The Accra route plays a critical role in the growth of British Airways operations within the sub region, Director of Network and Alliances, Neil Alan Chernoff, disclosed to a group of journalists in London last week, during the maiden flight of its London Gatwick route.
‘’We consider our Ghana operations one of the important routes in our portfolio and we will ensure that passengers enjoy world class services’’, Chernoff stressed.
‘We are always looking at routes and regions where there is potential for growth and Accra is one of those routes and Africa is one of those regions’’, he said
British Airways on Sunday, October 29, launched its new London Gatwick- Accra- Gatwick flights. The airline commenced the service with its Boeing 777-200, which offers more room for passengers, and less premium seats.
With 11 direct flights, across two London gateways, the airline is offering Ghanaian travelers a greater choice of products and prices. Overall, it is doubling the number of seats between Accra and London, with 55 per cent more capacity next summer as against 2019.
No plans to move all flights to Gatwick
The Gatwick route offers Ghanaian travelers an alternative gateway to London. Premium customers, as well as Gold and Silver Executive Club members, can enjoy the recently refurbished lounges at Gatwick, providing a seamless and comfortable travel experience. Chernoff therefore reiterated that the airline has no plans to move all Accra-Heathrow-Accra flights to Gatwick.
It is recalled that the airline in 2001 announced plans to move its Heathrow-Accra-Heathrow flights to Gatwick and which was fiercely resisted by passengers, and the government. The airline at that time said it was constrained by some challenges at the Heathrow airport.
However, Mr Chernoff gave the assurance that such constraints no longer exist for the airline to think of reverting to that decision.
Currently, British Airways operates a daily nonstop flight between London Heathrow (LHR) and Accra (ACC) using an A350-1000 aircraft.
In addition to the existing flights from Heathrow, British Airways now has introduced three more weekly flights from London Gatwick (LGW) using a Boeing 777-200ER aircraft. This strategic decision according to the airline, will offer passengers more flight options and facilitate smoother travel experiences.
Flights depart Accra at 21.20 on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays, landing into Gatwick at 04.00. A fourth weekly service will be added to the route timetable from April next year.
New crew uniforms designed Ozwald Boateng
Also cabin crew, pilots and check-in agents have also switched over from the Julien MacDonald uniforms to one designed by British-Ghanaian Saville Row fashion designer and tailor, Ozwald Boateng, and it is the first new uniform to be unveiled in 20 years.
The expansion also provides increased cargo capacity on the Accra route, benefiting Ghanaian exporters who can now transport perishable and other goods more efficiently through IAG Cargo, the cargo division of International Airlines Group
The expansion of flights to Accra is part of British Airways’ broader strategy to restore and strengthen its Africa route network especially after the downturn that hit the aviation industry during the COVID -19 restrictions imposed by governments.
These developments reflect British Airways’ commitment to expanding its presence in Africa, providing customers with more options, enhanced products, and strategic partnerships.
Demand and market segments
The airline says that there has been strong demand across all cabin classes on its existing daily Accra service.
Approximately two-thirds of the passenger demand is for point-to-point travel between London and Accra, while the remaining passengers use London as a transit hub to connect to other destinations.
The airline recognizes the importance of meeting the needs of both leisure travelers and the ethnic/VFR (Visiting Friends and Relatives) market segment, which contribute significantly to the overall demand for flights between London and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Restoring our Africa network after theCOVID-19 pandemic gave us an opportunity to carefully consider the routes and regions where there was potential for growth. Accra was one of those routes and Africa is one of those regions, he opined.
Lagos and Johannesburg have emerged as prominent destinations among the top five ethnic/leisure market segments from London to Sub-Saharan Africa, data from the airline giant has revealed
Lagos attracts a large ethnic/VFR market segment, while Johannesburg’s traffic is driven by safari tourism. Although Johannesburg’s tourism industry contributes to its popularity, the ethnic/VFR market segment between London and Lagos is comparatively larger.
British Airways acknowledges the distinct characteristics and demands of these markets and aims to provide tailored services to meet the needs of both destinations.
British Airways is a global full-service airline that operates flights to more than 65 countries. British Airways customers have access to one of the world’s most extensive flight networks, both domestically and internationally, offering flights to and from central airports at convenient times and through its sustainability programme, BA Better World, the airline is committed to achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050
The airline has been dedicated to delivering exceptional service on the Accra-London route for over 85 years.