Flag carrier of the UK, British Airways (BA) has announced plans to launch a new service between London Gatwick and Valencia for the coming winter season.
The route to Spain’s third largest city will start on November 6 with four flights per week, which will increase to six per week for the summer 2016 season.
Service to Valencia will initially operate on Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday during the winter season, increasing to include Monday and Thursday for the summer 2016 season.
Lynne Embleton, British Airways’ managing director at Gatwick said: “Valencia is one of Spain’s cultural gems offering a huge range of sights and activities for holiday-makers throughout the year.”
Valencia, which is famous for its numerous festivals, historic buildings and museums, is one of Spain’s most popular destinations.
“Our new flights to Valencia mean even more choice for BA customers and mark the latest in a long line of popular new routes we’ve launched this year from Gatwick,” she added.
BA have announced a number of new routes from London Gatwick this year, including Cagliari, Madeira, Seville, Sharm el Sheikh and Vienna. Other new destinations launched by the airline include flights from Heathrow to Corfu, Kos, Olbia, Split and Kuala Lumpur and from London City to Mykonos and Santorini.
The key new BA network link to the UK capital will complement the existing low-fare operators on the Valencia – London city pair and has been a key target for Turismo Valencia to further enhance connectivity to the Spanish city.
Over recent years the destination marketing agency has Routes events to directly meet, educate and influence airlines to the value proposition of Valencia as a year-round destination. In fact the efforts of the organisation were recognised with the award in the best Marketing Destination category at last year’s event in Marseille, France.
“We were delighted to be recognised last year and confident that our efforts and attendance at the Routes forums would play an important role in the delivery of key new routes to Valencia. This example from BA is just one of a number of new routes we see coming to fruition as a result of our meetings and event attendance,” Miguel Angel Pérez, aviation manager, Turismo Valencia told Routesonline this week following the British Airways announcement.
Through its Fly Valencia promotional campaign, Turismo Valencia has been courting the return of BA to the city for the past six years, but with a focus on securing a link to London Heathrow to complement the existing offering it has from other London airports.
At this year’s Routes Europe in Aberdeen, Scotland, they were told by the UK carrier that a Heathrow service was not an option at the current time, but that BA was considering new winter routes from London Gatwick that could be served on a year-round basis.
“We had previously been in the running for a possible summer 2015 service but was not successful, so we are delighted that we will see this new connection start this winter and then grow in frequency for summer 2016,” said Pérez.
Valencia is the third largest city in Spain after Madrid and Barcelona and Pérez believes it is an ideal year-round destination for the world’s airlines.
“We are really focussing our efforts on selling Valencia as a year-round destination. It is a perfect destination for the world’s airlines who can allocate their aircraft resources into the market safe in the knowledge we have strong summer and winter demand,” he said.
Over a ten year period between 2003 and 2013, the city of Valencia has seen an 85 per cent increase in overnight stays and a 72 per cent increase in the number of visitors, following a positive trend year after year, largely thanks to international tourism, which makes up 60 per cent of the demand. In 2015 an extra 100,000 visitors were recorded in the city and latest statistics show Valencia Airport welcomed ten per cent more passengers in June 2015 versus the same month last year.
According to Pérez, data has played an important role in its network successes, including the destination’s own fare analysis to counter concerns over the impact of competition from existing airport users easyJet and Ryanair.
“This analysis showed that Valencia offered a yield over 30 per cent more than other main Spanish cities such as Barcelona, Madrid, Alicante, Malaga etc,” he explained, also praising the role of a especially produced promotional video ‘Valencia: a winter perfect destination’ which can be viewed below.
Alongside the new BA link, Eurowings recently revealed that it would link Valencia to its new Vienna base in summer 2016 with twice weekly flights. Other winter routes have been secured to Berlin and Cologne-Bonn from Ryanair; Prague through to January 2016 with Smartwings, while Tarom has continued its winter link to Bucharest. On the domestic front, Vueling this week also confirmed plans to offer a three times weekly link to Valencia from Bilbao and twice weekly services from Malaga for winter 2015/2016.
Our analysis of OAG Schedules Analyser data shows capacity on the new BA route between London Gatwick and Valencia has steadily increased over the past ten years, though overall seat capacity between the UK and Valencia has gradually declined between 2005 and 2014.
British Airways are resuming the link between London Gatwick and Valencia after operating the route until 2006. They will be competing directly with easyJet who have increased their capacity on the route over the past ten years, after previously serving the Valencia market from London’s Stansted Airport.
easyJet operated the London Stansted – Valencia route until 2008, leaving it wide open to Ryanair, who have also since reduced their capacity on the route.