Cheaper flights across the Atlantic are on the cards for next summer, with competition becoming ferocious to key destinations in Canada and the US.
British Airways is stepping up its response to long-haul budget airlines by launching flights from Gatwick to Toronto. It is also reinstating the link from the Sussex airport to Las Vegas.
The Toronto service starts on 1 May 2018. It will add to the choice currently offered by Air Canada Rouge, Air Transat and WestJet on the same route. BA says fares will start at £453 return, but outside the July and August summer peak they may go lower; fares for some dates in September are currently less than £350 return on WestJet.
Las Vegas is served from Gatwick by BA’s key rival, Virgin Atlantic, and the rapidly expanding low-cost airline, Norwegian. British Airways flights to the Nevada city re-commence at the start of the summer schedules on 27 March.
Both routes will be served three times a week. British Airways is “densifying” its fleet of Gatwick-based Boeing 777s to improve its competitive position against low-cost rivals.
Transatlantic competition from the UK next summer will be at record levels. Norwegian launches a new year-round link from Gatwick to Denver next month, while the Danish low-cost airline Primera Air plans links from Stansted and Birmingham to Boston and New York’s Newark airport in 2018.
BA’s expansion at Gatwick will cheer the airport’s owners. Gatwick lost out to Heathrow in the contest for the next runway in the London area.
While the Government says it supports expansion at Heathrow, progress on a third runway is presently stalled due to the precarious parliamentary circumstances and focus on Brexit. Labour has raised doubts about whether Heathrow will be able to adhere to key environmental limits.
A spokesperson for Heathrow said: “We are clear on the air quality targets we need to meet and we are confident we can meet all those conditions. We have strong support, not just within the Labour Party but also among Conservatives, other parties and trade unions to deliver a vital national project.”
Gatwick, meanwhile is, intent on extracting as much capacity as it can from its single runway.