CHARLESTON, S.C. – “Welcome aboard British Airways Flight 221 with nonstop service to Charleston, South Carolina.” That announcement becomes a reality today for passengers departing London’s Heathrow Airport on the inaugural nonstop fl ight between the British Isles and the Palmetto State.
Shortly after that fl ight lands, an enthusiastic group of passengers at Charleston International Airport will board the Boeing 787 Dreamliner for the fi rst outbound fl ight from the Lowcountry to London. The departure is scheduled for 11:20 P.M. EST.
“Years of relationship building and months of preparations led us to this momentous occasion. Loved ones will be able to reconnect more easily while business travelers anticipate higher productivity and new opportunities,” said Paul Campbell, CEO of the Charleston County Aviation Authority. “
The twice-weekly service between Charleston and London was announced last October.
British Airways’, airport and community leaders will celebrate the inaugural fl ights with festivities at Charleston International on Thursday night. A red-carpet welcome, ribbon cutting, musical entertainment, and British-themed decorations, among other activities, will mark the occasion for arriving and departing passengers.
A special Facebook Live production will be broadcast to allow the public to be part of the celebration from anywhere in the world. The Livestream begins at 7:30 P.M. and can be viewed at www.Facebook.com/ExploreCharleston
“I am really excited about this new service between Charleston and London, two world class cities with rich histories and strong cultures,” said Simon Brooks, British Airways’ Senior Vice President, Sales, North America. “We have an extensive global network — more than 200 destinations in 75 countries across the globe—and I’m pleased that British Airways can offer this service to the Charleston community.”
Since the announcement last fall, the new fl ight has been touted as a game changer by state and local offi cials. It is expected to boost international tourism and business opportunities across the state.
“The planes may land in Charleston but the impact extends well outside of the Lowcountry. South Carolina’s popularity with overseas travelers is strong and growing. We are confi dent this fl ight means more people from the United Kingdom can more conveniently enjoy all our state has to offer,” said Duane Parrish, Director of the South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation & Tourism.
Parrish noted that London’s Heathrow Airport is considered a gateway. “British Airways offers service between Heathrow and over 130 destinations in Europe, Asia and Africa. The Charleston to London route opens South Carolina’s door to a larger international audience.”
The flight is projected to generate an estimated economic impact of $20.2 million annually through new spending, job creation and other associated activity in tourism.
“Greater connectivity through increased air service makes us an even more viable candidate for international commerce. Today, we strengthen our ability to compete in a global economy,” commented Elliott Summey, Chairman of Charleston County Council.
“A partnership with British Airways is desired by many other communities. We are honored to celebrate this endorsement of the greater Charleston area and our incredible people. We look forward to extending our southern hospitality and sharing the authentic attributes that make this region so unique,” said Michael Tall, Chair of Explore Charleston’s Board of Governors.
Charleston International Airport saw a record 4.47 million passengers in 2018. It is also in the midst of a master campus plan to expand passenger amenities, parking facilities and support functions that serve air carriers.
“Collaboration between local, regional and state entities makes accomplishments like the state’s first transatlantic flight possible. More flights to more destinations enhance the quality of life for citizens across the region and serve as a catalyst for new economic development,” said Helen Hill, CEO of Explore Charleston and Vice Chair of the Charleston County Aviation Authority.
British Airways operates the service on Thursdays and Sundays. Flights leave from Charleston at 11:20 P.M. and arrive in London the next afternoon at 12:20 P.M. Returning flights will depart London at 5:30 P.M. and arrive in Charleston the same day at 9:30 P.M., local time.
Tickets can be purchased at www.ba.com