Why Don’t British Airways Fly The Airbus A380 To New York?

London to New York is one of British Airways’ most prestigious routes. Including codeshares with American Airlines, it operates around 16 times per day between the two cities. With this in mind, you may think “Why doesn’t BA Fly the Airbus A380 to New York?”. Simple Flying investigates.

British Airways, Brexit, Willie Walsh
British Airways doesn’t operate the Airbus A380 on its New York route. Photo: Tom Boon – Simple Flying

With the number of daily flights between London to New York, you might think it could be better to operate a couple of Airbus A380s on the route. After all, the demand is clearly there. However, is this the best option?

Clearly not as British Airways, a leader on the route have never operated the aircraft on that route. In fact, only one single Airbus A380 ever has operated from London to New York.


A key consideration in planning any aircraft route is “can the destination take my aircraft?”. Indeed, Norwegian found this out the hard way when they chartered HiFly’s Airbus A380 around a year ago. Due to the ongoing Trent 1000 engine crisis, the carrier was down a Boeing 787, and the A380 was what replaced it.

HiFly A380
Hi Fly’s Airbus A380 was flown to New York by Norwegian last year. Photo: HiFly

Unfortunately, according to One Mile At A Time, this was not a huge success. At the time Norwegian’s Airbus A380 was due to land at JFK, Terminal 1’s existing Airbus A380 gates were saturated, meaning that the Norwegian flight was delayed every day. This eventually led to the airline temporarily rescheduling their flights rather than sit on the ground at JFK.

Timing is everything

While the above point is certainly interesting, it is not something that would necessarily give British Airways a hard time. British Airways utilizes Terminal 7 at JFK, where they could conceivably convert gates to take Airbus A380s if necessary. However, the airline instead opts to operate both the Boeing 747 and 777 on the London to JFK route. While British Airways is due to retire the Boeing 747 before too long, it will operate its new Club Suite to JFK on select Boeing 777 flights.

In 2014 Simon Calder of the Independent wrote:

“There are evening flights from JFK as little as 20 minutes apart. That schedule is ideal for high-value executives who travel on flexible tickets and are unsure what time they will get to the airport: if there is a seat is available, and there usually is, they just step aboard the next flight.”

British Airways Airbus A380 New York
British Airways operates the Boeing 747 and 777 to New York. Photo: Tom Boon – Simple Flying

While that figure is now as little as 30 minutes apart, the principle still stands. Between London and New York, frequency is key. As such, if the airline was to put Airbus A380s into the schedule, and cut the number of flights, then the convenience of frequent departures would be lost. This could lead passengers to switch to another airline with more flexibility.

Is flexibility a key factor in flying between London and New York for you? Let us know in the comments!