BA could add at least five new US cities: Walsh

Washington DC
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British Airways could add at least five new cities in the USA as it takes delivery of new Boeing 787 aircraft, says International Airlines Group (IAG) chief executive Willie Walsh.

The Oneworld alliance carrier has planned to add new flights to North America from London Heathrow for some time but was waiting for an “efficient long-haul aircraft” to do so, he says at the Boyd Group International Aviation Forecast Summit 2013 in Baltimore today.

The flights will use slots at London Heathrow currently allocated to BA’s short-haul European services, he adds.

Walsh declines to elaborate on what five cities the airline is considering.

The new destinations would be in addition to Austin. BA will begin five-times weekly flights between Heathrow and the Texas capital on a 787 from March 2014.

“Don’t be surprised to see more expansion from Heathrow into North America,” says Walsh. “I think Austin came as a surprise to people.”

BA operates four 787-8 aircraft and has firm orders for another four -8s and 16 -9s, Flightglobal’s Ascend Online database shows. It has options for another 28 787-8s or -9s and a letter of intent for 12 787-10s.

Despite the plans for the USA, Walsh says that future growth at BA will be focused on Asia.

The airline began new service to Chengdu, China, in September and Seoul Incheon, South Korea, in December 2012.