British Airways has confirmed plans to take on low-cost rivals at Gatwick Airport by using low-cost labour through a subsidiary known as British Airways EuroFlyer. Short-haul routes to popular holiday destinations like Cyprus, Tenerife and Malta will restart by the end of March 2022 and by the end of May 2022, the Gatwick fleet will have grown from just three to 18 aircraft.
For the first few months, however, British Airways won’t make any costs savings because flights will initially be operated by the mainline airline where pilots and cabin crew are paid more than their counterparts who will be employed by EuroFlyer.
British Airways said on Tuesday that it hoped to launch EuroFlyer by August 2022 once civil aviation regulators have granted the standalone business an Air Operators Certificate. The airline is actively recruiting pilots and cabin crew on lower wages and reduced terms and conditions for the airline.
From the customer perspective, though, EuroFlyer should be no different than flying on any other British Airways service. Flights will just be marketed and sold as British Airways and the same level of service will be provided onboard.
British Airways will continue to offer its Club Europe business class cabin and customers in Euro Traveller Economy will continue to receive free snacks and water just like they do if flying on a short-haul service from the airline’s hub at Heathrow Airport.
EuroFlyer’s lower cost base will allow British Airways to compete with rivals like easyJet and Wizz Air on price, while still offering added extras like free selection, generous baggage allowances and frequent flyer benefits.
“Today is a landmark moment for British Airways,” remarked chief executive Sean Doyle after the airline confirmed the creation of EuroFlyer and the restart of short-haul flights from Gatwick.
British Airways suspended short-haul services from Gatwick at the start of the pandemic and retrenched to Heathrow where it mused giving up its coveted slots at London’s second busiest airport forever and allowing easyJet to completely dominate the market.
The airline later said it was interested in returning to Gatwick but only if it could reduce operating costs. The BALPA pilots union has approved a substantially lower-paid contract for EuroFlyer pilots but the subsidiary will act as a gateway for pilots to enter the mainline business.
“We are looking forward to bringing a short-haul network back to Gatwick, with a fantastic flying team in place, to serve our customers from London’s second hub airport, which we feel sure will be a success,” Doyle continued.
After moving short-haul routes to Heathrow, Doyle said on Tuesday that some routes would return to Gatwick but would also continue being served from Heathrow because they had proven so popular. These destinations included: Faro, Ibiza, Malaga, Marrakech and Tenerife.
Gatwick will also get some new destinations that weren’t served by BA before the pandemic. These include: Athens, Berlin, Madrid, Milan Malpensa and Santorini.
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.