Judging by a raft of cancellation emails sent out to our readers this afternoon, British Airways has, permanently, suspended flights from Leeds Bradford Airport to London Heathrow. I cannot see any flights on ba.com for any future date.
Leeds Bradford was an experiment that, unfortunately, never fully worked.
Leeds Bradford to Heathrow had historically been a successful bmi British Midland route until rail improvements led to the service being axed in 2009. British Airways revived it in 2012.
We know that, in 2016, the route carried 165,000 passengers across 20 weekly flights, so an average load of around 80 passengers each way. This isn’t huge, of course, but the real value would have been in the connecting traffic onto the long-haul network.
In February 2018 it dropped to 10 flights per week. There comes a point where the frequencies simply aren’t good enough for business travellers who require flexibility and this may have been a cut too far.
What is a shame is that Leeds Bradford is currently undergoing a major period of expansion. Construction work is about to start on a new terminal building and Leeds Bradford now has three (!) airport lounges.
To be honest, I would have expected British Airways to support or even grow its regional network over the next year or so. Realistically it will need to do quite a bit of slot-sitting if it is to retain its full Heathrow slot portfolio. Shuttling aircraft up to Leeds and back is a quick and easy way to do that whilst pulling in connecting traffic.
Looking at the list of other carriers on the airport website, it will continue to be served by Aer Lingus, Aurigny, Jet2, KLM, Ryanair, Tui and Eastern as well as holiday charters.
The big winner here is KLM which retains multiple daily flights and can go back to scooping up the local long-haul business traffic and funnelling it through Amsterdam.
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