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London Is Calling to CVG

British Airways announces a new gateway flight to Europe starting in June.

by Sarah M. Mullins

The Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG) is introducing a nonstop British Airways flight this summer between Cincinnati and London Heathrow, creating opportunities for both business and leisure travel across the region. A direct flight to London was consistently one of the most in-demand routes here, according to airport CEO Candace McGraw, and the new partnership with British Airways (the 14th airline serving CVG) helps increase passenger carrier options, a key goal of hers. “By offering diversified passenger carriers, once you have carrier choice it leads to overall low fares,” says McGraw. “We’ve had the lowest airfare among comparable airports for four or five years running.”

CVG is offering incentives to airlines such as marketing support and fee waivers to encourage them to offer additional flight options out of Cincinnati. The airport has been actively looking to obtain this new transatlantic link since 2018, says McGraw; it will join Delta’s Paris flight as the only nonstop options to Europe from here.

CVG is the seventh largest cargo airport in North America, with a total annual impact of $6.8 billion on the local economy, and the London flight will add to the existing economic boost. CVG put together a business case that included passenger demand data from within the airport’s two-hour radius and conducted an economic impact study based on five departures a week. “Based on annual visitor spending, airline spending, parking, and concessions, the economic impact of this new route will be $57.5 million per year,” says McGraw. “This flight gives greater connectivity for leisure and business to the UK and hundreds of markets beyond London.”

In addition to passenger service, British Airways and DHL agreed to a cargo partnership that could alleviate concerns about a possible slow passenger revenue uptake. With more cargo in the belly of a plane, not as many seats need to be filled in order for the flight to be profitable, says McGraw.

Direct service to London also serves as a hub for connections from Heathrow to 148 other airports around the world, opening the door for attracting businesses to Cincinnati that need easy access to the UK and beyond. McGraw says several companies in this region already send employees to London on a monthly basis, and businesses looking for a presence in both Cincinnati and the UK now have an incentive to relocate here. CVG regularly works with economic development experts at REDI, Northern Kentucky Tri-ED, and VisitCincy to add in-demand flight options that will help entice businesses and talent recruiting to the region.

The British Airways flight joins other new nonstop options at CVG like Breeze’s service to Charleston, Providence, Orange County (California), and San Francisco, which is scheduled to launch in the first quarter. London tickets currently are on sale with introductory round-trip fares starting at $665.