BA Longhaul new routes 2017/18+ ex LHR & LGW + Brexit planning..

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  • sparkyflier

    Its back! What has become my annual BA longhaul routes thread, in which posters share their views where they think BA should be flying to beyond Europe, both for the business and holiday needs, but hopefully being plausible at the same time.

    Any too much blue sky thinking might just give any BA route planners a heart attack!

    As before, this discussion should be focused on long haul routes from Heathrow and Gatwick – if you feel strongly about routes from the regions then please start a separate discussion. I say this as I think it is unlikely such routes will happen.

    However BA have surprised many of us in the past year or so! These were routes such as Lima and San Jose Costa Rica (with mixed success), and routes to combat Norwegian (Cape Town, Oakland etc). At the same time their new aircraft have mainly been used to replace older aircraft on the same routes.
    Cancelled routes include Chengdu in China, which was disappointing, but they were not aided on this route by not having a Chinese partner, and in my opinion, were too late to that party. KLM have been there for many years, and do very well on it with a loyal following.

    But the big development in the past year UK politically is Brexit, with the UK government saying how much it wants to trade more with old and new partners beyond Europe. Will BA take any notice whatsoever, and continue to play it safe with a transatlantic focus? Will BA hold UK back (in my opinion) by making it more difficult to trade with Africa, Far East and Latin America by still not providing direct access to key emerging markets?

    Many economies in these regions are still growing at a much higher rate than the UK and Europe and other G7 countries.

    All but one of the 777s, 787s and A380s ordered have now been delivered, except for one 788 I believe. Where will that go? The A350s are on their way, which I think will be in Summer 2018?

    So what would you like to see which you feel would make money, especially in the mid to longer term? I look forward to your thoughts!

    In the meantime, here are some of mine:-

    North America

    I believe the new routes started (maybe except Oakland) were good ideas and will capture both business and leisure traffic. I think you really need both.
    I did think Portland, but with Delta there now, probably not so likely. And the others mooted before – Kansas, Indianapolis, Nashville and still not sold o except maybe Kansas and Nashville. And AA can handle some routes. Maybe the North Eastern routes are more appropriate for Aer Lingus to handle.
    My view is demand for routes to USA, at least from UK is questionable for many reasons, including the weak Pound, Trump and some of his policies and loads of supply. But any more A380s could go to some existing destinations, saving slots for them be used elsewhere.

    Latin America

    BA have been bold here for the past 2 years, with Santiago, Lima and San Jose having started. However Lima will be suspended for winter 2017. I think BA were maybe too bold and too cautious at the same time. A big aircraft like 772 has many seats to fill, and being the LGW fleet, clapped out ones as well. If I was going to Lima, either business or leisure, I would probably choose another airline.
    I think if this had been a LHR route it may have prospered more, but think the smarter way to have started this route would have been with a stop in Bogota. And LHR would have got more transfer traffic and more business traffic.
    Interesting that Costa Rica now has KLM heading there as well.
    When Brazil starts to recover more robustly I can see BA moving GRU to A380, but it was good to see GIG start growing in frequencies again. With Latam being oneworld partners, there are many opportunities here, especially when a northern hub is announced.
    I still think Panama City should be a route. It is the one route in Europe Panamanians really want, not FRA with LH etc. Incentives are there..

    St Vincent as a tag to BGI or UVF etc


    Abidjan combined with Monrovia and Freetown, and maybe Dakar as well. And as mentioned before, like AF and SN do, have trainable routes –lowers costs and uses less slots for 2 destinations.
    The return of Dar es Salaam, using 788, maybe stopping in Kilimanjaro en route? Or with Seychelles.
    Perhaps BA can codeshare with Rwandair on their new Kigali route using A330. Rwandair should be in Oneworld and Kigali be a hub for this alliance. I suspect IAG shareholders Qatar Airways will not want this however.


    Jakarta using 789
    Vietnam – the schedules used by Vietnam airlines are horrible.
    Phuket ex LGW
    Osaka, using JL 787 as a joint venture.
    A suggestion a bit “out” there, is Melbourne. With the Sydney route doing well via Singapore, and Qaatnas routing their flight via Pert on 787 (truly awful in Y or Y+ on Qantas I reckon), many locals are cheesed off with QF.
    Re China, with AA investing in China Southern, I can see some alliance swapping – CX will go to Star, and China Southern could go to Oneworld. Then you will see some interesting routes..
    But what are your thoughts and desires.

