British Airways Ends Gatwick Short Haul Flights

British Airways Ends Gatwick Short Haul Flights

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British Airways has revealed that it’s ending short haul operations at London Gatwick Airport (LGW) permanently, though I’m not entirely convinced that this isn’t still a bargaining technique.

British Airways’ Gatwick dilemna

British Airways has historically had a significant presence at both Gatwick and Heathrow (London’s two largest airports), operating both short and long haul flights from each station. The split operations has primarily been due to slot restrictions at both airports, limiting the extent to which the airline could grow at either airport.

At the start of the pandemic, British Airways cut all kinds of routes and made the decision to downsize, and as part of that, the carrier suspended short haul flights at Gatwick. While the carrier has continued to operate long haul flights from the airport, it seems that those flights aren’t too reliant on connecting traffic, but rather serve point-to-point leisure demand.

The carrier has been trying to decide whether it makes sense to resume short haul flying out of Gatwick. In August, British Airways came up with the idea of forming a new low short haul cost carrier out of Gatwick. British Airways felt its cost structure wasn’t competitive, so resuming “mainline” regional flying out of the airport didn’t make sense.

Well, there’s an update on that front… the new low cost carrier isn’t happening.

British Airways will keep flying long haul from Gatwick

British Airways cuts Gatwick short haul

Sky News reports that British Airways has scrapped plans to restart short haul flying from Gatwick, either with mainline planes or with a new low cost carrier subsidiary. The one exception is a very limited number of domestic services.

Why did British Airways make this decision? Because it couldn’t reach an agreement with British Airways’ pilots union. As a spokesperson for British Airways describes the decision:

“After many years of losing money on European flights from the airport, we were clear that coming out of the pandemic, we needed a plan to make Gatwick profitable and competitive. With regret, we will now suspend our short-haul operations at Gatwick, with the exception of a small number of domestic services connecting to our long-haul operation, and will pursue alternative uses for the London Gatwick short-haul slots.”

British Airways management claims that the terms offered to pilots were “the best that could be achieved in order to create a viable and sustainable operation at London Gatwick.” Management further stated that returning to Gatwick in the summer of 2022 would have been “good for our business as we try to recover and pay back the debts that the pandemic has necessitated.”

Now, a few thoughts:

  • I don’t think it can be ruled out that this is a last ditch bargaining technique on the part of management, in hopes of getting more concessions from the pilots union
  • Before anyone thinks the pilots union is being greedy here, British Airways management has a track record of negotiating in very bad faith, and throwing employees under the bus every chance possible
  • British Airways still has all of these Gatwick slots, so it’s not entirely clear what the plan is; while we know British Airways or a new subsidiary won’t resume Gatwick flying, could we maybe see IAG low cost carrier Vueling pick up these slots and operate some additional Gatwick flights?
Could Vueling pick up some Gatwick flying?

Bottom line

British Airways has made the decision to permanently discontinue short haul flights from London Gatwick. The airline first suspended Gatwick short haul flights in March 2020, and the airline has been conflicted about what to do with its presence at the airport.

British Airways’ plan last month was to launch a low cost regional carrier out of Gatwick, but British Airways couldn’t get pilots onboard with that concept. I’m curious if this decision is actually final, or if this is just a bargaining technique.

What do you make of British Airways ending short haul service from Gatwick?

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  1. Ken

    After moving flights several times and using the voucher I have now ask for refund as I don't want to have the additional cost and time going to Heathrow for short haul.

  2. Johnnyg

    As a user of both, Gatwick wins every time, not only for convenience, but also travellers are treated as human beings rather than cattle.

    Getting to Gatwick is a joy compared to the nightmare that is LHR. More options and certainly cheaper. Getting from plane to car is a darn sight quicker as well.

    BA has always treated Gatwick staff as second rate personnel, treating them with disdain as opposed to valued people.

    The...

    As a user of both, Gatwick wins every time, not only for convenience, but also travellers are treated as human beings rather than cattle.

    Getting to Gatwick is a joy compared to the nightmare that is LHR. More options and certainly cheaper. Getting from plane to car is a darn sight quicker as well.

