Archive for 2013

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.”

 

 

British Airways has, this morning, made a number of announcements regards new and existing routes.

The only new route is to Austin, Texas which British Airways will start flying to from 3rd March. Initially, flights will operate 5 times a week before going daily from 5th May. British Airways already serve Houston & Dallas on a daily basis.

British Airways aircraft parked in front of Heathrow Terminal 5Also in the US, flights between Heathrow and Seattle will increase from 10 to 11 flights per week as of 30th March while flights to Newark will decrease from 21 to 20 flights per week at the same time.

In Africa, British Airways have announced an additional 3 weekly services between Heathrow and Accra, Ghana, taking the number of weekly services to 10. The new flights will commence from 27th October and will depart Heathrow on Tuesday, Friday & Sunday. The new services will be operated by a 767-300 with a 3 class configuration while the existing 777-200 service will switch to a 747-400 from 30th March 2014. This much anticipated increase in capacity to Ghana follows on from Virgin Atlantic’s earlier announcement that they were withdrawing from the route.

KampalaAlso in Africa, British Airways will be increasing the frequency of flights between Heathrow and Entebbe, Uganda from 3 to 4 flights per week. Flights will now depart Heathrow every Tuesday, Thursday, Friday & Sunday, returning to the UK the following day. The new flights and times commence from 30th March.

Unfortunately British Airways have also announced the suspension of services between Heathrow & Lusaka from the end of October. The last flight will depart Heathrow on Friday 25th October, returning on Saturday 26th October.

In Asia, British Airways will increase flight frequency between Heathrow and Seoul from 6 to 7 flights per week from 1st April.

Slightly nearer to home, flights to Tel Aviv decrease from 21 to 14 flights per week and switch to Terminal 5 from the 29th March. Although there will be 7 flights less per week, the BA 165/164 service will be upgraded to much larger 777-200 featuring all 4 cabins.

airlineBA777flying3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.