British Airways will launch operations of its new London Gatwick-based short-haul subsidiary BA Euroflyer on March 29. The airline has announced 35 destinations that it will serve and has opened bookings today, December 14. BA starts selling tickets for its EuroFlyer Gatwick subsidiary.

BA CEO Sean Doyle revealed in August that it planned to set up a new short-haul subsidiary at Gatwick to compete with its low-cost rivals Ryanair and easyjet. Easyjet has a strong presence at Gatwick and plans to expand this coming summer, it recently confirmed during its full-year results presentation. BA lost market share at London’s second airport when it suspended services at the start of the first Covid crisis in March 2020.

British Airways’ new airline will operate under the same brand, but as BA EuroFlyer will be a stand-alone airline with its own lower-cost business model that mirrors that of BA CityFlyer at London City Airport. When BA unveiled its plan in August, it met strong opposition from cabin crew unions. Pilot union BALPA cautiously welcomed the plan to “create a number of much needed new pilot jobs.  BALPA and BA are in the final stages of negotiations over the revised pay and conditions for Gatwick-based BA pilots and we hope to bring these talks to a conclusion shortly.”

In a ballot in early October, 82 percent of the responding pilots supported the low-cost initiative, after which BALPA union signed an agreement with BA. In early November, the airline reached an agreement with Unite, which represents some 10.000 cabin crew. Unite initially strongly opposed what it called inferior’’ terms and conditions of the new airline. As a result of the Covid crisis, BA has slashed 10.000 jobs including 4.700 cabin crew members. In recent months, BA has started rehiring some 3.000 again. Parent International Airline Group (IAG) said early November it was positive about reaching consensus with the unions.

AOC not expected until next autumn

BA Euroflyer still has to receive its Airline Operator Certificate (AOC), which isn’t expected until autumn 2022. Therefore, BA’s mainline airline will operate the first flights with three Airbus A320s, expanding the fleet to eighteen aircraft by the end of May.

The airline has started selling tickets today at £39 to 35 destinations. On March 29, it will operate the first services to Amsterdam, Sevilla, Verona, Larnaca, Paphos, and Tenerife. On the 30th, Malta, Arrecife, and Faro will follow. March 31 will see Catania, Malaga, Marrakech, and Nice added to the schedule, Alicante on April 1, Antalya and Las Palmas on April 2, Bari on April 3, Dubrovnik and Turin on April 4, with another sixteen destinations to follow until May 4. These include Berlin, Milan, and Athens but also sunny destinations like Santorini and Thessaloniki. BA said the airline offers the same ‘high level of service’ and ‘generous baggage allowance’ as the mother airline and lounge access to frequent flyers.

In a media statement, Sean Doyle says: “Today is a landmark moment for British Airways. The creation of a new British Airways short-haul organization means Gatwick customers will benefit from access to a premium service from the UK’s flag carrier at competitive prices. We are looking forward to bringing a short-haul network back to Gatwick, with a fantastic flying team in place, to serve our customers from London’s second hub airport, which we feel sure will be a success.”

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