BA reveals plans for business-only service

British Airways has announced plans for its business class-only service between London and New York, including allowing passengers to complete US customs checks in Ireland.

The airline will begin flights from London in 2009, despite the failure of rival premium airlines Silverjet, EOS and MaxJet, who all offered business class-only flights across the Atlantic.

BA’s plans are for twice-daily flights from London City airport to New York aboard a 32-seater aircraft. The service is due to begin in the autumn next year.

Flights from London to New York will stop at Shannon airport in west Ireland to refuel, as the runway at London is not long enough to accommodate planes with enough fuel to complete the flight across the Atlantic in one go. Eastbound flights will be non-stop.

Shannon airport has a special arrangement with the US authorities that allows travellers to complete arrivals checks in Ireland, meaning they will by-pass security when they land in New York and can leave the airport quicker.

BA believes that flying from London City airport and speeded up check-in times will give it an edge over its failed rivals, because getting to the airport will be easier for passengers in central London. The airline claims customers will be able to arrive at the airport just 15 minutes before departure.

BA chief executive Willie Walsh says: “As well as the business market, we are confident there will be a demand from premium leisure customers for this service.”

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