If you live in the UK and are loyal to British Airways you’ll know that the airline frustratingly flies almost all of its international flights out of its London airports (Heathrow, Gatwick, City). However, there’s now an unsubstantiated rumor circulating that the carrier wants to begin long-haul service out of Manchester. Intriguing…
The current situation
British Airways is fairly average when it comes to its network setup. With the UK being a geographically small nation and London airports having great infrastructure, it makes sense to run all long-distance, intercontinental services out of the nation’s largest city. This is less feasible in larger countries like the United States and Canada where multiple hubs are necessary.
However, the Greater Manchester area has a population of around three million inhabitants and it certainly is a large enough population to have demand for certain long-distance services. In fact, other oneworld airlines have realized this – with Qatar Airways, Cathay Pacific, and American Airlines flying to the English city. Emirates also runs an astounding 20 weekly flights to the city – all using the Airbus A380!
With the demise of Thomas Cook, which ran Manchester services to destinations like Barbados, New York and Orlando, there is an opportunity for surviving airlines to fill the gap. In fact, Virgin Atlantic didn’t waste any time with this. It announced in September that it would place extra flights out of Manchester to make up for Thomas Cook’s exit. But in Manchester, British Airways didn’t budge – but Virgin’s moves may be stirring things up.
In addition to long-haul route expansions out of Manchester, Virgin Atlantic has also announced new Clubhouse and Vroom Lounge facilities at the airport. For its current offerings, the airline flies direct from Manchester to the following intercontinental destinations:
Year-round service to:
- New York JFK
Seasonal service to:
- Las Vegas
- Los Angeles
According to God Save the Points and their secret source, British Airways is making moves to compete with Virgin Atlantic in Manchester “because they don’t want Virgin to look good”.
Rumor is that British Airways is in the process of launching long-haul services out of Manchester that will utilize the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. However, where the airline will fly its aircraft is still a big question mark. We would imagine that New York JFK would have sufficient demand for a service and perhaps some of the holiday destinations that Thomas Cook once served as well.
The 787 (especially the smaller -8) makes sense as an initial venture into long-haul services from Manchester. It’s fuel efficiency and fantastic range allow the aircraft to reach far-flung destinations while flying lower numbers of passengers. As demand is confirmed, British Airways would then be able to fly larger aircraft as it sees fit.
We reached out to British Airways, who simply said: “We don’t comment on rumour and speculation.”
We’ll have to wait and see if this rumor has any validity to it. If it becomes reality, and BA is to compete with Virgin, then travelers could be the real winners as fares will become more competitive with the airlines battling it out for market share.
Do you think that this rumor will prove to be true soon? Where would you like to see the airline fly from Manchester?