They can call Stansted Airport “London Stansted” as much as the like but that doesn’t make it any more a London Airport than “London Luton”. For that reason alone I’m going to claim that this is British Airways recommencing international flights from the regions (a.k.a “anywhere but London”). Stansted is as close to the centre of Cambridge as it is to London and has seen it’s significance rise with the increased traffic from low-cost carriers and the expanding population in the areas that surround. And now British Airways is set to add to Stansted’s growth.
From 28 May 2016 the British Airways will commence limited service to Faro, Malaga, Palma and Ibiza from Stansted Airport. The flights will be operated by BA CityFlyer (a wholly owned subsidiary of British Airways) using 98-seat Embraer 190 jets which are usually based at London City Airport.
BA CityFlyer flys two versions of the Embraer 190. One with 98 Economy Class seats….
BA CityFlyer Embraer 190 Domestic Seat Plan (SeatGuru)
…and a version with 38 Club Europe seats and 60 Economy class seats:
BA CityFlyer Embraer 190 European Seat Plan (SeatGuru)
And despite the fact that the destinations these aircraft will be flying to are very much leisure-orientated, British Airways has said that they will be flying the version with 38 Club Europe seats.
A quote from Luke Hayhoe, British Airways’ general manager commercial and customer at BA CityFlyer (bolding is mine):
This is a fantastic opportunity for us to expand our London network and to give our customers even more choice of where to fly from this summer. Stansted is a growing airport and we will be offering a full scheduled service to some of the most popular European holiday destinations, complementing our existing services from other London airports.
All British Airways flights include a choice of two cabins, Club Europe and Euro Traveller, free seat selection and on line check-in 24 hours before departure, complimentary refreshments and drinks on board and no debit card charges.
Not only is this choice of aircraft configuration slightly surprising, it’s also not the best news for flyers.
Per SeatGuru the “domestic” version of the Embraer 190 has a seat pitch of 31″ while the “European” version (which will be seen on the new routes) offers just 30″ of seat pitch….and that’s tight. On a positive note, both versions of the aircraft offer seats that are 18″ wide, which is better than you get on any of British Airway’s long-haul aircraft.
As I said at the beginning of this blog post, this will be a limited service from BA CityFlyer and by that I mean that the routes will be served just once a week.
All the new routes commence on 28 May 2016.
London Stansted – Ibiza
BA2291 STN 06:45 – 10:15 IBZ (Saturday)
BA2292 IBZ 11:00 – 12:30 STN (Saturday)
London Stansted – Malaga
BA2293 STN 13:15 – 17:15 AGP (Saturday)
BA2292 AGP 18:00 – 19:50 STN (Saturday)
London Stansted – Palma Mallorca
BA2295 STN 20:45 – 00:15+1 day PMI (Saturday)
BA2294 PMI 01:00 – 02:30 STN (Saturday)
London Stansted – Faro
BA2297 STN 05:40 – 08:30 FAO (Sunday)
BA2296 FAO 09:05 – 12:00 STN (Sunday)
British Airways say that fares start from £49 each way based on a return fare with hand baggage only, inclusive of all taxes, fees and charges…but from what I can see so far, the return fares are generally over the £100 mark at the moment.
It’s great to see British Airways expanding its UK horizons a little bit but I wouldn’t get my hopes up that this is anything other than a short-term thing – I don’t see this as a precursor to British Airways reversing its apparent decision to be a London-centric airline.
The fact that the routes are being flown once a week, on weekends and by aircraft that normally serve London City Airport suggests to me that this is more to do with aircraft utilisation rather than a plan to provide more service on an ongoing basis. The fact that the aircraft British Airways is using on these routes have over 30% of their seats configured for Club Europe (despite the fact that the routes are heavily leisure-orientated) would also seem to back up this notion.
Nevertheless, this is still good news for those for whom Stansted is a viable option…just don’t expect British Airways to start serving too many other destinations out of the same airport.
Featured Image courtesy of Aero Icarus via Flickr