gilesdavies
Topic Author
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If Airlines Moved From LHR - How Would They Fare?

Sat Aug 04, 2007 8:13 pm

In the UK this week, London Heathrow has come under a lot of critisism this week for being an airport that can barely cope and is not fit for purpose. Overcrowded terminals, horrendous queues, departure lounges more like shopping centres are just some of the comments being mentioned.

The critisism is just not coming from the public, but also from the likes of Willie Walsh (CEO of BA) and Ken Livingstone (Mayor of London)...

Sources:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/6926150.stm
http://travel.timesonline.co.uk/tol/...travel/business/article2193059.ece
http://news.sky.com/skynews/article/0,,30000-1278196,00.html

In my opinion I think Heathrow is shameful airport, and an embarressment to the UK! I do everything at my expense to avoid flying from there. If I fly to the USA, I usually have to fly from a London airport and would rather continue driving past Heathrow for another 50 miles and fly from Gatwick!

Anyway here is my question...

If an airline for example, like BMI finally decided to listen to passenger feedback and stuck two fingers up at LHR and moved there entire operation to another airport like STN or LGW. I am wondering how they would succeed?

With the likes of STN planned to receive three new runways and capacity to be increased to 150million passengers a year. Could a move from a major operator like BMI prompt a mass exorcism? Could the likes of United, Air Canada, Lufthansa, Singapore, etc, all follow suit as they rely heavily on BMI for feeder traffic and are all Star Alliance members...

For example Stansted would become Star Alliances main London hub...

Maybe the government or BAA could offer some incentive scheme for airlines to move operations to another London airport. Then all the runway slots no longer in use at LHR, could instead of being given to other airlines are disposed of, and ultimate goal would to reduce capacity so the airports passenger numbers could go back down to a manageable level. If capacity is cut, this is going to ease problems for airlines still based at LHR when things go wrong. If this all worked over the years some of the slots could be reinstated but at a controlled level.

Some people might think this may prevent growth for airlines remaining at LHR, but is no worst than it is now... There are NO NEW slots available at LHR and the only growth achievable is when airlines nab slots from another airline at their expense!

If New York can have two "premier" major gateways for long haul traffic, why can't London?
 
Humberside
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If Airlines Moved From LHR - How Would They Fare?

Sat Aug 04, 2007 8:25 pm

Quoting Gilesdavies (Thread starter):
are NO NEW slots available at LHR

There are, just at unattractive times - late evening and Saturday afternoons. Thats how Hemus Air and Air Transat have got into LHR, why Helios used to serve LHR, and one of the reasons DHL have cargo flights into LHR
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nzrich
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If Airlines Moved From LHR - How Would They Fare?

Sat Aug 04, 2007 8:39 pm

Quoting Gilesdavies (Thread starter):
If an airline for example, like BMI finally decided to listen to passenger feedback and stuck two fingers up at LHR and moved there entire operation to another airport like STN or LGW. I am wondering how they would succeed?

Yes but then if say BMI and Star all moved wouldnt that just make the new airport clogged up and just as bad as LHR .. My last experience of LHR was going through T3 with NZ from AKL and HKG was through so quick it was unbelievable never had a problem at all ..
"Pride of the pacific"
 
shuggie
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If Airlines Moved From LHR - How Would They Fare?

Sat Aug 04, 2007 8:46 pm

There are a few problems here.... STN and LGW are both owned BAA and whilst they may be fairing slightly better at the moment, the odds are that should either of them grow to the size of LHR then they too will be turned in to overcrowded shopping centres. LGW is also capped with regards to expansion, it cannot grow beyond it's single runway and two terminal operation and these are already running at near maximum capacity, in my own experience I have never found LGW to be much better than LHR. STN does have some room for expansion but the plans that you speak of are still a very long way off with the second runway not due to be in operation until 2013, according to BAA's website they haven't even applied for planning permission yet!

