A350 Flight

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.

british airways 747For 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.

Sating in Britsh Airways new World Traveller cabinThe 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).

British Airways A350 on order for 2017So 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.




Following on from our earlier post, here is the official Airbus video of the A350′s maiden flight.


Our earlier story is here.

The new Airbus A350 has made its maiden flight from Toulouse this morning.

The A350 is Airbus’ first, ‘new era’ aircraft, built from composite materials (both the fuselage and wing structures are primarily made of carbon fibre-reinforced polymer) to significantly reduce weight and, as a result, fuel consumption. Airbus claims that the aircraft is 25% more fuel efficient than previous, similar competitor models although they are probably  referring to the Boeing 767.

There are two variations of the A350, the A350-9 series (the version that flew today) and the slightly larger A350-10 series which isn’t expected to be operational until 2016. The new aircraft will hold between 250-350 passengers and the launch customer is Qatar Airways which has orders and options for some 80 aircraft across the range. All Airbus A350s will be powered by Rolls Royce Trent XWB engines.

The A350 was conceived as competition to Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner which, despite its much publicised problems (3 years of delays followed by a 3 month grounding this year due to problems with its new batteries) has proven hugely popular with airlines around the world. Over 800 Dreamliners have already been ordered and Airbus was in danger of losing out in the wide bodied, twin-engine market if it did nothing.

British Airways has placed orders for 18 of the larger, Airbus A350-10 series which is scheduled to be delivered to the airline between 2017 & 2021, largely to replace its ageing fleet of 50 plus 747s.

British Airways A350 on order for 2017