November 2022, Virtual
21 November 2022, Hilton London Metropole
Continental Airlines is reported to have paid a record $209m (”105m) for four sets of take-off and landing lots at Heathrow.
It is an indication of how desperate carriers are to operate to the London hub once the Open Skies agreement comes into effect to liberalise transatlantic services ” a Continental spokesman told ABTN that $209m was the figure ”in the filing to the US Securities and Exchange Commission.”
”We are looking forward to beginning Heathrow services and Open Skies opens the door where we think it”s going to be very beneficial for us and our customers,” he said.
Speculation as to which airlines relinquished slots has centred on several carriers, but Continental is keeping its cards close its chest.
He could not confirm for how long the slots were purchased, but said: ”We do intend to serve Heathrow indefinitely, and we will continue to serve Gatwick.
”Until now, Continental has been prevented from serving Heathrow by the anti-competitive Bermuda II bilateral agreement between the US and UK [only British Airways, Virgin, American and United were permitted routes]. We will have the largest operation of any of the new-entrant carriers at Heathrow under Open Skies, with four flights per day - two from Newark Liberty International Airport, and two from Houston.
”It will be the largest overnight international service expansion in our company's history. Our flight CO28 from Liberty will be the first aircraft of any of the new-entrant carriers to arrive at Heathrow on March 30.”
And though he would not comment directly on the value of the price for the new slots, he added: ”Heathrow is important because it is by far the most popular gateway airport for US travellers visiting Europe, attracting almost three times as many US-originating travellers as Gatwick. It is also a major connecting hub for flights to and from Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia, and the most popular airport for UK-originating trans-Atlantic travellers.
”We are looking forward to finally being able to offer our customers the opportunity to fly to both London's main airports.”