British Airways is poised to announce details of its new business-only service from London City to New York, which will use a stopover in Shannon to clear US immigration and customs.

The carrier refuses to confirm that Shannon will be the stopover point, but insists passengers will be cleared for immigration before arriving in New York.

The service is due to launch in September 2009, operating twice a day using two reconfigured Airbus A318s with just 32 lie-flat beds. It will be the first long-haul operation from London City.

Noise restrictions at the airport prohibit the use of larger aircraft, making a refuelling stop necessary on the outbound flight, as revealed by when the plan was announced. The aircraft will require about 40 minutes on the ground, although no stop will be required on the way back.

The premium-only service will be aimed at corporate travellers based at Canary Wharf, where BA has HSBC and Barclays among its clients, and in the City of London.

BA remains undecided on which New York airport to use, but the airline has new facilities at JFK. It believes it can succeed where every other business-only carrier from the UK has failed due to demand for services at London City.

Head of corporate sales Richard Tams said: “We are very confident of filling the flights. There is frustration at having to wait until September next year.
“We can turn a stopover at Shannon into an advantage. Passengers will clear immigration and customs without getting off the aircraft. It is a very attractive proposition.”
Shannon and Dublin airports already offer US immigration and customs services, a hangover from the days when stopovers were common for transatlantic flights.