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The UK’s Top Long & Short Haul Flight Operators

Posted on 10th June 2016 at 10:35am

Top 10 UK Airways For Short And Long Haul Flights

According to a research made by BATA (British Air Transport Association), the number of aircraft has increased to 963 of the ones that fly for eight hours on a daily basis. The most operational airlines in the UK include the names of Virgin Atlantic, British Airways and EasyJet.

But which are the UK’s best airlines with great value for money and service? In other words, which UK airline guarantees ‘the best bang for your buck’? We are starting from number 10.

10. Aurigny Air Services Limited

Aurigny UK Flight OperatorThe former CEO of FlyBaboo (a Swiss airline), Mark Darby, partnered up with Derrick Bailey in 1968 and founded Aurigny Air Services Limited as a company with headquarters at Guernsey airport, UK.

An interesting fact about Aurigny is that it is one of the most unique flag carrier airlines. It operates both passengers and freight services between UK, continental Europe and the Channel Islands. With around 290 employees, this company provides a network of scheduled services to 11 destinations in 3 countries.

Although the destination list of Aurigny may be a bit limited, it is considered a safe choice for short haul flights to various destinations in the UK including Bristol, East Midlands, London, Southampton and Manchester.
The value for the money has made Aurigny one of the fastest growing airlines in the UK.

In March last year (2015), it measured 29% growth and had the busiest routes – especially from Guernsey and London. With an increased passenger volume of 4%, their new fleet ATR 42-500 was definitely considered the best choice for the short-haul flight from Guernsey to London.

9. Monarch Airlines

Monarch UK Flight OperatorMonarch is definitely the UK’s oldest airline. It hasn’t changed its name ever and is responsible for transporting more than 7.4 million passengers. It is considered a great option for a leisure airline, although its parent company also specializes in tour operations, aircraft engineering etc.

With over 40 destinations across Europe and North Africa, Monarch Airlines specializes in short haul flights mostly. However, it also offers some charter flights to destinations in the United States, the Carribean, India and Gambia – being a budget-friendly alternative for a long-haul flight.

In a nutshell, Monarch Airlines offers great flexibility with its one way airline fares. It is a low cost airline which battles with RyanAir and EasyJet for this piece of the market.

Over the past few years, the company has started to focus more on short haul flights, ceasing the long haul ones. This has been mostly due to big competition when it comes to over the ocean flights.

8. Thomson Airways Limited

Thomson UK Flight OperatorThomson Airways is a company based in Crawley, West Sussex. It has been a merger of the previously known Touristik Union International and First Choice Holidays PLC. As soon as it started operating as Thomson Airways Limited (in 2008), it has been one of the world’s largest charters.

Thomson Airways has 17 major operating bases across UK. Also, it provides one of the greatest options when it comes to long haul flights. With over 80 destinations including Cuba, United States, Mauritius, Egypt, Mexico, Thailand and Turkey – it has clearly positioned itself as a long haul flight operator.

Thomson has around 77 aircrafts in its fleet, including the Boeing 737-800, 757-200, 767-300ER and 787-8. In fact, they were among the first airlines to operate with the Boeing 787 starting from 2013. The company has won many awards such as the ‘Most Punctual UK Charter‘ from 2009 to 20013, ‘Best Overall Tour Operator‘ in 2012 etc.

Although it provides two cabin services for both short and long haul flights, Thomson Airways is the best value for money when going long haul. With its MyThomson App on the Google Play store, it offers peace of mind when it comes to booking flights. From the passengers perspective, the recently upgraded premium economy class comes with improved seats with plenty of space and much greater comfort.

7. Logan Air

Loganair UK Flight OperatorWith its headquarters in Glasgow International airport, Logan Air is a Scottish airline which started out as an air taxi service. It was founded in 1962 and took a leap forward when the owners saw the increasing demand for flights.
Logan Air is one of the biggest competitors to British airways and

Although smaller and not so well known, the company operates in mainland Scotland and includes the world’s shortest scheduled commercial route between the Papa Westray and Westray airports. It has its own hubs in nearly every bigger city in Scotland including Edinburgh, Inverness, Kirkwall etc. Aside from its scheduled services, it also provides an Air Ambulance and Night mall services in Scotland.

