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

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  • MarkivJ


    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?


    Things will get more interesting when QF announces the much rumoured BNE-SEA to complement the daily SYD-YVR flights!


    Regarding Australia via the Pacific, IMHO it won’t happen. For several reasons:

    1. QANTAS and the US carriers dominate the market with multiple flights daily in what is a relatively small market. BA would have to price discount to make its sole US – Australia route attractive.

    2. Aircraft and crew utilisation. In the time it would take one aircraft to fly for example LHR – SEA – SYD – SEA – LHR the same one aircraft could fly LHR – SEA – LHR – JFK – LHR – BOS.

    3. Transit. The international transit experience in the US is messy and unpopular with passengers. Even if you are flying LHR – SEA – SYD you still need to disembark in SEA and clear immigration.

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    Hi Rferguson

    Good to have your input as always. If an airline was to launch SEA – SYD/MEL/AKL from LON – the idea would not be to sell that as a through experience – but as 2 legs. (No doubt have a few passengers doing the whole leg).

    TP flights at the moment are massively under served and huge demand (which might dampen in long run). Given SEA currently has no direct flights and has the major businesses based there I’d imagine it could be made to work very well without having to massively discount against QF or the other carriers (and given the prices they charge wouldn’t have to go in crazy low).

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    I guess another big question is whether BA would have the right to carry passengers on a flight originating in the US and terminating in Australia? I know Air NZ routed their LHR flight via LAX and had rights to carry passengers both LHR – LAX and LAX – AKL but I think this was a bi-lateral agreement.

    Australia has had an ‘open skies’ agreement with the US since 2008 but this applies to carriers from the US or Australia only.

    I remember way back in the 90’s when what was Northwest Airlines entered the US – Australia market (incredible to think how many huge brands no longer exist!) and they launched a new SYD – JFK route via KIX. The caveat was, the Australian government capped the amount of SYD – KIX – SYD passengers could be carried instead insisting its primary focus be on serving SYD – NYC not SYD – KIX. Northwest kept on flouting this rule and when the OZ govt stepped in and fined them NW withdrew from the route altogether.

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    Hi RF

    Good to have your thoughts as always.

    Re the Air New Zealand flight LHR-LAX- AKL which ran for decades and up to Covid.. was it that complicated at LAX for those that were flying through to NZ or UK?
    And also if BA flew SEA-SYD could adding an Alaskan or AA code get around any route license issue?
    I wonder though if there are historic rights which could give BA the license to fly Trans-Pacific..? Alex might know.
    And also if BA did they would not use up any more LHR slots, but give them a potentially lucrative route.


    I used Air NZ once LHR – LAX – AKL – BNE in 2009. This article sums up the LAX transit experience perfectly!

    The problem is, the US does not have a transit procedure in place. Everyone is treated as an arriving passenger and has to clear US immigration even if you are getting off the plane and straight back on again. Crazy.

    On the other hand, if BA COULD carry US originating passengers to Australia it could definitely be lucrative. I have a feeling though that a British carrier operating between the US and Australia would have an uphill battle trying to get the approval to do so.


    [quote quote=1245595]I wonder though if there are historic rights which could give BA the license to fly Trans-Pacific..? Alex might know.[/quote]

    I doubt it. BOAC would have held fifth-freedom rights for some sectors but I suspect over the years today’s BOAC has had to sacrifice them during negotiations for this or that.

    Tim mentions that only a few passengers would travel right the way though. Fair enough but couldn’t BA market a stopover ?

    As noted by rferguson the US isn’t geared for transit traffic. Another minus point quoted by Air NZ was the need to obtain a US visa (even in transit).

    Some customers disliked this and therefore, some years ago, Air NZ operated a second AKL-LHR flight via HKG. Air NZ held fifh-freedom rights HKG-LHR but what spoilt the route for many travellers was the early departure from HKG.

    Yes you might consider an 0800 or 0830 departure as not “really early” but then travellers would have to get up hours before and, for the business traveller returning to the UK, it meant the extra cost of a night’s accommodation.

