British Airways sets a new short-haul subsidiary to fly from Gatwick airport

British Airways (BA), the United Kingdom’s flag carrier, has set a new short-haul subsidiary to fly from London Gatwick next year. Confirming the go-ahead of its new Gatwick short-haul subsidiary, British Airways has unveiled initial destinations to be operated by the mainline airline until the new entity receives its Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC).

The offshoot will start flying from March 2022, while the tickets are already on sale for 35 short-haul destinations.

In August, British Airways considered launching a new low-cost carrier to run short-haul routes out of Gatwick that would operate under BA name but exists as a separate standalone entity. The subsidiary plan came to allow more sustainable operation and utilize the airline’s unused slots. Short-haul flying will initially operate 3 Airbus A320-family aircraft from Gatwick at the end of March, and gradually bolstering active fleet up to 18 airplanes by May end.

Destinations to be served by the new standalone entity

British Airways has started selling tickets for initial 35 networks across Europe and North Africa, highlighting famous summer vacation places such as Marrakech, Amsterdam, Berlin, Athens, and other destinations in Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Spain, and Turkey. The Gatwick offshoot will start air services to 6 destinations on March 29, 2022, and ramp up remaining destinations throughout April.

British Airways has already served thirty out of these thirty-five new short-haul destinations during summer 2019. The new routes from Gatwick for the summer 2022 season will be Antalya, Athens, Berlin, Santorini, and Milan Malpensa.

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EasyJet, the second-largest LCC in Europe, will directly compete with BA’s new carrier on 33 of these 35 routes. EasyJet has boosted its presence in Gatwick with a 56% share of all departure seats from the airport during this month.

Return to short-haul flying

The new subsidiary will herald British Airways’ return to short-haul operations out of the UK’s second-largest airport that was withdrawn in April 2020 in response to the coronavirus pandemic, and several routes shifted to Heathrow. Some of those routes will be back to Gatwick and Heathrow to give customers more choice.

Gatwick had suspended the vast majority of short-haul flights in March following the outbreak of coronavirus pandemic. But British Airways was engaged in a discursive struggle to earn profit from the airport even before the onset of the crisis and announced that it would continue only if it had a competitive and sustainable operating cost base.

Need for short-haul, a low-cost subsidiary

British Airways had retained its takeoff and landing slots at Gatwick despite halting operations there. In mid-August, Gatwick’s CEO, Stewart Wingate, voiced frustration telling the airline to either use or lose them as other LCCs like Wiz Air and Easy Jet were waiting for slots.

British Airways came up with a new entity plan to make the airline sustainable at the airport moving forward. Its parent group, IAG, has said that the new unit was required to make flights from the airport profitable and finally viable and remain competitive against short-haul rivals.

The launching of new units came after the trade union British Airline Pilots’ Association (BALPA) initially rejected the plan citing flexibility issues in seasonal work than permitted under standard BA rostering. However, after further talks went fruitful with intense negotiations with its unions, the plan was put into motion, and the recruitment process for pilots began in November.

Using the same staff, aircraft, and slots at the Sussex airport, the new service will be launched by BA initially but will be managed separately under ‘BA Euroflyer’ by autumn 2022.

CEO’s say on new BA short-haul organization

Sean Doyle, the Chairperson and CEO of British Airways, called it a landmark moment for the airline regarding creating a new BA short-haul entity. Now, Gatwick customers can easily access BA’s premium service with a fantastic flying team in place. The airline CEO is optimistic about the success of the short-haul network back to London’s second hub airport.

The airline promises customers to receive perks of traveling with BA, including baggage allowance, free water, and snacks, loyalty benefits such as lounge access, free seat selection, etc., at fares competitive with those of no-frills carriers.

CEO of Gatwick Airport, Stewart Wingate, said that this significant announcement would boost consumer confidence and those connected to the airport. Gatwick looks forward to serving BA’s new and extensive network of services to destinations across Europe.

About British Airways

Headquartered in London, British Airways is the national carrier of the UK that operates a fleet of more than 250 aircraft to fly to more than 180 destinations worldwide.  

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