By Yannick Hansen, luxtimes.lu
Luxembourg’s struggling national carrier Luxair received a major boost as British Airways appeared to scrap its competing flights to London City airport, a key destination for business travellers to the British capital.
Passengers cannot purchase tickets for the Luxembourg to London City route after 28 October, a check of the British Airways website on Friday showed. The link, which Luxair can now offer exclusively, is popular amongst business people as the airport is close to the capital’s two financial centres.
Ticket prices for Luxair’s route to London City are more expensive for flights after British Airways discontinues its service, a search on Luxair’s website revealed. A flight leaving Luxembourg at 6.45 on 31st October cost €60.50, compared to €45.50 for the same flight departing on 3rd October – when British Airways remains a competitor.
Luxair did not respond on Friday when asked if it would increase prices on its London City flights in November. British Airways did not respond to a request for comment either. The route news was first reported by newspaper Paperjam.
British Airways customers flying from Luxembourg to the British capital will have to go to Heathrow, a much bigger airport that is further away from the city centre. Heathrow recently extended a limit on how many passengers airlines were allowed to carry after staff shortages pushed it to the brink of collapse this summer.
The rival’s move is good news for Luxair, however, as it was struggling to reclaim travel on its traditional business routes, including the London City link, as virtual meetings took off during the Covid-19 pandemic. That forced the carrier to continue flights that lost money to preserve its lucrative slots, costing the airline at least €1 million.
State-owned Luxair lost €2.3 million in 2021, still a major improvement over a €155 million loss during 2020, when the pandemic and resulting lockdowns kept travellers home and planes grounded. The passenger airline has been kept afloat in large measure thanks to nearly €100 million in dividends in the past two years it received thanks to its 35% ownership in Luxembourg freight airline Cargolux.
Luxair employed 2,850 people and was the country’s tenth-largest employer at the start of this year, according to national statistics agency Statec. The Luxembourg state and state bank BCEE together own 60% of Luxair.
(Additional reporting by Emery P. Dalesio)