MIAMI – Following the step down of British Airways (BA) CEO Alex Cruz, the airline is set to further shift operations from London Gatwick Airport (LGW) to London Heathrow Airport (LHR) while focusing on an increase in vacation flights to Barbados.

The shift from LGW to LHR represents a consolidation of operations, with BA having previously removed short haul flights, the airline is now moving long-haul flights including those to Male (MLE) in the Maldives and Bridgetown (BGI) in Barbados to LHR.

Regarding the recent cuts, aviation analyst John Strickland said it is unclear as “to what extent BA will stay at Gatwick, and it could potentially maintain part of its slot portfolio there by leasing out some slots to other airlines”.

Having operated up to 48 departures daily at LGW, a shift away from the airport would certainly hurt, with LGW going through restructuring following a GPB£321 million loss posted in June.

British Airways Boeing 777-200 at FLL Photo: © Max Taubman – @maximumaviation

A Leisure Focus

With a rise in video conferencing and near collapse in business travel resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, BA plans to focus on leisure flights to BGI, MLE, and Bermuda (BDA) from LHR.

The LHR location, while representing consolidation, also draws from affluent suburbs of West London, providing convenience to well-heeled holidaymakers who will pay extra.

Nevertheless, fare prices will have to be cut in premium cabins, as put by John Strickland, “tactical pricing offers are likely in the short term to fill the excess capacity of premium cabins”.

Now-Retired British Airways Boeing 747-400 at MIA Photo: © Max Taubman – @maximumaviation

An Uncertain Future

British Airways is also advocating for air corridor between LHR and New York (JFK), with the airline running 2 flights a day in comparison to the previous 12 offered, such a corridor could potentially be similar to the one recently announced between Singapore (SIN) and Hong Kong (HKG).

The airline also wants the industry to introduce a COVID-19 testing program that passengers can take up to 72 hours before departure.

The cutbacks from LGW along with the retirement of the Boeing 747 fleet merely represent necessary steps for the financial survival of the airline via consolidation.

With a shift to LHR and a bet on leisure travel, BA is taking a short term bet, a bet that shall hopefully allow for the survival of the airline along with a potential for enhanced business when travelers are more comfortable returning to the skies.

Featured image: British Airways Boeing 777-236ER [G-VIIB] | Photo: © Aaron Davis