British Airways will add thousands of extra seats on key routes between London and the United States after the airline witnessed a 95 per cent surge in new bookings just hours after the British government announced plans to let fully vaccinated Americans come to England without needing to quarantine.
The quarantine exemption will come into effect from 4 am on Monday and British Airways is hoping to cash in on relaxed travel rules by ramping up its U.S. schedule through August. Flights between London Heathrow and New York JFK will increase from 17 to 21 flights per week, services to Chicago will increase by 30 per cent to 10 flights per week and Seattle will become a daily flight.
Gearing up for the increase in passenger numbers, BA’s flagship U.S. lounge at JFK Terminal 7 reopened on Sunday after being mothballed for 16 months.
Los Angeles will also be served double-daily beginning August 23 and British Airways says it hopes to “broaden” its U.S. network through September. That could see the resumption of flights to cities such as Philadephia and San Diego which have been suspended through the pandemic.
In the meantime, British Airways is hoping to take advantage of its partnership with American Airlines to feed passengers from AA’s domestic network onto BA’s London-bound flights.
During a recent investor presentation, BA’s parent company said that 92 per cent of the airline’s long-haul fleet was ready to go, although the fleet is nearly 20 per cent smaller than in 2019. British Airways retired its fleet of Boeing 747’s during the pandemic and its Airbus A380’s remain grounded.
The airline’s cabin crew workforce has also been kept operationally ready, although the total number of cabin crew is down by 30 per cent compared to before the pandemic. Around 18,000 UK-based staff remain on the government-funded furlough scheme which ends in October.
British Airways was operating just 150 flights per day in early June but with travel restrictions slowly easing, the airline plans to increase its daily flight schedule to 340 by the end of this month. If operations continue to ramp up, BA says it will need to start using Terminal 3 before the end of the summer.
On Sunday, it was revealed that Chancellor Rishi Sunak had written to Prime Minister Boris Johnson in a plea to drop restrictive travel rules that are leaving the UK other countries. The next review of the UK’s traffic light travel rules is set to be announced later this week.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.