Heathrow Airport has a ‘use it or lose it’ system for take off and landing slots. This is, arguably, a sensible approach to take – with such huge demand for Heathrow slots, it wouldn’t be acceptable if airlines were allowed to sit on valuable slots without running flights.
In simple terms, an airline has to use a slot on 80% of dates during an airline ‘season’, which typically runs from March to October or October to March. Failure to do so means an automatic surrender of the slot to be reallocated to another airline.
This means that British Airways has a problem. As we covered last week, one of the two daily Hong Kong flights – the one which lands at Heathrow at 4.45am in a hugely valuable ‘curfew breaking’ landing slot – has been cancelled due to a collapse in demand.
Because the Government is still recommending travel to Hong Kong, unlike China, there are no extenuating circumstances. The flight was cancelled purely for commercial reasons. BA needs to land a flight at 4.45am on enough days to keep up the 80% average or the slot will be lost.
This is unfortunate news if you live in Athens. The first daily flight from Athens usually departs Greece at 8am:
In early March, it now departs at 2.40am to land exactly at 4.45am in the Hong Kong slot 🙂
The only upside here is that no person in their right mind will want to fly this, which may lead to some good deals. As Athens is a 160 tier point route in Club Europe, it may be possible to pop down to Athens after work and be back in the office, 160 tier points better off, by 7am the next day!
To be fair to BA, this is a better solution than flying a totally empty plane between, say, Gatwick and Heathrow at 4.30am just to fill the 4.45am landing slot.
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