Northwest Airlines today announced it has secured London Heathrow slots from its joint venture partner KLM, and plans next year to launch daily service to the airport from Detroit, Minneapolis/St. Paul and Seattle. With the Northwest announcement, all six U.S. legacy carriers have secured at least one Heathrow slot.
Northwest said it plans to launch service next year from Minneapolis/St. Paul beginning March 29; from Detroit beginning May 1; and from Seattle beginning June 1. Northwest would not comment on the economics of the deal, saying only that it gained the slots from partner KLM.
Northwest joins its legacy carrier brethren in serving the airport, thanks to this year's Open Skies deal between the United States and the European Union, which opened Heathrow—the world's busiest airport—to more competition. American Airlines and United Airlines, along with U.K.-based incumbents British Airways and Virgin Atlantic, have had protected positions at the airport until the Open Skies agreement this year opened it up for more competition (BTN, June 11)
Since then Continental, Delta and US Airways have secured slots. Through its joint venture agreement with Air France, Delta gained access to three Air France slots at Heathrow and plans to launch daily Atlanta-Heathrow service and twice-daily New York JFK-Heathrow service in March. Continental last month announced plans to launch twice-daily service to Heathrow from both its Newark and Houston hubs beginning March 29. US Airways last month also said it will launch service between Philadelphia and Heathrow on March 29.
Northwest is inaugurating Detroit-Heathrow service about a month after British Airways plans to abandon the route. BA earlier this year said it would suspend the route on March 30, 2008, due to profitability concerns. BA said it plans to add more departures from New York, Washington and Seattle services from Heathrow and switch its Houston and Dallas flights to Gatwick.