Why British Airways — And Everyone — Is Launching Fort Lauderdale Service

It’s fascinating that British Airways is growing their long haul network with new U.S. destinations even as Brexit looms. They have a joint venture with American Airlines and Finnair, but American does seem to leave decisions about new London routes to BA. And they share the risk here.

Earlier in the month they announced they’d be introducing New Orleans service. And yesterday they announced Fort Lauderdale. Both could appear on face to be curious choices.

Starting July 6, British Airways will offer service 3 to 4 times a week:

  • London Gatwick – Fort Lauderdale, 9:25am – 1:45pm, BA2169
  • Fort Lauderdale – London Gatwick, 5:00pm – 6:30am+1, BA2168

They’re operating the route with a Boeing 777-200 with no first class and light premium cabins, just 40 business class and 24 premium economy seats.

This is clearly a leisure market. They aren’t flying a ton of premium seats, they’re flying to Gatwick. While BA offers many of their intra-European leisure destinations from Gatwick as well, the return isn’t well timed for connections with a 9:25am departure from London.

Fort Lauderdale is one of the fastest-growing airports in the region. International seat capacity is up 24% year-over-year already without this announcement according to Airline Weekly. The Miami metropolitan area is the 8th largest in the country. Three years ago there was only a single transatlantic flight operated by Condor. Now Emirates is adding service to connect to JetBlue’s hub there.

But the key here is Norwegian operates out of Fort Lauderdale with London Gatwick service (as well as Paris and Barcelona is coming). BA is reactive here.

American Airlines deliberately went along with plans to make Miami one of the highest cost airports in the nation to operate out of. That drove up American’s cost as the major airline in Miami, but it protected them from low cost competition for a time — low cost carriers for the most part have avoided Miami in favor of Fort Lauderdale so far.

Even that’s no longer completely the case, since Fort Lauderdale has become overcrowded. Wow Air chose to serve Miami. But despite the higher yields out of the airport to the South (somewhat bludgeoned by the preponderance of South America flights which haven’t performed well of late), Fort Lauderdale has been the growth story of South Florida.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. For Pete’s sake what is your obsession with Brexit?! The world won’t come to an end in the UK.

  2. If anything, Brexit will mean more routes like this rather than fewer, as the UK becomes much more engaged with the world, rather than obsessing about Europe.

  3. Gary, international carriers are interested in FLL (especially for leisure pax), because it’s a modern and relatively easy airport for international passengers to navigate.

    MIA, on the other hand, is and will likely be for years and years to come, a major hassle.

    I use both airports and look forward to the arrival of Emirates on December (not such a big deal for me that BA will be offering service).

  4. “Just 40 business class seats”

    My first reaction was that that actually seemed like quite a large number for a route from a secondary big-city airport to a secondary leisure-market airport, but what do I know.

  5. You do seem obsessed with Brexit. I agree that the US will get far less UK tourists in the future. I’m certainly changing my holiday plans (as are many I others I know). Just glad I don’t have to use the ghastly MIA in the future. The most appalling and aggressive immigration experience I have found anywhere in the world.

  6. The thing is that routes go two ways. Sure, as things stand with the USD at 1.22 to the GBP its expensive for Brits to visit the US…..but it’s never been cheaper to go the other way. I suspect that BA has factored this into its new routes too.

  7. As Ziggy said, it’s much cheaper for Americans to vacation in the UK now. And let’s not forget, that even after the Pound devaluation, Florida is still way cheaper for Brits than traveling in the UK. As I well know due to visiting Edinburg and Dublin a few months ago. So Brexit will probably drive ticket sales both ways.

  8. “Why British Airways — And Everyone — Is Launching Fort Lauderdale Service”

    Why? You don’t say why.

  9. On another note, I love all the “sore winners” coming out here to shiv Gary on highlighting Brexit’s negative impact on the UK economy.

    Let me make this clear for all of you economics geniuses:

    1. GBP has lost purchasing power against many global currencies. This makes trips abroad suddenly 20% more expensive for all people earning in GBP. To MANY, MANY countries.

    2. Yes, for holders of other currencies, a trip to the UK is now 17% cheaper. But the UK is just one place. An American or a German could also go to a great many places and discover that our dollar/euro is strong. The UK is cheaper, yes, and it will get more visitors as a result, yes!, but that increased inflow can’t nearly add up to the disintegration of the outflow. It’s not like there was all this pent up demand to fly hours and hours to visit gray Cornwall and now that it’s cheap the floodgates will open.

  10. I also have no idea how there could be demand for 40 biz class seats from FLL to LGW, especially with Oneworld partner AA operating flights from nearby MIA.on a daily basis.

  11. Regarding brexit: Just remember it hasn’t even happened yet and we still don’t have any idea what the final agreement will be (although I can almost guarantee that UK will get access to the single market otherwise other EU countries would be shooting themselves in the foot too). UK is in the EU now and yes the £ has dropped which is obvious because there is so much uncertainty over brexit and that’s what happens to currency as a result. Just keeps bothering me how people are saying brexit has ruined the country when actually we haven’t even left and this is purely based on currency which was obviously going to happen.

    Anyways back to planes =) I think this is a great route. I always flew via NYC to get to FLL instead of going to MIA and standing in line for 3 hours and being treated like a piece of dirt. This route is very welcome!!

  12. Not accurate to say “FLL has been the growth story.”

    Have you seen the growth at MIA? It’s insane. Realize that EVERY SINGLE European network airline serves MIA except Aer Lingus, and Aer Lingus is announcing MIA on Friday.

    Of all the European airlines flying to the U.S., the only ones that do not fly to MIA are Norwegian, Air Serbia, Icelandair and Brussels Airlines.

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