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Longhaul from Bristol

Kernow Bravo

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Turkish have over 160 narrow body (A32N/B737M) on order and a new "mega hub" opening in October this year. Just my personal belief but I suspect Bristol will be a matter of when not if for Turkish.

Only thing that could change that would be one of the MEB3 launching routes to BRS which is rather unlikely at this stage - Qatar at CWL, Etihad rather struggling $$$ & Emirates don't have an aircraft small enough for BRS.
One would imagine that TK may struggle to afford any of those 160 aircraft given the state of their native currency at present.

Upsetting Mr. Trump may also put paid to the new IST for a while too!
 

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TheLocalYokel

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Personal anecdote re BRS and scheduled long haul

Yesterday afternoon our son and his partner flew to Los Angeles from LHR with Virgin for a holiday. Last night his son (our grandson) flew with two mates to Melbourne from LHR via Abu Dhabi with Etihad on Oz working visas. Later this year my wife and I will be flying from LHR to Perth via Dubai with Emirates to visit family in Oz. We’re all based in the Bristol area.

We are all using LHR because for different reasons pertinent to each group it was the most cost-effective and convenient for our various trips and is also relatively easy to reach.

Our son flies worldwide quite regularly, now mainly for leisure, and tends to use Virgin, BA, American, or Malaysia or Thai if going east, although nothing is set in stone. Because of LHR’s huge choice of routes, carriers and frequencies that airport is also his long haul airport of choice although he will occasionally use LGW.

Our grandson and his mates, all single and in their early 20s, were looking for the cheapest (within reason) flight with an established carrier, and times of flights or overall journey time (again within reason) weren’t major issues for them. They get into Melbourne around 5 am tomorrow morning.

My wife and I have used flights reaching Oz at dawn in the past but now we want to arrive around teatime and without a very long wait in the ME to change aircraft (which we’ve always managed to avoid in the past and will do so again this time).

Only LHR has that variety of choice to accommodate our different requirements.

With CAA survey stats consistently showing that local people are prepared to use LHR in large numbers I see little incentive for airlines to use BRS as a complement (it would be highly unlikely to become an alternative to London airports). It could never get anywhere near the multiplicity of choices available to the east along the M4 either.

I know this is not radical thinking and we've been there before but the recent family arrangements have again confirmed in my mind how difficult it is for BRS to get that much sought after long haul scheduled route (or two).
 

kfs

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Personal anecdote re BRS and scheduled long haul

With CAA survey stats consistently showing that local people are prepared to use LHR in large numbers I see little incentive for airlines to use BRS as a complement (it would be highly unlikely to become an alternative to London airports). It could never get anywhere near the multiplicity of choices available to the east along the M4 either.

I know this is not radical thinking and we've been there before but the recent family arrangements have again confirmed in my mind how difficult it is for BRS to get that much sought after long haul scheduled route (or two).
Sadly, I agree with this, and if I lived near Bristol LHR would indeed be an easy choice to make. However, the BRS theoretical catchment area extends all the way to Cornwall, and for those of us living in the middle and further reaches of this area, the journey to LHR is a very long and unpredictable adventure which requires allowing many hours in case of travel problems. If things go well you can arrive at Heathrow over five hours before your flight. AMS from Bristol offers a decent range of connections, but the KLM experience is one I avoid if possible. A TK/EK/QR/LH connection from BRS would offer choice and make a long haul flight far less arduous for us. I fear the potential passenger loads aren't enough to attract another airline, as others have noted. BHX is the preferred alternative, but long haul feeder flights from there are only just clinging on. It looks as if EK39/40 will remain A388 for the near future, thank goodness. BRS is successful and profitable as a short haul mainly LCC airport and the management seems happy with this.
 

TheLocalYokel

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Thank you for those comments from the perspective of someone living in the outer reaches of the BRS catchment so to speak. I take it that a LHR connection from EXT or NQY (or both) would be very useful. It would have to be a minimum 2 x daily and even then some flights from LHR would entail a long wait for the connecting passenger. If it ever happens it won't be until LHR gets a third runway - if it does.

Qatar Airways was the obvious choice for a ME connection. The other two main ME airlines operate equipment too big for the BRS runway*. When Qatar opted for CWL that probably put paid to any hope BRS might have had of getting one of the MEB3. Even then with one rotation a day there can be days when a very long wait is required at Doha to change aircraft for onward travel. Had BRS had the Qatar route with the same timings and frequency as it has at CWL it would have been less convenient overall for my wife and I to have used it rather than the Emirates service from LHR which we will use in a few weeks time (we've used Emirates long haul most years since 2010, albeit mainly from LGW and once from BHX).

