It’s Official: British Airways Is Flying To Nashville As Of May 2018

Late last week I shared the rumor that British Airways was apparently shortly going to announce a new flight between Nashville and London. Well, that new route is now official.

As of May 16, 2018, British Airways will be launching 5x weekly flights between Nashville and London Heathrow using a Boeing 787-8. The flight will operate with the following schedule:

BA223 London to Nashville departing 3:45PM arriving 6:50PM
BA222 Nashville to London departing 8:20PM arriving 10:30AM (+1 day)

Per the press release, this will be British Airways’ 26th US destination from London next summer, and between the American and British Airways joint venture, the two airlines will operate 67 daily flights from London to the US… wow.

British Airways’ 787-8 features 214 seats, including 35 business class seats, 25 premium economy seats, and 154 economy seats.

Award availability on the new flight is excellent, as you’d expect. British Airways promises to always make two business class and four economy award seats available per flight, and it looks like those have all been loaded for the Nashville route. For example, here’s the American AAdvantage calendar for the route for next May & June:

Since this redemption is on British Airways, though, expect big carrier imposed surcharges — about $500 one-way.

It’s understood that this new route is being made possible by some concessions from the airport and city (read: subsidies, which US carriers find to be illegal and highly unethical when the Gulf carriers do it, even though they have no issues benefiting from it themselves).

While this is the only new route that British Airways is announcing for now, they are also adding capacity on three US routes next summer:

  • British Airways’ daily flights to Phoenix and Philadelphia will be increased from 7x weekly to 10x weekly as of next summer
  • One of British Airways’ two daily Chicago flights will be operated by an A380

Bottom line

This new route is exciting news for Nashville, as it will be the first scheduled transatlantic route that the airport has in this century. It’s impressive to see the number of US destinations that British Airways has been adding, presumably largely because of Norwegian’s growth.

Comments

  1. I’m glad to see it’s operating via LHR, and at least for the opening of the schedule, pricing is pretty comparable for the direct versus needing to connect. Aside from not being able to use SWUs, premium economy could be a pretty decent alternative as I’d rather use SWUs TPAC, anyway.

  2. One of British Airways’ two daily Chicago flights will be operated by an A380 – Glad to see ORD getting a A380 finally 🙂

  3. Regarding subsidies, I thought most US airports that are trying to launch “signature” flights offer incentives like reduced/waived landing fees for the first year or so, marketing support from the airport, city or development authority subsidies plus any private sector subsidies or commitments (think GSK for RDU-LHR which started over 20 years ago on a 757!) Is this BNA-LHR flight any different?

  4. Interesting to see that BA went ahead with the A380 at ORD given that when Emirates tested one at ORD last summer, the damaged the plane with the jet bridge. Still as a Brit living in Chicago, this is awesome!!!

  5. I wouldn’t say that a revenue guarantee for a route that would otherwise be unprofitable for an airline is not the same as a subsidy.

    They typically work such that it is the city that wants direct service to LHR, so they need to entice an airline to fly that route even if the demand may not be there. The payout to the airline occurs only if the airline doesn’t collect the contracted revenue; if the demand IS actually there, there is no payout. If not, the government pays the airline. This is quite typical, especially for ski cities and other seasonal destinations that don’t make sense to have regular service.

    Really wish the blogs out there would stick to what they’re good at and keep their obvious biases out of it.

  6. Can’t believe Nashville got a flight from an international carrier and somehow Charlotte just has the random Lufthansa flight each day (back from when US Airways was in Star)…..as a major AA connecting hub one would think BA would consider a flight to Clt

  7. What do you think BA’s next US destination will be? I am thinking it will be Indianapolis. Lots of business travelers there.

  8. @Kevin – Charlotte is very very very well covered to Europe. They have London service with AA to Heathrow, plus service to many many other European cities. It’s amazing they have Barcelona seasonally – that’s something I’d have never imagined seeing. They should be happy with the service they have – which is more than they’d ever have without the AA hub, and it’s amazing that they’ve kept the LH flight with AA not in Star. Not sure what you’re complaining about.

