BA’s New Club Suite On The Boeing 777-200

A word of caution before booking Boeing 777-200 flights that may feature BA’s new Club Suite.

London Air Travel

British Airways Club World Suite
British Airways Club World Suite (Image Credit: British Airways)

BA is due to take delivery of its first Airbus A350-1000 aircraft, G-XWBA, this coming Friday 26 July 2019.

This is much anticipated as it will be the first aircraft to feature BA’s new Club Suite.

It has also been known for some time that BA is to begin retrofitting the Club Suite to four class Boeing 777-200ER aircraft this year, of which there are around 23 based at London Heathrow.  

At the same time, BA will reduce the number of First Class Seats from 14 to 8 and increase the number of seats in World Traveller from 9 to 10 across.

Two aircraft are planned to be refurbished this year and seat maps for some flights are showing as operated with refurbished aircraft.  

These include select flights to New York JFK from late October 2019 and a random assortment of flights through until early 2020. You can tell if your flight is operating with refurbished aircraft as the seat map will show Club World seats in 1-2-1 configuration, labelled A-E-F-K from rows 5 to 17.

The Club Suite is much anticipated on the 777 as the current Club World cabin is one of the least favoured on any BA aircraft.

However, a word of caution should be sounded before booking Boeing 777 flights that show as operating with the Club Suite.

Historically, BA has always prioritised “blu riband” routes when retrofitting new Club World seats to aircraft.  This used to mean retrofitting high premium seat configured Boeing 747 aircraft first.  

As these aircraft used to operate all flights to certain destinations such as New York JFK, Hong Kong and San Francisco, BA used to be able to publicly guarantee refurbished aircraft would operate on certain routes.

The position with the Boeing 777-200 aircraft is quite different.  It’s a versatile aircraft that tends to be paired and swap with Boeing 747 and 787 aircraft on many routes.   From a cursory scan of historical flight data, on many flights to New York JFK the Boeing 777 and Boeing 747 operate the same flights on different days of the week. Boeing 777-300 aircraft can also pop-up now and again.

It’s certainly a safe assumption that BA will want to put refurbished Boeing 777-200 aircraft on New York JFK as soon as it can, not least because Virgin Atlantic is using its new Airbus A350-1000 on this route.  

Also based on the experience of the Gatwick Boeing 777 refit programme, whilst seat maps for future flights were a reliable indicator of the general plan for the refurbishment, refurbished aircraft operated on many routes before seat maps indicated so.

There are of course also a multitude of factors that can result in last minute aircraft swaps on the day.

Put simply, until there is a critical mass of refurbished Boeing 777 aircraft in service, it is not possible to give a reliable indication of which flights they will operate. Passengers should certainly not make purchasing decisions without specific guidance from BA.  

British Airways Pilots Vote For Industrial Action

British Airways pilots have voted overwhelmingly to hold industrial action in a pay dispute with the airline.

London Air Travel

London Heathrow Terminal 5
London Heathrow Terminal 5 (Image Credit: Heathrow)

British Airways pilots represented by the British Airline Pilots Association (BALPA) have voted to hold industrial action in a pay dispute with the airline.

The ballot closed today, Monday 22 July 2019. As is expected, there is a strong mandate for industrial action based on a high turnout. 93% of BA pilots have voted in favour of industrial action based on a turnout of 90%.

BALPA has not yet announced any dates for strike action.

In response to the ballot result, BALPA has issued the following statement:

BALPA’s industrial action ballot members in British Airways has now closed, with a 93% vote in favour of industrial action on a 90% turnout.
 
BALPA General Secretary, Brian Strutton, said:
 
“This strong result demonstrates the resolve of BA pilots, and shows BA that it must table a sensible improved offer if a strike is to be averted. Sadly three days of ACAS talks have not moved the company’s position one iota. Settlement of this dispute is in BA’s hands.
 
“We do not wish to inconvenience our customers which is why we have tried to resolve this matter through negotiation starting last November – it is BA who has regrettably chosen to drag this out into the summer months.”
 
BALPA believes the cost to BA to settle dispute in full is significantly less than the cost would be of even a single day’s strike action.
 
