Air China suspends Gatwick to Beijing service
Gatwick airport looks to be losing another long-haul route next month, as Air China has decided to suspend its Gatwick to Beijing service over the winter period from October 27, according to airlineroute.net.
A spokesperson for Gatwick responded to the news, saying: “We are disappointing that Air China has decided not to operate services between London Gatwick and Beijing this winter.
“Over the summer, the airline increased the size of aircraft used on its other UK route, which has caused it to temporarily withdraw services from Gatwick for one season. However passenger numbers on the Gatwick route have been consistently strong since its launch and we look forward to welcoming Air China back next summer.”
It would appear that despite strong loads a lack of demand means the service is not viable year round from two UK airports.
Gatwick believes that the carrier will return for the summer season, commencing in spring 2014, when it normally operates four weekly flights.
The carrier continues to operate a daily direct service to Beijing from London Heathrow.
Korean Airlines suspended its Gatwick-Seoul route late last year (see news, November 2012) and Hong Kong Airlines ill-fated all-business class service was cancelled previous to that (see news, August 2012).
Fellow Asian carrier Vietnam Airlines added a fifth summer service from Gatwick in April (see news April 23).
SergeantMajor - 05/09/2013 12:28
This is evidence that while demand may be "strong", margins are less so and that the rush to serve a wide range of Chinese destinations direct from London is premature.
flightdeck - 05/09/2013 16:36
This I think is exactly what all the airlines are taking about,that is british airports charge the highest tax in europe,if not the world. Why come here when Frankfurt is so much more business orientated. UK's new hub? it will be Frankfurt.
sea_surge - 12/09/2013 10:33
To test out flightdeck’s assertions (yes, I have got other work I should be doing but his/her’s is an important argument in the London airport expansion debate) I have just looked up Air China’s online fares between Beijing and London, Frankfurt and Paris, departing November 13 and returning November 20.
The cost of the cheapest fare to and from London is GBP744.15, whereas to and from Frankfurt it is GBP638.80 and Paris GBP665.20. This would seem to bear out flightdeck’s hub argument.
However, if you look at fares in the reverse direction on these same dates, Air China’s cheapest London(Heathrow)-Beijing fare falls steeply to GBP587.35. The British Airways cheapest fare on the same days on the same route is GBP638.80, whereas Lufthansa’s return fare from Frankfurt to Beijing is only EUR587.18.
The interesting point is that on the BA flights, taxes and charges amount to GBP371.15, and on the Lufthansa flights the tax and charges total EUR375.18. So before taxes and charges, BA’s fare is GBP267.00 and Lufthansa’s is EUR212.00 - quite a difference.
My conclusion, therefore, is that although taxes can make a difference, it is the competition between airlines that continues to be the main driver of fares on routes. BA and Air China must have decided that LHR to Beijing can withstand higher fares than on the FRA to Beijing route. I also note that Air China does not appear to serve Europe’s other main hub, Amsterdam.
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