Of course another sticking point is that nobody wants to be the first to make a move. BD which you use in your example would still stand to lose a lot of passengers if they moved to STN even if all of the Star Alliance came with them as many of their passengers will connect with non-aligned or Skyteam carriers at Heathrow.

I can't see airlines leaving LHR and succesfully continuining their operations elsewhere in the UK unless a replacement airport is built and all services are transferred or else some major restrictions are placed on LHR and the airlines have no choice but to move.
 
ltbewr
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If Airlines Moved From LHR - How Would They Fare?

Sat Aug 04, 2007 9:49 pm

The location of LHR so close to the financial base that the city of London is and the worldwide connections it offers, are going to make it very difficult for any airline that has slots to ever consider moving away. What may have to happen is for other airlines based in other countries to expand in their hubs/bases to serve some of those locations well served with connections at LRH, especially to smaller European cities, Africa and the Middle East. Perhaps too, more direct flights to Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham, Glasgow with direct flights could reduce the hubbing of flights at LHR. What may have to be done too (and probably already happening) is to have higher fares for direct flights to/from LHR to discourage some tourist travel and using LHR as a hub for connecting flights at critical times and lower fares to and via other UK cities.
 
sw733
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If Airlines Moved From LHR - How Would They Fare?

Sun Aug 05, 2007 12:14 am

Quoting LTBEWR (Reply 4):
The location of LHR so close to the financial base that the city of London is and the worldwide connections it offers, are going to make it very difficult for any airline that has slots to ever consider moving away

It's also great for visitors because of the Tube...it's the only airport with Tube connections, and the other options such as taxi or Gatwick/Stansted Express are quite expensive, and the bus is fairly slow and requires connections sometimes.
 
LHRBlueSkies
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If Airlines Moved From LHR - How Would They Fare?

Sun Aug 05, 2007 12:21 am

Quoting Gilesdavies (Thread starter):
If New York can have two "premier" major gateways for long haul traffic, why can't London?

As Shuggie has pointed out, BAA have got their fingers in too many London pies, and that is the problem. Maybe it needs the likes of the teams that run YVR or SIN to buy, let's say, STN, and then things might improve for the better.

Airlines leave LHR for 1 thing and 1 thing only - to get the cash for their slots!
flying is the safest form of transport - until humans get involved!
 
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Vasu
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If Airlines Moved From LHR - How Would They Fare?

Sun Aug 05, 2007 12:27 am

I definitely agree with the "shopping centres" comment!

I think get rid of some of the "silly", unnecessary ones, like caviar shops, luxury suitcases (never understood that one... its AFTER security!) etc, and have more SPACE and SEATING!
 
vv701
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If Airlines Moved From LHR - How Would They Fare?

Sun Aug 05, 2007 1:29 am

Quoting Gilesdavies (Thread starter):
Maybe the government or BAA could offer some incentive scheme for airlines to move operations to another London airport.

When BAA opened the current Terminal at STN they tried to cap the traffic flow at LHR by forcing new traffic wishing to serve LON to go to STN or LGW. There was uproar, particularly from US airlines. Indeed there was so much uproar that on the very day the new terminal - and therefore effectively the new London Airport - was opened BAA had to announce a U turn.

Immediately 15 or more airlines who had signed up to operate to STN said they would go to LHR instead. So STN and, in particular its new terminal, became the White Elephant of East Anglia. Terry Morgan who was the MD of BAA Stansted Ltd has been quoted as saying 'We needed to try to find airlines to fill up Stansted. I think Tony Ryan [founder of FR] and his right-hand man, Michael O'Leary, saw two things. Firstly that . . . Ryanair would quickly outgrow Luton . . . They also saw that the real advantage of Stansted was . . . it would have a direct rail link to London and, surprise, surprise, that they could negotiate a good deal here.'

Quoting Gilesdavies (Thread starter):
If an airline for example, like BMI finally decided to listen to passenger feedback and stuck two fingers up at LHR and moved there entire operation to another airport like STN or LGW. I am wondering how they would succeed?

