, Harare, Lusaka, Victoria Falls and Maputo (Mozambique has now started to ship LNG and will be a massive gas exporter) for example are markets not easy to reach and for them to travel to Europe either.

    So ideas here could be:-

    LHR-Durban-Maputo and vv (Durban was suspended when Covid came) 3 x weekly
    LHR-Lusaka-Gaborone & LHR-Lusaka -Harare each 2 x weekly on 772/788

    As priorities in Southern Africa and in East:-

    LHR-EBB-DAR-LHR 3 x weekly
    LHR-JRO-DAR-LHR 2 weekly

    With crew resting in DAR.

    In West Africa

    LHR – Freetown-Abidjan-LHR 2 x weekly 788
    LHR – Monrovia-Abidjan-LHR 2 x weekly 788
    Crew resting in Abidjan

    Personally I think BA should bring back the A321s they got from BMI with the flat bed business cabin – this aircraft would be ideal for thinner routes up to 5.5 hours – Cairo/Amman/Beirut/Sharm/ Dakar /Banjul etc.


    [quote quote=1245167]n West Africa

    LHR – Freetown-Abidjan-LHR 2 x weekly 788
    LHR – Monrovia-Abidjan-LHR 2 x weekly 788
    Crew resting in Abidjan[/quote]

    I totally agree with Freetown and Monrovia. The last few times I have been the choice was either RAM or Air Brussels. The amount of people on these daily flights from LHR is quite substantial. Cutting out long layovers at Casablanca or Brussels would certainly help. It doesn’t have to be a daily service but 3 x weekly would certainly help. The only alternative is LHR – Accra – Lunghi

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