When CO had the daily BRS-EWR our son was travelling regularly to North America on business from the Bristol area but it was often a better use of his time to fly direct from LHR to a US destination than fly BRS-EWR and change aircraft there.

BRS does have a LH connection via the 3 x daily flybmi code share to FRA and the 2 x daily code share to MUC. These flights seem to attract higher load factors than the other flybmi flights, and at least two years ago bmi regional (as it was then) were talking about larger aircraft with BRS-FRA route cited as an example of a route requiring such an upgrade. They still speak about getting bigger aircraft for some routes but nothing has yet happened.

* Etihad does operate the B 787-9 series but whether it would think Bristol-Abu Dhabi a worthwhile route for it is questionable. A TUI 787-9 has used BRS standing in for a 787-8 to Cape Verde. Whether Etihad would use it on the longer route to the ME I have no idea. Another sticking point might be BRS's seeming disinclination to bother wth a cargo facility. I'm awaiting the new draft master plan with interest to see if anything is said about cargo. Etihad doesn't seem in the best of financial health anyway with cutbacks being made elsewhere this year. It's a pity because I'm told their product can be very good.
 

Jerry

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For me Bristol tends to be the 3rd option i look at when looking at flights to Portland with CWL first and Heathrow 2nd and CWL has always come out as the best option but that might be down to me travelling to a place that only has 4 weekly flights from Heathrow which are very expensive so it requires a stop. The one reason that i might consider BRS is for the earlier return at 13.00 with KLM if i can't get the 09.45 CWL arrival. Even if BRS had a US hub flight ie JFK I'd probably stick with the KLM flight unless it came out quite cheaper.
I do think BRS long haul options will be solely from TUI and via European hubs in the future.
 

Coathanger16

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For me Bristol tends to be the 3rd option i look at when looking at flights to Portland with CWL first and Heathrow 2nd and CWL has always come out as the best option but that might be down to me travelling to a place that only has 4 weekly flights from Heathrow which are very expensive so it requires a stop. The one reason that i might consider BRS is for the earlier return at 13.00 with KLM if i can't get the 09.45 CWL arrival. Even if BRS had a US hub flight ie JFK I'd probably stick with the KLM flight unless it came out quite cheaper.
I do think BRS long haul options will be solely from TUI and via European hubs in the future.
Delta must have heard you Jerry!

https://www.businesstraveller.com/business-travel/2018/10/01/delta-boosts-heathrow-services-to-detroit-and-portland/

Apologies for that not being Bristol related.

Back to Bristol - connections to hubs are an interesting point. My parents live 15 minutes from BHX yet when they have traveled to the USA or Canada they have always used LHR even when options are available from BHX (via DUB, CDG, AMS, and even when United/American were operating). They've been to Australia/NZ twice now, the first time from LHR whilst the second was from BHX with Emirates, and I think if they were to go East again they'd probably choose Emirates from BHX.

My point being even with connecting options available from their local airport, some people still choose to fly from elsewhere. I myself looked to fly with Qatar at one point but the limited frequency/timings didn't work and so I ended up flying with Emirates. Luckily BHX has an Emirates service but for those airports with just Qatar, passengers in a similar position would likely end up choosing another airport.

I still think short term Turkish should be a target for Bristol. There's been suggestions they are wanting to launch services to Australia, so a connection to Istanbul would provide one stop connections where other European hubs wouldn't.

Unfortunately I can't see Qatar operating from BRS due to their CWL service. Etihad is struggling at the moment and have dropped their Edinburgh service so further expansion in the UK is unlikely as this stage. Emirates has been covered before - aircraft too big.
 

Kernow Bravo

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I am in a not-dissimilar position to kfs, living as I do more or less equidistant between BRS and EXT, I have to allow a lot of contingency for journeys to LHR/BHX. However, for routes to Oz/NZ departing BRS would involve at least 2 connections which dramatically increases the elapsed journey time and/or a risk of missed connections. I'm not sure that such a routing would be very competitive on price either.

TLY you can now fly non-stop LHR-PER of course, should you wish!

Having said that, with some US destinations, EI via DUB seems well worth considering ex BRS, particularly since you can clear US customs at DUB meaning effectively you arrive stateside as a domestic passenger. Obviously connection times need to be considered but there are multiple Stobart Air frequencies so hopefully not too long a transit.
 

