British Airways has declined to comment on a claim it plans to abandon Gatwick and consolidate at Heathrow.
The Telegraph claims BA parent company IAG has ordered a review of Gatwick because it fears slots at Heathrow, which are more valuable than Gatwick’s, could be lost if they are not used.
In normal times, there is a “use it or lose it” rule on slot retention, with unused or under-used take off and landing slots having to be returned to authorities for reallocation. This rule has applied particularly at Heathrow, which, pre-pandemic, was operating at capacity.
There is currently a waiver on this rule, but it is uncertain what the government’s position on it will be once travel resumes.
BA’s long-haul fleet is split across the two airports as it was before the pandemic, but the bulk of BA’s short-haul services are now operating from Heathrow.
Pre-pandemic, a prime pair of Heathrow slots were sold to Oman Air by Kenya Airways for a reported $75 million, although this was considered excessive. Air New Zealand was able to seal a deal for its slot in March 2020 for a reported $27 million just as the pandemic hit after it closed its European operation.
The Telegraph quotes Luis Gallego, IAG chief executive, who said: “Gatwick is an important decision that we need to take as a group. It’s true that we have an issue with the slots.”
However, a BA spokesperson declined to comment when approached by the paper. BA did not answer the specific point when questioned by TTG.
A BA spokesperson said only: "Until the end of October, most of our short-haul flights will continue to operate from Heathrow. This enables us to ensure a smooth, uninterrupted, and efficient operation across our business at a time when demand is yet to return and international travel restrictions remain in place.
"We’re still flying some of our long-haul flights from Gatwick."