New York to London Market
The New York to London market has been a hotly contested route beginning in 1958 when British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC), predecessor to British Airways (BA), became the world’s first airline to fly non-stop between these two destinations. These are two business hubs where any ambitious businessman would love to call the home of his business ventures. If you are to set up a business in London then here are some great ideas for getting started with your marketing campaign. So, any guess on which airline it beat out? This post discusses the history of the route and who are the current players.
History – 1958
October 4, 1958 was a historic day for the jet age. BOAC operated the first jet service from London to New York using the Comet 4. Two aircrafts – G-APDB (operating eastbound) and G-APDC (operating westbound) passed by each other 300 miles apart with Sir Gerard d’Erlanger, BOAC’s Chairman, and Basil Smallpiece, Managing Director on board the different flights.
BOAC beat out Pan American World Airways (PA) who flew the Boeing 707 from New York to London on October 26, 1958.
Both airlines pulled out the stops with multi course meals and a comfortable environment that could seat over 100 in a 2 class configuration.
Today – 2015
Today, New York to London route is one of the world’s busiest and has a high concentration of high yield passengers. On a given day, there are 33 scheduled commercial flights (not including chartered) from two New York City airports to four different London airports (as noted in the chart below). Eight aircraft types are used to service the routes with Boeing taking the lead.
Diving into the data quickly, New York JFK International Airport (JFK) is the airport of choice to service the flights with a 70% share over Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR)(30%). By a large margin, London Heathrow Airport (LHR) is used for 91% of the flights with the others shared market share evening at 3% each.
This section will examine the flights in more detail:
JFK to LHR is the most popular routing with 21 out of 33 flights for a 64% market share. British Airways is the operational market leader with 9 flights a day using a mix of Boeing 747s and 777s. They also codeshare with American Airlines (AA) to bring total flights to 12 for the oneworld alliance.
Delta Air Lines (DL) and Virgin Atlantic (VS) formed a close partnership in 2014 and together operate eight daily flights.
Kuwait Airways (KU) has fifth freedom rights and has a lone flight using a Boeing 777 with onward journey to Kuwait International Airport (KWI). Fifth Freedom rights are defined as “the right or privilege, in respect of scheduled international air services, granted by one State to another State to put down and to take on, in the territory of the first State, traffic coming from or destined to a third State.”(reference – ICAO, refer to link)
It is interesting to note that BA has not chosen to use the Airbus A380 on this route currently to increase capacity even as both JFK and LHR have the facilities to manage the jumbo jet.
EWR to LHR is the second most popular choice with nine daily flights. Since United Airlines (UA) operates a hub here, it is the market leader with five flights using a combination of Boeing 777 and 767s. BA, DL and VS are the other tenants using EWR to fly to LHR.
BA is the only airline to operate a flight between both city centers. Although London City Airport (LCY) is the closest to the downtown core, it has a short runway and can only handle smaller aircrafts. BA saw a business opportunity and specially equipped an Airbus 318 with 32 lie flat Club World(R) seats for business travellers to travel in additional comfort across the pond.
Norwegian (D8) operates a Boeing 787 from JFK to London Gatwick Airport (LGW). It is the first low cost carrier to operate between these two destinations. Its introduction has lowered economy fares to below US$600 one way (other airlines’ one way could be three times more expensive). If D8 is successful, it will likely add more frequency to this route and build it into a daily.
At the other end of the spectrum, La Compagnie (BO) offers business class service at an attractive price point. It will start flights between EWR to London Luton Airport (LTN) using a Boeing 757 equipped with 74 lie flat older style business class seats. LTN is not as well known as it is mostly used for regional European flights and is the farthest to downtown.
Since operating its jet service from New York to London, British Airways has been the market leader. Today, it has 12 daily flights served over three different routes. In combination with American Airlines, the oneworld alliance has the highest market share in both flights and seat capacity.
Delta Air Lines and Virgin Atlantic’s partnership (refer to link for more information) became a formidable competitor overnight with 11 daily flights.
This leaves Star Alliance in third place with five flights through United Airlines to compete at EWR.
As seen in the introduction, the New York and London markets have very high barrier of entry with upwards to 33 daily flights. Market leaders are traditional full service carriers with a long history operating into the cities. New entrants from Norwegian and La Compagnie hope to find a niche by serving very different demographics. In the next series, we will look at other metrics such are premium cabin and examine what happens if an airline like Emirates or Easyjet enter the market.
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