Sunday, September 27, 2009
British Airways All-Business-Class Service from London City Airport to JFK Starts Tuesday
Challenging all conventional wisdom, British Airways is starting all-business-class service between London City Airport and Kennedy on Tuesday.
B.A. is using Airbus A318 aircraft on the route. The cabins have a mere eight rows, with 32 full-flat-bed Club World business class seats. Food and other services are top-shelf.
Because London City airport has a short runway and various weight restrictions, the A318 will take off light on fuel on the westbound trip, and stop at Shannon airport in Ireland to gas up. That should take about 45 minutes, says B.A.
Passengers will clear U.S. Customs and Immigration at Shannon, which should make for a low-hassle arrival at Kennedy.
The New York-London City trip is nonstop.
British Airways has insisted that there is enough demand for a top-priced business class product (about $9,800 round-trip according to the B.A. Web site) on this route, given the convenience London City Airport offers to Canary Wharf (15 minutes away) and the financial district.
Do the numbers -- only 32 high-yield passengers each way -- and the move doesn't seem too far-fetched. The long-haul business-jet market is in a severe slump, and this arguably is a niche with appeal to the G5 bereft.
We'll see. At any rate, it's nice to see someone doing something optimistic in the airline business. B.A. has even taken the grand old Concorde flight code out of retirement and slapped it on the London City service: BA001.