Effective September 8, 2019, British Airways has closed reservations for its London Gatwick to Fort Lauderdale service after two years in operation.
What are the details?
British Airways commenced service on July 6th, 2017 to Fort Lauderdale, FL, operating 3x times weekly using a three-class Boeing 777-200ER. The route was believed to have launched to compete directly with low-cost carrier Norwegian Airlines, as British Airways announced the start of flights to Fort Lauderdale just months after Norwegian started their service from Gatwick.
In 2017, Norwegian was viewed as a major competitor to British Airways. After Norwegian commenced flights to both Oakland and Fort Lauderdale, British Airways just had to compete with Norwegian on both of these routes. However, since then, Norwegian has seen a $171 million loss in their 2019 first quarter and has proven to be less of a concern for British Airways.
Last month, Norwegian moved its Gatwick service from Fort Lauderdale to Miami to increase yields. With Norwegian transferring to Miami, there’s no reason for British Airways to continue service, given that they fly their own metal to Miami several times a day and have a strong Oneworld presence at MIA.
British Airways provided Business Traveller with a statement that suggests the route was not commercially viable, stating:
“We regularly review our schedule to ensure that we are flying to destinations that are popular with our customers. Through our partnership with American Airlines, we already fly 28 times a week to nearby Miami airport and from October 2019 our customers will have even more flights to choose from on this route.”
Another potential reason that has been pointed out on forums was that British Airways was unable to match the fares Norwegian was offering. However, with BA’s newly densified B777s that seat ten across in economy, we find it difficult to believe British Airways was not matching fares on this route to stay competitive.
What happens if I’m booked on this flight after September?
If you’re booked on this route after September, British Airways should be in contact with you to offer a full refund or to move you onto a flight from Heathrow to Miami, either operated by British Airways or American Airlines.
There’s no doubt this is unfortunate news for Fort Lauderdale and the surrounding areas, as flights to Europe are already quite limited out of Fort Lauderdale. However, with the strong presence British Airways has in the Florida area, we may see BA upgrade one of their flights to Miami with the A380 year-round to compensate for pulling out of service to Fort Lauderdale.