Zoom Airlines has broken a 40-year BA monopoly by launching a twice-weekly London-Bermuda route last Friday. Not since 1967 – when Cunard Eagle Airways and BOAC (the predecessor to BA) were plying the route - have London-based travellers to the British overseas territory had a choice of airlines to fly with.
Business Traveller was on board the inaugural Zoom flight to Bermuda, and readers will be able to see the full review of the service in a forthcoming issue of the magazine. Speaking to Business Traveller about the new route, Hugh Boyle, chairman of the Canadian-based airline, said:
"Bermuda is an interesting destination for us, both because of its links with the British and [its proximity to] New York. The issue was having the right aircraft, and being able to offer a frequency of service of at least twice a week, to build traffic."
When asked why he thought no other airline had challenged BA on the route before now, Boyle replied that it was a case of needing to achieve a critical mass on the route.
"Bermuda is a unique, niche destination which doesn't lend itself to mass tourism. We hope to stimulate the market by attracting VFR (visiting friends and relatives) put off by BA's prohibitive prices."
Boyle added that the benefits of Zoom's pricing structure include the absence of restrictions such as Saturday night stays, and the ability to purchase low-cost one-way fares. He said that the airline was looking at further expansion from London, with routes under consideration including San Francisco, Boston and LA.
From June 21 Zoom will also offer a London Gatwick – New York daily flight, which on the days when the carrier flies to and from Bermuda (Wednesday and Sunday outbound once the full schedule kicks in, and Tuesday and Saturday inbound) will route via the Island.
The interesting thing about this for business travellers is the possibility of combining, say, meetings in New York with a few days R&R or golf (the Island has more golf courses per square mile than any other country in the world) in Bermuda either side, using the same carrier.
Zoom offers a two-class product on all its routes, with 31' seat pitch in economy and 36' in premium economy. Luggage allowance is 20kg in economy and 30kg in the premium cabin.
The route has not been without its teething problems though – while the inaugural flight landed on schedule having taken the most direct route to the Island, the return leg this Monday was delayed by some four hours due to routing changes. It appears that restrictions imposed by the CAA mean that for the first couple of months the airline will have to make a more circuitous northerly route, staying closer to land instead of flying straight across the Atlantic, which adds around two hours to the flight in either direction.
Zoom is currently working on a revised timetable to take into account this temporary route change – passengers should contact the airline before flying to confirm departure and arrival times.
Lead in prices including taxes for the London – Bermuda route start from £199 one-way in economy and £299 in premium economy. Visit flyzoom.com for more information.
Report by Mark Caswell