BA SAN loads and lack of CLT flights

Old Sep 21, 16, 5:04 pm
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BA SAN loads and lack of CLT flights

A couple of random questions for those far more versed in BA than I am. Apologies in advance if either of these have been previously covered, I tried to find existing threads without success.

Recently I flew LHR-SAN in J and was surprised to see the cabin completely full. A quick bit of research suggests it has one of the highest average loads for BA into the US. Why is this? SAN does not have a huge economy (17th by GDP in the US) and only has a couple of large multinationals headquartered there. Moreover, it is a useless location for pax to connect onto somewhere else, so is this route mostly tourism?

It also seems strange that this route would be doing so well, yet no other EU carrier flies into SAN. In fact the only non-North American carrier that flies into SAN is JAL.

Further, the likes of CLT, one of the fastest growing economies in the US and geographically excellently located for connecting pax, does not have a BA flight. Again, a quick check suggests that AA's average loads between LHR and CLT are in the high 80s/low 90s. The latter lack of competition is highly frustrating for me as the prices for the AA direct flights are consequently very high in J into CLT (regularly 5-6k), thus my work sends me through the likes of NY/ATL. Willie or Cruzader, if you are reading this, please put a CLT flight on.

Any insight greatly appreciated!
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Old Sep 21, 16, 5:08 pm
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Originally Posted by hartwith View Post
A couple of random questions for those far more versed in BA than I am. Apologies in advance if either of these have been previously covered, I tried to find existing threads without success.

Recently I flew LHR-SAN in J and was surprised to see the cabin completely full. A quick bit of research suggests it has one of the highest average loads for BA into the US. Why is this? SAN does not have a huge economy (17th by GDP in the US) and only has a couple of large multinationals headquartered there. Moreover, it is a useless location for pax to connect onto somewhere else, so is this route mostly tourism?

It also seems strange that this route would be doing so well, yet no other EU carrier flies into SAN. In fact the only non-North American carrier that flies into SAN is JAL.

Further, the likes of CLT, one of the fastest growing economies in the US and geographically excellently located for connecting pax, does not have a BA flight. Again, a quick check suggests that AA's average loads between LHR and CLT are in the high 80s/low 90s. The latter lack of competition is highly frustrating for me as the prices for the AA direct flights are consequently very high in J into CLT (regularly 5-6k), thus my work sends me through the likes of NY/ATL. Willie or Cruzader, if you are reading this, please put a CLT flight on.

Any insight greatly appreciated!
I would love it, Absolutely love it if BA came to Charlotte. AA M or J flights to the UK are normally around the 1K and 3K GBP respectively, Yields must be great.
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Old Sep 21, 16, 5:31 pm
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very good question. Always wondered myself too.
Also considering SAN is just a couple of hours south of LAX. And to be honest, sometimes a couple of hours is what it takes to get home from LAX anyways.
I'm really surprised so many people every day have to travel between SAN and LHR directly.
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Old Sep 21, 16, 6:46 pm
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Originally Posted by hartwith View Post
Recently I flew LHR-SAN in J and was surprised to see the cabin completely full. A quick bit of research suggests it has one of the highest average loads for BA into the US. Why is this? SAN does not have a huge economy (17th by GDP in the US) and only has a couple of large multinationals headquartered there. Moreover, it is a useless location for pax to connect onto somewhere else, so is this route mostly tourism?
There are close to 3 million people who live in San Diego County. While I would not consider it to be a huge economy. It is definitely not a poor economy. The median income for San Diego and many of its surrounding cities tracks well above the national average.

It also seems strange that this route would be doing so well, yet no other EU carrier flies into SAN. In fact the only non-North American carrier that flies into SAN is JAL.
The airport has runway issues; and therefore, long-haul aircraft issues. It is only 9,000 feet long. Next year, Condor and Edelweiss inaugurate service to SAN. And If SAN wasn't a money maker for BA, I doubt that they would be flying it with a 744, an upgauge from the former 77W service. Which was an upgrade from the 772 service.
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Old Sep 21, 16, 7:21 pm
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Originally Posted by Fanjet View Post
And If SAN wasn't a money maker for BA, I doubt that they would be flying it with a 744, an upgauge from the former 77W service. Which was an upgrade from the 772 service.
No one is doubting that. As I pointed out, the loads and yields on the route (with the lack of competition) are significantly higher than other BA US routes. The question is why.

I cannot imagine that it is tourism driven because the price of a direct LHR-SAN flight greatly dwarfs that of LHR-LAX and if you are a tourist, the bottom line is fundamental, consequently you are far likelier to book an LAX flight and connect or drive down to SD than pay significantly more to fly directly.

Case in point: I flew to SD for a wedding and used points. My friends were not so lucky and chose the LAX option and hired a car because it worked out signifantly cheaper and decided that the drive down the Californian coast was an enjoyable bi-product.
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Old Sep 21, 16, 9:20 pm
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Originally Posted by hartwith View Post
No one is doubting that. As I pointed out, the loads and yields on the route (with the lack of competition) are significantly higher than other BA US routes. The question is why.

I cannot imagine that it is tourism driven because the price of a direct LHR-SAN flight greatly dwarfs that of LHR-LAX and if you are a tourist, the bottom line is fundamental, consequently you are far likelier to book an LAX flight and connect or drive down to SD than pay significantly more to fly directly.

