British Airways’ United States Network Examined

From Monday, August 2nd, fully vaccinated US citizens will be able to travel to the UK without needing to quarantine on arrival, a significant next step. Currently, they must isolate for 10 days, an enormous hassle. But it is not this straightforward. The USA’s Level Four Health Notice implores “Do Not Travel”, while UK citizens are not permitted entry to the US. The next milestone must be reciprocity, truly vital on the road to recovery.

BA A350
British Airways has 26 routes to the US. Photo: Kevin Hackert via Flickr.

Seven airlines from the US to London

Seven airlines have non-stop service between the US and London across the rest of this summer. In order of available seats obtained from OAG, they are British Airways; Virgin Atlantic; American; United; Delta; JetBlue; and TUI.

With 45%, BA is highly dominant, with its share twice as great as Virgin’s. If oneworld and joint venture partner American is included, BA and American have two-thirds of the market. However, under the circumstances, this is perhaps more exposure than anything.

BA B787-9
In normal times, North America is BA’s most profitable market. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying.

BA has 26 routes to the US

Between July 29th and October 30th, the last day of the IATA northern hemisphere summer, BA has 26 routes between London and the US. Some 23 of these are from Heathrow, with the remainder from Gatwick.

Because a good number of services return in September, the following is what BA itself currently has in the week starting September 13th. Note that some flights scheduled by the B777-200ER might change to the larger -300ER and vice-versa.

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While entirely expected due to very different markets and levels of fare performance, the B777-200ERs serving Miami will have 235 seats (four-class with first class) against 332/336 for Orlando (three-class). Miami will have nearly half as many economy seats, the classic case of volume offsetting lower unit revenue.

From…To…Weekly outbound flightsEquipment
HeathrowJFK42B777-200ER; B777-300ER
HeathrowBoston21B787-9; B787-8
HeathrowLos Angeles14B777-300ER
HeathrowMiami14A350-1000; B777-200ER
HeathrowSan Francisco14B787-9; B777-300ER
HeathrowHouston10B787-10; B787-9
HeathrowSeattle10B787-10; B787-9; B787-8
HeathrowLas Vegas7A350-1000
HeathrowSan Diego7B777-200ER
GatwickLas Vegas3B777-200ER
HeathrowNew Orleans3B787-8

24 airports served

BA’s network comprises 24 US airports, down by three versus the same dates in 2019. While Fort Lauderdale, served purely as a defensive measure in response to Norwegian’s long-haul operation, was chopped before winter 2019, Charleston and Pittsburgh may return in 2022.

BA inaugurated Charleston and Pittsburgh in 2019, with the carrier understandably unwilling to develop them in the worst period ever for aviation. Cathay Pacific did the same with new US routes introduced in 2019, although TAP Air Portugal didn’t.

BA B747-400
BA’s US operation used to be ruled by the B747-400. Now, it is served, in order of seats, by the B777-200ER, followed by the B787-9, B787-10, A350-1000, B777-300ER, and B787-8. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying.

How were things in 2019?

While 2019 feels a lifetime ago, BA achieved an average seat load factor (SLF) of 83.7% between London and the US that year, according to the USA’s Department of Transportation’s T-100 dataset. This was virtually the same as BA’s average across its whole network that year.

BA B777-300ER
The airports with the most BA passengers in 2019? JFK (naturally!), Miami, Boston, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying.

While the usual caveat of SLF only being one aspect of performance must be given, it is instructive to see that Fort Lauderdale (72.1%; was cut); Charleston (74.4%; was new), Houston (76.3%), Baltimore (78.2%), and Pittsburgh (78.2%; was new) were notably all below-par. No doubt Houston was offset by fairly high average fares, while Baltimore was (and remains) subsidized.

At the other end was Las Vegas (89.2%), followed by San Francisco (88.4%), Seattle (87.0%), San Francisco (86.7%), and JFK (86.1%). Will Los Angeles and San Francisco, along with Miami, see BA’s A380s again?

Will you be flying BA this year? Let us know in the comments.