Archive for 2012

Excitement is building as the first new long-haul aircraft are only months away from arriving.  British Airways has now revealed the interior design and layout for its Airbus A380 Super-jumbo and Boeing Dreamliner.

The Dreamliner will seat two hundred and fourteen passengers in comfort and the A380 will seat 469 with an “enhanced” version of First.

Designwise, the cabins will feature the designs already found on the new Boeing 777-300ER which have been very popular.

All of the Dreamliners will feature a new Club World layout, the t 787-8s will feature a new Club World 2:3:2 layout, the latest generation World Traveller and World Traveller Plus seats.

In addition, the new A380 will also have an enhanced version of First.

The exact seating plans of another 16 787-9s on order have yet to be finalised, they could have three or four-cabin configurations.

British Airways is set to be the first European airline to operate both new aircraft types, with its first Dreamliner arriving in May and A380 deliveries starting in July.

Speaking in Seoul, Willie Walsh, chief executive of International Airlines Group (IAG), said: “We are investing £5bn in British Airways’ new and upgraded aircraft, innovative technologies and customer services.

“We now have six Boeing 777-300ERs all fitted with our latest cabins.

“Our customer feedback and satisfaction scores show the seat and cabin designs have achieved the highest ratings we have ever seen.

“By next Spring we will have finished installing our new First cabins.

“The nine new aircraft we take delivery of in 2013 will feature our latest signature designs to ensure the customer experience maintains the highest standard across our fleet.”

The British Airways Dreamliner will have 35 seats for customers in the new Club World triple configuration of 2:3:2; 25 seats in a World Traveller Plus layout of 2:3:2; and a further 154 seats for those travelling in World Traveller, with a 3:3:3 configuration.

On the British Airways A380 there will be 14 seats in First on the main deck, with extra personal and stowage space; the Club World cabin will feature 44 seats in a 2:4:2 configuration; and there will be 199 seats in World Traveller, with a 3:4:3 layout.

The A380 upper deck will feature 53 seats in the new Club World triple configuration of 2:3:2; 55 seats in a 2:3:2 World Traveller Plus layout; and World Traveller will have 104 seats in a 2:4:2 configuration.

Both new aircraft will also feature the airline’s latest Thales in-flight entertainment system, which offers customers 50 per cent more movies, 200 per cent more TV shows and 200 per cent more audio programmes and music.

British Airways will announce the routes the new aircraft will operate in spring 2013.

BA has one of the biggest fleets of Boeing 747, and the fleet is aging having an estimated average age of 17 years. The airline has an older fleet than Lufthansa and Air France. To address this, in 2007 BA made its largest order in 10 years by buying 12 A380 superjumbo, and 24  787 Dreamliners, in deals a multibillon dollar deal. The first of these aircraft should join the fleet next year.

BA soon to have A380

Soon to come in red white and blue (and we don’t mean Air France)

But BA has some significant cost problems hanging over it relating to the airline’s ageing fleet, funding the acquisition of a new fleet and large pension schemes.  Investors are concerned about these issues and the worries are fueled in part because asset-backed loans are now more pricey because European banks withdrew from this activity follwing the banking crisis.

BA’s parent company IAG is working on plans to find new funding sources for its aircraft and some news sources have reported novel funding approaches such as enhanced equipment trust certificates – a kind of odd hybrid between a corporate bond and an asset backed security.

With such novel approaches, the long term pensions deficit will be reduced and hopefully it will be back to paying dividends in 2015!




The airline’s first flight to the region arrived in Bahrain in October 1932, under the banner of Imperial Airways, a predecessor to British Airways.

The Handley Page HP42 aircraft took off from Croydon, just south of London, on 2 October 1932. It travelled at just 160kmh and carried fewer than 20 passengers. The aircraft stopped in Bahrain en route to India and also touched down in Kuwait and Sharjah, UAE. It took six days to reach Sharjah.

Today, 80 years later, a British Airways flight from London Heathrow to Kuwait on a Boeing 777 takes approximately six hours, travels at 988kmh and can carry up to 345 passengers across four classes.

British Airways celebrates its 80th anniversary of flights to Bahrain and the Middle East with an event tonight at the British Embassy in Manama.

British Airways is to axe 400 senior cabin crew positions on long and short-haul routes.

All the redundancies would be voluntary, it reports and also that it had started a 90-day consultation process. The cuts are expected to start taking effect from March 2013.

BA said the cuts would affect senior cabin crew staff who worked exclusively on either its long or short-haul flights.

The airline currently has about 14,000 cabin crew staff in total.

British Airways has a fleet of some 252 aircraft split being Boeing, Airbus and Embraer. Historically, the airline was seen as being loyal to Boeing although, in the not too distant past, it operated aircraft a variety of manufacturers including  Vickers (VC-10), Hawker Siddeley (Trident) and Lockheed (Tristar).

In terms of its current long-haul business however, the airline is almost entirely Boeing-centric with a fleet comprising 747-400, 777-300, 777-200, 767-300 & 757-200 (operated by Open Skies). Most impressively, British Airways still has the world’s largest fleet of 747s (57). The one exception to this Boeing dominated fleet is the all-business-class A318 which operates between London City Airport and New York JFK.

This near total dominance by Boeing will come to and end in late 2013 when British Airways takes delivery of the first of its 12 A380s on order. All 12 aircraft will be based at Heathrow and operate to the airline’s premium destinations although the airline have yet to release any specific details.

At the same time, 2013 will also see the arrival of the first of British Airways Boeing 787 Dreamliners, making it the first airline in the world to operate both the A380 and 787. The airline currently has 24 787s on order, split between the original 787-8 series and slightly larger 787-9 series.

