Austin Getting Nonstop Flight to London

Scott Francis
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British Airways is bringing a nonstop flight from London to Austin in 2014.  This is going to be great news for people who make that round-trip frequently, despite the price tag being higher than a trip that routes through Dallas on American:

British says it will fly the 787 Dreamliner on the route. Right now, you can book the nonstop four days a week — every day except Saturday, Sunday and Wednesday. Trips will be available five days a week during the second week of the flight’s operation. British says it will increase the service to daily in May.

The lowest fare for the round trip is $1,694.18 including taxes and fees, compared with $972 on American Airlines connecting through Dallas-Fort Worth International.

This coincides nicely with some investments the City of Austin has made and committed to around increasing customs and security spaces for international travel.  And as the article points out, this is Austin’s first international flight that isn’t going to Mexico (which, I have to admit, many people in Texas do not consider international… a bit like flying from Buffalo to Montreal…).

Lew Little, board chairman of the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce, said the deal with British Airways will bring $70 million in economic impact during its first year and create 1,100 jobs in the air service industry. He said that should grow to $74 million within the first three years.

Alan Eley, vice president of operations in North America for British Airways, said that in addition to allowing Austinites to travel to London, the flight will create more European tourism to Austin.

I’m impressed with this addition to our travel options. It bodes well for Austin’s continued economic development and a robust, diverse economy.  It also seems to indicate that American Airlines strategy in Austin is backfiring. They’ve been removing direct routes and sending more people to Dallas.  Over time this is pushing customers to Jet Blue, Alaska Airlines, Virgin America, and Southwest most of all.  And now again someone else is making the bigger bet on Austin by flying direct.

I’m sure some people would question why this sort of a thing would be a big deal. But improved travel times and convenience lead to more economic activity – and increased productivity – for those that have to deal with those travel times.  New economic connections between cities shouldn’t be underestimated.