Despite the ragged environment for premium-class transatlantic service, especially in the financial-services sector, British Airways is going ahead with plans to start twice-daily all-business-class service between London City Airport and JFK on Sept. 29. Tickets go on sale tomorrow.
[UPDATE: In response to a query, British Airways says the walk-up unrestricted fare is $12,290 "plus tax and charges." A B.A. spokeswoman adds, "There are also advance-purchase fares with semi-flexibility ranging from $5,000 to $10,446, all plus tax and charge." I myself would expect that B.A. will introduce some other promotional fares to prime that pump before Fall.]
British Airways will use specially configured Airbus A318s on the route, because an A318 is the largest aircraft that can be used on the runway at London City Airport, which is close to London's financial centers in the City and in the nearby Docklands.
The A318s will have 32 seats that convert to lie-flat beds. The planes will offer the OnAir communications service that enables text and voice messaging via cellphones, laptops and other devices.
Because of weight restrictions at London City, the A318s on westbound flights will not be non-stops. They will need to take off with a light load of fuel and stop in Shannon, Ireland, to be fully fueled for the trip across the Atlantic. Passengers will be able to clear U.S. Customs and immigration during the time spent at Shannon, British Airways said.
The JFK-London City trip will be flown nonstop, with no need for refueling.