British Airways launches Newquay flights in snub to Flybe

BA is moving shortly after its regional rival moves out

Simon Calder
Travel Correspondent
Wednesday 12 February 2020 11:15 GMT
Moving out: Flybe's existing flights to Heathrow will be replaced by BA's jets – but only on five days a week
Moving out: Flybe's existing flights to Heathrow will be replaced by BA's jets – but only on five days a week (Getty)

Less than four weeks after the troubled regional airline, Flybe, controversially revealed it was ending its flagship link from Newquay to Heathrow airport, British Airways has announced it will serve the route this summer.

BA will assign an Airbus A320 jet to the 210-mile route for five round-trips per week between 2 July and 7 September.

This compares with 28 services a week currently being operated by Flybe – which launched the Newquay-Heathrow link to great acclaim in March 2019.

But Flybe confirmed last month that it will switch flights back to Gatwick. The Heathrow slots are rumoured to be used by Flybe for a new route to Dusseldorf – in competition with British Airways.

Richard Thomasson, Newquay airport’s interim director, said: “With such a major global carrier we will be able to offer our passengers one-stop access to the world, while worldwide investors and tourists will benefit from an easier connection to our stunning county.”

BA’s move will provide extra seats between London and Cornwall during the peak summer season, but the timings are awkward for connections. The Saturday morning service leave Heathrow at 6.40am, then spends over two hours on the ground at Newquay before returning at 9.55am.

Sunday’s departure from Heathrow is at 7.10pm, but returns at 10.35pm – too late to connect with any flights from the UK’s busiest airport.

During the week, there will be flights on Monday and Friday evenings, and on Thursday mornings.

The British Airways move can be seen as an opportunistic use of spare capacity at a time when alternatives to road and rail are in demand. But it may also be interpreted as a snub to Flybe, which is currently negotiating for a UK government loan to keep flying.

A spokesperson for Flybe said: “BA’s recently announced summer seasonal Heathrow service is not comparable to the vital year-round multi-frequency daily services to key London airport hubs with which Flybe is privileged to have served Cornwall with for the past 11 years.

“We are proud of our established position as the largest scheduled airline by the number of air traffic movements at Cornwall Airport Newquay.

“We continue to offer our customers four conveniently timed flights a day on the route to Heathrow until the end of March following which flights will revert to London Gatwick with the same frequency giving the choice of 28 flights a week.”

British Airways last operated a short-lived link between Gatwick and Newquay in 2007-8.

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