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Sunday, October 26, 2014

British Airways goes for the jugular

After last month's announcement that One World members may no longer accrue mileage or cash in rewards on El Al after October 31, British Airways (one of the airlines in One World) is going for the jugular, by adding one flight per day, bringing its weekly total to 20 flights.
Starting in the summer of 2015, British Airways is raising the seat capacity on the London-Tel Aviv route by about 50%, the airline announced today. Six weekly flights will be added, raising the total number to 20. British Airways says that it operates a longhaul service on its Tel Aviv-London route, despite the relatively short flight duration and distance, offering advanced entertainment systems with personal touchscreens, high quality catering and free offering of quality soft and alcoholic beverages. All the airline flights on the route are operated via Heathrow Terminal 5. 
British Airways Israel Manager Yael Katan said, “Due to the growing demand for our service to London and long-distance flights, we have decided to expand our Israel operation, with a significant increase in seat capacity and frequency. In addition, we have recently changed our schedule in order to offer convenient connections to various North American destinations, specifically in the West Coast which are extremely popular with our Israeli passengers, such as San Francisco, Los Angeles and Vegas.” 
I don't think this is going to matter to the occasional pleasure traveler, who will continue to choose El Al, but for business travelers for whom scheduling and frequent flier miles matter (El Al is the only airline that takes away your miles even if you have activity in your account), this is deadly. El Al is often several hundred dollars cheaper than British (I've seen a difference of $300-400 in my own reservations), so if British cuts its fares to El Al's levels or close to them, business travelers will be far more likely to choose British. 

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