Q. Is there any possibility, in the future, of shuttle flights resuming between Manchester and Gatwick airports? We in the North West are badly served after this service stopped, making onward flights from Gatwick almost impossible. Eileen Dunn
A. British Airways abandoned the long-standing link between Manchester and Gatwick at the end of March last year. At the time the airline said: "Air links between Manchester and London will be retained with up to 11 return flights a day to Heathrow," although of course, for anyone transferring to a long-haul flight from Gatwick, that is an unpalatable option – requiring a coach trip, costing £25, around a quadrant of the M25.
For a time, around eight years ago, Jet2 flew between Manchester and Gatwick in competition with BA, with fares starting at £15 each way, but unsurprisingly, it soon pulled the route as it was unprofitable.
Given that road and rail connections between the North West and South East are reasonably priced, most airline passengers from Manchester are not simply heading for London but specifically want to get to an airport for a quick transfer.
So could any other airline come in? Flybe, which has smaller planes, has no plans to do so, and it seems implausible that easyJet would expend its valuable slots for a short route of dubious profitability.
If Gatwick were to get a second runway, everything might change – but that is more than a decade away. Meanwhile, how best to travel from Manchester to the Sussex airport? Oddly, a bus-train combination, because Victoria Coach Station – served by both National Express and Megabus – is very close to the Southern Railway platforms for Gatwick.
To make the whole journey by train, the fast way (3h 30m) is taking a Virgin Train to Euston, the Victoria Line to Victoria and the Gatwick Express to the airport. To minimise faff, an easier but longer option is CrossCountry from Manchester to Reading, with an easy connection to First Great Western to Gatwick.
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