MIAMI – British Airways announced new service from London Gatwick to Las Vegas and Toronto, Canada beginning in Spring 2018, growing its trans-Atlantic presence at its secondary London hub.
Las Vegas’ service will begin on March 27, 2018, with three flights per week on Tuesday, Friday, and Sunday. Service to Toronto will begin roughly a month later on May 1, 2018, and will also encompass three flights per week on Tuesdays, Fridays, and Sundays. Both routes will be served with Boeing 777-200ER equipment.
The service to Las Vegas is a resumption of previously operated flying from London Gatwick while Toronto is an entirely new destination. The two North American hubs are the fifth and sixth new destination to be announced from Gatwick in 2017, and grow British Airways’ destination portfolio at the airport to 71: 24 long haul and 47 short haul.
Las Vegas route will face direct competition at Gatwick from ultra-low-cost carrier (ULCC) Norwegian Air Shuttle and from longtime rival Virgin Atlantic, which has flown the route for more than two decades.
Meanwhile, the Toronto flight will face seasonal competition from Air Canada Rouge (the low-cost arm of Canadian flag carrier Air Canada) and a year-round fight with Canadian low-cost carriers (LCCs) Air Transat and WestJet.
And of course, down the road at London Heathrow, British Airways’ own flights to Toronto and Las Vegas along with Air Canada’s multiple daily flights to Toronto will also compete with and cannibalize these new services.
The broader takeaway is that these new routes are merely the latest iteration in British Airways’ increasingly pitched battle to defend its turf at Gatwick.
In the period between 2000 and 2012, British Airways essentially morphed into “Heathrow Airways,” with its operation at Gatwick remaining relatively static.
While there was plenty of leisure-oriented demand growth in the London market during that period, British Airways didn’t have to face much expansion of LCC competition specifically at Gatwick (Ryanair and co. largely grew at Stansted and Luton).
But since 2012, Norwegian has steadily built major short and long haul operating bases at London Gatwick, in particular launching seven new long haul flights to the U.S. and announcing four more (along with new routes to Buenos Aires and Singapore).
When 34 short haul destinations it serves are added in, Norwegian’s route network at Gatwick poses a genuine threat to British Airways’ profitable niche at Gatwick. Thus it is no surprise that in British Airways’ own words:
Since 2012, British Airways has begun Gatwick services to Cape Town, Fort Lauderdale, New York, Oakland, Lima, Punta Cana, San Jose (Costa Rica), Lanzarote, Alicante, Barcelona, Cagliari, Dalaman, Friedrichshafen, Funchal, Fuerteventura, Grenoble, Heraklion, Larnaca, Limoges, Malta, Porto, Rhodes, Seville, Tenerife, Vienna and Valencia. Gatwick will also introduce a new flight to Nuremberg this winter.
Moving forward, the competitive pressure from Norwegian will in all likelihood drive even more long haul growth from British Airways at Gatwick. The long haul boom at London’s second airport is now in full swing.