Estonia routes

British Airways is leaving Baltics (again): Heathrow to Tallinn will be suspended

Back in 2016, Lithuanians and Latvians became jealous to Estonia (there are many examples of jealousy to Estonians – maybe that’s the reason of many jokes about them): back then, British Airways announced they will start flights from Heathrow airport to Tallinn airport in spring 2017. Even this was only 2 weekly route, but, c’mon! – this was direct flights to biggest and by far most prestigious airport in Europe, offering endless connecting flight possibilities.

Still, this is now coming to an end: British Airways will stop their Tallinn route in spring 2019.

Well, competition was though for British Airways. They were 4th operator on London to Tallinn market and in September 2018, 5th operator came to arena. easyJet is flying 2 times per week from Gatwick (more frequencies during peak-summer) and airBaltic too. Ryanair flies 4 times a week from Stansted. And then – Wizz Air entered the market with 4 flights a week to Luton. This was dead-end for British Airways.

London is by far biggest market from Lithuania and of the two biggest markets from Latvia (sharing pole position with Moscow). London market is highly penetrated by low cost carriers. Wizz Air and Ryanair operates London from all Lithuanian airports: Luton and Stansted airports are served from Vilnius, Kaunas and Palanga. Wizz Air and Ryanair also flies high frequencies from Riga where they compete with double daily flights from airBaltic between Riga and Gatwick.

At least in Lithuania, there are a lot of discussion in political level, even there are 3-4 daily flights from Vilnius to London area from low-cost airlines (+ flights from Kaunas and Palanga), service is not sufficient for business needs. Based on that, Lithuania has tender opened for direct flights between Vilnius and London City airport which will be subsidised by governmental funds.

Still, it is quite sad British Airways is leaving Baltics. It will be difficult to expect them coming back either to Riga or Vilnius: still it is very beneficial to have such flagship brand in any capital airport, especially for small countries.

British Airways left Vilnius Airport two times. They operated Gatwick to Vilnius back in last decade of last century. Then, they came back just when Lithuania joined European Union: they started in March 2005 and ended in October 2006 (at that time, they lost direct competition to Lithuanian Airlines and airBaltic: both these companies operated daily to Gatwick back then).

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