British Airways scraps Chengdu, to launch New Orleans?

British Airways announced yesterday that it is closing its route to Chengdu in China after three years.

I have been calling out this route since it launched.  I was told by a BA employee that the plug was very nearly pulled before a single flight had departed, so poor were forward bookings.  I am not sure how it has limped on for three years, although I am sure that cargo must have played a part.

The last flight to Chengdu will depart on 12th January.

If you were far more cynical than me, you may link this news to reports that the Government was due to finally decide on Heathrow expansion today although the decision has now been delayed a few days longer.

British Airways is very keen for the third runway plans to be scrapped.  The chance of BA being given additional slots equal to its current % of slot control at Heathrow is somewhat lower than nil.  It faces both a massive increase in landing fees and a sharp increase in competition.  Is BA sending a message to the Government?  If we cannot make flights to China pay (along with all the routes to India launched and closed during the last decade) then where are the extra flights from a third runway going to go?

This is all speculation, of course.


As – it must be said – is the rumour that New Orleans will be the beneficiary of the slots and aircraft freed up from closing Chengdu.

There have been local press reports of a major airline announcement so this would make some sense, as would BA dropping back to a ‘safe’ US destination.

Have a think about whether you would be interested in a New Orleans holiday next year.  If the route is announced – and I stress that it isn’t certain – there will be two Club World seats immediately available on EVERY service.  You would have little trouble getting your preferred dates if you moved quickly.

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  1. Leafwarbler says:

    Not surprised – there were only 3 of us in J cabin in June last year.

    O/T anyone know if I stand any chance of using a Companion Ticket to Cancun in Feb/Mar next year? Dates quite flexible but 3+ weeks apart. Any advice welcome.

    • Leafwarbler says:

      Oops – meant 2018

      • You do if you book at t-355.

        • Chelseafi says:

          I’m confused how you use a 241 companion voucher, on the popular routes, how do you book t-355, on website or over the phone and how does the return part work? thanks

        • You can book the outbound online as soon as it pops up, at midnight-ish. This will be a one-way booking obviously.

          When the return becomes available, you need to ring BA and get them to add it to your outbound sector. If you wait until 8am you can ring the UK call centre, if you want to call at midnight you need to ring somewhere else in the world.

          You may be asked to pay the £35 per person change fee although some agents seem to be willing to waive this.

        • Chelseafi says:

          Thank you, already done Atlanta first class return in Easter Hols 2014 and this July did open jaw NY First with Chicago CW return, family of four, schools hols, these routes had a lot of availability, so planning for summer 2018 now and fancy West Coast US. Only couple of years ago I’d never heard of open jaw flights, so thank you & all the other contributors.

        • For the record did just this for a CE redemption next year (not as adventurous but still better than wasting the companion voucher) and the BAEC agent didn’t even mention the service charge and it wasn’t applied. Seemed as though the adding-return-leg-to-BAPP-voucher is a known ‘thing’ that doesn’t attract the service charge

        • And to be clear Rob, it is possible to redeem the companion voucher(s) when booking the return flights, when calling the contact centre ?

        • Yes

  2. BA has always supported the extra runway at Heathrow – if only because it doesn’t want it at Gatwick. This is just one of the arguments it offers:
    “During the last few years, the number of regional routes served from Heathrow has been reduced due to the lack of runway capacity there. A third runway will enable British Airways and other airlines to start new commercially viable regional services from Heathrow, hopefully using slots reserved for that purpose.” – BA

    Sure, they are fearful of the costs involved, but they’ve always favoured LHR over LGW.

    • This article neatly sums up the game BA is playing:

      • RussellH says:

        AIUI, this is really saying that there is no way that the airport itself can finance any third runway. Normally a business would expect to finance investment either out of profits or by raising further capital. Not by raising its prices massively!

        And who knows what the oil price will be in ten years times. At $200 a barrel many routes will cease to be viable and a third runway would be a massive white elephant.

        • If oil prices crept up, the huge capacity in US shale oil which has been mothballed will be brought back on stream – there is almost no realistic scenario in which oil will cost anything like $200 in 10 years…

        • The global aviation industry would need to plummet for a third runway at Heathrow to ever be unneeded. It could do with it now even if they’re not going to add a single flight! Gatwick too.

  3. Chengdu rebooking rules:

    Option 1 – move your trip forward to before 12 January

    Option 2 – fly BA to HK, Beijing, Shanghai and then buy your own connection (seriously)

    Option 3 – fly BA to Abu Dhabi and connect to Etihad, this is subject to Etihad having specific cheapo fare buckets available in whatever class applies

    More options may be available on Friday if you want to wait.

    • Option 2 doesn’t exactly satisfy their obligations surely?! Don’t CX/Dragonair fly to Chengdu?!

      • Buy Your Own Connection, and have the convenience of accessing your bag at the transfer point because BA won’t through-check it. It’s the next enhancement after Buy on Board.

      • It’s too far in the future for BA to be required to get anyone to the original destination. A further option is obviously returning the ticket for a refund.

  4. AVConsultant says:

    New Orleans route is going ahead for BA – subsidized by the tourist board of New Orleans to the tune of a few million. Launch to come soon with a Mardi Gras theme.

  5. Scallder says: