British Airways’ CityFlyer subsidiary is performing so well that regulators are threatening to fine the airline if its planes continue to arrive too early.
The wholly owned short-haul subsidiary, which operates flights on behalf of British Airways out of London City Airport in the Docklands, has allegedly been threatened with fines by the regulator, which manages aircraft slot coordination at congested airports.
In a recent memo, the airline warned pilots that they shouldn’t be departing early from outstations on inbound flights to London City Airport, especially if there was a risk of them landing more than 15 minutes earlier than scheduled.
“We are seeing a trend of aircraft arriving early into LCY, which has led to a number of letters to Cityflyer and potential fines from the Slot Coordinators,” the leaked memo warned.
“As a reminder, aircraft shouldn’t be departing more than 5 mins early from outstations,” the memo continued.
The issue is particularly acute on some of CityFlyer’s shortest routes, including flights to London City from Belfast, Dublin, Edinburgh and Glasglow. Gate agents at these airports have been ordered to start boarding flights no sooner than 20 minutes before departure to avoid an early getaway.
“Pilots, if you could try to guard against early departures inbound to London City that would be very helpful and likely save Cityflyer fines,” the memo implored.
But while CityFlyer is being accused of overachieving, BA’s mainline operation is continuing to be marred by poor operational performance. On Friday, the airline attempted to incentivise staff to help improve the situation by announcing a raffle for every day over the Easter period that BA hits its on-time departure target.
In February, British Airways achieved a woeful on-time arrival rate of just 69.9 per cent, and the airline was forced to cancel more than 2 per cent of its scheduled flights, according to data supplied by aviation statistics company OAG.
British Airways says it is aiming to achieve an on-time departure target of just 67 per cent from its Heathrow hub over the Easter getaway. On every day that the airline hits this target, it will run a raffle for all eligible employees working that day.
The winner will get a pair of free confirmed Club World tickets to anywhere in the British Airways route network.
There’s no need for such incentives at CityFlyer, however. In fact, even with the latest measures to prevent early arrivals, the airline admits that favourable air traffic control routings might still mean flights arrive ahead of schedule.
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.