    BA has always treated Gatwick staff as second rate personnel, treating them with disdain as opposed to valued people.

    The sooner it gives up its slots at Gatwick the better for all.

  3. Andrew Mccaghrey

    Ok so what is happening to existing BA short haul booking made to Europe

  4. Janice

    Gatwick is the only airport suitable for those living in South East. Heathrow is a nightmare to get to and if you have an early flight limited hotels nearby at Heathrow. Its very disappointing BA are not continuing at Gatwick. There is very little competition now to keep prices reasonable. I hope they reconsider.

  5. Robbie Shaw

    I am one of a number who detest Heathrow. Gatwick is my local airport. Quite simply BA, not Gatwick - not going. Use Amsterdam instead, which I have done several times.

  6. mrscapz

    im intrigued as to what BA holidays will do for the holidays it has already sold for next summer from flights based out of gatwick to eg alicante or some greek islands.. will those holidays now be cancelled and when do they plan to let their customers know so they can rebook with other operators

    1. Andrew

      Exactly no one to answer the phones or social media responses, we are kept in the dark

  7. barry walter

    BA pilots never give up anything. It's always been the same. The rest of the airline always have to pay the price for any BA changes. No Gatwick will mean job losses but not for pilots. Unless changes can be driven through across in all areas, then a new low cost carrier just wouldn't be viable. Should naver have sold Go or GB Airways

  8. Geoffrey Lee

    Now no more short haul flights must be made to give up slots by law , no more hanging on to them . if they can not do it let some else do it .

  9. Andy

    For most living in the South, and definitely me, I try and avoid LHR as much as possible - terrible airport. I actually choose destinations based on departures from LGW. My business is now likely to switch to easyjet rather than use BA from LHR. I know I'm not the only person that shares this feeling. Bad decision by BA.

  10. Reno Joe

    As airports go, Gatwick is not that bad. It feels like Chicago-Midway. But, like Chicago-Midway, it's the location that's the problem. If one is inclined to taking a taxi as opposed to taking the train, Heathrow is fine but Gatwick is like dental surgery.

    Separately, imagine connecting in London. Your inbound flight is (of course) to Heathrow. Your connecting flight is out of Gatwick. It was a nightmare before the pandemic -- collect bags, allow...

    As airports go, Gatwick is not that bad. It feels like Chicago-Midway. But, like Chicago-Midway, it's the location that's the problem. If one is inclined to taking a taxi as opposed to taking the train, Heathrow is fine but Gatwick is like dental surgery.

    Separately, imagine connecting in London. Your inbound flight is (of course) to Heathrow. Your connecting flight is out of Gatwick. It was a nightmare before the pandemic -- collect bags, allow for hours between flights, go through security again. A long day becomes even longer. At the height of restrictions, you would not be allowed to do it -- trips had to be canceled.

    One passenger who really hates Gatwick shares his thoughts . . .

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iBAYEK4Ftz8

  11. Stephen Morrissey

    Our upcoming flight on BA was changed 4 weeks ago. From Gatwick to Tenerife. It is now Heathrow to Tenerife.

    And I am okay with that.

  12. Doug DeNunzio

    The way to go through correct TSA standpoints is to happen correctly in old planes of deltas aircraft in Atlanta.

  13. Martin

    they will never give up those valuable slots.
    As an EU airline Vueling might not be perfect for non-EU routes. So we should have a look at just founded Aer Lingus UK

  14. Alan

    Best news I’ve heard in years, Gatwick is nowhere near London, therefore should not be referred to as a London Airport, and British Airways Routes especially to Malaga, The Canary Islands always attracted a low calibre of customer’s which you do not see or come across at London Heathrow or London City Airport , very happy to hear this news , British Airways should now concentrate on a profitable business of a quality and sophisticated clientele.

    1. Ryan R

      It's only 30 minutes from Victoria on the train...

    2. seat1Cnew

      Gatwick can be reached by 3 different rail services in about 30/40 minutes from central London, 2 of which charge "normal" rail fares rather than Heathrow or Gatwick Express type prices. It's much easier to get to from the City than Heathrow (at least until the Elizabeth Line opens, when it'll be pretty much a dead heat).
      Heathrow may be slightly closer, but unless you're travelling from the Paddington area, the Heathrow Express saves...

