The inaugural, all-business class flight between London City Airport and New York JFK launches today (Tuesday September 29), and prior to the 1250 flight BA's CEO Willie Walsh, chairman Martin Broughton and Richard Gooding, chief executive of London City Airport spoke to the press about their hopes for the new service.
The double-daily flights - which are served with an Airbus A318 aircraft (the largest aircraft type currently allowed to use London City airport) - require a 45-minute refuelling stop at Shannon on the outbound journey.
As previously reported on businesstraveller.com (see online news September 15) BA is promoting the stop as an advantage since Shannon now has full Customs and Border Protection (CBP) facilities, meaning passengers can enjoy full pre-clearance at the airport, allowing them to effectively arrive in the US as a domestic passenger, thus avoiding the infamously-lengthy US immigration process. Speaking with Business Traveller, commercial director Robert Boyle
"We’re very confident that the new service will be well received, particularly by anyone who works in this part of London. Clearly the timing isn't great, it's a difficult environment, but I think people will look back and say that was a very clever time to launch it just as people are beginning to get back out and start to see people."
Boyle said that forward bookings were as expected, and emphasised the importance of positive feedback from early travellers.
"The first few flights are reasonably full, but beyond that, it's hard to tell. The target market is the business traveller and those trips are booked one to two weeks ahead, so I think it will be one of those services which is really sold by word of mouth."
The launch flight bears British Airways’ most prestigious flight number, BA001, formerly used by Concorde. Customers on the new service will be the first BA passengers to be able to send emails and texts, and use the internet via an in-flight mobile communications service provided by OnAir. The airline is also touting a 15-minute check-in, very different from Heathrow’s 45 minutes.
The new service features 32 fully-flat beds in a cabin specially designed to feel spacious and contemporary. To see a seatplan of the aircraft, click here. As first reported by businesstraveller.com (see online news September 14), the in-flight dining has been developed in partnership with Roast restaurant, based at London’s Borough Market, to draw upon their expertise in creating menus that feature the best of British produce and regional specialities.
Passengers arriving into London City will also be able to enjoy complimentary Health Club access at the London Marriott, West India Quay to freshen up before heading into their office or continuing their journey. For the first time at London City, customers are also able to use kerbside check-in for their flight to New York.
The new service launches with a daily return service on September 29, except Saturday (London City airport is closed from 1240 on Saturday to 1100 on Sunday), increasing to two a day from mid-October.
- BA001 departs LCY at 1250 and arrives JFK at 1715. BA002 departs JFK at 1830 and arrives at LCY at 0715 the following day.
- BA003 departs LCY at 1600 and arrives at JFK at 2025. BA004 departs JFK at 2150 and arrives at LCY at 1025 the following day.
Lead-in fares on the new British Airways London City - New York flight start from £1999.60 return (including taxes, fees and charges), and to celebrate the launch of the service, the airline is also offering semi-flexible fares from £3705.60 (normal fare of £4056.60) return and fully-flexible flights from £5326.60 (normal fare of £5835.60) for flights booked by October 16 for travel by October 31, 2009.
London City has released a promotional video showing the A318 aircraft arriving into the airport, including images of the plane's interior (see below). Business Traveller will be publishing a full review of the BA A318 seat offering and flight service later this week.
For more information visit ba.com.
Report by Tom Otley