Air Transport World

Turn up and take off in the U.K. (British Airways PLC's shuttle service) (company profile)

British Airways' shuttle turns 15, having weathered criticisms for uncaring' crews to 'making a positive financial contribution.' Text and photos by Arthur Reed.

London-British Airways' shuttle service, linking Heathrow airport with the major provincial cities of Manchester, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Belfast, will celebrate its 15th anniversary this year. And in the 1989-90 fiscal, which ends March 31, it is expected to carry 3.5 million passengers-- about one seventh of the airline's total.

Launched in January, 1975 with the promise that passengers could "turn up and take off" with backup flights operating with just one passenger if necessary, the shuttle has been progressively fine tuned to keep up with the times, particularly to cope with the hotter competition on the U.K.'s domestic trunks that has emerged from a more relaxed licensing policy by the CAA, and appears to have outlived the cynicism of some staff and management at the time of its inception that such an "elite" service would not be cost-effective and would be too demanding in labor and equipment.

At the time of the launch, BA studied the Washington-New York-Boston Eastern Shuttle. In a nice twist, Pan Am and Trump Shuttle executives have been over recently to see how BA does it today.

Turn up and take off still applies to full-fare passengers. For those with hand baggage only, there is a 10-min. check-in time-15 min. for passengers who check baggage. The backup promise is still honored-there are seven BAC-111s to support the 12 Boeing 757s-usually configured with 195 seats-that fly the first sections. …

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