It’s fascinating that British Airways is growing their long haul network with new U.S. destinations even as Brexit looms. They have a joint venture with American Airlines and Finnair, but American does seem to leave decisions about new London routes to BA. And they share the risk here.
Earlier in the month they announced they’d be introducing New Orleans service. And yesterday they announced Fort Lauderdale. Both could appear on face to be curious choices.
Starting July 6, British Airways will offer service 3 to 4 times a week:
- London Gatwick – Fort Lauderdale, 9:25am – 1:45pm, BA2169
- Fort Lauderdale – London Gatwick, 5:00pm – 6:30am+1, BA2168
They’re operating the route with a Boeing 777-200 with no first class and light premium cabins, just 40 business class and 24 premium economy seats.
This is clearly a leisure market. They aren’t flying a ton of premium seats, they’re flying to Gatwick. While BA offers many of their intra-European leisure destinations from Gatwick as well, the return isn’t well timed for connections with a 9:25am departure from London.
Fort Lauderdale is one of the fastest-growing airports in the region. International seat capacity is up 24% year-over-year already without this announcement according to Airline Weekly. The Miami metropolitan area is the 8th largest in the country. Three years ago there was only a single transatlantic flight operated by Condor. Now Emirates is adding service to connect to JetBlue’s hub there.
But the key here is Norwegian operates out of Fort Lauderdale with London Gatwick service (as well as Paris and Barcelona is coming). BA is reactive here.
American Airlines deliberately went along with plans to make Miami one of the highest cost airports in the nation to operate out of. That drove up American’s cost as the major airline in Miami, but it protected them from low cost competition for a time — low cost carriers for the most part have avoided Miami in favor of Fort Lauderdale so far.
Even that’s no longer completely the case, since Fort Lauderdale has become overcrowded. Wow Air chose to serve Miami. But despite the higher yields out of the airport to the South (somewhat bludgeoned by the preponderance of South America flights which haven’t performed well of late), Fort Lauderdale has been the growth story of South Florida.