British Airways cuts Heathrow to Chengdu due to lack of demand

Replaces Chinese route with New Orleans

British Airways has scrapped its service to Chinese megacity  Chengdu due to lack of demand.

Flights to Chinese cities like Chengdu are always emphasised by Heathrow as one of the main reasons for a third runway.

Heathrow claims there is a huge demand for routes like Chengdu that can only be met by a new runway.

In Heathrow’s first submission to the Airports Commission in November 2012, the airport’s chief executive, Colin Matthews, said a lack of capacity was limiting Britain’s ability to connect to growing cities in emerging markets, such as Chengdu in China.

It now appears few people want to fly there.

The Heathrow to Chengdu route has now been cut by British Airways after just three years due to lack of demand.

The route started in 2013 and has 5 return flights a week. At the start it was operated by a Boeing 777 but in 2014 was changed to a smaller Boeing 787.

The UK and China recently raised the number of flights allowed between the two countries to 40 returns each per week. But the UK only uses 29 of them (even fewer without Chengdu).

Available slots at Heathrow are almost always used for North American and leisure routes.

British Airways will use the Chengdu slots to fly between Heathrow and New Orleans with that same 787.

Earlier in 2016 BA started flying daily from Heathrow to San Jose in California.

In 2015, Virgin Atlantic dropped routes to Tokyo and Mumbai for more flights to North America.

Earlier this week Croatia Airlines decided to no longer fly into London Heathrow.

In a statement, BA said on Monday:

“We regret that we have decided to suspend the Heathrow to Chengdu route. We have a proud tradition of flying to China but despite operating this route for three years it is not commercially viable.”

A spokesperson for Gatwick told the Guardian:

Lack of current connectivity to some markets – in China for instance – is less to do with capacity and more to do with lack of demand. When slots have become available, airlines at Heathrow have been consistently adding capacity on these profitable routes – such as North America and Europe – rather than use them for emerging markets.”

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