    You never know, BA/IAG management may even be looking.. I used to be much bolder with my suggestions, but have got used to BA conservatism/lack of global economic awareness (!).

    I look forward to your thoughts.. and any rumours from those in the know..!


    “All but one of the 777s, 787s and A380s ordered have now been delivered, except for one 788 I believe. Where will that go? The A350s are on their way, which I think will be in Summer 2018?”

    Looking at other information available it appears there are another four B787-8 to be delivered in 2017/18, five more B787-9s in 2018, twelve B787-10s but not starting to arrive until 2019 and the first of the eighteen A350-1000s are due in 2018. However there four more B747 to retire in 2018 and the remainder of the B767 fleet (seven planes) will also go in 2018. And of course the B777-200 fleet starts refurbishment in 2018.

    Still plenty of planes for new routes I am sure.


    With regard to America, I think Cruz said something about looking at the list of top US cities by population, and identifying which ones lacked direct routes. If I remember correctly, this was in a direct interview with The Points Guy. Looking at the top ten list, San Antonio TX is the only one in the top ten without a direct service. Looking at the top 20, Jacksonville FL, Indianapolis IN, Columbus OH, Charlotte NC, Detroit MI, El Paso TX are all in there. I think any one or two of these are quite possible in the next year or so, also Nashville or Memphis, TN is crying out for a direct service to the UK.

    Panama I also agree completely, it seems crazy BA doesn’t serve this market. I wonder if there is demand for Belize as well, as a Gatwick route 2/3 times a week a la Costa Rica? I don’t know about South America, although Quito and/or Bogota would be interesting.

    Caribbean – I again, agree totally. Although with US carriers rapidly scaling back their Cuba operations, I wonder if BA are waiting to see how demand plays out. Virgin have recently upped their services, with a third daily Havana and a new flight to Varadero. When I flew to Cuba with VS back in 2015, both flights were completely full. I also agree about St Vincent, that seems a logical route via somewhere.

    Africa, I can’t help but feel the reason they stopped Dar/Lusaka/Entebbe was due to their ageing 767s with nothing to directly replace them – rather than demand per se. With this in mind, I wonder with their new 788s they will resume these. I could see Harare working for BA, there is no direct flight to the UK and I would think there are strong enough ties to justify this. I also wonder about Malawi, another very underserved market with strong links to the UK. I can’t see Abidjan as Air France has this pretty well tied up, with their A380 service. A route that would be nice to see would be The Gambia, but with BA turning some of their A321 midhauls back into shorthauls, I am not sure what plane would be right for this.

    Asia, I don’t know about Jakarta, I heard that BA were about to launch it a few years back as a tag from Singapore, to the extent it was even loaded into the system, then they pulled it just before announcing it. I am not sure I can see this working for BA now really. Same really of Vietnam, Vietnam Airlines have a good system of alternating Hanoi/HCMC, and I don’t know if there is demand for BA in there as well. Especially as VN’s prices are quite competitive. I wonder if Bangkok would could to Gatwick? BA treat it like a leisure route as it is. Or else a triangle route LGW-Phuket-Ko Samui/Krabi might work well.

    Osaka would be great to see, I am amazed there isn’t a direct flight between the UK and Osaka already.

    With regard to China, I think Chengdu has probably dissuaded BA from launching any new routes there for a little while at least.

    Funnily enough I was thinking about Melbourne the other day. With Qantas moving away from their Singapore stopover, and now routing Melbourne via Perth, I could see BA launching London-Singapore-Melbourne to compliment their Sydney service. The only downside is such a routing would take up around 3 777-300ers (assuming that’s the plane they use). With a fleet of only 12, it would mean more than half would be taken up flying just two routes (Sydney/Melbourne).


    Not sure whether BA could sustain a non-stop Jakarta-LHR service. Could the airport’s weak runway cope with a fully-laden B787 ? Would about the price competition from GA or the maby indirect options offered by the likes of SQ and the Gulf carriers ?

    But LGW-Phuket might be possible. It’s not widely known that TG is now linking Germany with Phuket three times a week with non-stop service.


    With regards to Melbourne, there was speculation that BA might use their new A350-1000 for the Sydney route, so between the A350 & B773, serving both Sydney and Melbourne with these aircraft would use 6 out of 30, so could be feasible. The problem is with so many airlines offering one stop connections to Melbourne from Heathrow, how would BA distinguish themselves and attract sufficient passengers.

