Why British Airways stopped flying to Phoenix Sky Harbor for 11 days

An industry expert thinks it all comes down to optimizing how much money the business can save by consolidating its flights.
Published: Aug. 1, 2023 at 10:09 PM MST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - Many travelers hoping to take a trip across the pond to escape the record heat in Arizona this summer were left in dismay when British Airways stopped all of its flights to and from London for 11 straight days at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, citing “aircraft availability.”

Arizona’s Family first learned of the cancelations after many upset passengers reached out on June 29, saying their flights between Phoenix and London had been canceled. British Airways said in a statement that day that: “Daily service between Phoenix and London Heathrow resumes this Saturday, July 1. The temporary adjustments to our June flying schedule in Phoenix were made earlier this spring.”

Mum On Details

British Airways and their OneWorld partner American Airlines, are the only two airlines providing travelers with direct flights between Phoenix and London.

According to data from FlightRadar24.com, a website that tracks flight information, Phoenix was the only western city impacted by cancellations. On July 10, July 12, and July 19, Arizona’s Family contacted British Airways asking why Phoenix seemed to bear the brunt of the cancelations. British Airways responded on July 20 with the following statement:

The statement from the airline went on to mention that other western U.S. cities, Los Angeles and Seattle, had “adjustments” made to their summer flying schedules as well. However, public flight data that track arrivals and departures at U.S. airports did not support any consecutive cancellations at these airports compared to the cancelations Phoenix passengers experienced in June. British Airways did not respond to multiple requests for the specific flights canceled from Los Angeles and Seattle the airline referenced.

American To The Rescue

So, why was Phoenix singled out? We took that question to Travel Industry Analyst Henry Harteveldt and CBS Travel Editor Peter Greenberg.

Harteveldt credited British Airways for canceling the flights early enough that passengers could make other travel arrangements thanks to their partnership with American Airlines. Phoenix is a major hub for American, which accounts for over 30% of all travelers at Sky Harbor.

British Airways told Harteveldt they are committed to serving Phoenix, and the move was a broader effort to reduce potential flight delays at London Heathrow.

Greenberg acknowledged the aircraft availability issue and said it could also be a shortage of pilots and passengers. “The airline will perform a triage, where they question how much of a yield they are getting on the Phoenix run versus the Los Angeles run. If they get a higher yield, the airline may cancel the flights and merge them somehow,” Greenberg said.

Greenberg says while British Airways might have had a plane or staffing issue, at the end of the day, “it’s just bad planning.”

Mixed Reactions

Arizona’s Family asked Phoenix Sky Harbor officials if they were satisfied with the service British Airways provides travelers at the 8th busiest airport in the United States. A city spokesperson released the following statement in response:

Sky Harbor International Airport is owned and operated by the City of Phoenix Aviation Department.

Arizona’s Family reached out to the United States Department of Transportation, which regulates commercial aviation in the U.S., to see if they were aware of the cancellations by British Airways. A department spokesman confirmed the agency is looking into the issue. As of Tuesday, USDOT did not have any additional information to provide.

See a spelling or grammatical error in our story? Please click here to report it.

Do you have a photo or video of a breaking news story? Send it to us here with a brief description.

Latest News

Latest News