London – Newcastle air traffic back to pre-9/11 levels; BA, easyJet and Flybe share market

Gatwick-Newcastle: British Airways pulled out, tried and failed before Flybe entered the route and won the passengers’ hearts.

While several UK regional airports have seen their services to London Heathrow squeezed out by a variety of factors (at the beginning of the summer season bmi axed routes from Heathrow to Jersey, Durham Tees Valley and Leeds/Bradford), Newcastle has had no trouble maintaining direct services to Europe’s busiest airport thanks to British Airways.

In recent years the London – Newcastle routes has seen some changes starting with the failure of Gill Air in September 2001, who used to operate to London Stansted using ATR 72s. In November 2001 Go launched the route initially with two, and then three daily frequencies.

This helped push the total city-pair market to over one million passengers in 2003, by which time easyJet had taken over Go and increased the frequency to four daily flights.

Chart: London - Newcastle annual passengers
Source: UK CAA

Gatwick service provider keeps changing

While the Heathrow market remained fairly stable, London Gatwick has seen several changes. In 2001 the route was operated by CityFlyer Express, a British Airways (BA) franchise carrier. BA continued to operate the route until the end of the 2006/07 winter season. Then Leeds/Bradford-based low-cost carrier took over the route operating three daily flights using a wet-leased BAe 146-300 operated by Flightline. A year later the airline withdrew and was replaced by Flybe who also operate three daily flights on weekdays. Current schedule data shows that BA has 39 weekly departures from London Heathrow (average aircraft size 157 seats), easyJet now has just 13 weekly departures from London Stansted (using 156-seat A319s) and Flybe has 25 weekly departures using its 78-seat Q400s.

Neither London Luton nor London City services have prospered at any time during the last 12 years, though Eastern Airways did offer London City services for a while in 2006.


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