Logan Air is Scotland’s best choice for short haul flights. With a fleet size of 30 and serving 31 international destinations, it has created a Rewrds4all – a frequent Flyer program that lets every customer save while traveling.

According to the Civil Aviation Authority, its top routes are from Brazzaville to Pointe Noire and other Paris airports, but also Bergen in Norway. Although international, these are short haul flights that made Logan Air the second busiest airline and a dominant carrier at Belfast.

6. Thomas Cook Airlines Limited

Thomas Cook UK Flight OperatorThomas Cook Airlines is a British airline founded in 2003, serving UK with charter flights. With headquarters in Manchester, England and as a child company of the Thomas Cook Group, it also has other sister-companies based in Belgium, Germany and Scandinavia.

Thomas Cook has 32 airlines in its fleet, with bases in Belfast, Bristol, Glasgow, London Stansted, London Gatwick, Manchester, Newcastle, Birmingham, Cardiff and East Midlands. Ever since it was founded, Thomas Cook has carried around 7 million passengers to 60 destinations across Europe, Asia, Africa and America.

Also, this company has been one of the first UK airlines to achieve the 14001 certification which is aimed on the environmental impact. Also, it takes pride in having a responsive and great website for navigation, for which the company won the ‘Airline website of 2015‘ as well last year.

While it also offers short haul flights, Thomas Cook is the ideal choice for long haul flights. The company announced new routes to Miami and New York recently and keeps expanding its viewpoint in that manner. With its comfortable Boeing 757 fleet, it also offers a lot of promotions and special prices.

5. FlyBe Limited

Flybe UK Flight OperatorWith headquarters in Exeter International Airport, Devon – FlyBe is one of the UK’s most famous low cost regional airlines. It operates with more than 180 routes and across 65 European airports. It has positioned itself as a budget-friendly and short haul flight alternative and is responsible for carrying millions of passengers every year.

In 2013, FlyBe has gotten to its record of carrying 7 million passengers to its major destinations including Austria, France, Spain, Portugal, Norway, Italy, Sweden, Croatia etc.
The unique ‘value for money’ perspective behind FlyBe is retained through its 5C model. The 5C includes:

i.   Cost base
ii.  Cash for creating maximum financial headroom
iii. Configuration – right network and aircraft for the right destination
iv. Commercialisation – strenghtening its customer base and
v.   Confidence – for active engagement

That being said, FlyBe offers a unique alternative to low-cost flights and serves Britain with great budget flights. However, its service is not compromised at all – as it has won a lot of rewards including Failure Insurance, Eco-Labelling Scheme, Carbon Offset Scheme and many more proving that FlyBe is an environmentally-friendly company.

4. Limited

Jet2 UK Flight is an airline based in Leeds and West Yorkshire. The company is also a child of Dart Group PLC. It is known to be one of Britain’s top low-cost airlines offering low fares from seven UK airports, including Leeds Bradford, East Midlands, Glasgow, Manchester, Belfast International and Newcastle. However, it also operates with flights to Austria, Greece, Cyprus, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, Spain, France, Netherlands etc. is known to have a great value for money and lead over many other airlines in the United Kingdom. Its great flight times and 22KG baggage allowance are definitely responsible for that. Although it may seem like a budget operator, it offers a great value when it comes to in-flight meals, entertainment and insurance as well. It has therefore won a lot of awards for The Best Holiday Charter airline, Best Airline For Groups, Airline Of The Year 2010, Best Airline Website in 2010 etc.

