Vueling To Open London Gatwick Base
International Airlines Group is increasing competition with easyJet at the UK’s second largest airport.
Vueling, the low-cost sister airline of British Airways (BA) and Iberia, has announced an expansion from London Gatwick (LGW) as part of its summer 2022 flying program.
The Spanish carrier plans to operate 12 short-haul routes from the UK’s second largest airport, five of which are new additions. Three of its aircraft will be based at Gatwick from April.
The move further increases the number of low-cost seats offered by International Airlines Group-owned airlines from Gatwick, with BA set to launch a new short-haul unit at airport in March. LCC easyJet is currently the largest operator by capacity, while Wizz Air is growing after acquiring a portfolio of slots from Norwegian.
Vueling already flies to LGW from Barcelona (BCN), Bilbao (BIO), Santiago de Compostela (SCQ) and Valencia (VLC), as well as to Paris Orly (ORY), Rome Fiumicino (FCO) and Florence (FLR).
The latest expansion will see the LCC begin flying to Granada (GRX), La Coruña (LCG), Malaga (AGP), Menorca (MAH) and Seville (SVQ). Of the five new routes, Vueling will face direct competition on three of them.
Data provided by OAG Schedules Analyser shows that easyJet will this summer serve Malaga, Menorca and Seville, with TUI Airways present in the Malaga and Menorca markets. Wizz Air will also serve Gatwick-Malaga.
In addition, BA will offer flights to Malaga from both Gatwick and London Heathrow (LHR), as well from Gatwick to Menorca and Seville.
Vueling has not confirmed whether the new base will be temporary until BA’s new short-haul carrier—expected to be called BAEuroFlyer—is fully up and running. However, the airline is understood to be using BA slots that are not currently needed.
Carolyn Prowse, chief commercial, strategy and network officer at Vueling, said the expansion was “thanks to the coordination with British Airways which enables us to offer the best joint product from London to help grow our markets.”
She added: “This commitment from London Gatwick is in addition to our expanded operations from Paris Orly. Together, these two initiatives showcase how Vueling aims to help boost international markets this summer.”
In late 2021, Vueling launched 28 services from Paris Orly following approval by the European Commission for 18 slots as part of the recapitalisation of Air France. Six UK airports—Belfast (BFS), Birmingham (BHX), Cardiff (CWL), Edinburgh (EDI), Glasgow (GLA) and Newcastle (NCL)—were among the destinations to receive new routes.
Cardiff Airport CEO Spencer Birns welcomed the news that Vueling plans to continue the Cardiff-Paris Orly route into the summer season and increase frequencies from 2X-weekly to 3X-weekly. The LCC also plans to fly to Cardiff from Alicante (ALC), Malaga and Palma de Mallorca (PMI) this summer.
“We’ve been working hard to re-instate key routes following the impact of the pandemic, and we’d like to thank Vueling for seeing the opportunity at Cardiff to operate more flights to one of our most in-demand destinations,” Birns said.