British Airways Is Expected To Announce New Nashville Route

The Tennessean is reporting that British Airways is expected to announce a new service between London and Nashville as early as next week. Neither British Airways nor the airport have confirmed this yet, though this is a reliable source, and Nashville has also been advocating for this route for years. Three years ago there were reports that Nashville was one of five US cities that British Airways was considering.

Apparently the airport is offering some incentives to British Airways to launch this flight, which is pretty normal. We don’t yet know the details of what those look like.

Back in the day American had a hub in Nashville, and at the time they had a nonstop flight to London. However, that route was discontinued in the mid-90s, so it has been over 20 years since Nashville has had a direct link to London. Furthermore, at the moment the airport has no longhaul flights.

We’ll have to wait for the official announcement to find out what plane the flight will be operated by, and whether Nashville will be served out of Heathrow or Gatwick. I’d guess that they’ll launch the route with a 787-8 out of Heathrow, but I could be mistaken (they don’t have any 787s based at Gatwick, so they’d have to operate a 777 if out of Gatwick).

The pace at which British Airways is adding flights to the US is impressive. If I’m not mistaken, they’re up to 25 US destinations, which is more longhaul flights than any other non-US airline operates to the US. For example, in California alone they fly to Los Angeles, Oakland, San Diego, San Francisco, and San Jose.

Presumably this growth is partly possible thanks to their fleet of 787s, which makes longhaul routes between more city pairs feasible. I suspect they’re also trying to beat Norwegian to new routes, given the pace at which they’re adding new flights to the US.

What do you make of British Airways’ potential new route between London and Nashville?

Comments

  1. Never underestimate the power of the 787. This is making Norwegian so strong, and many no-namers start doing ultra crazy routes that were once unthinkable

  2. I’d like to see Charlotte get a BA route to LHR or LGW. We had one about 15 years back and it went away. With only two AA flights per day, premium cabins are reliably sold out and economy is half full most of the year. Feels ripe for a 787 expansion, as opposed to the A330s that AA operates now.

  3. Can’t see this being a 777, given that it is a niche route. I’d guess a 787-8, as they don’t have First class which doesn’t work out for a leisure route.

    Great how the Dreamliner has reversed the multi-decade trend of hub-and-spoke flying.

  4. Nashville is a booming leisure destination and is increasingly important for business travel. Very similar to Austin, which also has some direct flights to London.

  5. Great news for my hometown. The prior route was to Gatwick but I’d bet this one is to Heathrow. @Anthony is right about how the city is growing. Some parts of town I barely recognize when I go back for a visit.

  6. “Furthermore, at the moment the airport has no longhaul flights.”

    “If I’m not mistaken, they’re up to 25 US destinations, which is more longhaul flights than any other non-US airline operates to the US.”

    Good thing ‘longhaul’ was mentioned in both sentences. For a moment I thought you forgot about Air Canada.

  7. Why does everyone prefer Heathrow over Gatwick? The Heathrow express drops you in a part of central London that where you probably don’t want to be and the tube takes an hour. The thameslink trains from Gatwick cost about £10 with contactless/oyster/Apple pay and there’s several stops right in the middle if London.

  8. @Lumma

    You’re right, of course, but quantity has its own quality, and Heathrow, for historical reasons, has many more long-haul destinations than Gatwick so it operates as a magnet for more routes.

    Thameslink from Gatwick is brilliant; from late 2019, through-trains will operate from Heathrow via a new “Crossrail” line through central London to Canary Wharf and beyond (it will be called, bizarrely, the “Elizabeth Line”). From that time, train options from Heathrow should be better than from Gatwick.

  9. @Lumma, it’s nothing to do with the train and everything to do with the airport. Gatwick is just awful on so many measures. It’s far worse not only than LHR but almost every other major airport these days.

  10. 25 US routes! Preposterous, someone needs to drop the hammer on BA as to allow US carriers to fly those routes profitably (sarcasm)

  11. Excellent! First LOT’s new direct flights from the US to BUD, now this direct flight to Europe from BNA! Now I will have a lot more options when flying from BNA to BUD!

  12. As a Nashville native, this is excellent news! It’d be even more awesome if Norwegian added a route to Nashville. Love those Norwegian fares but I can never take advantage of them.

  13. @Lumma

    You are, of course correct. I suspect part of it is connectivity (LHR is bigger, has more runways, and has more connections to the world). Part of it is likely the airport itself. Thameslink is great, though. When CrossRail comes fully online, it should be interesting to see if it helps traffic at Gatwick.

  14. Yeah…impressive. But it is still BA with shi**y service and hard product, and exorbitant scam charges on all flight redemptions. Woo hoo! Let’s add some reality checks here please!

