British Airways Enters Ryanair's Back Yard With Stansted Flights

  • IAG unit will serve three locations in Spain, one in Portugal
  • Services will utilize jets idled at London City each weekend

British Airways will start offering holiday flights from London Stansted airport, giving it a fourth base serving the U.K. capital and putting it in direct competition with Ryanair Holdings Plc.

BA’s CityFlyer arm will operate from Stansted to Faro in Portugal and Malaga, Palma and Ibiza in Spain at weekends from May 28 -- routes that are all offered by Ryanair. The services will use Embraer SA regional jets normally based at London City Airport, where noise curbs mean they’re banned from flying between 1 p.m. on Saturday and 12:30 p.m. Sunday.

The biggest U.K. carrier has only previously offered a regular cargo service from Stansted, located 35 miles north of London. Passenger flights are focused on its main Heathrow hub, together with London City and the leisure-oriented Gatwick, south of the capital.

The Stansted operation will utilize two or three 98-seat E190s from CityFlyer, featuring both business- and economy-class cabins, British Airways spokesman Michael Johnson said. From London City, the planes serve eight destinations including Glasgow and Edinburgh, Amsterdam and Nice.

Manchester Airports Group, Stansted’s owner since 2013, has been pushing to lure mainline carriers to Europe’s leading low-cost hub, embarking on a terminal upgrade that includes the site’s first premium lounge.

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