    I saw a rumour a few weeks back that the reason why BA had switched 4 789 orders to 788 was to open up new routes including Nashville and Indianapolis. Can’t recall where I saw it so don’t know how credible it is. Certainly the idea of getting more 788 new open new routes is plausible – most of BA’s new routes over the past 5 years from Heathrow have been stated using a 787.

    BA used to have plenty of routes to Africa so I imagine some of these must still be feasible.

    Osaka is probably the next biggest city in Asia without a direct link to London so I’d hope some airline if not BA start this soon.


    Sadly I can’t see BA doing much in Africa. The ME3 have long since moved in on most of the routes that BA gave up.

    In particular Harare, there have been recent articles about international airlines stopping ticket sales due to inability to get money out the country.


    “I think Cruz said something about looking at the list of top US cities by population, and identifying which ones lacked direct routes”

    I doubt if even Alex Cruz would have said quite that, as population is irrelevant, it’s about potential passenger numbers and yield. It’s never a problem to fill an aircraft, it is a problem do to do so profitably with high yield passengers, and then unless it’s purely point to point traffic, to see if feeder routes will make a service profitable. Passenger analytic tools are available showing traffic over given city pairs (MIDT data).

    “The ME3 have long since moved in on most of the routes that BA gave up.”
    Because the ME3 offer better service, at least superficially.


    My mistake, I have found the quote, it was the top ‘airports’ rather than ‘cities’.

    The quote is:

    “But, the US is the most important market for [British Airways]. Cruz has been looking at the top 60 US airports and is seeing that there are plenty of opportunities for the airline to expand in the future. But, no more new routes will be added this year.”

    Courtesy of The Points Guy.

    I’ve found the top 60 list on Wikipedia.

    Charlotte is the only one in the top ten that BA don’t currently serve, but seeing as American Airlines do, I am not sure how likely that will be.

    Looking further down the list at airports that BA doesn’t currently serve, and are plausible (i.e., not La Guardia &c.)

    16- Minneapolis (Delta stronghold),
    25- Salt Lake City (new Delta route),
    28 Honolulu (possible, but an awfully long flight, although long rumoured),
    30 – Portland (new Delta route)
    32 – St Louis (Don’t know why, but I think this is a strong contender)
    35 – Nashville (another strong contender)
    38 – Kansas City (possible)
    39 – Raleigh (American Airlines flight from Heathrow)
    40 – Santa Ana, California (Unlikely, BA already have a strong presence in California)
    42 – Sacramento (same)
    44 – Fort Myers, Florida (Air Berlin already flies here which surprises me)
    45 – San Antonio (This is another possibility)
    46 – Cleveland (Another intriguing one)
    47 – Pittsburgh (pretty sure BA used to operate here, another possibility)
    48 – Indianapolis (another possibility)
    49 – Columbus, Ohio (ditto)
    50 – Milwaukee (Possible, but a tad obscure)
    51 – Kahului, Hawaii (not likely anytime soon)
    52 – Palm Beach, Florida (Another possibility)
    53 – Cincinnati (Yet another possibility!)
    54 – Hartford (Think this is served by Aer Lingus now)
    55 – Jacksonville (Another Florida route possibility)
    56 – Anchorage (Wildcard, but Icelandair seem to manage)
    57 – Buffalo (with plenty of flights to Toronto in the north, and NYC in the south, unlikely)
    58 – Albuquerque (Outsider, but not impossible)
    59 – Ontario, California (Seems somewhat obscure)
    60 – Omaha, Nebraska (Would fill a gap between Denver and Chicago in BA’s network, but I can’t see this happening before some of the more obvious choices)

    There we go, top 60 that BA don’t currently serve. Only my opinions of course, interested what anyone else thinks. I am sure more US routes can’t be too far away, as Cruz said, it’s BA’s strongest market.


    Thanks Speedbird, that makes perfect sense.

    From the original posting :
    “However BA have surprised many of us in the past year or so! These were routes ………… to combat Norwegian (Cape Town, Oakland etc).”
    I have not heard that Norwegian have ever flown to CPT, nor that they plan to do, and it’s long been one of BA’s busiest routes.
    I hope Norwegian don’t start the route, as the city is already overflowing with tourists and is suffering from a very serious water shortage.


    Just a few thoughts on the above list:
    44 – The Sarasota area has long been popular with visitors from Germany, hence why I suspect Air Berlin flies there
    52 – Palm Beach, with BA having recently launched a service from LGW to FLL, less than an hour down the I95, I’m not sure this one would be too likely
    55 – A large metropolitan area, but a very small airport by US domestic standards. Most jet traffic is flown by regional equipment

    Be interesting to see if BA fancy going toe to toe with DL on some of the cities at the top of the list.
    I may be wrong but I thought there was some commentary a while back re: Indianapolis.


