British Airways starts twice-daily, Business Class-only flights from London City airport to New York tomorrow.
The non-stop service will touch down briefly at Ireland’s Shannon airport to re-fuel the plane and put passengers through immigration and customs checks, allowing travellers to arrive at City airport just 15 minutes before travel.
The scheme was mooted in early 2008, before the global economy nosedived, taking airline profits with it. But despite the sharp falls in travel, particularly in so-called “premium” First- and Business-Class cabins, BA refused to delay the plans. Although the financial crisis originated in the financial services industry, travel between London and New York remains healthy, the company says.
The City-to-New York flight needs a re-fuelling stop because the runways at City are not long enough to take off with enough fuel for the full transatlantic journey. The route will be served by Airbus 318 aircraft’s with 32 seats.
BA’s Business- and First-Class traffic has dropped by as much as 10 per cent this year as recession-hit travellers reined back on spending. Although the airline predicts long-haul routes will recover, chief executive Willie Walsh has said that the short-haul premium market may never recover.