British Airways is to offer discounted “hand baggage only” fares on all short-haul flights from Gatwick Airport.

The airline announced a trial of the service, on flights to Amsterdam, Dubrovnik, Jersey, Tunis and Turin, last month, offering cheaper tickets to passengers who do not wish to travel with checked luggage.

The scheme will now be extended to 32 routes from the London airport, effective immediately.

“The new fares have been very well received by customers and we have now decided to make the discounted prices much more widely available,” said Peter Simpson, director of Gatwick for British Airways.

The introduction of the fares has been seen as an attempt by the airline to compete with its no-frills rivals, such as Ryanair and easyJet.

“The suprise is not so much that BA has made this move, but that it has taken so long to do so,” said Nick Trend, Telegraph Travel’s Consumer Editor, when they were launched last month. “It appears to be a reaction to commercial pressure from its no-frills rivals, which quote lower headline fares because they don’t include the cost of checked bags. This can make BA’s fares look expensive and so less attractive by contrast.

“BA says that the new fares are about giving it customers ‘more freedom to choose the kind of flying they want’, but they are also about giving British Airways the freedom to make its fares look cheaper.”

He added that those passengers who do check a bag into the hold could eventually end up paying more.

“Airfares are so variable that, within a few weeks, it will be impossible to know whether BA passengers without hold luggage are getting a better deal, or whether those who check in their bags are being charged extra,” he said.

But British Airways claimed that passengers who check in a bag will not be expected to pay extra to make up for those who choose the cheaper fares.

“Those who still want to check in a bag will simply pay the same price they do now,” said Mr Simpson.