We reported the whispers we were hearing around the aviation interwebs that British Airways was the mystery European operator that was intending to start operations to New Orleans after Condor started their seasonal flights from Germany.
Well, it’s now confirmed!
British Airways is to start new flights to MSY. After the success of their new Austin flights it comes as no surprise that BA is now more emboldened to try out new flights to more ‘interesting’ destinations beyond adding frequencies to the big hitters at JFK, LAX, MIA and the like. This can only be a good thing – more on that in a bit.
First off, per nola.com, the official website of the City of New Orleans:
British Airways will launch nonstop flights between London and New Orleans next spring, marking the city’s first direct connection with Europe since 1982. Local officials joined tourism and business leaders Thursday morning (Oct. 20) at Louis Armstrong International Airport to disclose the long-coveted connection, which they call a “game-changer” for the region.
The flight will initially be 4x weekly, operating on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Flights will be approximately 10 hours each way and will be served with BA’s shiny new 787-8 aircraft (okay, we were wrong about this one – we guessed the 777 would kick off the flights). The BA 787 has a three class configuration with 214 seats in total. The aircraft will have 35 seats in Club World, the airline’s Business Class in addition to 25 in World Traveler Plus (Premium Economy) and 154 in World Traveler (Economy).
Flight timings will look like this:
Dep London Heathrow (LHR) 15:40 – Arr New Orleans Louis Armstrong (MSY) 19:40
Dep New Orleans Louis Armstrong (MSY) 21:10 – Arr London Heathrow (LHR) 12:00
As we said in our previous article, this flight is really targeted for people bound for New Orleans – it is after all a very popular destination for Europeans (and why wouldn’t it be, it’s one of the greatest cities on earth). The flight timings definitely reflect this – a mid afternoon departure from London means connections are easy for tons of folks from the continent and around the UK. And the noon time arrival back at Heathrow again means a plethora of connection options beyond London.
It also must be noted that this new flight didn’t come without a ton of lobbying and hard work on the part of the NOLA Airport and Transport authorities in an effort to bring more revenue into a post Katrina New Orleans:
The London flight is the culmination of several years of talks between British Airways and local business and tourism leaders. Last year, the airline chose to add a daily London flight to and from San Jose, Calif., instead of New Orleans, a blow to local lobbying efforts.
The deciding factor for British Airways in 2015, according to those close to the negotiations, was that Silicon Valley would support more international business travel, much of it linked to Google’s new campus under construction. These “front of the plane” travelers who pay more for tickets and travel frequently are more lucrative to airlines than seasonal tourists in the back of the plane.
The latest courtship between New Orleans and British Airways started after a spring 2013 GNO Inc. viability study into international flights placed London at the top of a list of “most attractive destinations,” followed by Paris and Frankfurt. Actual discussions with the airline began that fall.
So it’s been a long, winding road to getting British Airways to fly into New Orleans – more than 3 years in fact. So a massive kudos to the officials who finally broke BA and made it happen! Let’s hope this flight brings in financial success not only to BA but the city and people of New Orleans.