- British Airways to fly from Stansted to four European beach destinations
- Beginning May 28, BA CityFlyer will take flight once a week at weekends
- But, will BA be able to compete with low-cost easyJet and Ryanair?
British Airways is set to fly from Stansted – home of the low-cost airlines – for the first time.
From May 28, it will fly to four European beach destinations: Palma, Ibiza, Malaga, and Faro for the Algarve.
Operated by BA’s subsidiary BA CityFlyer, the flights will take place once a week, at weekends. The 98-seater Embraer 190 aircraft are being switched from London City Airport.
With Stansted the heartland of the low-cost airlines, is BA an attractive proposition for short-haul flights to Europe when compared against easyJet and Ryanair?
Take flight: BA CityFlyer will begin four routes from Stanstead to European beach destinations come May 28
BA says its hand-baggage only fares from Stansted start at £98 return. Picking the Malaga route from June 18 to 25, the fare I found online on a dummy booking was £213 return.
Flying Stansted-Malaga on the same dates, the cheapest fare with Ryanair was £142 return, and £234 return with easyJet.
For Stansted to Palma between July 23 and 30 with hand luggage only, it was £200 return with BA, £312 with easyJet and £401 with Ryanair.
Fares may have changed since I checked, and BA’s may have increased as the flights are new.
But the underlying message is BA can undercut, or at least compete with, the low-cost airlines on price.
Beach getaway: Palma will be among the destinations, as well as Malaga, Ibiza and Faro for the Algarve
Three years ago, BA introduced hand-baggage only fares on short-haul routes – effectively charging for checking in bags, as low-cost airlines do.
The extra cost to book a ticket including one standard checked-in bag (up to 23kg) varies by route, but for the new Stansted services it is £30 return.
That is less than easyJet or Ryanair flying, say, Stansted-Malaga this summer.
On that route, to check in a bag up to 20kg with easyJet would cost £44 return, and with Ryanair £70 return.
The legroom on short-haul flights varies little between BA, easyJet and Ryanair.
However, the two-by-two seat configuration of the Embraer planes is more pleasant. And across BA’s European flights, you have the option of a business-class seat.
Will it work? It seems as though the faresand bag costs will be comparable to other low-cost carriers
With BA you can select a regular seat for free 24 hours before departure, or from when you book if you are travelling with children.
The exception is if you have purchased a hand-baggage only fare. In that case choosing a seat costs extra – from £10 to £18 per flight.
That looks pricey.
Per-flight charges for a regular seat with easyJet range from £2 to £6, and £6 to £9 with Ryanair.
Food and drink
This is a key selling point for BA. Food and drinks (soft, alcoholic and hot) are complimentary on its flights.
However, with easyJet and Ryanair you pay for snacks and drinks.