    Speedbird1994, that’s a very interesting list, thanks.

    But regarding “28 Honolulu (possible, but an awfully long flight, although long rumoured)” – Heathrow to Honolulu is 7237 miles, almost the same as Santiago Chile which is 7228 miles. That could still be too long of course.


    Agree that Havana would be a good destination. I think that many Americans still view Cuba with a degree of suspicion (fear?) that does not exist east of the pond.

    I agree with many of the African destinations already suggested but wonder about ADD. Although QR already serve it, I have long wondered if it would suit BA.

    Oneworld are desperately short of decent African partners and I would like to see Air Namibia join: one of the best carriers on the continent.

    As stated, TN would be perfect for a direct BA flight. There is much happening there, especially in the music industry.

    Melbourne? I’m not sure I would choose BA over other ow ME or Asian carriers, all prices being equal. There is already a huge supply of better airlines serving the city.


    “CX will go to Star, and China Southern could go to Oneworld”

    Well, I’m not so sure. I think CX rather likes its position as the dominant alliance carrier in the region, while still picking up codeshares from Star (e.g. LH and ANZ). If it were to join Star, it would suddenly have a lot of alliance partners competing in its own back yard – THAI at the budget end and SQ at the high end, not to mention Asiana for Korea, EVA for Taipei, Shenzhen Airlines on its doorstep, United across the (other) pond (remember that until recently only CX offered OW flights to the US from HKG – AA’s flights to HK are quite new)

    With the secondary headquarters of Wells Fargo (formerly the headquarters of Wachovia, which WF acquired at the end of the noughties in the financial crisis) and the main headquarters of Bank of America Merrill Lynch, and given its status as the former hub of US Airways (formerly Star, now part of AA and OW) and therefore offering a huge number of domestic connections, I would have thought Charlotte should be a candidate. Certainly it’s a much nicer east coast airport to transit through than any of the others I have tried!!


    Thanks Speedbird, that makes perfect sense.

    From the original posting :
    “However BA have surprised many of us in the past year or so! These were routes ………… to combat Norwegian (Cape Town, Oakland etc).”
    I have not heard that Norwegian have ever flown to CPT, nor that they plan to do, and it’s long been one of BA’s busiest routes.
    I hope Norwegian don’t start the route, as the city is already overflowing with tourists and is suffering from a very serious water shortage.

    I recall chatter about DY thinking of CPT going back about 3 years. A quick search finds this and this however I suspect they may have killed-off the idea when TCX got in first from LGW & currently selling from ~£480 return


    Thank you for your posts and contributions so far – some interesting thoughts.

    Interesting to hear there are four 788s arriving in the next year or so.These would be ideally sized to open up new routes, as opposed to the 789 as they have first class.

    Re posts on Africa, I am aware that AF operate the A380s to Abidjan and have done so for 3-4 years I think, but I also heard that a substantial number of those pax are heading to/from the UK, indeed by that I hear 25-30% of the passengers.Surely a route combined with Freetown or Monrovia would work, or even Accra if they are that risk averse.

    Interestingly, Accra is now their 3rd busiest African route after Joburg and Cape Town.

    I had wondered about the mid haul A321s and if they had the legs to get to Banjul and Dakar etc, but surely a 788 (or even 772) doing triangles would work.

    I do not subscribe to the idea that East and and southern Africa should be left alone as the ME3 were big there. I would not want to fly to Lusaka for example, which should be a 9 hours flight direct, as opposed to 15 on EK. BA lost customers because they were flying clapped out aircraft that were going tech too often, and got a bad name for it.

    In East Africa, I gather Brussels Airlines have seen much increase in business on their network there, mainly using triangles, and also being more generous with baggage allowance on routes to Entebbe for example.

    Re North America, if they did add Charlotte I could see this with a refurbished 744, and “swap” one of the daily flights with AA.

    On Jakarta, the trouble with the GA offering is the day flight back from CGK via SIN – simply not a good use of time. I am not sure if a 789 can do this with the weak runway, But in any case, why not twin the route with KUL or BKK, using 773. This would help BA on the BKK route by providing a more modern cabin, but also more attractive schedules. At the least this would help BA asses the route.

    But with so many new aircraft coming soon, I am sure this allows BA to move some 772s to LGW, and so we could see a huge increase of routes from there, including as Alex suggested above, maybe Phuket for example.

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