BA flies out of Kolkata for good

Reflecting the massive turndown in the aviation industry, British Airways has terminated its service between London and Kolkata. The move is not a surprise, as BA had announced in November that it would suspend the flights as part of ''route rationalisation''.

Although the flights have a load factor of around 70 per cent, this is not enough to sustain the route any more, especially with heavily discounted tickets. Revenues have further shrunk due to rival German airline Lufthansa having started London-Kolkata flights in 2006.

The flight was mostly used by older people who regularly visited their relations in the UK, who were deeply disappointed by the decision. The suspension means that they can no longer fly non-stop to Heathrow. Many, including students going abroad, said a stopover en route would make things difficult for them.

The timings and flight duration were what made the BA weekly flight attractive. It was not only direct but also one of the quickest connections to the US. People flying to London and back will now lose several hours because of stopovers in other cities.

Mumbai is the most profitable sector for British Airways, with Delhi, Chennai and Bangalore also proving to be valuable destinations.. The Calcutta route has apparently been hurting the airline despite the average passenger load. Hyderabad is new territory for British Airways, with a London flight being launched in December last year.

Stepping into the breach, Air India has resumed its Calcutta-Delhi-London flight on Sunday, the same day British Airways flew out. Passengers can also fly to London via Frankfurt by Lufthansa, through Dubai by Emirates and by other airlines through Mumbai and Delhi.

Formerly almost a household name as BOAC (British Overseas Airways Corp), BA started its direct Kolkata-London flight in 1932, but suspended it in 1985. It resumed the service in 1993 with three direct flights a week.