Over the summer we first learned that British Airways planned to launch a low cost carrier subsidiary based at London Gatwick Airport (LGW). This concept is now about to become a reality, as British Airways has announced initial routes and has put tickets on sale.
Basics of British Airways’ Gatwick short haul subsidiary
British Airways will be launching its new Gatwick service as of March 2022. Here’s what has officially been announced about the new subsidiary concept:
- Initially this service will be operated by mainline British Airways aircraft, and then it’s expected that the new subsidiary (known as EuroFlyer) will be formally launched later in 2022, when an Air Operators Certificate (AOC) is obtained for the new entity
- The new service will initially operate with three Airbus narrow body aircraft, and by the end of May 2022 there should be 18 aircraft
- Passengers traveling out of Gatwick in Euro Traveller (economy class) can expect similar service to what they’d get out of Heathrow, including complimentary water and snacks, food and drinks for purchase, seat assignments for free 24 hours out, complimentary hand baggage on most fares, etc.
- Passengers traveling out of Gatwick in Club Europe (business class) can expect similar service to what they’d get out of Heathrow, including blocked middle seats, and complimentary food and drinks
- Since the airline is hiring flight attendants, we know that flight attendants at the new Gatwick subsidiary will earn basic pay of £15,848 per year, and up to £24,000 per year with bonuses and flight pay; flight attendants also won’t have overnight layovers, and will return to Gatwick every night
- The new subsidiary is described as “competing with carriers like Easyjet and Wizz, whilst ensuring we stand out from the crowds through our unique British Airways service”
British Airways reveals 35 short haul routes out of Gatwick
British Airways has today revealed the 35 routes that we can expect to initially see operated out of Gatwick. Tickets go on sale as of today, Tuesday, December 14, 2021. Here are the routes we should expect, listed by launch date:
- Amsterdam, Netherlands, as of March 29, 2022
- Larnaca, Cyprus, as of March 29, 2022
- Paphos, Cyprus, as of March 29, 2022
- Seville, Spain, as of March 29, 2022
- Tenerife, Spain, as of March 29, 2022
- Verona, Italy, as of March 29, 2022
- Arrecife, Spain, as of March 30, 2022
- Faro, Portugal, as of March 30, 2022
- Malta, Malta, as of March 30, 2022
- Catania, Italy, as of March 31, 2022
- Malaga, Spain, as of March 31, 2022
- Marrakech, Morocco, as of March 31, 2022
- Nice, France, as of March 31, 2022
- Alicante, Spain, as of April 1, 2022
- Antalya, Turkey, as of April 2, 2022
- Las Palmas, Spain, as of April 2, 2022
- Bari, Italy, as of April 3, 2022
- Dubrovnik, Croatia, as of April 4, 2022
- Turin, Italy, as of April 4, 2022
- Ibiza, Spain, as of April 5, 2022
- Palma, Spain, as of April 7, 2022
- Berlin, Germany, as of April 8, 2022
- Venice, Italy, as of April 8, 2022
- Mahon, Spain, as of April 11, 2022
- Madrid, Spain, as of April 14, 2022
- Thessaloniki, Greece, as of April 14, 2022
- Bordeaux, France, as of April 15, 2022
- Milan, Italy, as of April 15, 2022
- Santorini, Greece, as of April 15, 2022
- Cagliari, Italy, as of April 17, 2022
- Dalaman, Turkey, as of April 23, 2022
- Heraklion, Greece, as of April 24, 2022
- Kos, Greece, as of April 24, 2022
- Rhodes, Greece, as of April 28, 2022
- Athens, Greece, as of May 4, 2022
British Airways’ tricky Gatwick situation
For some context on why British Airways is setting up a subsidiary at Gatwick, the airline had been trying to decide what to do with Gatwick even before the pandemic:
- Both Gatwick and Heathrow are slot restricted, with Heathrow slots being especially expensive and hard to come by
- With demand having been down during the pandemic, British Airways understandably largely consolidated operations at Heathrow, to be more efficient
- During the pandemic British Airways operated a skeleton schedule out of Gatwick — the airline operated select long haul flights, but cut its short-haul network altogether
- While requirements to use slots have been relaxed for the time being, eventually the requirements will be restored, and it’s anyone’s guess when British Airways will get back to pre-coronavirus passenger numbers
- There had been talk of British Airways pulling out of Gatwick altogether, though understandably British Airways tried to avoid that
So from a passenger experience standpoint, there won’t be much that differentiates the Gatwick experience from the Heathrow experience. Rather the low cost aspect of this subsidiary comes from the labor savings that British Airways is achieving by hiring separate crews.
British Airways will be relaunching short haul operations out of Heathrow as of March 2022. By May 2022, the airline will have 18 Airbus aircraft based at Gatwick, at which point the airline will operate 35 routes from the airport.
Interestingly initially this service will be operated by standard British Airways aircraft, until an AOC is acquired later in 2022 (at which point the flights will technically be operated by a new subsidiary).
The low cost aspect of this operation comes down to labor costs. Clearly this is a play to hire employees under a worse contract, because otherwise the experience out of Gatwick will match what’s available out of Heathrow.
What do you make of British Airways’ new Gatwick-based operations?