Topic of the Week: Air Asia X Goes to Gatwick

Air Asia, Miscellaneous

Low cost carrier Air Asia X announced that its flight from Kuala Lumpur will now go to London Gatwick instead of Stansted. Is this a sign that Gatwick is becoming a more competitive airport under new, non-BAA ownership? Or is it just a one-off move? I know it may just seem like a small change, but could it be the first of bigger changes among London’s secondary airports?

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17 comments on “Topic of the Week: Air Asia X Goes to Gatwick

  1. LGW is a much more organised airport than LHR, which is, frankly, a national disgrace. But LGW needs a second runway to be truly competitive. It’s location is probably better than LHR’s, being easily within reach of the most affluent parts of the South East, and the link to central London is pretty good (at least by train; by road the M23/A23 is sh1te going north). Heathrow will still remain no.1 choice for most central and north London/home counties travellers, predominantly due to the sheer range of destination options.

    The links to Stansted aren’t nearly as reliable, and are over-priced……….but then again, this is the UK…..everything’s over-priced. No wonder people want to spend a couple of hundred pounds escaping to Malaysia:(

  2. Sounds smart to me. When the US airlines moved most if not all of their x-atl service from LGW to LHR a few years back, it seems it would have opened more opportunities for other intl carriers to serve LGW without any major expansions. I assume BAA let DL and CO (those are the two I recall specifically, could be others) move so much of their service from LGW to LHR in order to get more revenue to pay for that monstrosity, capacity be damned!

    LGW and the Gatwick Express heavy rail will get you to Central London quicker and more conveniently than any option from LHR. Can’t imagine that any airline currently using STN would not prefer LGW, given that cost and all other considerations are equal or in the same ballpark.

  3. It comes down to money like everything else these days. They are only doing it because the cost will be lower and/or being at LGW which gets more people, will get them more noticed.

    Also other major carriers use LGW for long haul flights including BA and VS so it will make Air Asia X seem like a more world class airline to travelers instead of some fly-by-night charter that might use STN. And that could bring in more business for them.

  4. I think they moved mostly because the catchment area is better around LGW than STN. Sure lower costs are great but they only last so long and go so far. Frankly I wonder how D7’s actual longhaul service is doing since it seems to shift around a lot, and the majority of its departures are under 6+/- hours block.

  5. I am amazed to read the comments here about LGW. I fly through T5 once or twice a month and LGW now and again. One of those ocassions was last week on the way to Porto and apart from the swanky new security check hall the South Terminal it is a total travesty. Try parking your car in the short term car park and walking to the terminal…… its a joke or use one of the toilets filthy does not cover the half of it . Its hardly about how good the train connections are!!!!

  6. North East London / Essex (i.e. the area between London and STN) tends to contain less wealthy suburbs. The suburbs south of London close to LGW have a more dense population and are full of people who are rich.
    There’s a reason that Easyjet go on in their presentations about choosing LGW as a base

  7. Im thinking that there must have been some level of assistance to move. At Stansted, Air Asia was the only long haul carrier to Asia in a catchment area of 20M plus.
    The only major downside that I can see to Stansted is that it is not a well known airport within Asia/Australasia. Maybe that is deterring potential customers. Having recently just planned some flights through Europe it is also a lot more difficult to get good connections/destinations at Stansted unless you’re willing to suffer LCCs!

  8. I think the new owners of LGW are very mindful of the work that is ahead of them as BAA under-invested in LGW in favour of LHR for many years (especially South Terminal which is dreadful). I’m sure within a short time we will see LGW return to being the airport it was in the 80’s and 90’s, a popular alternative to LHR, especially for leisure travellers. I recently flew from LHR to VCE from North Terminal and found it a very good experience. One thing I did notice was how quiet it was around late morning/lunchtime. In its heyday, you used to have to a line of aircraft waiting to take off. But since nearly all the transatlantic flights went to LHR that seems to have changed. I think the the luring of AirAsia to LGW signals the beginning of a renaissance.

  9. As again LHR hits capacity because of short sighted planning in dropping the 3rd runway, LGW will pick up the slack and business, then the same problem will hit LGW in only having one runway and a heavy curfew, if i was the new management i would give the staff spades and send them out digging for that extra capacity.

  10. Between this and VN supposedly starting service there this fall, it is great to see LGW getting some links to SE Asia. Personally, I have never gone through STN or LTN even when flying budget because I opt to fly from LGW. For me going back to the States, I enjoy DL’s flight from the North Terminal (except you are on one of the most out-of-date planes in DL’s fleet).

    If they could add a second runway (and continue to make improvements), it could possibly rival LHR and certainly help London’s capacity problem. But I have lived long enough in Britain to know that you are more likely to see William and Kate flying easyjet than them adding capacity to an airport.

  11. The best thing about this is that it is another example of competition between the airports. As has already been noted, LGW didn’t exactly prosper under BAA, and was hit by the Open Skies-related access to LHR. I’m still not quite sure what to make of the advertising campaigns that have been launched (I saw an advert for how “family friendly” LHR is on the Tube today, and have seen press adverts noting the quality of the shops at LGW) – most people, present company excluded, choose a flight based on price and convenience, not on which airport it goes from?

    Related question: why do DL keep a flight at LGW? It really feels out on a limb now. I guess they have a corporate client based in S London or Sussex?
    (And credit to them for maintaining DL11 as LGW-ATL – shame they passed DL10 to LHR. (As a small child I went to a party somewhere in southern England to celebrate ten years (I think) of ATL-LGW – my Dad was a very frequent passenger on the route. Starting our holidays on a TriStar to Atlanta may be the source of my airline geekiness))

    1. Good question on Delta. US Airways also keeps a Gatwick flight from Charlotte. I have to assume that there is enough demand to keep limited service at Gatwick. With everyone fleeing for Heathrow, it does create a nice opportunity for a couple stragglers.

  12. AirAsia X said that they were seeing lower passenger numbers at Stansted, which is seen as a budget airport, and could no longer offer £99 fares (with APD being what it is), so shifted to Gatwick as the average passenger will pay more for their flight (it is in the Surrey commuter belt rather than Essex !). I saw a quote from their CEO where he said even if Stansted offered their services for free, he would still move to Gatwick.

  13. Story update, this didn’t work out for Air Asia X either. It blamed APD when the recession and a lack of a real cost benefit is more likely to be the cause for the lact of demand. It has axed the flights and its other European routes and will focus on links to China and South East Asia.

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