787 routes

British Airways this week announced that it will be commencing services to Austin, Texas in 2014.

The airline will commence flights in early March 2014, initially 5 times a week, before going daily from 5th May.

Austin will be British Airways 3rd destination in Texas, alongside Houston & Dallas, and 21st destination overall in the US, by far the airline’s most important market.

Although far smaller than both Houston & Dallas, Austin is home to a number of leading US tech companies such as ebay, Dell, Google & IBM. British Airways will also be the only airline to offer direct flights between Austin & Europe and, with its extensive route network out of Heathrow, will be able to benefit from extensive feeder traffic for passengers looking to fly to Austin, as well as numerous onward connections for anyone from Austin looking to travel onwards from London.

Even so, what has made this new route possible (and the airport authorities in Austin have made it clear that no financial inducements were offered to British Airways) is the arrival of the 787 Dreamliner. Prior to the arrival of the 787, which made its maiden British Airways flight to Toronto last weekend, British Airways had 3 long-haul aircraft in its fleet. The 767-300 is an ageing aircraft with poor fuel efficiency while both the 777 and 747 are simply too large for such a relatively ‘thin’ route.

The seating layout on a British Airways 787

The new 787-8 series, which will be configured in a 3 cabin layout without a First Class, is up to 20% more fuel efficient than the 767 as well as offering a far more pleasant inflight experience. Although fares on the Austin – Heathrow route are likely to be higher than from either Dallas or Houston, the airline is clearly confident that the convenience of direct flights, and the appeal of the new 787, will create enough demand to justify the new route.

Commenting on the news, Sean Doyle, the airline’s executive VP for the Americas stated: “We are very excited to be bringing British Airways to Austin. This new route presents an important opportunity for business growth across the Atlantic, particularly in the thriving technology sector. We know that London is among the top destinations for international travel from Austin and equally, Austin is home to some of the most important global cultural events. We are looking forward to providing a convenient and high-quality service to new and existing customers.”

 

 

According to reports in Australian Business Traveller, British Airways will be operating trial flights of the 787 to Stockholm and will be featuring First class in the new 10 series.

British Airways have a total of 42 787s on order, split between 8 787-8 series, 16 787-9 series, 12 787-10 series and 6 which are, as yet, unspecified. Thus far only the 787-8 series is in operation around the world, with British Airways taking delivery of 4 this year followed by another 4 next year. The first 2 aircraft have already been delivered to the airline and are set to first commence operations to Toronto in September, followed by Newark in October.

 

Before entering service on either route, the aircraft will first undergo further tests and trials at both Heathrow & Manston airports. They will then be used on short haul flights in order to facilitate crew familiarisation and, if the reports are true, these flights will be to Stockholm in Sweden. To begin with at least, it seems unlikely that the airline will publicise just which flights to Stockholm will be operated by the 787 so getting to fly one will be a matter of luck.

The second, unrelated story that ABT reports on, citing the airline’s head of Brands & Customer Service, Frank van der Post, is that British Airways will definitely be featuring First class on the 787-10 series, the largest of the 3 versions, and ‘probably’ on the 787-9 series, the middle sized version. Of course, with so many of the 9 series on order the airline could split the fleet between 3 & 4 cabin configurations in the same way that it already does with the 777-200.

 

 

With British Airways taking initial delivery of its 787 Dreamliners in the next few days, it appears that Newark &  Toronto will be the first destinations to benefit.

To promote the new aircraft, passengers who book the introductory 787 fares on ba.com between 27th & 30th June will be entered into a free draw – the lucky winner earning 78,787 Avios points!

British Airways new 787-8 series aircraft have been fitted in a 3 cabin configuration split between World Traveller, World Traveller Plus & Club World, with a total seating capacity of 214 passengers.

The seating layout on a British Airways 787

New seating in British Airways New World Traveller cabinPassengers in World Traveller and World Traveller Plus will enjoy the airline’s brand new seating and improved in-flight entertainment featuring larger screens and a much greater selection of on-demand audio and visual programmes. Passengers in Club World will benefit from the most up to date Club World product with the only recognisable difference being the 3 seats in the middle as  opposed to the usual 4.

British Airways has ordered 42 Dreamliners in total, split between all 3 models – the 787-8, 787-9 & 787-10 – with at least 24 of the first 2 models set to be delivered to the airline before the end of 2017. Initially, the 787 will be used to replace the airline’s ageing fleet of 767s on existing routes (mainly medium haul routes) although, in the future, they may well be used to open up new destinations in Asia and South America.

On 4th July, British Airways will also take delivery of the first of its 12 A380s on order; this will make the airline the first in Europe (and second in the world) to operate both the 787 and A380.