    Finally the idea that BA might sell two separate portions, e.g. LHR-LAX and LAX-SYD is a non starter.

    Why ?

    Because fifth-freedom rights are a *privilege* and not a right.

    Airlines can be limited in how many fifth-freedom passengers they can carry.

    If the percentage exceeds the permitted number of seats then the fifth-freedom rights are withdrawn.

    Airlines usually face difficulties obtaining these rights.

    Remember (as BT reported at the time) the recent case where Emirates tried for many months to obtain fifth-freedom rights BCN-MEX-BCN ?

    Although Emirates can fly non-stop DXB-MEX it needed a return stop because MEX is a high altitude airport which limits take off performance.

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    Typo I meant to say “today’s BA.” !


    This is always a great topic and I had missed it. So many thanks to Sparkyflyer for resuscitating it.

    In a previous iteration of this discussion I suggested Georgetown, Guyana as a destination for BA to consider. So I’m very happy that in March 2023 they will return to Georgetown after a hiatus of more than 40 years.

    I flew Air New Zealand several times from LHR through LAX to Auckland. On one occasion I flew Air New Zealand from LAX to Apia, Samoa at a time when Air New Zealand operated a B767 service from LAX to Apia – Tonga – Auckland. The upside in later years was the Star Alliance lounge at LAX but the immigration control experience was definitely variable. My last experience was in December 2019: the queues at immigration at LAX in transit from Auckland were so long that it was only because of the intervention of Air New Zealand ground staff that a large group of passengers in transit made the connection to London.

    Changing the geographical focus for a moment, I’d be pleased to see BA return to Dhaka after a 14 year absence and Kolkata after an even longer absence.

    It would be great if at least some of the suggestions others have made for new or a return to destinations of old in Africa came to pass. Seychelles was another casualty of the pandemic and it would be good to see BA return.

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    Please BA bring back BKK and Phuket could be a perfect holiday route from LGW 777. I know BA said it didn’t make money but I couldn’t see why. Could even go the whole hog and do first? If Thai can do it…….


    The LHR to CHS 788 route was a seasonal hit. No competition and a great holiday destination. Further, no dirdct competition for business customers to Europe with large manufacturers fro Europe in the area.


    [quote quote=1245692]Please BA bring back BKK and Phuket could be a perfect holiday route from LGW 777. I know BA said it didn’t make money but I couldn’t see why. Could even go the whole hog and do first? If Thai can do it…….[/quote]

    It isn’t just a case of whether the route is profitable or not.

    The question is, can that aircraft generate MORE profit on an alternative route?

    The same has been said of BA’s decisions to not offer direct long-haul flights from non-London UK airports. ‘But Virgin can do it profitably’ is what is often heard. But it is the same as the BKK scenario. BA have never said that they couldn’t turn a profit on say MAN or GLA – JFK. But the case is likely they can use those aircraft on routes from LHR/LGW that will turn a larger profit.

    BA isn’t terribly slot restricted at LHR. However, unlike some of the middle eastern or far eastern carriers, aircraft are a scarce resource that have to fly to cities where they can generate the most return.


    Time for BA to restart flights to Havana, Cuba. The airline flew there briefly some years ago, but now the UK is served by a weekly charter from MAN to Varadero, and that is it. Pre-pandemic 150,000 UK visitors went to Cuba each year.


    A v interesting topic but my wish is much less ambitious- all I want is the reinstatement of a full LGW to GLA service. It was so convenient for me as my visits to London are to the City and Thameslink was so convenient. I don’t suppose it will happen


    [quote quote=1245777]all I want is the reinstatement of a full LGW to GLA service. It was so convenient for me as my visits to London are to the City and Thameslink was so convenient. I don’t suppose it will happen[/quote]

    Hello Montysaurus, I hear what you say but I would have thought GLA-LCY would be more convenient. Yes LCY does have a curfew but it mainly affect weekend flights.

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