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#960708 by 747G-VXLG
29 Apr 2021, 15:30
Gunboat4 wrote:Hi, anybody have a hunch if virgin or even BA will start to use gatwick to Orlando any time soon or at least by feb2022. Out of the 2 who would most likely return to gatwick first? Thanks.

I’m not sure about BA. I would say Virgin returning is very unlikely given the fact that there is no sign of US borders reopening yet.
#960713 by TimCrawley
01 May 2021, 07:43
Welcome to the forum Gunboat4.

Airline schedules, as you'll see from this forum and others, are more fluid than they have ever been - so airport changes for flights are also more fluid.

So, for BA, the LGW-MCO route is not showing actively accepting bookings until 7th June 2021 but of course this can slip depending on UK and US travel restrictions. Whereas BA is actively accepting bookings LHR-MCO from 17th May 2021, presumably linked to UK travel restrictions and as with LGW-MCO this can also slip depending on UK and US travel restrictions. BA, when operating on a dramatically reduced schedule as at present, could move all flights for booking purposes at least to LHR but operationally once things open up to any real extent they simply don't have enough take off/ landing slots at LHR to actually fly a majority of the routes without dropping some other routes.

For VS it is in a different situation to BA in that with route additions and deletions previously announced it could operate the vast majority of it's routes, with some frequency adjustments, using LHR slots it has access to. This doesn't mean VS will never return to LGW - if demand on business routes grows back then it will want to use it's LHR slots for that market and would look to move leisure flights back to LGW. My hunch would be that we might see VS operating some, but probably not all, leisure flights again from LGW in late 2021 / early 2022 but there are probably much better hunches among other forum members on which routes would be likely to move first if/when that happens (as that then moves into the realms of aircraft types and configurations as you don't want to run excessive 'positioning' flights moving empty aircraft between LHR and LGW several times a week to meet schedules).

For both BA and VS the slots issues at LHR and LGW and therefore their scheduling will be affected by when the moratorium on 'use it, lose it or sell it' expires as aviation some point the normal procedures worldwide for slot-limited airports will mean that airlines will again have to either use the slots they have or sell them to another airline or they simply lose them.

In summary, the short answer is that my hunch is BA is far more likely than VS to be operating LGW-MCO in the immediate future but both could be by February 2022!
#960717 by tontybear
01 May 2021, 11:21
VS have basically given up at LGW for the next couple of flight seasons at least.

The earliest I see them restarting would be the end of March 2022 when the summer season starts.

That’s also when, IMHO, the full slot waivers will come to an end and there will be full implementation of the 80/20 lose/use rules.

BA might be offering LGW at the moment but they have been moving flights over to LHR with some regularity.
#960718 by DIAZLUXO
01 May 2021, 11:31
I just want to say I very much look forward to Virgin returning to LGW because from personal experience it is just a less stressful experience flying from LGW rather than LHR.
#960719 by Kraken
01 May 2021, 11:59
I fully agree that VS - and BA - will only return to Gatwick when it makes financial sense to do so. For now both carriers are, sensibly, consolidating their operations at Heathrow to save money. The key driver to the resumption of Gatwick will be the demand for business travel. Once that picks up, the Heathrow slots will be used for the big-money fares and the bucket & spade traffic will be shifted back down the M23.

Both airlines could have their hands forced a bit when the 80/20 "use or lose" rules expire on slots - whilst it may not make immediate short term sense to return to Gatwick, longer-term do they really want to lose the slots there? In VS's case in particular, they are pretty prime long-haul slots.
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