TheLocalYokel

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TLY you can now fly non-stop LHR-PER of course, should you wish!
Yes, thank you. We always fly to Melbourne for family visits and when there we visit another part of Australia for part of the stay. This year we've decided on Western Australia so will stop off en route to MEL. It seemed daft to fly MEL-PER-MEL in the middle of our stay when we could drop in en route from the UK.

We actually fly on from Perth to Melbourne on Qantas's QF10, which is the Boeing 787-9 that will have flown non-stop from LHR to PER. Timings suit us better with Emirates from the UK than with the Qantas non-stop, and anyway the 13-hour MEL-DXB sector is more than long enough for us in one go.

Returning to the BRS general situation re long haul, apart from via the hubs from BRS itself the realistic alternatives are LHR, BHX and CWL, with LGW not out ofthe question as we've found ourselves. LHR journey time at around 1 hour 40 minutes-2 hours, depending on where in the Bristol area you start, is about 10-15 minutes longer than BHX and about 40-45 minutes longer than CWL. That's by road in good conditions. Any of the roads to the three airports mentioned can become gridlocked at any time re road accidents or general traffic conditions of course - all are on motorway from the centre of Bristol except for the last few miles into CWL.

Rail from Bristol Temple Meads takes between 2 hours 15 minutes and 2 hours 30 minutes to LHR (depending on train taken); between 1 hour 49 minutes and 1 hour 55 minutes to BHX; between 1 hour 41 minutes and 2 hours 12 minutes to CWL (from the Rail Enquiries website).

It can be seen from this that LHR is almost as accessible in terms of journey time than the other two airports, with LHR having a much greater array of choices.
 

Brum X

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BRS was the other airport Primera Air was looking but not any more.

What a complete and utter shambles.

However what a horrible day for all the staff that will have to find new jobs and 1 year to the day when Monarch went bust.

:(
 

kfs

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Qatar Airways was the obvious choice for a ME connection. The other two main ME airlines operate equipment too big for the BRS runway*.
Of course, apologies, can't have been thinking when I wrote that.

BRS does have a LH connection via the 3 x daily flybmi code share to FRA and the 2 x daily code share to MUC. These flights seem to attract higher load factors than the other flybmi flights, and at least two years ago bmi regional (as it was then) were talking about larger aircraft with BRS-FRA route cited as an example of a route requiring such an upgrade. They still speak about getting bigger aircraft for some routes but nothing has yet happened.
Have considered this as an option, but, given that the British Midland flights are often cancelled, as frequently noted on this forum, it seems a risk too far if you're connecting to a further destination and can't be delayed 24 hours. I have used the 'proper' Lufthansa connection from BHX a few times and have found it excellent, including once making a 50-minute connection at MUC with time to spare - and the bag made it to Tbilisi too!


I still think short term Turkish should be a target for Bristol. There's been suggestions they are wanting to launch services to Australia, so a connection to Istanbul would provide one stop connections where other European hubs wouldn't.
Let's hope that once the new IST airport opens and capacity increases BRS will be one of the options they consider. If KLM can maintain multiple daily rotations from BRS, CWL, and BHX, albeit in a smaller aircraft, there has to be the potential for TK to establish a market.

Unfortunately I can't see Qatar operating from BRS due to their CWL service. Etihad is struggling at the moment and have dropped their Edinburgh service so further expansion in the UK is unlikely as this stage. Emirates has been covered before - aircraft too big.
Agreed.
 

TheLocalYokel

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AMS from Bristol offers a decent range of connections, but the KLM experience is one I avoid if possible.
I meant to ask you earlier. What puts you off KLM?
 

superking

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KLM have a big habbit of loosing luggage in AMS. Well known for it.Lost my luggage last time I went through AMS. Came in from Chicago and the luggage turned up in Lax 4 days later, 6 days till luggage got delivered to home..
 