Case in point: I flew to SD for a wedding and used points. My friends were not so lucky and chose the LAX option and hired a car because it worked out signifantly cheaper and decided that the drive down the Californian coast was an enjoyable bi-product.
Prior to BA launching the route, I've flown a fair amount of SAN-LAX flights, where at least 50% of the passengers were connecting to longhaul options via LAX. FWIW PHX has similar demand/margins, though it has more connection options.

These routes have a surprising amount of demand, but not enough for two daily flights.

Regarding CLT, AA already has two daily flights and BA entering the route would just be competing with themselves since revenue is shared on the TATL joint venture.

Back in 2009, US had three daily flights between CLT and LHR/LGW, but decided they could only sustain two daily flights to LHR from CLT.
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Old Sep 21, 16, 9:35 pm
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It wouldn't surprise me if SAN is popular with Orange County folk with a bit of sense. It is a much easier proposition to drive to than LAX, is a much quicker airport to get through and everything is just a bit simpler on the return. OK LAX has new lounges now but it is a complete mess when it comes to drop-off/pick-up with the traffic flow works ongoing and with the slow, inefficient security lines.

Add to that the fact that BA is the only main operator trans-atlantic from SAN. Don't forget the big military presence in and around San Diego from the Marines at Camp Pendleton to the US Navy, even the Yuma base less than 3 hours away (all of which do see European contractors, and military, visit regularly) and it all makes sense. SAN may not be a big corporate center but it certainly sees a lot of government money.

Plus it is a beautiful city!
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Old Sep 22, 16, 1:00 am
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Originally Posted by hartwith View Post
No one is doubting that. As I pointed out, the loads and yields on the route (with the lack of competition) are significantly higher than other BA US routes. The question is why.

I cannot imagine that it is tourism driven because the price of a direct LHR-SAN flight greatly dwarfs that of LHR-LAX and if you are a tourist, the bottom line is fundamental, consequently you are far likelier to book an LAX flight and connect or drive down to SD than pay significantly more to fly directly.
There is one daily flight from LHR to SAN. There are several daily flights between LHR and LAX on at least five different carriers. Is it hard for you to conceive that many San Diegans use the BA service to get to/from LHR, and to several other European cities as well? SAN handles about 1/4 of the number of passengers that LAX does annually. And it is almost all O&D traffic.
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Old Sep 22, 16, 1:35 am
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Shhhh. I've always hope the SAN service would remain a closely guarded secret. It's a great point of entry into the US. The BA flight comes in on its own and I've never waited more than a couple of minutes at immigration (and the officials seem genuinely friendly). It's a small airport, so you're out in a couple of minutes.
If I remember correctly SAN is the legacy of a BCAL route which did LGW-PHX-SAN though that would be many years ago.
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Old Sep 22, 16, 1:55 am
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In addition to the points above I believe San Diego is a pretty busy location for Conferences/Conventions ... There's also a sizeable cruise port which I guess must also help drive demand
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Old Sep 22, 16, 2:02 am
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Originally Posted by catandmouse View Post
If I remember correctly SAN is the legacy of a BCAL route which did LGW-PHX-SAN though that would be many years ago.
No. The BCal route went a long time ago and BA did not serve SAN for years. BA launched this as a new route about three years ago.

I think US based posters are looking at this the wrong way round. If you live in San Diego and want to go anywhere in Europe, BA offers a good choice of destinations with easy connections without the trek to LAX. Conversely, BA will be the easiest routing from Europe for many Europeans. Hence high loads.

CLT may have high loads at present but would a BA flight increase pax numbers anything more than marginally? If you share the same numbers across additional flights, revenue is poor.

BA would surely look for more underserved destinations like SAN, than go head to head with AA at CLT.
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Old Sep 22, 16, 2:55 am
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Originally Posted by FrancisA View Post
than go head to head with AA at CLT.
They wouldn't be going head to head. It's a joint business, so it's a revenue share arrangement.
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Old Sep 22, 16, 3:09 am
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My SAN LHR trips have been for conferences or the La Jolla biotech industry. All my flights have been very busy
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Old Sep 22, 16, 3:15 am
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Conference traffic, plus as a solo / one of few European flights out of SAN it will hoover up connecting traffic to Europe. PHX is the same - the daily BA to LHR is the only European flight and is often full with both conference types and locals connecting to Europe - every time I have been on it Club World has been over-sold.
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Old Sep 22, 16, 3:23 am
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Originally Posted by Dave_C View Post
They wouldn't be going head to head. It's a joint business, so it's a revenue share arrangement.
But that would mean that they might be increasing expenses on the route by 50-100% to increase revenue by 30-70% (depending on one flight or two).

There can't be many people who actively want to connect through CLT over DFW, ORD, PHL, JFK, etc. US tended to serve most routes through multiple hubs. So the impact on connecting traffic would be marginal; meanwhile it could dilute the premium that O&D can charge for the CLT region.

If you can add another flight to CLT without diluting the premium you can charge for O&D or one-stop connections then by CLT is a strong candidate for BA flights, but you can effectively increase or decrease O&D capacity by incentivising connections through other hubs.
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