Announcing London to Austin Non-Stop. . . Say what?

British Airways has announced its intentions to start a London (Heathrow) to Austin, TX flight initially flying 5x a week (all but SAT and WED) going to daily later in 2014.  This new flight will start early next year and I’m pretty sure it marks the very first trans-Atlantic flight for Austin.

No, this won’t be using a 777 or a 747.  It will be done with a 787-8 and it is a perfect example of what the 787 allows an airline to do. If British Airways can make this route successful at all, it will yield more revenue than asking American Airlines to bring the passenger to Dallas or United Airlines to bring the passenger to Houston.

But there are implications for the vaunted alliances and, in this case, Oneworld.

Why is it in an airline’s best interest to remain in an alliance and even a trans-Atlantic joint venture if it can simply deploy the right sized aircraft to the route and pick off all the low hanging fruit.

There are also implications for airlines who have not adopted the 787 in any great numbers.  Some airlines continue to view the 787 as a 767 when, in fact, it isn’t.  If all you ever needed was a 767, you would probably be better off buying a 767 from Boeing new (they still offer them).  The 787 can do 767 missions but the genius of owning one is that it can also provide exceptional flexibility and provide more opportunities for profit than the 767 ever had a hope of providing.

Flexibility, we’re learning, is a key component to earning profits at airlines.

I believe that Delta Airlines has shown great restraint and excellent analysis in how it has so far managed its fleet in almost every respect.  The one area I did not believe to be smart was their deferral of 787 aircraft. Tying their fortunes to continued use of their 767s will impact their ability to be flexible and entreprenurial on a global scale.

Likewise, I believe that we’ll see United Airlines start to truly exploit the possibilities of their 787 aircraft in the near future and that will provide competitive intensity to Delta Airlines that we have not yet seen so far.

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2 Responses to “Announcing London to Austin Non-Stop. . . Say what?”

  1. Very interesting. Austin basically has the TX capital and the U of Texas. I wouldn’t expect it to be a European business destination, but I’m sure BA did their homework. It will be interesting to see how the route works out.

  2. Supposedly the basis for this route is a technology connection. Since British Airways doesn’t often act stupid, I presume they found that there was a sufficient number of passengers on an O&D basis between Austin and London.

    But it does seem tough for it to pass the sniff test when it’s kind of hard to even fill some trans-Atlantic flights out of Dallas and Houston.

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