Premium demand tops the list of metrics that British Airways looks at when it evaluates potential new markets.

“We look at market growth, market size and premium traffic – mostly premium traffic – to London,” says Victor Gonzalez, network development executive at the Oneworld carrier, on the sidelines of Routes Americas in Denver.

While premium traffic tops the list, all three metrics are still important considerations, he says. Gonzalez cites Cincinnati as an example of a market with strong premium demand but little “in the back”.

“You need a mix or you don’t make money,” he says.

BA’s shift to an Airbus A380 on one of its London Heathrow-Washington Dulles flights in October highlights this premium focus. The change lifted overall capacity on the route 10%, but premium seats by 16%.

Gonzalez says the carrier is still considering adding the at least five new markets in the Americas that

IAG chief executive Willie Walsh outlined in November 2013 its interest in adding at least five new markets in the Americas and Gonzalez says it is still considering these. While he declines to comment on where BA may fly, Gonzalez says it is looking at potential opportunities across the region. These include long and thin routes, like the London Heathrow-Austin service that it began in March 2014, that are feasible only with the Boeing 787.

“Together we are considering additional gateways, additional cities that we can serve,” said Walsh at a joint media event with American Airlines last October. “The combination of our networks gives us opportunities to add more capacity but that will be profitable capacity.”

Speculation abounds on where BA could land next in the Americas, with the airports in Columbus, New Orleans, Pittsburgh and St. Louis all claiming at various times that they are at or near the top of the list.

Source: Cirium Dashboard