Inside The Enormous London To New York Market

I’m writing this article on August 12th. It’s a special day for London to New York City, as Norse Atlantic’s first flight from London Gatwick to JFK takes off, its first service from the UK. I’ll be on it and will report from it. It comes a week after JetBlue inaugurated Gatwick to Boston.

London-NYC: 27 flights today

As you know, the London to NYC market is enormous. In fact, on August 12th, the city pair has 27 flights. That’s nearly twice as many as Paris to NYC, the second most-served long-haul market. (Heathrow to JFK would be firmly first, just on its own.)

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According to OAG data, London-NYC also ranks number one by long-haul seats for sale (a whopping 13,138 this day) and – across every route globally – by available seat miles (ASMs; seats x distance). It ranks first globally by ASMs because of the combination of high frequency, the large numbers of seats, and relatively big aircraft (an average of 243 seats per flight).

As it’s not a UK or US airline, Norse Atlantic will temporarily operate Oslo-Gatwick-JFK on a fifth freedom basis. This will change when it has its UK air operator’s certificate. Photo: courtesy of Shanesview Photography and Content.

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Gatwick gets 3rd airline to JFK

August 12th marks the beginning of Norse Atlantic at Gatwick and its first US route from the airport. It has a 1x daily service to JFK using the B787-9, with its first departure leaving at 13:30. Norse Atlantic’s entry at Gatwick – and indeed the carrier’s whole existence – follows the cessation of Norwegian.


Norse Atlantic joins British Airways and JetBlue to JFK, each with 1x daily. It is the first time in 14 years that Gatwick-NYC has had three + airlines. The last time was in 2008, with BA (JFK), Continental (Newark), Delta (JFK), and Zoom (JFK) all operating.

Before that, in 2007, with Continental (Newark), Delta (JFK), and Zoom (JFK). Then EU-US open skies arrived, which enabled easier access to Heathrow, significantly but temporarily impacting Gatwick service.

Gatwick had no NYC flight between October 2009 and July 2014, when Norwegian entered, mainly because airlines shifted to Heathrow. No wonder Norwegian was excited. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying.

A look at London-NYC flights

Seven airlines have London-NYC flights on August 12th, as summarized in the table. British Airways is the market leader, with nine of the 27 daily services. If alliances are examined, oneworld (BA and American) obviously dominates, with virtually half (48%) of flights.

London-NYC airline August 12th flights Route (s) Aircraft
BA 9 5x Heathrow-JFK, 3x Heathrow-Newark, 1x Gatwick-JFK B777-200ER, B777-300ER
United 5 Heathrow-Newark B767-300ER
American 4 Heathrow-JFK B777-300ER, B777-200ER
Virgin Atlantic 4 Heathrow-JFK A350-1000, B787-9
Delta 2 Heathrow-JFK B767-400ER
JetBlue 2 1x Heathrow-JFK, 1x Gatwick-JFK A321LR
Norse Atlantic 1 Gatwick-JFK B787-9

United currently uses low-capacity and premium-heavy B767-300ERs on Newark-Heathrow. They have just 167 seats. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying.

It’ll rise to 34

While 27 daily flights might seem a lot – some hours have three or four departures to NYC – it’ll gradually rise to 34 daily from May 1st. While Norse has not yet put UK flights on sale past the end of October, they’ll go live in the next couple of weeks, according to the airline. Whether they’ll be operated by its forthcoming UK air operator’s certificate remains to be seen.

BA’s Heathrow-JFK offering will rise to 7x daily, the same as United’s Heathrow-Newark. Virgin will be 6x daily to JFK, and JetBlue 2x daily between JFK and Gatwick. This excludes any potential frequency increase by Norse. After all, Norwegian once had 3x daily Gatwick-JFK, albeit pre-JetBlue.

Thirty-four daily flights will be the joint-highest number ever, having thus far occurred on just three occasions in October 2017. Will it increase further and surpass the previous record? Or will airlines that have grown frequencies reevaluate?

Which is your preferred airline between London and NYC? Let us know in the comments.

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