BA’s attempt to injunct this industrial action in the High Court tomorrow [Tuesday 23rd July] means that any further negotiations are on hold while we prepare to defend our right to take this action
 
BA is making massive profits as a result of the hard work and dedication of staff, including because of sacrifices made during hard times.

Thankfully BA is no longer in a fight for survival so, like the airline’s senior managers and directors, pilots deserve a small fraction of that profit via, for instance, a profit share scheme.
 
We currently do not have dates for any potential strike action and will issue an update on this in due course.

We remain hopeful that this dispute can be resolved before strike action, but we remain committed to action if necessary.

Under UK employment law, BALPA is required to give two weeks’ notice of strike action, so the earliest a strike could take place is Tuesday 6 August 2019.

BA and BALPA did hold three days of talks at the conciliation service ACAS earlier this month, but these broke down without agreement.

On the basis that BALPA represent the vast majority of BA pilots at Gatwick and Heathrow, any strike would result in very significant disruption. There would also be residual disruption beyond the dates of any strike, particularly to inbound flights, due to aircraft and crews being out of position.

Codeshare flights operated by partner airlines and flights operated by franchise partners SUN-AIR of Scandinavia A/S and Comair in South Africa would not be affected.

At the time of publication (16:15 BST Monday 22 July 2019) there has been no response from BA. In terms of advice to passengers, if a strike is called, in the past BA has announced contingency plans around 7 days before any strike.

The uncertainty for passengers is of course not helpful but that is why a strike mandate is a powerful negotiating tool. Pay talks can go right up to the wire and a strike can be called off right up to the last minute.

In the interim, it’s a good idea to check that you have up to date e-mail and telephone contact details for each booking you hold in the Manage By Booking tool and have the BA app installed on your smartphone.

Update: 17:35 BST Monday 22 July

In response to today’s result BA has published the following statement on its website:

We’re very disappointed that the pilot union, BALPA, has chosen to disrupt our customers’ travel plans – including the summer holidays of thousands of families and friends – with potential strike action.

We have yet to receive strike dates from BALPA, so there are no changes to our schedule at this time.

We remain open to working with BALPA to reach agreement, as we have been since December.

Our proposed pay offer of 11.5 per cent over three years is fair, and the Unite and GMB trade unions, which represent nearly 90 per cent of British Airways staff, have already recommended this offer to their members.

We’re pursuing every avenue to find a solution to protect your travel plans and we urge BALPA to return to talks as soon as possible.

We’re very sorry for the disruption this potential strike action will cause.

More to read on British Airways Disruption

Here are our latest posts on disruption affecting British Airways:

BA100: 99. The First Flights

100 Years Of British Airways: The first international flights on 25 August 1919.

London Air Travel

Aircraft Transport and Travel Ltd, British Airways "Aviators" Advert 2011
Aircraft Transport and Travel Ltd, British Airways “Aviators” Advert 2011 (Image Credit: Bartle Bogle Hegarty for British Airways)

It was on 25 August 1919 that the first international passenger services began between London and Paris.

According to The Times newspaper on 26 August 1919, three aircraft operated the route on the day.

The first flight to leave London on the day was a Handley Page aircraft which departed at 08:40. It was piloted by Major Foot and carried 11 passengers, most of whom were newspaper journalists.

The weather conditions were described by a journalist for The Times as dull and showery. The interior of the aircraft was described as fitted with comfortable chairs in a silk lined cabin. The journey was considered to be made under comfortable conditions, save for some bumpy conditions over French soil. The aircraft arrived in Paris shortly after 1pm. It was due to return to London on the same day, but arrangements for refuelling were not made in time.

A second aircraft, an Airco 4, owned by Aircraft Transport and Travel Company, left Hounslow Heath at 09:10, arriving at Le Bourget Paris on time at 11:40.

The aircraft was piloted by Lieutenant Lawford and carried just one passenger, a journalist from the Evening Standard. It also carried a full load including daily newspapers, a consignment of leather, several brace of grouse and a number of jars of Devonshire cream. The aircraft left Paris one hour after arrival, returning to Hounslow at 14:45. It is this flight that BA regards as the start of its operation.

The third and final aircraft, also owned by Aircraft Transport and Travel Company, was an Air 16 piloted by Major Cyril Patterson left from Cricklewood at 12:30 and arrived in Paris at 14:45.

