British Airways launches short-haul subsidiary operating out of Gatwick
British Airways plans to launch a budget airline by shedding its short-haul flights at Gatwick.
The flag bearer’s new and unnamed business will run alongside its long-haul operations at West Sussex Airport.
The move comes as the airline plans its recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.
Flight plan: British Airways to launch a budget airline subsidiary that will operate alongside its current operations at Gatwick (pictured)
BA has suspended all domestic and European routes to Gatwick as the Covid crisis devastated the industry.
In a letter to staff, the airline said: “This used to be a very competitive market, but to run a sustainable airline in today’s environment, we need a competitive business model.
“Therefore, we are proposing a new operating subsidiary in addition to our existing long-haul flights in Gatwick, to serve short-haul routes to/from Gatwick from the summer of 2022.”
Alex Macheras, an aviation analyst, explained that BA is a ‘full-service’ carrier at Gatwick – meaning it offers a range of amenities, such as luggage services, that other budget competitors don’t.
As a result, costs are much higher than Easyjet’s – staff have to be paid more and consumers expect to get similar perks to one of BA’s long-haul flights.
But travelers still expect short-haul BA trips to destinations within the UK and Europe to cost a similar amount to its rivals.
Macheras said that by splitting the short-haul flights into a new budget company, BA could “investigate recruiting or rehiring staff so that they have a contract that is more in line with their competitors”.
Many of the airline’s 37,000 employees are still on furlough – and the company said costs will “rise steeply” once the scheme closes at the end of September, which is “bad news”.
A spokesman for BA said it is ‘working with our unions on proposals for a short-range operation in Gatwick’.