British Airways Adds Nonstop Flight To Austin

fromKUT

Starting in March, British Airways says it will begin nonstop service between London and Austin, Texas. The move comes as something of a surprise, given that the airline already serves Dallas and Houston.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

NPR's business news starts with non-stop flights.

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MONTAGNE: British Airways has announced a new non-stop service five days a week between London and Austin, Texas. The move comes as something of a surprise, considering the airline already serves Dallas and Houston.

From member station KUT, David Brown reports.

DAVID BROWN, BYLINE: The new Austin non-stops won't begin until next March - about the time some quarter-million visitors descend on the city for the annual music and film conference, South by Southwest.

Simon Brooks is a vice president with British Airways.

SIMON BROOKS: You seen through our plan and that's the reason we're starting the service in early March.

MICHAEL BOYD: This South by Southwest thing, forget that. You don't take an $80 million asset and throw it across the Atlantic on the basis of a two week hootenanny.

BROWN: Industry Analyst Michael Boyd says the real story is the new Boeing 787, the Dreamliner. Despite a series of highly publicized incidents, including in-flight electrical fires, the mid-sized Dreamliner makes a route like London to Austin viable for the first time.

BOYD: This would never happen without the 787. So, because the 787 is the right size and the right cost for this route. If that airplane had not come along, this would not be here.

BROWN: It also wouldn't have happened without city officials aggressively pitching Austin as a new high-tech hub. For that reason, Boyd doesn't expect a new British invasion at American airports anytime soon.

For NPR News, I'm David Brown in Austin, Texas.

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