British Airways abandons long-haul flights from Manchester
British Airways has dropped its last long-haul flight from a regional airport
as it concentrates its international efforts on the South East of England.
The cancellation of the service between Manchester and New York has angered businessmen
and politicians, with one dismissing the carrier as "London Airways, not British
BA has scaled back its international and European operations from regional airports
such as Manchester and Glasgow in favour of more profitable long-haul routes from
Heathrow and Gatwick.
It is also planning to take advantage of new Open Skies rules by operating services
to New York from European cities such as Paris and Amsterdam.
The Manchester service will end in October and will be transferred to Gatwick.
Aviation sources said that the flight had been losing money for some time, but
the decision has still angered Mancunians.
One local politician in the city, who declined to be named, said: "BA is only
interested in taking care of its interests, not national interests."
Richard Critchley, the transport policy manager of the Greater Manchester Chamber
of Commerce, said: "It is disappointing to lose the national flag carrier and
it is damaging to the city.
“But there are other carriers offering that service and BA’s decision is not
a reflection on the economic vibrancy of Manchester."
Virgin Atlantic, bmi, Delta, Continental and US Airways all offer services from
Manchester to the United States and plan to continue their flights.
Emirates, Etihad and Qatar connect Manchester with the Middle East and Singapore
Airlines flies to Asia.
Mr Critchley said that it was disappointing that Greater Manchester, the second-largest
conurbation in Britain, had to rely on foreign airlines and not the national flag
Graham Stringer, a member of the Commons Transport Select Committee and a Manchester
MP, said: "We live in a commercial world and the city will find airlines to replace
A BA spokesman said: "We cancel routes because they are not the best commercial
routes for us. We are still operating out of Manchester and if people want to
fly to New York with us they can transfer through Heathrow or Gatwick."
BA’s remaining Manchester services include flights to Malta, Tenerife, Salzburg
and Innsbruck, which are aimed at the leisure market rather than Manchester’s
Regional airports in the UK are relying increasingly on low-cost carriers such
as Ryanair and easyJet to connect them to the rest of the country and to Europe.
BA has been reducing its short-haul operations for some time and last year sold
BA Connect, which offered services between regional airports.
Liquidators for Oasis, the budget airline that flew between London and Hong Kong,
said yesterday that they had failed to find a buyer for the carrier. About 700
jobs will be lost.