We have for a long time reported on low-cost carriers going on the offensive against legacy operators in leisure markets and more so recently on how they are now also introducing competitive offers into major city markets. However, this week we have seen the news that British Airways is to enter one of the UK’s low-cost carrier strongholds and launch passenger flights from London Stansted.
Alongside its hub offering at London Heathrow, long- and short-haul predominantly leisure links from London Gatwick and business flights from London City, BA will introduce a leisure programme from London Stansted during summer 2016 to the popular holiday sunspots of Faro, Malaga, Palma and Ibiza. These will be operated by its subsidiary BA CityFlyer using 98-seat Embraer 190 jets, which are usually based at London City Airport.
"This is a fantastic opportunity for us to expand our London network and to give our customers even more choice of where to fly from this summer,” said Luke Hayhoe, BA’s General Manager Commercial and Customer at BA CityFlyer.
"Stansted is a growing airport and we will be offering a full scheduled service to some of the most popular European holiday destinations, complementing our existing services from other London airports," he added.
The new routes will launch from May 28, 2016 and will operate on a weekly schedule with flights to Ibiza, Malaga and Palma on Saturdays and Faro on Sundays. These are all markets currently served by BA from at least two other London airports – City and Heathrow, while Ibiza, Faro and Malaga are also served from Gatwick.
This growth will place BA in direct competition with the more frequent operations of Ryanair on all four routes, while easyJet regularly serves the three Spanish markets from Stansted and Thomas Cook Airlines offers holiday packages to both the Balearic Islands from the London airport.
BA’s arrival at Stansted will provide better accessibility for customers from parts of London, the Cambridge area and the growing east of England region and will provide options for frequent flyers in these areas to use and gain loyalty points while taking leisure getaways.
"I am delighted to welcome British Airways to Stansted and very much look forward to the launch of its first ever scheduled flights from the airport in May this year,” said Andrew Harrison, Managing Director, Stansted Airport at MAG Airports.
"Since we acquired Stansted, our focus has been on attracting a wider choice of airlines and these new services to Faro, Malaga, Palma and Ibiza are strong additions to our route network, which now covers over 170 destinations across Europe and North America,” he added.