August 2013

As we enter a new month, British Airways enters a new era with its first scheduled 787 Dreamliner flight.

british airways 787The flight, from Heathrow to Toronto, departs on Sunday 1st September and is the first scheduled service for the new 787 Dreamliner of which British Airways has orders for 42.

Following on from Toronto, on 1st October British Airways will commence a daily 787 service between Heathrow and Newark, increasing to double daily from 27th October. These first two 787 destinations are currently included in the UK British Airways sale which ends at midnight on 24th September.

The seating layout on a British Airways 787

With an ageing fleet of 747′s and 767s, British Airways is embarking on a massive fleet renewal programme that, in addition to the 42 787 Dreamliners on order, includes 12 Airbus A380S, 18 Airbus A350s and 6 further Boeing 777-300s.

It is the Dreamliner however that is set to really dominate the British Airways fleet in years to come. Not only will the new aircraft offer far improved fuel efficiency and passenger comfort on existing routes, the same efficiency and far greater reach of the aircraft will allow British Airways to serve new routes that simply aren’t feasible at present. All that stands in the way of British Airways launching services to new destinations such as Portland, Lima and Saigon is the lack of slots at Heathrow.

British Airways have announced that they will be adding a 10th 777-200 to their Gatwick fleet.

The additional aircraft will lead to an additional 3 weekly flights to Orlando, plus 1 extra flight per week to St Lucia, Antigua, Kingston (Jamaica)  and Punta Cana (Dominican Republic).

Gatwick North TerminalCommenting on the news, Peter Simpson, the airline’s Gatwick director stated: “From next year our customers will be able to fly more often to many of our most popular destinations. Adding an extra Boeing 777 to our Gatwick fleet has enabled us to enhance our fantastic flying schedule by increasing flights to our top leisure destinations, giving our customers even more choice. With so much to choose from holiday-makers are spoilt for choice; from our 13 flights a week to Orlando to our brilliant daily service to St Lucia, everyone will get a stunning start to their holidays with British Airways.”

Mr&MrsSmithAlthough British Airways main hub has always been London Heathrow, capacity constraints, as well as lower costs, have meant that much of the airline’s long-haul leisure fleet has been based at London Gatwick. The airline’s 10 Boeing 777-200s based at Gatwick serve destinations within the Caribbean, Florida (excluding Miami), Cancun in Mexico, Sri Lanka and the Maldives.

British Airways also operates an extensive short-haul network from Gatwick, again mainly aimed at the leisure market, but with intense pressure from the ever growing easyjet, any future growth at London’s second airport will surely only come from further expansion of its long-haul market.

While the Caribbean is already well served by British Airways (Havana is a notable exception), and Cancun has proven a great success, the main limiting factor as far any future growth is concerned is a combination of mileage and aircraft, ie potential future destinations such Phuket, Penang and Bali are all too far to be (profitably) operated by 777-200s. The new generation 787 Dreamliners and Airbus A350s will be game changers in terms of reach and economics but anyone expecting to see these new aircraft at Gatwick, at least in British Airways colours, is in for a very long wait.

British Airways daily 777 service to Accra

 

 

After an absence of over a dozen years, British Airways is rumoured to be on the verge of returning to Jakarta.

jakartaBritish Airways have long declared their desire to serve more of Asia’s fast growing economies and, although the Indonesian economy has recently entered something of a difficult period, it is surely only a question of time before flights to Jakarta are resumed.

One of the more persistent rumours is that any new route to Jakarta will be operated as a tag-on to its Singapore service and that British Airways will receive 5th freedom rights to fly passengers between the two South East Asian cities.

Others have suggested that a more likely option is for British Airways to kill-two-birds-with-one-stone and resume flights to both Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta at the same time. British Airways has been absent from the Malaysian capital for almost as along and, now that Malaysian Airlines is part of the oneworld alliance, there is a perhaps a stronger argument that British Airways should serve Jakarta as a tag-on to KL and leave Singapore, one of its premium business routes, as a stand-alone service.