This suggestion is interesting. But BD are the only British airline who operate all their LON flights from LHR. And they are also the only airline to operate ITC (Inclusive Tour Charter) flights out of LHR although these flights are exclusively weekend flights with either early morning or late evening departures or arrivals to destinations like the Greek holiday resorts of Preveza (BD7021), Kalamata (BD7017) and Kefallinia (BD7011) and Cagliari and Naples in Italy (BD7003 and BD7005). And, like both BA and VS they have invested heavily in infra-structure at LHR with, for example, maintenance facilities that would make a move to STN expensive.

However foreign airlines have made the move. UN used to operate into LHR and moved to LGW around five or six years ago if my memoory serves me right. Late last year they moved back to LHR. At the same time MA moved out of LHR to LGW. So does the UN experience suggest that MA will soon want to return to LHR or are the lower costs at LGW key to MA competing effectively against WZ and their flights into LTN and the transfer traffic they obtained at LHR not valuable enough to worry about?
 
shuggie
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If Airlines Moved From LHR - How Would They Fare?

Sun Aug 05, 2007 1:29 am

Quoting Vasu (Reply 7):
I think get rid of some of the "silly", unnecessary ones, like caviar shops, luxury suitcases (never understood that one... its AFTER security!) etc, and have more SPACE and SEATING!

A lot of British Airports have luggage shops after security and I've never understood why. Even when they are before security it makes minimal sense, who hauls all of their stuff to the airport and then packs when they get there?

In defence of BAA (something which you won't hear from me often), the mess that is LHR is not entirely their fault. The airport is way over capacity but getting planning permission they need in order to expand is an absolute nightmare and without room for expansion then the demolition or major refurbishment of the existing facilities is almost impossible as well. T5 and Heathrow East should have both been completed about 5 years ago and we should now be on to runway 3, terminal 6 and some sort of replacement for terminal 3!

As I said earlier, I really don't think that major airlines will leave LHR unless they are forced to do so and that can't really happen as there is no viable alternative for them to move to. The one possibility that may work is to improve transport links between the 5 airports that serve London. For instance a high speed rail link connecting the BAA airports, LGW, LHR and STN, encourage passengers to connect between the three and help to shift some of the emphasis of LHR. That'll never happan though as us brits are usless when it comes to transport networks...
 
Leezyjet
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RE: If Airlines Moved From LHR - How Would They Fare?

Sun Aug 05, 2007 2:25 am

Quoting Shuggie (Reply 9):
who hauls all of their stuff to the airport and then packs when they get there?

Those who take everything including the kitchen sink, and ram it all into very large and heavy bags !!. When it gets weighed and it is over the 32kgs max limit per piece, they have to buy another bag to put some of it into otherwise the airline will refuse to check it in, or offload some of their junk.

 Smile
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Humberside
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RE: If Airlines Moved From LHR - How Would They Fare?

Sun Aug 05, 2007 6:57 am

Quoting VV701 (Reply 8):
However foreign airlines have made the move. UN used to operate into LHR and moved to LGW around five or six years ago if my memoory serves me right. Late last year they moved back to LHR. At the same time MA moved out of LHR to LGW. So does the UN experience suggest that MA will soon want to return to LHR or are the lower costs at LGW key to MA competing effectively against WZ and their flights into LTN and the transfer traffic they obtained at LHR not valuable enough to worry about?

UN moved back to LHR due to a bmi codeshare deal

Didnt MA leave LHR at the same time as they joined Oneworld with BA buying the slots? Could it be that MA would like to have stayed at LHR, but BA just offered them too god a deal, or that the LGW move was part of the deal for them to join oneworld? The timing implies to me that this wasn't to do with competing with Wizz Air
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vv701
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RE: If Airlines Moved From LHR - How Would They Fare?

Sun Aug 05, 2007 7:12 am

Quoting Humberside (Reply 11):
that the LGW move was part of the deal for them to join oneworld

MA moving out of a prime oneworld hub seems an unlikely condition of joining the alliamce. But I suppose anything is possible in this crazy world.
 
jimbo27L
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RE: If Airlines Moved From LHR - How Would They Fare?