  9. @ Jason, I realize the amount of AA Europenean flights out of CLT….not complaining; just surprised more international carriers haven’t started a route there due to the high volume of connecting flights out of Charlotte as well as with it being such a banking hub as well. Know several airport employees and at a time they were told CLT will be getting Qatar and Emirates once the new terminal is complete…..guess we shall see if that ever comes

  10. Corrected Headline:

    British Airways MAY Be Flying To Nashville As Of May 2018
    (if they can find it in their cold hearts to patch up relations with their unions by then)

  11. Confused on the award availability, I checked this morning and saw the 4 award seats bookable through BA.com (for first BNA-LHR leg May 4th), checked back this afternoon and the 4 econ and 2 biz are all not available.

    However when i search on AA.com, still pops up with econ availability at the 30k price. So that would assume that there is still econ saver award level available, but yet not showing on the BA site. so there are more econ saver seats available on this BA flight for booking through AA rather than BA?

    Can someone help me understand? Trying my hardest to be on this flight, being from Nashville and having a Eurotrip planned around that time.

  12. @Kevin-
    Airlines primarily start nonstop longhaul flights for the local market. To make an Emirates or a Qatar work at at CLT (or anywhere else in the States) you need a large Indian population, or a large population locally that has a desire to travel beyond the ME hub (I should know – i was a network planner at one of the big 3 ME carriers and know exactly what they look for when looking at US destinations. We actually did consider and looked at Charlotte but decided against it). Charlotte doesnt have that. Connections at Charlotte are important and CLT certainly has a lot of them, but as of now, AA has dropped all interline agreements with Emirates. In addition, connection traffic tends to be far lower yielding, so you really need to have a good base of local traffic, to be topped off by only the highest yielding connections. To be able to transfer / conduct transfers, you need the interline agreement. AA has also cut its codeshares with Qatar and Etihad. Etihad is shrinking in the US and Qatar has other challenges right now. Never say never of course, but I dont think that Charlotte will get an ME 3 carrier any time soon. and in the meantime, I really do think that Charlotte is doing very well and I do love it – there was skepticism with the AA merger and i’m glad to see that it has maintained/ grown its prominent role in the network.

  13. STL is now the largest US metropolitan area by population without trans-Atlantic flights. It has about 1 million more people than Nashville. Decent oneworld frequent flyer population left over from the days when TW/AA had a hub there. They even have an Admirals Club which is rare for a non-hub airport. As a local oneworld Emerald member, I would love to see it on get BA service in the future.

  14. John S,

    It’s not just the population that counts, but how wealthy/sophisticated that population is.

    Or what else is close by which, in the case of STL, is very little. Oakland (population 400,000) has direct flights to London but of course it has affluent populations all around it.

    I could see BA doing Kansas City before STL but, in any event, BA also picks US cities where a lot of Europeans want to visit, and that’s typically not anywhere in the MidWest apart from Chicago. They don’t even fly to Detroit, although Delta and Virgin do.

  15. @ Martin Good point, I guess BA picked this route more for leisure travel than business travel. Lots of tourism interest in Nashville and New Orleans, much more than business travel in other cities without trans-Atlantic service.

  16. Here is an excerpt from The Tennessee:

    “Paying for the flight
    The current state fiscal year’s budget includes $1 million for the London flight, allocated in hopes the deal would go through. [Tennessee Governor Bill] Haslam said another $500,000 would be dedicated to the project in the next budget.
    [Nashville Mayor Megan] Barry said Metro government has committed to a $500,000 stopgap for losses, should the funds be necessary. The airport will provide $500,000 in marketing a year for two years and waive landing fees, said Tom Jurkovich, vice president of external affairs for the airport authority.”

  17. I think it’s impressive to see BA create this level of connectivity with the US (although historically that has been a key part of their model so not all that surprising).

    Without sounding ignorant though, will there really be demand for this route? I just moved back to London (and spent many years here previously) and can’t say Nashville has ever really come up in tourist/vacation conversations I have had, so presumably this will be a business-focused route…. is there enough demand to warrant the premium for a nonstop – even on a 787? In what industries?

  18. Automotive–Nissan, GM and Bridgestone all have operations here.
    Music
    Healthcare–Major private health systems are based here.

  19. Interesting okay. I genuinely hope it works – always good to see more direct connections from London to the US, I was curious to know though as my first instinct as BA would have beeen to increase ORD frequencies and use the JV with AA to provide the connectivity. Good luck to them.

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