Gatwick

The Airports Commission this morning published an interim report into possible options to expand UK airport capacity

Three options were shorlisted, with the Boris Island being also mentioned as receiving further consideration. The final report is expected in 2015.

The three short-listed options (two of which relate to Heathrow) adding a third runway at Heathrow, lengthening an existing runway at Heathrow, and a new runway at Gatwick.

Stansted and Birmingham appear to have been ruled out at this stage, although they may be in contention in the more distant future.

Sir Howard Davies, said that the Commission’s analysis showed one net additional runway was needed by 2030.
He added that the capacity challenge is not yet critical, but it will become so if no action is taken soon.

The Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin made a statement to the House of Commons expressing his approval of the Airport Commission recommendations, stating the report “offers a clear recommendation that there is a need for a new runway capacity” in the medium term “to support continued competitiveness and prosperity”.

Flight delays today to persist until at least 14:00hrs

London Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, and Dublin airports are amongst those affected, due to a technical issue at the Sandwick Air Traffic Control Centre. Passengers are experiencing flight delays and cancellations.

Heathrow Airport had cancelled 60 flights by 9:45am this morning.

Some long haul flights inbound will be diverted to continental airports.

When the issues are fixed there will be a further period of disruption while services are re-arranged.

For live information BBC News.

As at 10:30am the BBC reported that BA customers on cancelled flights will be able to claim a full refund or be re-booked on an alternative flight.

British Airways’ holiday flights will be further boosted by more services from Gatwick to Salzburg, Naples, Dubrovnik, Marrakech and Catania during summer 2014.

Peter Simpson, British Airways’ director Gatwick, said:

“Expanding our leisure route network at Gatwick is fantastic news for British Airways customers, offering them even greater choice, along with our range of highly competitive fares, generous hand baggage allowances and great onboard service.”

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).

Gatwick North TerminalCommenting 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.”

Mr&MrsSmithAlthough 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.

British Airways daily 777 service to Accra

 

 

Reports in the Arabian press suggest that Emirates, the airline of Dubai, is contemplating entering the transatlantic market.

While there is no suggestion that any decision is remotely imminent, even the mention of it must bring a cold shudder to both British Airways & Virgin Atlantic.

British Airways HeathrowFrom a near standing start, Emirates now flies 5 A380s a day between Dubai & Heathrow, three times a day from Gatwick, twice from Manchester, Glasgow and Birmingham and once from Newcastle. From its hubs in the north of the UK alone, Emirates flew some 800,000 passengers last year.

Starting in October, Emirates will begin operating flights from Dubai to Milan and onwards to New York. Although current regulations currently prevent Emirates from carrying passengers between the UK & US, if this was to change it could have a massive effect on the UK aviation market.

With Heathrow already operating at near 100% capacity, Emirates would not be able to secure the necessary flights between the UK’s premier airport and the US. Outside of Heathrow however, there is still some spare slot capacity at London Gatwick and significant spare capacity at the UK’s regional airports.

Virgin Atlantic Aside from a few services between Gatwick and Las Vegas & Orlando, all British Airways flights to the US currently operate out of Heathrow. Virgin too operate the vast majority of their US flights from Heathrow & Gatwick with just a couple of seasonal services from Manchester & Glasgow.

With the Davies Commission currently looking into airport capacity in the UK, Heathrow and British Airways have jointly argued that the only solution is to increase capacity at Heathrow by building a 3rd runway. The Mayor of London disagrees with a new runway being built at Heathrow and instead wants a brand new, 4 runway airport built to the east of London.

Against this, regional airports and business leaders have, for some time now, argued against what they see as an entirely London-centric debate and sought to attract many more, direct, long-haul flights from the Midlands, North of England Scotland. Securing such flights from the likes of Birmingham & Manchester would, they argue, shift pent-up demand away from the south east and negate much of the need for new airport capacity in or around London.

If Emirates was to secure rights to carry passengers between the UK and US it could, in theory at least, flood the market with A380s (it will eventually have a fleet of over 90, by far the largest in the world) on flights between Dubai, Manchester & the US.

That is the theory, the reality is more complicated. Even if Emirates was granted permission to fly between the UK & the US, both New York & Chicago, its main targets, also suffer from capacity constraints and Emirates might not be able to secure the slots it requires. If it didn’t, is there really enough of a market for Emirates to fly passengers between Manchester and say Washington, Boston or Miami, especially on such large aircraft?

One of the reasons that British Airways stopped flying between Manchester and New York wasn’t a lack of leisure passengers; it was a lack of business traffic, especially at the front of the aircraft, the part where pretty much every airline in the world makes the majority if its profits. Nothing that Emirates can do will change this.

If Emirates were to secure traffic rights between the UK, and if they could gain the necessary slots in New York, and both are very big ’ifs’, there may be some mileage in offering flights between Manchester & New York. Beyond that, we don’t expect to see an armada of Emirates aircraft en-route to the US anytime soon.

** Update 26.07.13 – a statement this morning from an Emirates spokesperson reads as follows: “We have no immediate plans to operate a direct service between the UK and US.”

 

Emirates A380