There are currently no direct flights between the UK and Indonesia. Garuda, the national carrier of Indonesia, had planned to commence services between Jakarta & London Gatwick this year but has had to postpone them until mid 2014 at the earliest. The reason given was that the poor condition of the runway at Jakarta does not currently allow the airline to operate its 777-300 at full passenger / freight capacity and that, until that hurdle is overcome, the airline cannot operate the service profitably.

Of course the only reason that Garuda chose London Gatwick is the lack of slots at Heathrow. Any London – Jakarta service will be heavily biased towards the business market so, if British Airways does re-commence flights from Heathrow, Garuda might consider shelving their flights altogether.

For British Airways, the question of whether or when to return to Jakarta will be determined not just by potential traffic but also by juggling slots and aircraft. As British Airways consolidates the slots its secured from the takeover of bmi, the perception is that it will increasingly ditch a number of short and medium haul routes in favour of more lucrative long haul routes.

With British Airways also currently in the process of a huge fleet replacement program, there is also the issue of which aircraft the airline would use on any new service (ie if not as a tag-on to Singapore). Being a mainly business orientated route with relatively low volume, a Boeing 777-200 would be the natural choice from the airline’s existing fleet with either the Boeing 787 Dreamliner 8 or 9 series being the ideal long-term option.

British Airways 787 Dreamliner

 

 

 

The countdown has begun for British Airways first scheduled 787 flight.

The inaugural flight, BA 093, departs Heathrow for Toronto on 1st September and, as part of the airline’s marketing effort, British Airways invited Lisa Snowdon, DJ, model and ex contestant on Strictly Come Dancing, to test out the aircraft for herself.

As befits a celebrity of her standing, Ms Snowdon doesn’t seem to have bothered testing out the World Traveller cabin although she does look very comfortable in her Club World Seat.

lisasnowden

Commenting on the occasion, Ms Snowdon stated: ”As a breakfast DJ, I know the importance of a good night’s sleep – so when British Airways invited me to ‘road test’ its new Dreamliner aircraft, I couldn’t resist. Any aircraft that promises reduced jetlag, less dehydration and a smoother journey is a winner, especially as you arrive feeling refreshed and ready for action. I was really impressed with how spacious and airy it felt, with mood lighting and super comfortable seating to snuggle up in.”

British Airways has a total of 42 Dreamliners on order, split between all 3 models, the 8, 9 & 10 series. Initial orders are all for the 8 series, the smallest version, which will be used to replace British Airways ageing fleet of 767s on flights across the Atlantic to the US & Canada. So far British Airways has only announced the first 2 destinations for its new 787: starting on 1st September with Toronto and following up later the same month with Newark.

As well as being up to 20% more fuel efficient than the 767, the 787 Dreamliner should also offer a far more comfortable in-flight experience for passengers. The aircraft itself boast larger windows and over-head lockers, as well as superior atmospheric conditions which should mean that passengers arrive at their destination fresher and less drowsy. In addition, British Airways is fitting all 787 Dreamliners with its most up to date seating and inflight entertainment in all 3 cabins – World Traveller, World Traveller Plus and Club World.

 

 

 

British Airways is adding capacity to Mexico City with a new, 4th weekly service.

The additional service between Heathrow and the Mexican capital will commence from 27th October, the start of the high season.

The new service, BA 243, will operate every Sunday, departing Heathrow’s Terminal 5 at 12:40 and arriving in Mexico City at 18:20; the return flight, BA 242, will depart Mexico City at 21:00, arriving back in London at 13:00 the following day. The new Sunday service is in addition to existing flights on Monday, Wednesday & Friday.

The increase in capacity comes despite competition from AeroMexico who commenced their own thrice weekly service between Heathrow & Mexico City in December 2012.

Mexico