With many of its 747s approaching the end of their flying lives, and the airline planning to utilise their recently secured new slots at Heathrow to increase long-haul flights, British Airways is currently appraising options for new aircraft orders. Potentially this could mean new orders for the A380, 787 series, 777-300 or new Airbus A350 series.

In terms of its medium and short haul routes, the majority of aircraft operated by the airline are now Airbus with a mix of A319-100, A320-200 & A321-200, the vast majority of which are based at Heathrow. The airline also operates older 737-400 exclusively from Gatwick while Boeing 767s are also used on both European and domestic flights from Heathrow. BA City Flyer, the airline’s wholly owned subsidiary which operates from London City, operates both Embraer 170 & 190 aircraft.

British Airways features a variety of lounges at all 3 London airports. Additional lounge facilities are available at airports across the UK and globally.

Airport Lounge

A bit of comfort

For details regards the different types of lounge click here.

Heathrow – As British Airways main hub, the airline offers a wide variety of lounges spread between Terminals 1, 3 & 5. Within the airline’s flagship Terminal 5, there are 3 Galleries Club lounges, a Galleries First lounge and Concorde Lounge. In Terminal 3 there is a Galleries First and Galleries Club lounge while in Terminal 1 passengers travelling with British Airways can make use of the International Lounge. Access to these lounges is dependent on the class of travel booked or membership level within the British Airways Executive Club.

Gatwick – Situated on Level 4 of the North Terminal, British Airways offers both a First lounge for those passengers travelling First Class long-haul as well as a Galleries Lounge for passengers travelling in Club Europe and Club World as well as for qualifying members of the British Airways Executive Club.

London City – Situated at Gate 24 is British Airways dedicated Club World London City lounge, styled on Heathrow’s Galleries concept. It is a dedicated departure lounge area where you can make use of free Wi-Fi, pick up a newspaper or magazine and enjoy a selection of drinks and snacks. Please note this lounge is only for use by passengers travelling to New York.

London City Airport is the city’s newest and most central airport. Opened in 1987, the airport is located in the old docklands area of the city, just 7 miles east of the City of London and even closer to the new financial centre around Canary Wharf.

The vast majority of British Airways flights from the airport are operated by BA City Flyer, a wholly owned subsidiary of the airline.

London City Airport

Convenience personified

With its 1 short runway and location close to the main financial centres of London, the majority of flights are to the major financial centres of Europe although leisure traffic is increasing. The sole long-haul British Airways flight from London City is an all-business class service to New York JFK.

The airport is linked to the City of London, Canary Wharf & Stratford amongst others by Docklands Light Railway with convenient connections to the London Underground and mainline train services.

Since 2006 the airport has been owned by a consortium led by Global Infrastructures Partners, the same company that owns London Gatwick.

Gatwick is located approximately 30 miles south of central London and is the UK’s second busiest airport as well as the world’s busiest single runway airport.

Gatwick has 2 terminals, North & South, with all British Airways flights operating out of the North Terminal. As British Airways’ secondary base in the UK behind Heathrow, the airline’s focus at Gatwick is primarily point-to-point (as opposed to hub) and leisure traffic. The majority of British Airways flights from Gatwick are short-haul flights to Europe and North Africa although there is also an important long-haul fleet that serves the leisure markets of the Caribbean, USA (Las Vegas), Mexico (Cancun) and Indian Ocean (Sri Lanka & Mauritius).

Gatwick is well connected by both coach and rail. The airport is served by Southern Railways from London Victoria via Clapham Junction & East Croydon as well as the Gatwick Express non-stop from Victoria. In addition, First Capital Connect provides through-trains to London Bridge & St Pancras in London as well as north to Bedford. First Great Western also operate services north-west to Redhill, Guildford & Reading.

Following its privatisation in 1986, Gatwick was part of BAA plc until it was taken over by Global Infrastructure Partners in 2009. In turn, GIP have sold stakes in the new business to investment funds from Abu Dhabi, Australia & USA. Since taking over Gatwick, GIP have undertaken a significant investment program in order to bring the airport up to date, improve the customer experience and better compete with London Heathrow. For British Airways passengers, the clearest example of this investment has been the opening of a brand new dedicated check-in area within the North Terminal.

Located approximately 14 miles west of central London, Heathrow is the UK & Europe’s busiest airport as well as the busiest airport in the world in terms of international passenger numbers. There are currently 4 operational terminals (1, 3, 4 & 5) with Terminal 2 set to re-open in 2014 after a complete re-build.

Together with its IAG partner Iberia Airlines, British Airways is the sole tenant of Terminal 5, Heathrow’s most modern terminal, which opened in 2008. Even after the opening of Terminal 5, capacity constraints mean that British Airways has had to operate additional flights from Terminal 3 while the takeover of BMI in 2012 means that the airline also now flies out of Terminal 1.

Although the majority of British Airways flights operate out of Terminal 5, (and pretty much all of its flagship routes) passengers should always check with the airline (both at the time of booking as well as close to departure) to verify which terminal their flight will operate from and to.

Getting to and from Heathrow is relatively easy. From London, travellers have the option of either the Heathrow Express (non-stop) or Heathrow Connect (with stops) from Paddington as well as the London Underground piccadilly line. There are also numerous coach and bus routes to Heathrow including Rail – Bus connections at Reading, Woking & Feltham.

Heathrow was part of BAA plc that was privatised in 1986 before being taken over by Spanish infrastructure company Grupo Ferrovial in 2006. In October 2012, BAA was renamed Heathrow Airport Holdings in order to reflect the overwhelming dominance of Heathrow within the old BAA. In order to pay down the debt required for the takeover, Grupo Ferrovial has also sold off significant stakes in the business to overseas partners from Singapore, Qatar & China. As a result, Grupo Ferrovial now owns less than 50% of the business.