British Airways have announced that they will be adding a 10th 777-200 to their Gatwick fleet.
The additional aircraft will lead to an additional 3 weekly flights to Orlando, plus 1 extra flight per week to St Lucia, Antigua, Kingston (Jamaica) and Punta Cana (Dominican Republic).
Commenting on the news, Peter Simpson, the airline’s Gatwick director stated: “From next year our customers will be able to fly more often to many of our most popular destinations. Adding an extra Boeing 777 to our Gatwick fleet has enabled us to enhance our fantastic flying schedule by increasing flights to our top leisure destinations, giving our customers even more choice. With so much to choose from holiday-makers are spoilt for choice; from our 13 flights a week to Orlando to our brilliant daily service to St Lucia, everyone will get a stunning start to their holidays with British Airways.”
Although British Airways main hub has always been London Heathrow, capacity constraints, as well as lower costs, have meant that much of the airline’s long-haul leisure fleet has been based at London Gatwick. The airline’s 10 Boeing 777-200s based at Gatwick serve destinations within the Caribbean, Florida (excluding Miami), Cancun in Mexico, Sri Lanka and the Maldives.
British Airways also operates an extensive short-haul network from Gatwick, again mainly aimed at the leisure market, but with intense pressure from the ever growing easyjet, any future growth at London’s second airport will surely only come from further expansion of its long-haul market.
While the Caribbean is already well served by British Airways (Havana is a notable exception), and Cancun has proven a great success, the main limiting factor as far any future growth is concerned is a combination of mileage and aircraft, ie potential future destinations such Phuket, Penang and Bali are all too far to be (profitably) operated by 777-200s. The new generation 787 Dreamliners and Airbus A350s will be game changers in terms of reach and economics but anyone expecting to see these new aircraft at Gatwick, at least in British Airways colours, is in for a very long wait.