Jerry

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KLM have a big habbit of loosing luggage in AMS. Well known for it.Lost my luggage last time I went through AMS. Came in from Chicago and the luggage turned up in Lax 4 days later, 6 days till luggage got delivered to home..
I've always found that if the connection is tight at AMS then the bag a lot of the time stays behind but I've always had it delivered to the house the next day.
 

kfs

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I meant to ask you earlier. What puts you off KLM?
Unlike Superking, I've been lucky and only once had baggage delayed through AMS, and it was on the homeward journey, so not too worried, and delivered to the house the next day.
BRS>AMS on the Embraers is fine, I don't object to AMS for transfer, usually quick and not too far, although the queues to get through the Schengen gates can be very long. Fifteen years ago I used to fly KLM frequently, and was Gold status on the old Flying Dutchman FF scheme for a couple of years. The BRS service used to be so reliable you could almost set your watch by them.
My recent KLM experiences haven't been truly dreadful, but other airlines have improved the offering and KLM now feels as if they are doing the minimum. The cabin crew have always been very Dutch, no change there, still lacking in the eagerness to please of some. The catering isn't great. 31" seat pitch is just about acceptable (and pretty much the industry standard), but others offer 32" or 33", depending upon the aircraft. The seats and the interiors feel tired. Don't use the IFE except for the route map, so can't comment on that. My biggest objection (and it's not only KLM) is the 10-abreast 777s on many of the intercontinental flights. I go out of my way to avoid this configuration if there's an alternative. My most recent KLM flight was to Paramaribo on a 747 - comfortable but really noisy compared to new aircraft - and it just felt as if they really weren't trying. The MEB3 and some far eastern airlines have really raised the bar in the past few years, and many European legacy carriers haven't followed. I also include British Airways in this, although haven't flown them as frequently. A lesser issue is that the new Flying Blue FF scheme is very mean and award flights hard to reach. Star Alliance TK Miles and Smiles builds up quite quickly and award flight miles needed aren't excessive. Next month I'm flying BHX>JIB/ADD>BHX on award tickets, so very happy with that.
Compared to TK or EK (on the A380, not the 777, so wasn't happy when it was suggested EK39/40 might be downgraded!) from BHX, I'd rather drive the further distance if flight times and connections suit. Have used AI from BHX also. I fly a lot to central and south Asia, and TK/EK offer more choice. Hence TK from BRS would be ideal. KLM's strengths are more in the USA/North America and far East markets, but they're not destinations I often need.
 

TheLocalYokel

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Unlike Superking, I've been lucky and only once had baggage delayed through AMS, and it was on the homeward journey, so not too worried, and delivered to the house the next day.
BRS>AMS on the Embraers is fine, I don't object to AMS for transfer, usually quick and not too far, although the queues to get through the Schengen gates can be very long. Fifteen years ago I used to fly KLM frequently, and was Gold status on the old Flying Dutchman FF scheme for a couple of years. The BRS service used to be so reliable you could almost set your watch by them.
My recent KLM experiences haven't been truly dreadful, but other airlines have improved the offering and KLM now feels as if they are doing the minimum. The cabin crew have always been very Dutch, no change there, still lacking in the eagerness to please of some. The catering isn't great. 31" seat pitch is just about acceptable (and pretty much the industry standard), but others offer 32" or 33", depending upon the aircraft. The seats and the interiors feel tired. Don't use the IFE except for the route map, so can't comment on that. My biggest objection (and it's not only KLM) is the 10-abreast 777s on many of the intercontinental flights. I go out of my way to avoid this configuration if there's an alternative. My most recent KLM flight was to Paramaribo on a 747 - comfortable but really noisy compared to new aircraft - and it just felt as if they really weren't trying. The MEB3 and some far eastern airlines have really raised the bar in the past few years, and many European legacy carriers haven't followed. I also include British Airways in this, although haven't flown them as frequently. A lesser issue is that the new Flying Blue FF scheme is very mean and award flights hard to reach. Star Alliance TK Miles and Smiles builds up quite quickly and award flight miles needed aren't excessive. Next month I'm flying BHX>JIB/ADD>BHX on award tickets, so very happy with that.
Compared to TK or EK (on the A380, not the 777, so wasn't happy when it was suggested EK39/40 might be downgraded!) from BHX, I'd rather drive the further distance if flight times and connections suit. Have used AI from BHX also. I fly a lot to central and south Asia, and TK/EK offer more choice. Hence TK from BRS would be ideal. KLM's strengths are more in the USA/North America and far East markets, but they're not destinations I often need.
Many thanks for that detailed synopsis. My wife and I were once regular leisure travellers from BRS to AMS with Cityhopper and on a number of occasions we connected via KLM 'mainline' or their erstwhile partner Northwest for onward travel to the USA or Canada. Northwest Airlines (later absorbed into Delta) were dreadful in our experience and on one occasion I complained to KLM about their poor choice of partner, citing reasons, and as a result KLM gave us enough FD points for a 'free' return trip BRS-AMS. Wasn't quite free as we still had to pay the taxes but it was still a significant reduction on the usual overall fare then.

