British Airways Suspends Short-Haul London Gatwick Operation

British Airways has confirmed that it will be suspending short-haul services from London Gatwick, save from a handful of domestic flights. The carrier revealed that it would be seeking alternate uses for its slots at the UK’s second busiest airport. The decision comes as the airline failed to gain union support for a proposal to start low-cost flights at the airport.

British Airways, London Gatwick, Short Haul
British Airways is suspending its London Gatwick short-haul operations. Photo: British Airways

London Gatwick used to be a vital part of the British Airways network. Despite this, most routes to and from the airport have been suspended or operating from Heathrow for the past year and a half. Rather than reactivating its Gatwick network, it looks as though British Airways is now set to ditch short-haul operations from the airport.

What’s happening at London Gatwick?

British Airways says it has been losing money on European flights from London Gatwick for years. To remain competitive in the coming years, the airline had hoped to shake up its operations from the airport drastically. Several weeks ago, the airline issued a proposal to launch a low-cost subsidiary from London Gatwick.

BALPA, the pilots union, isn’t onboard with the proposals. Their Acting General Secretary, Martin Chalk, commented,

“Despite our best efforts BALPA was unable to reach an agreement with British Airways on revised Terms and Conditions for London Gatwick (LGW) Short-haul, that was acceptable to our members.”

British Airways, London Gatwick, Short Haul
The BALPA pilot union decided not to support BA’s proposal. Photo: British Airways

Suspending short-haul from London Gatwick

As a result of BALPA’s decision not to support the proposal, British Airways has decided to indefinitely suspend all short-haul flying from London Gatwick. An airline spokesperson told Simple Flying that they were disappointed with BALPA’s decision, adding,

“After many years of losing money on European flights from the airport, we were clear that coming out of the pandemic, we needed a plan to make Gatwick profitable and competitive. With regret, we will now suspend our short-haul operations at Gatwick”

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Moving forwards, the airline has said it will pursue alternative uses for its London Gatwick slots. Head for Points believes that British Airways has several options when it comes to its slots. BA could redistribute them to other IAG airlines such as Vueling or LEVEL. The other option floated is selling the slots.

British Airways, London Gatwick, BALPA
British Airways had planned to operate a comprehensive Gatwick network this summer. Photo: Cirium

Aviation data experts Cirium told Simple Flying that British Airways currently has 47 short-haul routes from Gatwick, but that all of these are also served by other carriers, bar four. These are Algiers, Cologne/Bonn (a winter seasonal destination), Genoa, and Manchester.

British Airways isn’t the first to throw the towel in at London Gatwick Airport since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Early on last year, the airline’s rival Virgin Atlantic pulled its long-haul operations out of the airport. British Airways was set to be the second-largest carrier at Gatwick behind easyJet at the height of next summer. Its short-haul rivals likely won’t miss the competition.

What do you make of British Airways’ decision to pull out of London Gatwick? Let us know what you think and why in the comments!