Wow, British Airways is on a roll. A couple of weeks ago British Airways announced that they’ll be adding flights between London Heathrow and New Orleans as of March 2017. Then last week British Airways announced that they’ll be adding flights between London Gatwick and Fort Lauderdale as of July 2017.
Well, now British Airways is announcing yet another new US route, which will represent service to their 25th US city.
British Airways will fly to Oakland
British Airways will be launching 4x weekly flights between London Gatwick and Oakland as of March 28, 2017.
On Mondays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, the flight will operate with the following schedule:
London Gatwick to Oakland departing 10:20AM arriving 1:15PM
Oakland to London Gatwick departing 2:45PM arriving 9:25AM (+1 day)
On Tuesdays the flight will operate with the following schedule:
BA2279 London Gatwick to Oakland departing 11:25AM arriving 2:20PM
BA2278 Oakland to London Gatwick departing 3:50PM arriving 10:30AM (+1 day)
The flight will be operated by a Boeing 777-200 aircraft, featuring 40 business class seats, 24 premium economy seats, and 219 economy seats.
British Airways’ California coverage is getting quite impressive. The airline flies to Los Angeles (twice daily), San Diego, San Francisco (twice daily), and San Jose, and will now add a further flight to Oakland.
If you’re interested in booking this flight, keep in mind that British Airways has a policy where they make two business class award seats available as soon as a route becomes bookable, so you should have no trouble snagging award seats on this flight. The flight is already bookable, and we’re seeing two business class and four economy class award seats per flight.
The catch, however, is that British Airways’ business class product isn’t great, and there are also hefty carrier imposed surcharges of $800+ roundtrip on award tickets, so it won’t be cheap.
Alaska Airlines has a bit of a focus city in Oakland, and they partner with British Airways. So it’s certainly possible that they’ll hope to pick up some connecting passengers for their flights to Hawaii. However, that’s not really a unique opportunity, given that there are already lots of other airports where British Airways customers can connect to get one stop service to Hawaii.
What I don’t get about this route
British Airways’ last US route announcement was between London Gatwick and Fort Lauderdale… a route served by Norwegian. Now they’re launching London Gatwick to Oakland… also a route served by Norwegian.
Does British Airways really think they can compete with Norwegian on price, and for that matter do they even really want to try? I’m not sure I see the upside for British Airways here. British Airways’ cost structure is significantly higher than Norwegian’s, and generally the people who fly Norwegian aren’t people who would otherwise be loyal to British Airways. Norwegian’s 787s have 69 more seats than British Airways’ 777s, the plane is cheaper to operate, and their cost structure is much lower otherwise as well.
So do they want to protect market share while taking a loss, or what are they hoping for here? A lot of British Airways leisure destinations out of Gatwick do quite well for the airline, given that they’re fairly high yield leisure destinations and not served by other airlines. But trying to compete directly with Norwegian on US routes just seems sort of silly.
Despite British Airways blaming Brexit for some service cutbacks, they sure are growing their US route network. Three new US route announcements in just two weeks is a lot. While I get New Orleans, as it’s actually a unique destination, I don’t really understand British Airways replicating Norwegian’s US routes, as there doesn’t seem to be much upside for them.
What do you make of British Airways launching flights to Oakland?