Non-stop Austin to Heathrow flights announced

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by Heather Kovar / KVUE News and photojournalist SCOTT GUEST

Bio | Email | Follow: @HeatherK_KVUE

kvue.com

Posted on September 3, 2013 at 6:26 PM

Updated Tuesday, Sep 3 at 6:41 PM

AUSTIN -- Grab your passport! Beginning in March of 2014 non-stop flights between Austin and London's Heathrow will take off.

British airways will fly a Boeing 787 Dreamliner starting five days a week on March 3rd, eventually increasing to seven says a week.

Alan Eley is the North American vice president of operations for the airline. He says, "It's obivioulsy the most dynamic and most technologically advanced aircraft to fly, and I think it's so fitting to be coming into this market."

Austin Chamber Board Chairman Lew Little says the new route will create about 1,100 jobs for the air service industry.

"The route is anticipated to bring an initial $70 million in economic impact, and expected to grow to $74 million annual-impact within the first three years," Little said.

Securing this transatlantic non stop route has been a top priority for the Austin Chambers Air Service Task Force since it was created in 2010.

Local businesses hope to land additional revenue as well.

Teghan Hahn manages Austin Rocks on 2nd St., she says the new service will create more business for her.

"We feel like it will really open up the market. Right now we get a lot of British customers," Hahn said.
 
Wade GIles is a guideshop manager at newly opened Bonobos on 2nd Street. He thinks the non-stop flights will generate some additional store traffic, but says he's more excited about the opportunity to travel.

"Being able to go to London, direct -- is huge," said Giles.

Heathrow is a gateway to other points around the world. ABIA's Executive Director Jim Smith says they've been planning, and that construction is underway on a project to ease expected travelers. Smith says the project is "designed to expand our security checkpoints to allow people to be processed much quicker as well as expand our customs and border patrol facilities."

Additionally Smith says they're going to the city council Wednesday to explain to city leaders, "it's time to grow." He says they are going to propose a seven gate expansion.

"We've been very fortunate, and we just have to keep our infrastructure up to speed, and ability to cope in a customer friendly way," says Smith.

ABIA spokesperson Jim Halbrook says there is plenty of room in Austin for the Boeing 787 Dreamliners, which are mid-sized international jets.

"We were built on a former airforce base; the west runway was built to land B-52's. We welcome the 787 dreamliner," says Halbrook.

British airways doesn't have plans to offer non-stop from Austin to anywhere else, but other airlines might in the future.

Tickets are already onsale online at www.ba.com.
 

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