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British Airways flight delay

A British Airways plane grounded at LF Wade International Airport (Photograph by David Skinner)

Lawrence Scott, the Shadow Minister of Transport, believes Bermuda should seek competition for airlines servicing the UK in light of ongoing delays and cancellations by British Airways.

He said when budget airline Zoom went bust in 2008, BA hiked its prices and its “premium” service has gone down hill. Sunday’s British Airways flight from Bermuda to London, England, was grounded overnight but departed yesterday evening. According to a BA spokeswoman, the BA2232 flight to Gatwick had to be cancelled because of a technical problem.

This is the third cancelled BA flight this month; flights to and from the Island were cancelled on July 12 and July 15, with the airline citing technical problems.

Mr Scott said: “When companies compete, the consumer always wins. We did notice when Zoom was introduced into the London market the prices went down and BA’s reliability and quality went up. Right now I think it is unfortunate and somewhat outside of the realm of controllability in terms of BA and their maintenance. Maybe it is time for the government to look at users as the catalyst in which to actively and aggressively look into implementing competition or finding suitable competition that best complements our tourism product.

“There are many — Virgin comes to mind, EasyJet — there are a plethora of them.

“I can fly from JFK (New York) to London for the same price that I can fly from JFK to Bermuda. Why? Because there is competition for a plethora of airlines that I can choose from. British Airways is making sure you pay for the convenience. They wont bring down costs if there is no motivation and the motivation is competition.”

Mr Scott pointed out that the aviation industry answers to Bermuda’s Governor George Fergusson under civil aviation so additional routes would have to go through him.

He added: “it has been very easy for government to add routes to and from the US or west bound traffic but it has been eerily quiet in adding competition to British airways — the flagship carrier of the UK. The question could be asked: ‘is the governor protecting the UK’s interests when it comes to not allowing competition for BA as the UK’s flagship carrier. Could that be why we don’t have a Virgin who is a big player?”

A BA spokeswoman said of Sunday’s flight: “Despite immediate attempts to rectify the problem, the flight had to be postponed as safety is our top priority.”

“We are now focusing on getting our customers to London as quickly as possible, we apologise for the delay to their journeys.”

An LF Wade International Airport spokesman added that the aircraft was waiting for a replacement part to arrive on yesterday’s BA flight from London. Once the part was fitted, the aircraft was scheduled to depart at 10pm, after the normal BA flight to London departed.

Transport Minister Shawn Crockwell did not respond to our request for an interview by press time.