British Airways’ planned business-only service between London City and New York will be forced to make a fuel stop on the way to the US, adding one hour 50 minutes to the flight time.
BA announced the route this morning, making no mention of the refuelling stop. But a spokesman confirmed the airline is considering where on the route to refuel as the Airbus A318 it will use does not have the range for the outbound journey from London City, although it could make the return flight direct.
The service would operate with just 32 business-class seats on what is usually a 107-seat aircraft.
BA aims to attract executive traffic between the City of London and Wall Street and believes the short commute to London City and avoidance of Heathrow will compensate for the longer flight.
The flight time between Heathrow and New York JFK airport is seven hours 40 minutes.
Operations are restricted at London City to smaller aircraft that can make a rapid ascent because of noise limits.
BA already operates from the airport as BA CityFlyer, employing pilots on separate contracts to its BA Mainline staff. However, the new service will be operated as BA Mainline. The airline will hope this does not exacerbate tensions with pilots’ union Balpa, which is conducting a strike ballot over BA plans to launch a transatlantic subsidiary, OpenSkies, to fly between continental Europe and New York.