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British Airways switching Denver flights to Heathrow- Denver Post August 1, 2002

Passengers who fly between Denver and London on British Airways will soon enjoy more convenient air travel. Beginning Oct. 26, flights between the two cities will move from London Gatwick to London Heathrow, the world's fourth-busiest airport.

As a major travel hub, Heathrow offers more connecting flights than Gatwick, on a more frequent basis, plus extra features such as traveler lounges. The airport also offers more ground transportation options - The Heathrow Express, for example. The high-speed train connects the airport to London's Paddington Station in 15 minutes. The option is not available at Gat-wick.

The airline made the changes after a review that ended early this year.

"It's basically for operational reasons - they were trying to simplify the Gatwick operations," said Diana Fung, a spokeswoman for British Airways.

The airline decided to reduce traffic at Gatwick by moving certain aircraft to Heathrow - including the Boeing 777 ER that flies daily between Denver and London and back.

The aircraft seats 254 first-class, business and economy travelers. Heathrow, England's largest airport, serves 60 million passengers each year. Gatwick, the second-largest, serves half as many.

Denver city and airport officials issued a statement on Wednesday applauding the airline's decision.

"Both business and vacation travelers base their decisions on convenience and efficiency," Ron Bernstein, director of Denver Mayor Wellington Webb's office of economic development, said in the statement.

"Not having to transfer to a smaller airport like Gatwick saves money and time. This decision has just opened up a floodgate of new opportunities to market Denver to the world," he said.

Many passengers could potentially profit from the change.

"There are a lot of people who go to Heathrow and just get on the high-speed train to London - you're at Paddington Station within minutes," said Denver resident Jane Petrie, 53, a Briton who makes the trip about five times a year to visit family.

The move benefits those who travel beyond London, too. Within three hours of arrival at Heathrow from Denver, passengers will be able to connect to nearly 30 destinations, including Amsterdam, Madrid, Frankfurt and Tokyo.

"I could imagine that it may make a lot of difference to businessmen wanting to transfer to other flights going out of Heathrow," Petrie said. "There seem to be more flights out of Heathrow to various destinations."

Though she prefers Gatwick because the shorter car-rental process, she expects the move to Heathrow will be more convenient for friends and family members who frequently visit her in Denver.

At Heathrow, British Airways' premium and frequent customers will have access to the airline's Terraces Lounge, as well as a spa and an arrivals lounge, where passengers can shower, get suits pressed, exercise, eat and work.

"The facilities are excellent," Fung said. "It's a convenient hub, with easy transfers to the different terminals."

David Rojahn, owner of a Denver travel agency and president of the Rocky Mountain branch of the American Society of Travel Agents, agreed, adding that his clients have traditionally preferred Heathrow to Gatwick.

San Diego and Phoenix flights will also operate out of Heathrow, as well as those from the African cities of Harare, Zimbabwe and Lusaka, Zambia.

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