Aircraft Transport and Travel Company claimed the route as an operational success with the service shortly reaching daily with few operational incidents. A rival airline Handley Page would soon also launch a service to Brussels.

However, with competition soon arriving from airlines in mainland Europe, Aircraft Transport and Travel Company folded in 1920 and its successor airline Daimler Airways merged with a number of other airlines to form Imperial Airways in 1924.

BA100:

BA100: 100. How Does An Airline Established In 1974…

100 Years Of British Airways: How the BA of today traces its origins back to the launch of international flights from London to Paris on 25 August 1919.

London Air Travel

The Speedbird Logo
The Speedbird Logo

British Airways as we know it today did not come into existence until 1974.

So how does it celebrate its centenary in 2019?

Unlike KLM, which also celebrates its centenary his year BA has not operated under one name for 100 years. And, unlike Qantas which celebrates its centenary in 2020, BA cannot claim to have had 100 years’ uninterrupted commercial operations.

Well, to buy in to BA’s centenary you have to acknowledge that, over time, aircraft and airlines have been transferred through various airlines. In truth, it is the 100th anniversary of international civil aviation in the UK.

The First Flight

BA traces its history back to Aircraft Transport and Travel Ltd which began flights from Hounslow Heath to Paris on 25 August 1919.

This was one of number of companies to begin scheduled operations in 1919. However, due to competition from airlines in mainland Europe, it soon folded.

The Speedbird

A successor to Aircraft Transport and Travel Ltd, Daimler Airways, combined with a number of other airlines to form Imperial Airways in 1924.

It operated both short-haul routes in Europe and established new routes to Africa, the Middle East and Asia.

Imperial Airways adopted the “Speedbird” logo designed by Theyre Lee Elliot in 1932 which BA retained as part of its livery until its Landor livery in the 1980s. This subsequently evolved into the Speedwing and the Speedmarque, which you see on BA aircraft today.

Imperial Airways Poster, India and Australia by Imperial Airways
Imperial Airways Poster, India and Australia by Imperial Airways

Imperial Airways, together with Qantas, formed Qantas Empire Airways to operate joint-services between the UK and Australia from 1935 – a relationship which endured between Qantas and Imperial Airways’ successor airlines for nearly 80 years.

The original British Airways formed in 1935, operating from Gatwick. Both British Airways and Imperial Airways were nationalised to form British Overseas Airways Corporation in 1939.

Continue reading “BA100: 100. How Does An Airline Established In 1974…”

Introducing BA100

Welcome to our 100 part series on the history of British Airways and its predecessor airlines.

London Air Travel

British Airways, "The World's Favourite Airline", 1983.
British Airways, “The World’s Favourite Airline”, 1983.

Welcome to our 100 part series on the history of British Airways and its predecessor airlines.

The series runs from today, Monday 22 July 2019, until the day of BA’s centenary, Sunday 25 August 2019.

We’ll be covering the adverts, aircraft, airlines, cabins, liveries and routes from 25 August 1919 right up to the present day.

BA is of course an airline that has brought us some of the world’s most successful marketing campaigns, pulled off a major corporate financial and reputational turnaround, employed some of the most high profile and outspoken executives in the industry, and launched a number of world firsts.

It’s also an airline that has often found itself on the world’s newspaper front pages for all the wrong reasons, become caught up in major geopolitical events, and been embroiled in some of the most bitter corporate rivalries in aviation.

This is of course not just the story of BA, but also the birth of international passenger travel, its transition to a mode of mass transportation we take for granted today, and the changing industry dynamics in recent decades.

Before we begin, some caveats:

This is an airline with a long and complex history that encompasses at least four major airlines. It has acquired many more. Some parts of its history are easier to research and document than others. Airline fleets and route networks are vastly less complicated than they used to be. A degree of simplification is required when covering the past. Accounts of the early days of civil aviation are hard to come by and some differ.

There is also an element of subjectivity and a natural bias towards the past 50 years as material is much easier to come by. There is no great science behind the running order – some articles will come as no surprise, others may do.

Also, this list has not been reviewed or verified by any other parties, so should be treated as a draft of history.

With all that out of the way, let’s get started:

BA100:

British Airways’ Centenary Fly-Past With The Red Arrows

A British Airways Boeing 747 in BOAC livery has performed a fly-past with the Red Arrows.

