London shuffle

Does London Gatwick Airport have abandonment issues?

Yet another airline has announced it will leave Gatwick in favor of London Heathrow Airport this year.

Continental Airlines will end year-round service to Gatwick from Newark Liberty International and Houston's George Bush Intercontinental airports on October 25 to launch a third daily flight between Heathrow and Newark.

Is Heathrow cooler? Gatwick appears unpopular with passengers.

“Our customers have shown a clear preference for Heathrow, and our main competitors have focused their operations there. We regret the need to end year-round operations at Gatwick, but it is imperative that we remain competitive and continue to meet the needs of our customers,” Continental executive VP marketing Jim Compton says in a statement.

Airlines are willing to spend a lot on Heathrow. The Houston-based company paid millions on Heathrow slots--$116 million for summer slots last year and Continental has said it expects to pay $93 million for winter slots for New York and Houston flights this year.

Earlier in the year, American Airlines moved all its Gatwick operations to London Heathrow, ending a relationship that began in 1982.

Oneworld alliance member American used to fly from Gatwick to Dallas/Fort Worth International and Raleigh-Durham International airports.

The one bright spot for Gatwick is Continental's seasonal service between Cleveland Hopkins International Ariport and Gatwick will return in the summer, Continental spokesman Nic Britton says.

But that must feel like a consolation prize.

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