British Airways doubled route network at London City in 2008; now #1 airline with New York A318 service starting later this year

Image: BA plane simulation
A simulation of what will follow: Starting in September British Airways’ LCY-JFK services will use two Airbus A318s in an all-business class configuration with just 32 seats. Due to the length of runway (just 1,508 metres) outbound flights will have to make a refuelling stop in Ireland, although returning services will be non-stop.

Flights to New York coming soon!

British Airways revealed plans last year to start transatlantic services from the airport using two Airbus A318s in an all-business class configuration with just 32 seats. Due to the prevailing winds and length of runway (just 1,508 metres), outbound flights will have to make a refuelling stop in Ireland. Returning flights from the US will operate non-stop. The flights will be operated by British Airways mainline operation and are expected to start in September.

While British Airways spent much of 2008 dealing with the negative publicity surrounding the disastrous launch of Heathrow Terminal 5, it has quietly been building its presence at another London airport. The UK flag carrier’s market share at London’s second biggest airport (Gatwick) continues to fall, and the airline has no presence at all at either of London’s northern airports (Luton and Stansted). However, during 2008 it doubled the number of routes served from London City airport (from six to 12) and has increased its share of capacity at the airport from 21% last winter to 31% at present. BA operates under the Cityflyer brand at the airport. This was the only part of BA’s regional services (known then as BA Connect) that was not sold to Flybe in November 2006.

Seven new routes added; Milan Malpensa dropped

Image: BA Route celebrations
Strategy for success- BA Cityflyer’s thrice-daily (weekdays) Dublin service began operations last June – one of seven new routes the carrier started from LCY in 2008, representing a strong year for the airport.

In the last year BA has added seven new destinations from London City with its growing fleet of four-engined Avro RJs of varying sizes. It now has 12 of the aircraft based at the airport.

Destination Start date BA frequency Competition (frequency)
Amsterdam 6 May 2008 21 VLM (45), KLM (4)
Barcelona 6 May 2008 6 None
Dublin 1 June 2008 21 Air France (28)
Geneva 15 December 2008 4 Air France (28), Swiss (42)
Lyon 20 December 2008 2 None
Nice 30 March 2008 6 Air France (2)
Warsaw 6 May 2008 6 None
Source: database and OAG Max Online
Note: Warsaw route ends on 5 January 2009. Air France services operated by CityJet.

As a result the number of weekly departures has grown by almost 40% from 121 to 168 and the airline is now the biggest single carrier at the airport with a 31% share of seat capacity. However, if the networks of KLM, Air France and VLM are combined then SkyTeam airlines have around 42%. Star Alliance with Lufthansa, SAS and Swiss, has a combined share of around 23%.

Chart: BA’s network from London City - Weekly departures W08 v W07
Source: OAG Max Online

However, BA dropped its Milan Malpensa service at the end of last winter and has just dropped the Warsaw route as well. For the first three quarters of 2008 traffic at the airport was growing by more than 10% but in October traffic was up just 1.4% and fell 4.3% in November. December traffic however was up 10%.

Airline capacity is down this winter with Austrian having pulled its Vienna route in mid-August, and Air France (flights operated by Irish based CityJet) dropping its Belfast City flights in May. Lufthansa recently dropped its Hamburg service as well. The airport served around 3.27 million passengers in 2008 up 12% on 2007. BA franchise partner Sun-Air of Denmark will be commencing twice daily flights from Billund on 19 January using Dornier 328s.


  1. BG says:

    London City Airport expansion has brakes put on.
    Newham Council planning has deferred the decision on LCA expansion as they have had legal challenges on the section 106.
    1. The race equality impact assessment has not been carried out.
    2. The Climate change affects LCA has on the local community has not been looked into correctly.
    At this time LCA has not been given final approval until these areas are looked into. If it’s not passed the approval could be pulled.

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