Will American Airlines Drop New York – London in 2022 as BA Moves Into JFK Terminal 8?

Back in May I suggested that the long run plan could be for British Airways to take over all of American’s New York – London flying.

Leaked comments from American Airlines President Robert Isom suggested that American and British Airways were trying to co-locate in a single terminal at New York JFK though I wondered if all they would be able to accomplish is getting all New York – London flights into one terminal. After all British Airways was putting about $65 million into refurbishments in New York JFK terminal 7, and American kept claiming they’re full in terminal 8.

British Airways and American announced this week that BA would move to American’s terminal 8 in 2022. That’s not really news, since New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said this was part of the plan back in October. However we do get new details.

  • Four new gates for widebodies
  • There will be two stinger gates – excruciatingly long jet bridges
  • They’ll convert a regional jet get to a widebody gate
  • A remote stand or bus gate

Some are surprised by BA’s willingness to walk away from that investment, but $65 million is peanuts amortized over four years in the context of the $1 billion annually they generate on the New York – London route.

I wonder if today’s news that British Airways plans to move its operations — in 2022 — could still mean moving New York – London flying entirely over to British Airways.

  • All of American’s connecting feed becomes easy on the New York side.

  • But if BA operated the flights then all of their combined New York – London service would be operated out of the same terminal in London – Heathrow’s T5 – including much of the connecting operation on the other side of the pond.

The other way to do this, of course, would be to house BA’s New York flights in terminal 3 with American but that makes connecting beyond London more cumbersome and separates out New York from the bulk of BA’s Atlantic operation.

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. I don’t see it. NYC-LHR is a flagship route (perhaps THE flagship route) for any airline, and American would never give it up. They’d give up Tokyo or Paris before they’d ever give up London.

    And on terminal sharing: If BA has approval to share the OW terminal at JFK, then AA should have reciprocal approval to park its planes (at least its JFK planes) at Heathrow’s Terminal 5. Why should BA’s customers get the perk of a same-terminal transfer when AA’s are not given the same courtesy?

    Seems like someone should’ve demanded this parity when working out the deal in the first place.

  2. There will be two stinger gates – excruciatingly long jet bridges

    Never had root canal, have you?

  3. I never understood why BA/AA never worked out a way to have a JFK Jitney bus transport passengers airside for terminals 7-8 (similar to how Delta has a Jitney connecting terminals 2 and 4 airside.)

  4. For some of my most frequent routes, such as to BUD, I have appreciated that AA flies into Terminal 3.

    I have found that the wait security for transfers at Terminal 3 is much shorter than at Terminal 5. Also since the BUD flights go out of Terminal 3, I like getting to use the Admirals Club when transferring.

  5. “They’d give up Tokyo or Paris before they’d ever give up London.” LOL, they already gave up Tokyo years ago…

    That said, I believe BA currently has a maximum of five aircraft on the ground at JFK at one time (between the 5:05 arrival and 6:30 departure), which matches the number of proposed new widebody gates, so it doesn’t sound like they are planning to have BA displace AA on the London route.

    It would be great if the extra gates allow JL or CX to also move over to T8. JFK is such a terrible airport for oneworld connections… you really have to try hard to be worse than LAX, and somehow they succeed.

  6. To Joe Jones: CX is already flying out of T8 – I will be taking one of such flights tomorrow.

  7. BA and AA share the expense and profit in their joint partnership so it doesn’t matter who does the flying, that being said, they will each operate NYC to LHR flight whether they share a terminal or not. With LHR adding a runway and expanding, the BA and AA partnership with become even stronger in the next decade. UA and DL will continue to play second fiddle to the UK and even into the Continent.

  8. @Jeff: “Why in the world would AA stop flying JFK-LHR?”

    Same reason AA stopped flying BOS-LHR and JFK-NRT. AA has a joint venture partner to handle those flights. Plus AA may have better uses for those planes elsewhere in its network.

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