After announcing Newark, NJ, and Toronto as its initial destinations to receive 787 services, British Airways has shocked the global flying community today after announcing new nonstop services to Austin, TX from London Heathrow, commencing in March 2014.
The AUS-LHR flight will run 5x weekly and then eventually grow to a daily service by May 2014, utilizing the following departure and arrival times:
BA190 AUS 1900 1000 LHR
BA191 LHR 1235 1700 AUS
Once Austin comes online, British Airways will become the largest European operator to the State of Texas, offering three nonstop services to Dallas/Ft. Worth, Houston and Austin airports from its London Heathrow base. However, whereas Dallas/Ft. Worth and Houston have long maintained links to the European continent, via both British Airways and other major airliners such as Lufthansa, KLM and Air France, Austin has never supported a major intercontinental route beyond North America.
This further underscores the notion that the 787 is, indeed, a major game-changer in allowing some routes, once considered pipe-line dreams, to become realities. Last week, United announced a new 787 route from San Francisco to Chengdu, China, commencing in June 2014. Until the advent of the 787, United would likely have not been able to venture into this space.
More than anything, after years of painful delays, drama and groundings, airlines want to be able to promise consumers nothing but positive news pertaining to the dreamliner, especially in terms of putting it to its intended use by opening up long, thin routes that would have been previously unviable on other aircraft.
The flight is designed to target business traffic, given that Austin tends to generate a high volume of corporate travel within the technology industry, as well as connecting traffic headed beyond London to Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East. The plane will be configured with Club World (business), World Traveler Plus (Economy Plus) and World Traveler seats.
There appears to be a 50-50 split between the naysayers and the champions concerning the long-term viability for this route. I, personally, am falling into the latter category, beleiving that the “hype” surrounding this route has more to do with its novelty rather than its sustainability. Just because it is unprecedented does not mean that it is destined for failure. Mention the words, “Texas” or “Austin” in Europe, and people immediately know what you are referring to. The fact that Austin will now become even more accessible to European travelers, and vice versa, will likely stimulate more demand for this route, and I think it is going to be a winner in the long run.
Congrats to British Airways, OneWorld and Austin Bergstrom Int’l airport for this outstanding news.