When we first travelled Cityhopper was using 33-seat Saab 340 turbo-props on BRS-AMS. Seating was a bit tight but the catering on the short flight was excellent. When we last used KLM about 15 years ago we travelled BRS-AMS-GVA and back (pre-easyJet on BRS-GVA). The food offering had deteriorated markedly since the 1990s when we were using KLM every year, both in quantity and quality.

I can see that Turkish at BRS would be a great addition for someone like you.
I've always found that if the connection is tight at AMS then the bag a lot of the time stays behind but I've always had it delivered to the house the next day.
KLM have a big habbit of loosing luggage in AMS. Well known for it.Lost my luggage last time I went through AMS. Came in from Chicago and the luggage turned up in Lax 4 days later, 6 days till luggage got delivered to home..
When we used KLM regularly in the 1990s and early years of this century our bags came back under their steam on at least three occasions. Fortunately it was always on the inbound so it's not so inconvenient if you have to await their arrival after you've returned home. AMS had a reputation then for missing or delayed bags. I hadn't realised that reputation lives on. On one occasion though it wasn't their fault. We had checked in at Phoenix, Arizona for our routing Phoenix-Minneapolis-Amsterdam-Bristol, all with KLM and partner Northwest. When our bags were reunited with us the day after we arrived home I noticed the route label showed final destination BRU instead of BRS, so our bags had been taken on a visit to Belgium.
 

Jerry

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I think for me KLM is convenient because it's so local but i have noticed the reward scheme isn't the best.
I've flown on their 747s and found them to be tired but their Dreamliners are much better! Used their 737s once and found it ok. Hoping on my next flight to use their A330.
 

tpm

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It's been quiet in here. It seems like a lot of hopes people had haven't really panned out (yet!) - such as: flights to a US hub, flights to one of the hubs in the Middle East incl. Istanbul; a runway extension; B878 as a game changer for long haul from Bristol (although there are some flights now of course, but I don't think it's really been a game changer); Norwegian. And the airport's own assessment, at least as of the old 2006 masterplan, was that demand for long haul from Bristol will always be limited, even more so with Heathrow just up the road - and when the Heathrow Western Rail link is finished it will be even quicker and easier to reach.

Of course there will be many things going on in the background and worked on over a period of years that we won't know about until it's suddenly announced, so I suspect the airport might still have a few cards up its sleeve. And clearly there are plans for a massive increase in the number of passengers handled going forward, even if it's not entirely clear to onlookers like me where those passengers will come from or go to, but someone must know or they wouldn't be pouring hundreds of millions into extending the airport.

In any case, and unrelated to the above, I've recently come across some articles talking about Airbus thinking about an A321 XLR variant to cover a gap in the market between the trusty single-aisle short haul work horses and larger-capacity double-aisle jets. If I recall correctly they may be making a decision on whether to go ahead with this in January, and if so it could go into service as soon as 2023.

To me it looks like this could be much more of a game changer for Bristol than the B787/A350, since it would be a smaller plane and thus easier to fill (or fill profitably, rather), and it might also not be affected so much by the runway limitations.
 

Jerry

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The A321neo and neoLR and no doubt neoXLR may be a game changer but you will still need airlines willing to operate those routes to regional airports like Bristol.
I think for Bristol the game changer on long haul would come if Easyjet decided to launch long haul in the future considering the relationship between the two parties.
But you never know they might surprise us!
 
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tpm

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I think for Bristol the game changer on long haul would come if Easyjet decided to launch long haul in the future considering the relationship between the two parties.
EasyJet seems to be about to put 321neo aircraft into service, which must surely be for long haul use?

It's much more likely that they put those planes into use from bigger airports/cities like London of course seeing that they've got more seats than the planes EasyJet put on short haul routes out of BRS at the moment, but I'd like to think that once EasyJet decides to do long haul in principle and sets up operations for that, it will also give BRS a look at some point. Presumably EasyJet would be doing this as a matter of strategy to be rolled out across the network, not just to compete with BA on a few lucrative transatlantic routes (which in any case is what Norwegian and Virgin are doing already anyway).

Fingers crossed.
 

Jerry

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The A321neo is to expand routes at slot restricted airports like Gatwick or to add to routes which they want to increase seats on but not frequency at BRS I'd say that the EDI route would be a good candidate for that.
I did read Easyjets CEO saying that once they get to 30% market share around Europe then they may well look at starting long haul up but he didn't mention aircraft type or from where.
 

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