"BA taunts rivals with US flights from European capitals" : media
08/22/2007|9:43:00 AM|2007-08-22  EyeforTravel

British Airways is expected to introduce its first transatlantic flights from Continental capitals next summer. (8/20/2007)

According to timesonline.co.uk, the company´s directors are understood to have given the go-ahead for the services within the past few weeks and a new "airline-within-an-airline" will use a fleet of modified Boeing 757s, smaller than the planes BA uses for its transatlantic flights from the UK. The publication´s report added that they are expected to fly from Brussels, Madrid and Paris to New York´s John F Kennedy airport, although the final network is yet to be decided. It is thought the services will start in May.

The development comes at a stage when the airlines are planning to take advantage of "open skies", which will liberalise transatlantic travel from next March.

"BA executives believe that the strength of its brand is such that it can lure passengers away from its big European rivals such as Air France and Lufthansa, even in their home markets. They also think the same is true in America, where the BA name has particular clout with business travellers," according to the report. "But Air France and Lufthansa are unlikely to take BA´s invasion of their home turf lying down. European airlines could choose to follow BA´s lead and start flights direct from Heathrow to the US, or, as some analysts believe more likely, donate precious landing slots at the London airport to their American partner airlines to allow them to compete head-on with BA."

It further added, "Air France and KLM are in a marketing alliance with America´s Northwest and Delta, which are likely to have garnered sufficient slots from their European partners to start services from Heathrow from next March. BA also faces competition from a new wave of low-cost all-business-class airlines. Eos and MaxJet fly from Stansted to New York and other US destinations, while Silver-Jet flies from Luton to New York."

Among the other developments, Virgin Atlantic and bmi are seeking permission to form partnerships with American carriers on transatlantic flights as part of a strategy to take on British Airways.