Cheaper transatlantic flights? British Airways and American Airlines to give up some London slots

May 8, 2020

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

British authorities want to make it easier for new competitors to fly routes between London and the U.S.

The United Kingdom’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), which is charged with promoting competition to benefit consumers in the U.K. announced Thursday that British Airways and American Airlines will be giving up some slots at Heathrow or Gatwick in response to concerns that the airlines’ transatlantic joint venture has become too dominant in certain markets.

Sign up for the free daily TPG newsletter for more airline news.

The CMA said it is particularly concerned about AA and BA’s position serving London from Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Miami and Philadelphia.

As a result, the two airlines have agreed to give up take off and landing slots at Heathrow and Gatwick — London’s two busiest airports — to allow other carriers to compete more easily on those routes.

Guide: The best websites for searching Oneworld award availability.

“On some of these routes there are either few or no other airlines offering direct flights to passengers,” Ann Pope, the CMA’s senior antitrust director said in a statement. British Airways and American Airlines’ decision to give up some slots, she added, “has the potential to increase competition and deliver lower fares for customers, while also preserving the benefits that joint airline agreements offer passengers.”

Landing rights at the two airports are tightly controlled. Slots can be especially hard to come by at Heathrow, and are expensive when they do come on the market. In 2016, for example, The Times of London reported that Oman Air paid $75 million for a pair of take-off and landing slots there — enough for just one daily round-trip flight.

Read more: American Airlines’ Boeing 767s, 757s among 80 planes that won’t fly again.

The announcement is especially welcome news for airlines like JetBlue, which affirmed in a call with investors Thursday that it is still planning to break into the transatlantic market to serve London from New York and Boston as soon as next year.

The CMA did not call for New York flights to be included in its slot decision, meaning JetBlue would still have to secure slots another way for flights from New York JFK — it’s busiest hub. But Boston — JetBlue’s second-busiest hub — was included in the CMA decision, possibly opening the door for JetBlue there.

The new availability of slots also could increase speculation about which London airport the New York-based low cost carrier will serve, and may tempt some other airlines to throw their hats in the ring as well for flights on the routes covered in the CMA decision.

Featured photo by BEN STANSALL/AFP via Getty Images.

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 90,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer ends 8/3/2022.

With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer ends 8/3/2022.
  • Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs up to two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide including takeout and delivery in the U.S., and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $80 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck® after you apply through any Authorized Enrollment Provider. If approved for Global Entry, at no additional charge, you will receive access to TSA PreCheck.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Regular APR
17.24%-26.24% Variable
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
Recommended Credit
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.