Every flight at Jet2 operates on a single class cabin configuration. Its top 10 routes are: Leeds – Alicante, Malaga and Majorca, Manchester – Alicante, Faro, Majorca, Tenerife, New Castle – Majorca, Alicante and Glasgow – Majorca. This makes one of the best choices for budget-friendly short haul flights across the UK and Europe.

It’s also a great airline to use for people from the North heading out to various ski resorts in Europe, especially France.

3. Virgin Atlantic Airways Limited

Virgin UK Flight OperatorVirgin was founded in 1984 by Richard Branson. Although he is set for a £351.3m sale of his company, Virgin America, Virgin Atlantic airways Limited has never compromised its service. Located at Crawley, UK – Virgin Atlantic carries more than 5 million British passengers annually to around 35 destinations.

Operating mostly from London Gatwick, London Heathrow and Manchester airport, the company also has a smaller branch named Virgin Atlantic Little Red operating from London Heathrow to Edinburgh and Aberdeen.

Virgin Atlantic is the UK’s second largest long haul airline. Although it operates within the UK as well, its focus is flights to USA, Africa, Asia, Australia and the Caribbean – linking to some major cities as Tokyo, Delhi, Mumbai, Cape Town, Johannesburg and Dubai.

The variety of destinations and the ease of use of its website has made Virgin Atlantic Britain’s top choice for long haul flights. The Upper Class Suite and Club House for Passengers are amongst the newest innovations which feature a lounge.

Virgin Atlantic Airways is known for its originality and unique features – for which it won the Best Travel/Leisure website award in 2013, Best Cabin Crew, Best Premium Economy class etc. Basically, it mixes a lot of the traditional aspects and redefines them with a top-notch service.

2. EasyJet

EasyJet UK Flight OperatorEasyJet is the largest UK airline when it comes to Passengers Volume. However, it finds itself in second place on our list mostly because of the sheer dominance and brand of the company in the number one spot. Also, aside being the largest UK airline, it is the second in terms of low cost airlines.

With over 220 aircrafts, over 650 routes and 24 bases, EasyJet operates in more than 20 countries, and operates from the most frequented airports in Europe. However, when it comes to the ‘value for money’ aspect, it doesn’t give the certain ‘wow’ appeal to be on top of this list.

This may be mostly due to its smaller airlines. However, EasyJet remains a top choice for most of the Brits – mainly because of the budget-friendly short haul travelling.

With over 64 million passengers flown in 2014, EasyJet has been the largest operator in Britain and has won many awards for its excellence. However, it definitely has an image of a budget-friendly brand aside from British Airways, the top holder of this list.

1. British Airways PLC

British Airways UK Flight OperatorAlso known as BA, British Airways is the second largest airline in terms of passengers carried each year. Also, it is known as UK’s top choice for international flights and destinations. Positioned equally in the short haul and long haul marketplace, BA has four subsidiaries: BACity Flyer, Open Skies, British Airways Limited and British Airways World Cargo.

BA is responsible for carrying millions of passengers every year. Its major operating bases include Heathrow airport in London, Manchester, Glasgow, Gatwick, Leeds and Newcastle. With over 160 destinations offered in the list, BA connects the UK with every inhabited continent. Its largest fleet comes with great comfort – consisting of the best Airbus, Boeing and Embraer series.

According to many surveys, British Airways is the Best UK airline and a top brand that Brits love. Its domination in both short haul and long haul flights has proven that aside from being budget-friendly and low-cost, the best airline must have something special attached to it.

The low prices at times, promotions, discounts and top quality service levels make British Airways a leader in both short haul and long haul charter flights. And although at some point the price tag may be relatively higher than other low-cost airline operators, BA never puts a compromise on its high-end service, including the various entertainment options and food available on-board.

A Final Word

Considering our short and long haul flights analysis, we hope that it helps you when considering which airline to choose however for a more comprehensive insight into each airline we would suggest going to their respective websites. It’s also important to note that our analysis doesn’t strictly focus on the price as a main aspect, but the value of service as a whole.

We hope you find the best airline for your needs!
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