Withdrawal in a duel with easyJet on the route after just a few weeks.
British Airways and the short haul at Gatwick Airport felt like a never-ending story. Unlike the hub and home port London-Heathrow, where “BA” is the clear top dog, Gatwick Airport, London’s second largest airport in terms of passenger numbers and located in the south of the city, was always a bit the unloved “stepchild”.
For years, this offered easyJet, which is also British, the opportunity to expand almost undisturbed on site. The British low-cost airline now has more than 75 aircraft stationed at Gatwick Airport, which has now reached its absolute upper capacity limit and therefore no longer has any slots worth mentioning.
An airline that still has slots is British Airways, even if it hasn't been possible to fly at least the short and medium-haul routes from Gatwick profitably for years. And so, even after the corona pandemic and the stop of all BA short-haul routes from Gatwick, a memo was sent to the company's own staff that you need your own, operationally lean structure in order to be competitive in Gatwick. After a planning phase, this resulted in the “Euroflyer” model developed specifically for London City (LCY) under the name “Cityflyer”. Almost 30 routes from Faro via Tenerife to Berlin were announced last December with flight operations starting in March 2022. The Berlin route had to accept a postponement from March 2022 to May 2022 shortly after the booking was approved because "BA" simply lacked material and personnel in Gatwick. The route was finally started in May 2022 with 5 weekly flights and even increased to a daily flight in June 2022, unfortunately often at not particularly attractive flight times, but at incredibly low prices, while easyJet was often already significantly more expensive.
Even if the 2 midsummer months of July and August 2022 were operationally relatively clean, if you look at the whole season there were some sometimes violent swings in the area of delays or complete cancellations. So this summer I was affected twice by a short-term flight cancellation on the Berlin-Gatwick route with BA. With ticket prices of €44 (OW) and less than €100 (RT) available even at short notice, you could even ignore the sometimes suboptimal departure times, for example 22:55 p.m. from Berlin. A circumstance that British Airways apparently only half thought through.
Due to the increasing delays in the summer flight schedule throughout the day, a massive departure delay in Berlin between 00:00 a.m. and 02:00 a.m. was already foreseeable hours beforehand on two of my planned flights. A circumstance that inevitably had to result in a cancellation due to the night flight ban in force at BER! Irrespective of the fact that British Airways soon found that the compensation alone was three times more expensive than the value of the actual ticket. Luck in disguise must have been that on all my booked Gatwick flights with "BA" (a total of 3 RTs) the occupancy rate was only in the three-digit range on 6 of the 2 flights, which made me happy with the flight times offered (12:05 departure Gatwick or 50:22 p.m. from Berlin) hardly surprised. Extra planes and crews from the Iberia low-cost subsidiary "Iberia Express" were also hired for weeks to get the short and medium-haul routes from Gatwick up and running (again). So now, after just a few months, BA is pulling the plug on the BER – Gatwick route. With up to 55 daily flights and the sheer overwhelming competition from easyJet, it really isn't really a miracle in the end. Since British Airways also departs up to 5 times a day in the direction of London-Heathrow and -City in the winter timetable, there are still more than enough replacements available in this direction. Nonetheless, it again clearly shows BA's weakness at Gatwick.
Perhaps the executive floor of the IAG should deal with the "Gatwick - Euroflyer" project again. With Vueling you already have a well-established value subsidiary, whose product does not need to hide. While long-haul tourist routes from London-Gatwick will continue to be flown under the "British Airways" brand in the future, it would certainly make more sense/more sustainable and future-oriented for short- and medium-haul traffic to appear under the "Vueling" brand from Gatwick.
In any case, “BA” seems to be stumbling with the Gatwick operation from season to season and it is only a matter of time before the entire short and medium-haul route from “LGW” is up for debate again.