With British Airways soon to take delivery of both its brand new 787s and A380s, we look at the ‘forgotten’ addition to the airline’s fleet, the 777-300.
For the last decade plus, British Airways long-haul fleet has been split between the 747-400 (just over 50 still in operational service), the 777-200 (just under 50 still in service) and 767-300 (21 in service). The 747s & 767s operate exclusively out of Heathrow while the 777-200 flies from both Heathrow & Gatwick and is split between 3 & 4 class configurations.
Many of these long-haul aircraft, but especially the 747 & 767, have been showing their age for some time now and are in need of replacement. British Airways placed orders for 24 Dreamliner 787s and 12 A380s in the mid noughties but delays to the introduction of both new models left the airline (like many others) having to alter their plans. Step forward the 777-300.
The Boeing 777-300 is a whole 10 metres longer than the 777-200 (longer even than the 747-400) and British Airways already has 6 aircraft operational with a further 6 on order. The existing 6 operational aircraft are set up in a 4 class configuration with 14 seats in First, 56 in Club World, 44 in World Traveller Plus and 185 in World Traveller; a total of 299 seats, the same as the airline’s low density 747-400. To the best of our knowledge, the next 6 aircraft will also have the same configuration.
The 777-300 operates exclusively out of Heathrow and tends to be used on the airline’s most important routes (ie routes which can support First class) such as to Singapore, Sydney, Dubai, Hong Kong and selected US destinations. All 777-300s are equipped with the airline’s most up to date product across all 4 cabins. Passengers travelling in World Traveller & World Traveller Plus in particular will notice a significant difference between the seating and in-flight entertainment in the airline’s older aircraft with that provided on the 777-300. This new product will also be fitted on all British Airways new 787s and A380s as well as being retro-fitted to some of the airline’s 777-200s (but not those operating out of Gatwick).
So will British Airways order any further 777-300s to add to its planned fleet of 12? The airline has some 120 747s, 767s and 777-200s to replace in the coming years and, so far, has ‘only’ placed orders for 78 replacement aircraft to be delivered by 2023 (42 787 Dreamliners, 6 777-300s, 18 Airbus A350s and 12 A380s). Even the largest Dreamliner, the 787-10 series, which British Airways ordered last week in Paris, doesn’t have the capacity of a 777-300; nor does the Airbus A350. British Airways could order additional A380s but we don’t feel that they will. With the failure of its extended 747-800 to win-over airlines, we feel that Boeing will soon proceed with a new, even larger version of the 777-300 (already known as the 777-x) and that British Airways will come-a-knocking.