  15. This is meant to be a business route, not a leisure one (who on Earth wanna go to BNA from Europe?!). As Ben correctly mentioned, the former AA presence in BNA make sure that corporate deals for AA are still pretty strong in the area; this is a great way to leverage their JB.

    For those who said BA service is terrible… I’d take BA Club or coach over LH, DL, UA, and AF anytime of the year.

  16. Living in Nashville and having passed through LHR a dozen or so times this year, this is exciting whether I ever end up on the flight or not. It’ll come down to price & comfort versus convenience. I’ve never been too fussed about direct flights, so I don’t mind connecting if it means I can use my SWUs on AA or get better pricing for J by connecting at BOS, YYZ, or JFK. But either way, I’m stoked for increased oneworld presence at BNA!

  17. On the LGW vs LHR front, you’re forgetting the road links which matter more to business travellers than rail networks, in the U.K. at least. Plus, it’s not just about London itself, LHR serves a very affluent catchment area in the Home Counties and beyond!
    Then there’s the airport itself and the airlines serving it. Enough said!…

  18. @Philip Hu. Yes, never thought I’d be able to fly JFK-GYD (Baku) nonstop, but now possible a few times a week on an Azerbaijan Airlines 787 with very good service (though middling hard product in business class). And Air Astana (Kazakshstan) intends to start nonstop service JFK-TSE (Astana) when they receive a 787 in 2019. Not everyone thinks nonstops to the Caspian and Central Asia are cool vacation options, but I do 🙂

  19. @Airways and Travel – are you forgetting about the music and tourism industries in Nashville? Nashville is a growing leisure destination. There will tour groups taking advantage of that flight bringing busloads of people to Tennessee. They can tour Nashville for a few days and three hours later be in Memphis (Elvis is still a huge draw) before making the return trip.

  20. Probably a terrible idea but being born in Harrogate, North Yorkshire I’ve always wanted to visit Harrogate, Tennessee. 🙂

  21. @Lumma, Paul and Rtbones. Are you all mad? And how exactly do you get from Gatwick when Southern Trains are on strike? Have any of you tried a Thameslink train then? And what are these several stations in the middle of London? East Croydon and Clapham Junction…..I think most tourists would prefer Paddington.

  22. I wouldn’t really call this a “leisure route,” per se. Yes, tourism is big in Nashville, but I’d expect this route will have a lot of business travelers on it, too, as it will be the only direct flight to or from Europe in Nashville. I expect that my company will be putting quite a few of both its employees traveling to Europe and its customers and dealers traveling here on that flight, for example.

  23. @evan I’d say that London bridge, Blackfriars, city thameslink, farringdon and kings cross all constitute central London and better for the east end, city and even a lot of the west end than Paddington. For many people it’s quicker (and a lot cheaper) to take the Piccadilly line than take the Heathrow express and change.

    Elizabeth line will be a game changer, though.

  24. It’s too bad that British Airways has such a horrible business-class product and declining service. Regardless, 25-something routes to the Untied States seems like a lot for a country of 65 million people.

  25. Yes, the question is who/what is the BNA based traffic? All provincial characters, pretty much? As for incoming, Nashville tourism is mostly from the region, as in adjacent states and not from other countries…. Let me tell you, are far from the world when you are anywhere in the South.

  26. This route reminds me of BA’s flight from LGW to OAK. The flight to Oakland is also operated on the 777, and BA announced this flight just after Norwegian launched flights from OAK to LGW.

  27. FNT DD,

    Those “horrible” business class seats seem to all get sold, even on a A-380 where there is something like 90 of them. While elites often get upgraded to First.

    I’d still rather take BA than any US airline, but then of course rather take Qantas, Cathay or Singapore over BA.

  28. @Marco, you would be surprised at how much international tourism Nashville (and the rest of the Southeastern US) gets. Last year alone saw a 38% increase in international tourists. Over 10% of visitors to the city’s largest even (CMA Fan Fest) were from other countries. (http://www.visitmusiccity.com/pr_tripadvisorintl15) Just 3 hours down the road in Memphis, Elvis continues to draw people. Since it opened to the public in 1982 Elvis’ home, Graceland, has welcomed over 20 million guests. The 20th million guest arrived earlier this year. She lives in (you guessed it) England. (https://www.graceland.com/news/details/graceland-celebrates-20-million-visitors/8044/)

  29. I am praying this flight from Nashville to London happens. I prefer Heathrow, but I’ll take whichever. Heathrow is closer to where I want to be, and I’ve discovered taking a mini cab from Heathrow to my London destination is as cheap as the train, if you book a mini cab with a fixed rate. I travel to London about twice a year from my hometown of Nashville. When I first started doing this, we had the nonstop flight, which did not last that long. I prefer American to BA, but I’ll surely switch if BA gives us a non stop flight.

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