British Airways cancels 24 flights on its $1 billion route between London and New York as business travel craters due to coronavirus
- British Airways is canceling 24 flights between New York and London in response to reduced demand from the spread of coronavirus in Europe.
- The New York-London route is British Airways' flagship with numerous frequencies on some of its largest aircraft.
- British Airways primarily appeals to business travelers on the route through the use of premium-dense aircraft that earned the airline over $1 billion between 2018 and 2019.
- Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
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British Airways will be canceling 24 flights between New York and London in March as coronavirus continues to weaken demand for international travel. The announcement came on Monday as the UK flag carrier slashed flights on routes across its short-haul network in addition to previously announced route suspensions and reductions to Italy, South Korea, and Singapore.
Scheduled flights between March 17 and March 28 will be affected, a time period in which over 200 British Airways flights were scheduled to fly between the two economic hubs. While the 24 flights are a relatively small dent in the daily flight volume for the route, they signify a reduced demand for international business travel.
The London-New York route is the most lucrative in the world and British Airways is the dominant airline flying it, servicing the route with multiple frequencies per day and some of its largest aircraft including the Boeing 747 and 777 aimed at attracting business travelers.
The route is most frequently flown by aircraft with premium-dense configurations where first and business class cabins favored by business travelers take up more sections of the aircraft than economy. Its strategy of appealing towards the business travel class earned the airline nearly $1.2 billion in revenue between April 2018 and March 2019, according to estimates from travel data analyzer OAG.
Despite competing against Virgin Atlantic, American Airlines, and Delta Air Lines on the route, British Airways consistently offers the greatest number of flights, with near hourly service in the evening and a rare morning flight between the US and UK. Flexibility and a greater number of available premium seats than its competitors make the carrier an ideal choice for the business traveler that requires both.
The only route that's affected is the airline's flagship between John F. Kennedy International Airport and Heathrow Airport, the largest airports in their respective cities. British Airways also operates flights from JFK Airport to London's Gatwick and City Airports, as well as flights between Newark Airport and Heathrow, but both of these secondary routes have been affected yet.
No other British Airways routes between the UK and the US have been reduced and the airline did not give Business Insider any additional details beyond the number of cancellations and the date range for the reduction in service.
British Airways is the first European carrier to cancel flights on a route to the US, but not the first global carrier - Singapore Airlines reduced frequencies on its routes to the US, similarly aimed at business travelers, due to COVID-19 coronavirus.
The airline also announced a temporary policy where customers booking flights between March 3 and March 16 will have the option to change their flights with no change fee in an attempt to inspire confidence in travel.
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