British Airways to launch budget airline operating from Gatwick

British Airways to launch short-haul budget airline subsidiary operating from Gatwick

British Airways plans to launch a budget airline by hiving off its short-haul flights at Gatwick.

The flag-bearer’s new and as-yet unnamed business will run alongside its long-haul operations at the West Sussex airport.

The move comes as the airline plots its recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

Flight plan: British Airways is to launch a budget airline subsidiary business working alongside its current operations at Gatwick (pictured)

BA suspended all domestic and European routes serving Gatwick as the Covid crisis wreaked havoc on the industry.

In a letter to staff, the airline said: ‘This was previously a highly competitive market, but for us to run a sustainable airline in the current environment, we need a competitive operating model.

‘Because of that, we are proposing a new operating subsidiary to run alongside our existing long-haul Gatwick operation, to serve short-haul routes to/from Gatwick from summer 2022.’

Alex Macheras, an aviation analyst, explained that BA is a ‘full-service’ carrier at Gatwick – meaning it offers a range of amenities such as luggage services, which other budget competitors do not.

Because of this, its costs are much higher than the likes of Easyjet – staff must be paid more, and consumers expect to get similar add-ons as they would on one of BA’s long-haul flights. 

But travellers still expect BA short-haul trips, to destinations within the UK and Europe, to cost a similar amount to those of its rivals.

Macheras said that by breaking off the short-haul operations into a new budget company BA ‘can explore recruiting or re-contracting staff so they are on contracts more in line with their competitors’.

Many of the airline’s 37,000 staff are still on furlough – and the company said costs will ‘steeply increase’ once the scheme closes at the end of September, which is ‘bad news’.

A BA spokesman said it was ‘working with our unions on proposals for a short-haul operation at Gatwick’.