British Airways Pares Its Business-Only London-New York Service


A British Airways aircraft, operated by British Airways Plc, prepares to land at London City Airport in London, U.K., on Oct. 28, 2015.

Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg
  • Carrier shrinks operation to one daily flight from two
  • Service refuels in Dublin as passengers clear U.S. checks

British Airways will cut one of its two daily flights from London City Airport to New York’s John F. Kennedy International hub, slashing capacity on a business-class-only service that began in 2009.

The change will be introduced with the winter schedule at the end of October, leaving British Airways with up to 12 daily flights to terminals in the New York area from London’s Heathrow, Gatwick and City airports, according to a statement from the unit of IAG SA Thursday.

While BA highlighted the City route in a video of the steep landing at the airport in London’s Docklands district only last month, the premium service is particularly exposed to ebbing demand for corporate travel prompted by Britain’s June 23 vote to quit the European Union.

Because of City’s short runway outbound BA flights are restricted to A318 jets, the smallest members of Airbus Group SE’s narrow-body family, which usually seat 107 people but are equipped with 32 flat-bed seats for the U.S. service. Even then the planes must refuel in Ireland, though BA has made a virtue of the stop by having its passengers clear U.S. border controls there.

Concorde Codes

“We constantly evaluate the commercial performance of our entire global network and will increase or reduce our schedules as we feel appropriate,” British Airways said in an e-mail. “Any customers affected by the changes will be rebooked on to an alternative flight or offered a full refund.”

A return ticket between City and New York Kennedy costs about 3,650 pounds ($4,850), departing Nov. 7 and returning a week later, according to BA’s website. Customers are attracted by City’s proximity to London’s main business district, as well as the corporate jet-like feel of the service, which carries flight codes formerly dedicated to supersonic Concorde operations.

A number of business-only trans-Atlantic carriers have folded in the past decade, among them Silverjet Plc, Eos Airlines and MAXJet Airlines Inc. The failures haven’t dented enthusiasm for the concept, with start-up Odyssey Airlines -- whose executive team includes ex-Silverjet managers -- planning to begin flights from London City next year using Bombardier Inc. C Series jets.

The change to the British Airways timetable was reported earlier by The Financial Times.

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