British Airways is to begin flying from London City Airport for the first time as it takes further steps towards simplifying and strengthening its UK regional operation.
British Airways CitiExpress, a wholly owned subsidiary of British Airways, will start operating from London City in April 2003 with the launch of three new routes to Frankfurt, Glasgow and Paris Charles de Gaulle.
Using RJ100 aircraft, the new London City routes are aimed primarily at the European and domestic business markets. In addition British Airways will give its key Manchester network a major boost with the introduction of three new routes and extra capacity, to be announced in the New Year.
British Airways CitiExpress has also signed a heads of terms with Eastern Airways with the intention of transferring its 12 strong fleet of 29-seater Jetstream 41s and its associated engineering hangar at Glasgow to the Humberside-based airline. This will be the first part of an accelerated strategy to move to an all jet regional operation.
British Airways CitiExpress plans to withdraw from 21 regional routes and will no longer fly from Cardiff and Leeds-Bradford airports.
Eastern Airways plans to operate routes from Leeds Bradford to Aberdeen, Southampton and Isle of Man; Newcastle to Birmingham, Aberdeen, Southampton.
David Evans, British Airways general manager UK business, said: "As part of our own regional Future Size and Shape review in April we said that we needed to simplify and strengthen our business.
"One of the key challenges in achieving a more efficient business is in reducing the number of different types of aircraft we have in our fleet. Accelerating our move to an all jet fleet will help improve our operational and financial performance in the coming years.
"It will also allow us to concentrate our efforts on key markets and launch new routes which customers have been asking for. We are delighted to be launching three routes from London City Airport as well as some more regional routes. We are also planning to add extra frequencies to certain markets from April 2003.
"The proposed withdrawal of all services from Cardiff and Leeds-Bradford has been a tough decision to take but it was crucial to underpin the rest of the operation as we move forward.
"Due to redeployment opportunities within the company and the proposed transfer of some employees to Eastern we hope the overall impact on job numbers will be minimised. This will be the subject of consultation with our staff representatives and trade union partners in the coming weeks."
Richard Lake, Eastern Airways managing director, said: "We look forward to finalising the deal and serving passengers on six new routes as well as using all of the 12 additional Jetstream 41s to help support our growing network."
British Airways CitiExpress carried a total of 5.5 million passengers to and from the UK regions and Europe in 2001/2.
The new routes from Manchester and the extra frequencies and capacity which will be added from April 2003 will be announced in the New Year.
(I know the aspects of the route transfers were posted but thought I would post the whole thing including the LCY routes and Eastern Airways deal. Cheers