LONDON, UK: British Airways' first Boeing 787 Dreamliner arrives at London Heathrow on 27 June 2013 (Picture by Jeff Garrish/British Airways)

MIAMI – British Airways confirmed today a new nonstop service between Nashville International Airport (BNA) and London Heathrow (LHR) set to begin in May 2018. The route will be operated five days a week on the carrier’s Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner.

The route has been heavily rumored over the last three years ever since Nashville was named one of five finalists for a nonstop flight on British Airways. As part of its planned $1.2 billion expansion called BNA Vision, the airport has begun construction of a new international arrivals hall.

“Nashville has all the qualities that we look for in a new destination, a fast growing economy, thriving cultural scene and strong connections to Europe. We know British tourists will be excited to discover Music City and are looking forward to welcoming new customers from Tennessee on board very soon,” said Simon Brooks, British Airways’ Senior Vice President for North America.

The first flight, BA223, will depart from LHR at 3:45pm and arrive into BNA at 6:50pm; BA222 will depart Nashville at 8.20pm, arriving in London at 10.30am the next day. All in local times.

British Airways’ Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner will seat 214 customers across three cabins, with 154 seats in World Traveller (Economy), 25 seats in World Traveller Plus (Premium Economy) and 35 seats in Club World (Business).  All customers will be able to enjoy free meals, beverages, individual widescreen TV screens with complimentary on-demand entertainment, and a free checked bag.

“This is a big day not just for Nashville but for all of Tennessee because London is a gateway to and from all of Europe,” said Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam. “Having a direct connection to London and Europe opens up Tennessee to even more investment and economic opportunities…we want to thank British Airways for today’s announcement that will undoubtedly help us strengthen current and build new relationships in Europe.”

Nashville already had a nonstop flight to London in the mid-1990s when BNA was a hub for American Airlines (AA) and the carrier operated a direct flight to London. The service ceased in 1996 with AA ending arrangements with Nashville Airport, leading to a final closure of the hub.

American said the aftermath of the early 1990s recession and the lack of local passengers were the main reasons for the decision.

“Over the last two years, I have worked closely with Governor Haslam and more than 50 city, state, business, and community leaders to make Nashville International Airport truly live up to its name by bringing a non-stop transatlantic flight between London and Music City,” said Nashville Mayor Megan Barry. “With Nashville as the leading economic engine in the state, this new service will be a difference maker as the city’s momentum continues on all fronts – business development and tourism.”

Nashville Airport has more than 13.5 million travelers for the fiscal year ending on June 30, marking an increase of over 1 million passengers from the previous 12 months.