Fans of London City will soon see their wish come true. BA Connect (BA's budget brand) is set to launch direct flights to Madrid on October 29. Services are set to operate twice daily between Monday and Friday with a single service on Sunday.
On weekdays, BA Connect will depart from City (LCY) at 0915 reaching Madrid at 1255 and again at 1855 arriving in the Spanish capital at 2235. In bound services will depart at 0700 and 1640 reaching LCY at 0840 and 1820 respectively.
Timings are especially convenient for Madrilenos because the first flight landing at 0840 will provide the earliest arrival to anywhere in the West End and City thanks to speedy ground transfers within and from LCY. [The first flight into Heathrow from Madrid lands at 0830].
Fares start at £78 return for economy with business class [Club Europe] priced at £566. Unlike its other routes, BA Connect out of LCY continues to serve complimentary snacks and free drinks in economy class. It also offers a Club Europe product.
LCY users have been voting Madrid as one of the destinations they would most like see served. There hasn't been a service until now because it was thought that Madrid was outside the range of the existing jets taking off from LCY's short runway.
But BA Connect believes the route is operationally feasible with its RJ100s (an updated version of the BAe146) although a spokesperson admits that "there will be a payload restriction from London City but not from Madrid."
At the same time, BA Connect is improving schedules on various routes from the regions. It is adding extra flights between Manchester and Milan Malpensa and between the Isle of Man and Gatwick to meet passenger demand. It is also making timings more business-like on services departing Manchester for Glasgow, Geneva and Vienna.On the downside, the carrier is dropping two routes this winter namely, Belfast-Birmingham and Isle of Man-Luton.
And BA Connect has announced it will adopt BA mainline's controversial new baggage policy (see Online news June 15, June 22 and July 19) ahead of time on August 1. (BA mainline will not implement the policy relating to checked baggage until October 11).
The move shouldn't prove to be such an inconvenience as that of BA mainline. That's because BA Connect flies solely short haul so passengers will be either carrying only hand luggage or lighter checked baggage. But readers should be aware of its starting date to avoid being inconvenienced.
Report by Alex McWhirter