It was all very exciting, but it was also a bit of a mystery why Airbus would go to so much time and trouble to get the Airbus A318 certified for the steep approach to London City Airport. Now I suspect we know – it was so that British Airways could fly the smallest member of the Airbus family to New York…obviously.The airline has this morning announced that it is going to launch twice-daily services from LCY to New York with two new A318s. They’ll have 32 lie-flat seats and it will start some time next year.
This, to put it mildly, is something of a surprise move. But it’s also a permanent niche market, albeit a disproportionately important one.
It will be a killer offer for a select constituency of people that value flying in and out of an airport located close to London’s financial centre. And some business class flyers who currently use Heathrow may be tempted to switch: LCY is elegantly integrated into London’s surface transportation in a way that makes it a viable alternative for a good chunk of the capital’s citizens.
But perhaps more importantly, this plan seems to be dagger-aimed at the north London based premium-only offerings from EOS and Silverjet. LCY’s catchment area overlaps substantially with that of Stansted and Luton.
However, one of the best things about LCY, as with so many secondary airports, is that not many people use it, relatively speaking, and the ones that do are generally competent travellers. This could be a very nice way to fly.