British Airways on Thursday became the second international carrier to
offer nonstop flights between Fort Lauderdale and London with the launch
of wide-bodied jet service between the two destinations.
The airline’s new year-round route between Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood
International Airport and London’s Gatwick Airport is scheduled to
operate four days a week using 275-passenger Boeing 777-200 aircraft.
The jetliner has a three-class configuration with 48 business, 24
premium economy and 203 economy class seats, British Airways said.
In-flight offerings will include free meals, snacks, beverages and a
full service bar.
The U.K. carrier joins Scandinavian low-cost airline Norwegian Air
in offering South Floridians and travelers from Fort Lauderdale a
nonstop option to Gatwick, London’s second largest international airport.
“Our research and intelligence tells us there is demand in Fort
Lauderdale both in and out and for business and for leisure,” said Doug
Caines, a British Airways’ vice president of operations, safety and
business development, during launch festivities at Fort
When asked if demand for the new route had been impacted following
recent terroism-related incidents in London this year, Caines replied:
“No. London and the U.K. really are definitely open for business. We’re
very happy with the bookings we’re receiving so far.”
With Fort Lauderdale, British Airways is now serving four airports in
Florida, with each offering different connecting opportunities for
travelers, Caines noted.
In South Florida, British Airways has long served London Heathrow
from Miami, and also flies to Gatwick from Orlando and Tampa. With the
four markets, the carrier now offers more seats to London from Florida
than any other carrier, Caines said.
Fort Lauderdale’s tourism offerings, international yachting scene and
global cruise gateway at Port Everglades helped persuade the airline to
add Broward County to its Florida destination, company officials have said.
In remarks Thursday, Mark Gale, aviation director and CEO of Fort
Lauderdale-Hollywood, said the new route provides opportunities for
travelers to experience the uniqueness and cultures of both regions.
“Today FLL becomes British Airways’ 25th destination in the United
States, and again we welcome you with open arms,” Gale said.
The United Kingdom is the top source market for international visitors
to Broward, according to the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention &
“The CVB and the Broward County Aviation Department have been working
for the last couple of years to bring this flight to the destination, so
this is exciting times for us,” said Erick Garnica, director of
international sales for the tourism bureau. “This new service means a
boost to our local economy, filling our hotels and restaurants and
supporting tourism jobs in Greater Fort Lauderdale.”
Others see the new flight as helping to forge new business ties between
“There’s a massive [British] community in Broward and Palm Beach
counties … and I’m sure they will now take advantage of this direct
flight,” said Roy Yates, president of the British American Chamber of
Commerce, based in Lighthouse Point.
On Thursday, Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood officials marked the arrival of
British Airways first flight from London with a water-cannon salute.
That followed a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the gate in Terminal 4 before
the first flight left Fort Lauderdale to London.
Port Charlotte residents Shirley Amaral and Jerry Garrett were among the
first to check in for the Fort Lauderdale-London flight, and were
surprised by the festivities.
“This is fun. There’s great music…and even cupcakes too,” said Amaral,
who was traveling with Garrett en route to Amsterdam to catch a cruise
in the Baltic.
“We’d fly every week like this,” he added.
From Fort Lauderdale, the flight is scheduled to depart Thursday,
Saturday, Sunday and Tuesday at 5 p.m. and arrive in London at 6:30 a.m.
the next day. The westbound flight leaves London at 9:25 a.m. with
scheduled arrivals in Fort Lauderdale at 1:45 p.m.
Flights on the new Fort Lauderdale-London route are available for
purchase at BritishAirways.com