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Longhaul from Bristol

TheLocalYokel

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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.
The way the world is developing I think that a long haul scheduled route to the east would be more valuable than one to the west. Missing out on Qatar was a huge blow for BRS whatever the reasons, and there were probably a number.

Turkish seems to crop up at regular intervals and has done for a few years now. In itself it would not be a long-haul route but would feed into them, although its spread is not as wide from Istanbul than that of the MEB3 from the Gulf, especially Emirates. There are rumours that the new and larger IST will lead to increased connectivity options so that might still be a realistic BRS goal in the future.

The USA appears to be seeing re-adjustment at the moment with bigger airports than BRS experiencing reductions; BHX is a an obvious example. I’m not sure that Norwegian, which seems to have cut back on some of its transatlantic operations, would be well supported without connectivity in the USA. Even then there might be a question mark.

Heathrow remains a major obstacle to any BRS scheduled long-haul ambitions. I recently discovered myself how convenient that airport is from the Bristol area for long haul. I hadn’t used LHR for many years and, having read and heard horror stories, was pleasantly surprised by it as an airport and as a reasonably accessible destination from the Bristol area.

As you point out, the BRS management doubtless has dialogue with all manner of airlines, including long haul, but it’s as a short haul airport that it punches well above its weight, having regard to its physical size and difficult surface connectivity. If this approach is making money for the airlines and for the airport, as it seems to be, there is probably little imperative for the airport to go out on a limb to attract the odd scheduled long haul player if more short haul routes are more profitable for it.
 

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TheLocalYokel

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I had an email from BRS today - I'm on their mailing list - inviting me to take part in a travel survey that is looking to collate details of how travellers fly to Africa, Asia and the Middle East in terms of frequency, departure UK airports and airlines. The survey also wants to hear where people would like to fly to from the airport in the future.

I suppose this an exercise in bringing up to date their data base of people's travel habits which they will use when pitching to airlines.
 

Marko1

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Hmm. I had an email too . I was thinking whether there really was any point given the fact that Qatar is now at Cardiff and Emirates is highly unlikely to rock up then I thought Turkish. Perfect fit for brs and massive network in Asia and Africa
 

TheLocalYokel

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Hmm. I had an email too . I was thinking whether there really was any point given the fact that Qatar is now at Cardiff and Emirates is highly unlikely to rock up then I thought Turkish. Perfect fit for brs and massive network in Asia and Africa
I suppose they have to keep trying. One day something might crop up although it doesn't look very likely at the moment. Apart from Turkish, there doesn't seem anything else that might be more than just possible.

Actually, a route to Istanbul wouldn't be long-haul at all would it? Charter flights already operate to Turkey from BRS, as they do from most UK airports, and they aren't regarded as long-haul. Istanbul would offer connections there to long-haul but so too does KLM to AMS, EI to DUB, LH code-share to FRA and MUC and so on. Are 6-7 hour flights to the ME really long-haul? If they are, so too would have been the BRS flights to the Gambia in the past and arguably the existing flights to Cape Verde.

Despite being acquainted with one or two BRS figures at management level (not bosom pals or anything like that), I never did really establish how the airport viewed not getting Qatar. All I got was that they weren't really surprised - even in private conversations - with operational constraints mentioned as the biggest obstacle, at least as far as Qatar was concerned. Obviously, I would not have expected any commercial confidences or details of any negotiations to have been revealed. However, I did get the impresssion than it was an operational rather than a commercial decision although, having later heard the Qatar CEO's public comments, there were obviously other reasons including government backing both in the Senedd and at Westminster (sec of state) that saw the airline decide on CWL.

At least one of the MEB3 is operating from Severnside and no doubt used by some in the West Country, which is something.

For years BRS were touting the ME as one of the four scheduled long-haul routes they thought viable in terms of demand. Perhaps they were putting too much into the B787 basket but then again I'm told by those who know more about these things than me that a 787-8 or 9 would have no trouble operating BRS-ME without load penalty, if an airline was prepared to do it.
 

TheLocalYokel

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Emirates have ordered the A330 neo.. 900 series.. would emirates now be an option?
We've been discussing this in the BRS Random thread. Some interesting opinions there.
 

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