      Gatwick can be reached by 3 different rail services in about 30/40 minutes from central London, 2 of which charge "normal" rail fares rather than Heathrow or Gatwick Express type prices. It's much easier to get to from the City than Heathrow (at least until the Elizabeth Line opens, when it'll be pretty much a dead heat).
      Heathrow may be slightly closer, but unless you're travelling from the Paddington area, the Heathrow Express saves little time in getting there - and it's extortionate to use in any case.

    3. seat1Cnew

      Gatwick can be reached by 3 different rail services in about 30/40 minutes from central London, 2 of which charge "normal" rail fares rather than Heathrow or Gatwick Express type prices. It's much easier to get to from the City than Heathrow (at least until the Elizabeth Line opens, when it'll be pretty much a dead heat).
      Heathrow may be slightly closer, but unless you're travelling from the Paddington area, the Heathrow Express saves...

      Gatwick can be reached by 3 different rail services in about 30/40 minutes from central London, 2 of which charge "normal" rail fares rather than Heathrow or Gatwick Express type prices. It's much easier to get to from the City than Heathrow (at least until the Elizabeth Line opens, when it'll be pretty much a dead heat).
      Heathrow may be slightly closer, but unless you're travelling from the Paddington area, the Heathrow Express saves little time in getting there - and it's extortionate to use in any case.
      Your comment about a "quality and sophisticated clientele" reminds me of Basil Fawlty!

    4. Grey

      From St Pancras, Gatwick takes 40 minutes, and Heathrow takes an hour and change. Plus, the trains run 24 hours. If you have a very early flight from Heathrow, you need to take a bus, which takes 2 hours. Gatwick is hardly my favourite London airport, but I certainly find it quicker and more comfortable to get to than Heathrow.

    5. johnH

      You really should learn how to use an apostrophe before describing people as low calibre...

    6. Eskimo

      Rubbish!!

      If Gatwick is nowhere near London, then Heathrow is also nowhere near London.

      By the way @Alan, for me, as a high calibre and sophisticated clientele who uses only LHR and LCY. You know too much about LGW like you've flown there before. So stay away from me. I do not wish to come across you. Her majesty also told you to eat cake.

    7. Janice

      Low calibre of customers! So sorry that you think people going to Malaga from Gatwick are below you. Dear oh dear what a complete snob.

  15. rrapynot

    Totally a power play to get the unions onboard. BA need leisure routes out of LGW so it’s frequent flyers can burn Avios and to keep other airlines from taking market share. They will not give up on LGW.

  16. JC

    Is BA giving up on its Gatwick to Marrakesh flights?

    1. Alex

      It's now Heathrow-Marrakesh

    2. Creditcrunch

      With Virgin Atlantic also currently not operating out of LGW I wonder if BA sees a gap in the market to increase its leisure routes and frequencies, MCO LAS BGI CUN NAS and POS are a few that come to mind.

    3. Douglas DeNunzio

      The guidelines vary on what the old planes are from a320s to a330s.

  17. keitherson

    Very fair and thoughtful remarks, Lucky. People should be skeptical of BA management.

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Ryan R

It's only 30 minutes from Victoria on the train...

Grey

From St Pancras, Gatwick takes 40 minutes, and Heathrow takes an hour and change. Plus, the trains run 24 hours. If you have a very early flight from Heathrow, you need to take a bus, which takes 2 hours. Gatwick is hardly my favourite London airport, but I certainly find it quicker and more comfortable to get to than Heathrow.

seat1Cnew

Gatwick can be reached by 3 different rail services in about 30/40 minutes from central London, 2 of which charge "normal" rail fares rather than Heathrow or Gatwick Express type prices. It's much easier to get to from the City than Heathrow (at least until the Elizabeth Line opens, when it'll be pretty much a dead heat). Heathrow may be slightly closer, but unless you're travelling from the Paddington area, the Heathrow Express saves little time in getting there - and it's extortionate to use in any case. Your comment about a "quality and sophisticated clientele" reminds me of Basil Fawlty!

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