Where is Norwegian getting all these slots from? I'll be interested to see how they do against the mammoth of easyJet but fear they'll end up going the same way as Aer Lingus at LGW. Some very good marketing will be needed.
When you look the frequency of some of the Norwegian services the number of slots required isn't huge. Gatwick also has the capacity at certain times of the day. I agree with your comments about taking on Easyjet and to some extent a resurgent BA, which has rediscovered the summer sun routes with some vigour for summer 2013.
You forget that Norwegian already have a very good business out LGW on their Nordic routes, their planned growth at LGW isn't massive for 2013.
Their challenge will be to get people on board, the passenger retention rate will i suspect be high, the product is very good and i understand that 99% of flights will be with WiFi equipped aircraft, there is a certain wow factor on board that you don't get with Easyjet, as for BA a good product spoilt by poor ground handling.
I don't know of another airline let alone a budget airline that gives you a 4 hour cooling of period on its web bookings+ the price you see is what you actually pay plus credit card fee, no admin and £7 a bag is a good deal
I suspect that there will be plenty of people around the Gatwick catchment area ready to try something new, the challenge is in the marketing
BA at Gatwick are very quickly emulating GB on Short Haul, if Canaries and Alicante are popular next year I wouldn't be surprised to see Sharm back for the winter, and Greek Islands (Crete. Santorini & Rhodes?), Split, Madeira, Olbia and maybe Menorca. Long Haul, we are still waiting for the Seychelles, Phuket and Fort Lauderdale.
I think that's exactly the way BA should do it and in fairness they already do generally speaking, where the summer sun/winter ski flights go from Gatwick and the domestic and international cities and worldwide hubs are served from Heathrow.
There should be a really clear and distinct difference in the type of travel market they aim to attract at Heathrow and Gatwick and should be less competition between them and very few routes that go from both. I'd say get rid of the Scottish routes from Gatwick and maybe some of the cities like Amsterdam, Barcelona and Rome and fly them on bigger aircraft from Heathrow and allow more space for summer sun/winter ski routes from Gatwick. At the end of the day, the traveller who wants a full service flight between two cities will prefer Heathrow and for a low cost flights would prefer Stansted or Luton, Gatwick is a bit in the middle and maybe better for the holiday flights, plus that's what Gatwick is traditionally known for.
Perhaps precisely why BA keeps routes like AMS, FCO etc - to keep both business and leisure travellers flying with them from LGW which will maintain yields (always a problem for BA and the cause of the demise of the dual-hub concept in the first half of the last decade) because of the split between those taking city-breaks and those on business. Useful to bear in mind that many of those on business taking these flights will be living in Surrey/Sussex/Kent; given so many commuters living in these areas there is clearly demand - so they might as well keep such routes.
I fully agree with the analysis of AeroMad. Some city routes from Gatwick serve business and the lesiure traveller alike. The Scottish routes and Jersey do provide some useful feed as well as point to point for people in the catchment area. Also why should BA give all those passengers on a plate to Easyjet!! I do regret the loss of Manchester from next March. I wonder how it is doing over the winter months. It has better timings on most days at the moment. I know quite a number of people use the first flight down from Manchester to connect with BA long Haul and the 1025 up to Manchester to take them home. Use it myself a lot for point to point. I know economic reality says it will go but a pity nobody else will pick it up. Does anyone know how the route is performing at moment or any indication of a change of mind? I know I should move on!!
One thing I forgot to mention. BA does offer full service on all flights from Gatwick. There is nothing in the 'middle' about that. I also find the crews are very good. Myself I like paying the fare and not having to worry about the luggage extras and enjoy the complimentary drinks, snacks and meals. Prices are competitive too. Catering has actually improved this year. With more A319s for next Summer and beyond things are looking on the up.
I have nothing at all against Easyjet and have used them with no problem. I just have my personal choices and that is what it is about. Easyjet and BA both need the competition from each other and Gatwick Airport needs to keep a balance of carriers to suit all market segments.
Interestingly Ryanair have reduced their commitment to Gatwick steadily. I think in part this is due to the Gatwick catchment area being happy to pay a little more for service. Also people going on holiday, especially the higher end of the market, are more likely to pay up for a better product.
I do regret the loss of Manchester from next March. I wonder how it is doing over the winter months. It has better timings on most days at the moment. I know quite a number of people use the first flight down from Manchester to connect with BA long Haul and the 1025 up to Manchester to take them home. Use it myself a lot for point to point. I know economic reality says it will go but a pity nobody else will pick it up. Does anyone know how the route is performing at moment or any indication of a change of mind? I know I should move on!!
Yields on the route have been steadily declining for the past 3 or 4 years with BA having to offer more discounted tickets in order to attract pax. Making the route one of the two worst performing LGW routes last year.There is a number of reasons for the drop in pax numbers but the main two reasons are:
BA's best customer on the route in years gone by was actually VS holidays. The company used the service to back then feed there longhaul network. As VS have expanded at MAN the number of pax on the BA flights to LGW have steadily dropped. The other reason is that rail services from LON to MAN have over the years become faster, cheaper, more frequent and more reliable. BA can't compete with the leisure fares offered by rail companies due to the high fuel cost. They have also lost business pax purely because getting the train on such a short route is often far less hassle and often quicker than flying.
One thing I forgot to mention. BA does offer full service on all flights from Gatwick. There is nothing in the 'middle' about that. I also find the crews are very good. Myself I like paying the fare and not having to worry about the luggage extras and enjoy the complimentary drinks, snacks and meals. Prices are competitive too. Catering has actually improved this year.
One of the first things Keith Williams did when he took over the top job at BA was to appoint the companies first Managing Director for LGW with her own team of managers. They were given two years to prove to BA and IAG that operating from LGW was still viable. This has meant that there has had to be some major changes in how the operation is run. As a result all BA's ground services at LGW have been contracted out to much cheaper 3rd party companies, routes have been cut and cabin crew working practices re negotiated. All these cost saving will result in the LGW operation being a profitable one this year.
Looking ahead BA plan to operate at least 5 A319's from LGW next summer. BA plan to use the ex BD A319 aircraft that have been added to the fleet to operate from LGW. The aircraft are not as old as the G-EUP-, G-EUO- registered aircraft. The A319's will be used to operate all flights to ACE, PFO and TFS.
Other recent route changes for S13 that have only recently been made include:
AGP - Will increase from 27 to 34 x weekly IBZ - Will increase from 7 to 10 x weekly
How well do BA compete on those leisure routes to say IBZ and AGP? Obviously during the summer there's high level of cheaper competition from ZB, TOM, EZY, FR, TCX from LGW and the other London airports. I'd say if they're opening up further routes to TFS and ALC, they're doing fairly well on these routes?
BA do well on these leisure routes because people like me, will pay extra to fly BA (pending staff travel is not availble). And to be honest BA tend to have a better class of pax, and a more relaxed atmostphere in the cabin. Flights like IBZ in the summer tend to be half full of ped up pax. I often us the LCY-IBZ because of the excellent flight times.