Sun Aug 05, 2007 8:20 am

Ok, so it seems BAA have a monopoly on the major gateways into London. Doesn't the UK government have a responsibility to step in here to devise and implement a medium and long term strategy to accommodate future growth, economic, environmental (etc) factors??

We here announcements of new runways etc, and there seems to be a new news story every week bashing LHR, but no-one can come up with a long term fix. It's just been a typical lack of vision and planning of decades that has led to the current shambles....

BAA answers to shareholders, and the simple fact of the matter is that it doesn't make a difference what noises Red Ken, WW et al make, there is no alternative but for airlines to use what's there (LHR, LGW, STN)

Will be interesting to see where we are in 2012 when the Olympics come to town, however I wouldn't be surprised if the same old issues were still doing the rounds. The whole thing is very frustrating and symptomatic of all things British.
 
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Vasu
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RE: If Airlines Moved From LHR - How Would They Fare?

Sun Aug 05, 2007 5:55 pm

Quoting Jimbo27L (Reply 13):

I think therer is one very big problem: Every time something gets suggested, bored fuddyduddies stand around with placards moaning... it gets media attention... the plan gets "re-thought"... thus delayed... or cancelled.
 
jimbo27L
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RE: If Airlines Moved From LHR - How Would They Fare?

Sun Aug 05, 2007 9:02 pm

Quoting Vasu (Reply 14):
I think therer is one very big problem: Every time something gets suggested, bored fuddyduddies stand around with placards moaning... it gets media attention... the plan gets "re-thought"... thus delayed... or cancelled.

I know - if only we could wipe LHR off the map for 12 months so the NIMBY's and tree huggers get a taste of life without a key part of the south east's economic infrastructure....
 
otnysaslhr
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RE: If Airlines Moved From LHR - How Would They Fare?

Sun Aug 05, 2007 9:57 pm

During the late 70's & early 80's SAS moved some of their flights to LGW as the result of a request to free up space at LHR, the intention being to move most Scandinavian flights inc BA's in due course. However despite easier connections to Central London via Gatwick Express loads were not as good as when flights operated from LHR and so flights were gradually returned to LHR.
oTny
 
Humberside
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RE: If Airlines Moved From LHR - How Would They Fare?

Sun Aug 05, 2007 11:49 pm

Quoting VV701 (Reply 12):
Quoting Humberside (Reply 11):
that the LGW move was part of the deal for them to join oneworld

MA moving out of a prime oneworld hub seems an unlikely condition of joining the alliamce. But I suppose anything is possible in this crazy world.

Pure speculation on my part but BA want LHR slots, so may have said to MA that they could partner BA (codeshare, frequent flyer etc) and therefore join oneworld (wouldnt have got in if BA didnt want them) if they sold their LHR slots to BA. With BA doing LHR-BUD, a oneworld airline would still be operating on the route - conecting traffic could be routed onto BA, with local traffic put on Malev's LGW flights.
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trintocan
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RE: If Airlines Moved From LHR - How Would They Fare?

Mon Aug 06, 2007 4:01 am

It all depends on what sorts of services the airlines provide. If the airline is flying on a route with little or no competition there would be little effect on its fortunes in moving from LHR although passengers familiar with the LHR set-up may well grumble. BW (now Caribbean Airlines) for instance ended LHR service in May and codeshares on BA who fly 3 times weekly to POS from LGW - and JM will similarly drop out in October and codeshare with VS from LGW. Any airline with more extensive services will be more greatly affected but if they already have a base at LGW (few airlines serve both LHR and STN) they could shuffle some flights to and fro but the value of the LHR slots is such that airlines with them will cling on to them as much as possible, selling them only if they need quick cash!

Ultimately an air transportation plan is needed for the UK and London in particular but the overwhelming prestige factor of flying into LHR is such that it will remain horribly overcrowded and with no slack for a long time unless airlines are forced to shift out.

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