British Airways today announced detailed changes to its route network following last week`s decision to operate a reduced flying programme.
Following the impact on demand of the tragic events in the USA, British Airways is to operate a reduced schedule and rationalised services to America, the Middle East and Europe.
As part of its route network changes, British Airways will withdraw services between Belfast and London Heathrow along with the suspension of some eight shorthaul routes at Gatwick.
The Belfast London route has a history of unprofitability and in the course of the last four years losses on the route have amounted to £38 million. The withdrawal of this loss-making service will result in the closure of the airline`s operating base at Belfast International Airport, with the exception of cargo at Belfast International Airport.
British Airways` subsidiary and franchise operations to and from other Northern Ireland airports are unaffected by today`s announcement.
Almost 500 weekly flights, to eight UK destinations will continue as normal with its subsidiary, British Regional Airlines, consolidating its Aberdeen, Cardiff and Manchester services at Belfast City Airport.
Ian Reid, British Airways` General Manager UK and Ireland said: “The decision to cease flying the Belfast to London Heathrow service has not been an easy one. Over the years we have tried hard to maintain this service. However, despite the best efforts of all our staff and support from the local community huge losses have continued.
“We now face exceptional conditions in a very difficult operating environment and therefore tough decisions must be taken to protect the commercial interests of the airline. Regrettably we cannot continue to bear losses of this magnitude without taking immediate action.”
The airline`s withdrawal from its London Heathrow route will be effective from October 27 and it is hoped that any job losses can be achieved on a voluntary basis.
The changes today are the first phase of measures to address the changing environment. British Airways will be reviewing its network on a week-to-week basis and consequently will quickly address further issues as and when they arise to protect the business.