British Airways (BA) is to begin its first ever scheduled flights from Stansted on May 28 as it seeks to compete with budget carriers.
The airport will be the fourth in the UK that BA will use as a base, launching flights to popular summer destinations that are also the mainstay of EasyJet and Ryanair — Faro, Malaga, Palma and Ibiza.
The carrier will use a 98-seat Embraer 190 jet on the flights, more commonly seen at London City Airport, which will be operated by the wholly owned British Airways subsidiary BA CityFlyer.
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«This is an interesting and aggressive move by BA,” said Nick Trend, our consumer advice expert. “It’s the first time it has decided to compete head to head with Ryanair and Easyjet, who have taken so much traffic from BA in recent years, on their home turf. It should be good news for passengers — increasing choice on four major routes, and keeping downward pressure on fares.»
Luke Hayhoe, British Airways’ general manager commercial and customer at BA CityFlyer described the move “as a fantastic opportunity for us to expand our London network and to give our customers even more choice of where to fly from this summer.
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«Stansted is a growing airport,” he said, “and we will be offering a full scheduled service to some of the most popular European holiday destinations, complementing our existing services from other London airports.»
With Ryanair making a well-documented effort in recent years to become nicer, the distinction between traditional airlines such as BA and their no-frills rivals is being chipped away.
Certain charges, such as having to pay (from £14 return) to select a seat, which BA introduced last March, will not apply from Stansted however.
Cala D’Hort beach in Ibiza Photo: AP
Passengers flying BA from Stansted will be given the choice of travelling in either a Club Europe and Euro Traveller cabin. They will also be offered a free seat selection and online check-in 24 hours before departure, complimentary refreshments and drinks on board and no debit card charges.
Fares start from £49 each way based on a return fare with hand baggage only, inclusive of all taxes, fees and charges.
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Stansted MD, Andrew Harrison said he was delighted to welcome BA to the airport.
«Since we acquired Stansted, our focus has been on attracting a wider choice of airlines and these new services to Faro, Malaga, Palma and Ibiza are strong additions to our route network, which now covers over 170 destinations across Europe and North America.
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«I’m sure these routes will be very popular with passengers from across London, Cambridge and the growing east of England region who are looking to head off on their holidays. We look forward to working closely with British Airways to build a strong working relationship and ensure these new flights are a huge success.»