London Air Travel

British Airways Boeing 747 & The Red Arrows Fly Past, Royal International Air Tattoo, Saturday 20 July 2019
British Airways Boeing 747 & The Red Arrows Fly Past, Royal International Air Tattoo, Saturday 20 July 2019 (Image Credit: British Airways)

British Airways and The Red Arrows performed a fly-past at the Royal International Air Tattoo at RAF Fairford today, Saturday 20 July 2019.

A British Airways Boeing 747-400 in the livery of one of its predecessor airlines, British Overseas Airways Corporation, performed a fly-past with nine hawk jets belonging to The Royal Air Force Aerobatic team, the Red Arrows.

As you can see from official pictures of the event, it features some stunning aerial images taken from one of the Red Arrows’ aircraft.

British Airways Boeing 747 & The Red Arrows Fly Past, Royal International Air Tattoo, Saturday 20 July 2019
British Airways Boeing 747 & The Red Arrows Fly Past, Royal International Air Tattoo, Saturday 20 July 2019 (Image Credit: British Airways)
British Airways Boeing 747 & The Red Arrows Fly Past, Royal International Air Tattoo, Saturday 20 July 2019
British Airways Boeing 747 & The Red Arrows Fly Past, Royal International Air Tattoo, Saturday 20 July 2019 (Image Credit: British Airways)
Continue reading “British Airways’ Centenary Fly-Past With The Red Arrows”

British Airways Brings Forward Airbus A350 Flights To Dubai

British Airways has brought forward the planned launch of Airbus A350 flights to Dubai to Monday 2 September 2019.

London Air Travel

British Airways Airbus A350-1000, Toulouse
British Airways Airbus A350-1000, Toulouse

British Airways has advised that the planned launch of Airbus A350-1000 flights from London Heathrow to Dubai has been brought forward.

Flights BA106 and BA107 between London Heathrow and Dubai were due to be operated with the Airbus A350-1000 from Tuesday 8 October 2019.

This has now been brought forward to Monday 2 September 2019.

The Airbus A350 will not operate BA107 on 7 & 8 September, nor BA106 on 8 & 9 September.

As the Airbus A350-1000 does not have a First Class cabin, passengers booked into First Class will be downgraded to Club World if they remain on these flights.

This also means that Toronto will no longer be the first BA long-haul route to be served by the A350 from Tuesday 1 October 2019.

If you did book a flight to Toronto to specifically fly on an early Airbus A350 flight, BA has in the past exercised discretion when there are changes to schedules for new aircraft, but this cannot be guaranteed.

Schedules for new aircraft do of course remain subject to changes at very short notice.

BA’s first Airbus A350-1000, G-XWBA, is due to arrive at London Heathrow next week and will operate passenger flights between Heathrow and Madrid for crew familiarisation purposes.

Passengers can check the status of their booking using the Manage My Booking tool on ba.com

Affected passengers should contact BA or their travel agent.

The Atlantic Update – Wednesday 17 July 2019

London Air Travel

American Eagle & British Airways Aircraft, Miami International Airport
American Eagle & British Airways Aircraft, Miami International Airport (Image Credit: London Air Travel)

Hello and welcome to the The Atlantic Update providing a weekly bulletin on developments on transatlantic travel between Europe and North America.

The Atlantic Update Takes A Summer Break

This will be the last Atlantic Update for a few weeks as it takes a break for the summer.

This is partly as it is a relatively quiet period for news and also to accommodate a special series for the summer which launches next Monday, 22 July 2019. The Atlantic Update will return on Wednesday 4 September 2019.

In terms of developments to watch over the coming weeks:

It is usually at this time of year that BA announces a new transatlantic route for next summer from London Heathrow with the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

Previous routes have been Austin, San Jose, New Orleans, Nashville and Pittsburgh. All of these, bar Pittsburgh, had no direct link to Europe which gives a clue as to likely contenders for a new route. That said, there has to be a point where BA has exhausted new transatlantic route options, at least with the 787.

On the subject of BA and transatlantic routes, last year the Competition & Markets Authority (CMA) announced it was to investigate the transatlantic joint-business involving BA, and American Airlines, Finnair and Iberia.

The basis for this was that the commitments made by the joint-business in 2010 when it was reviewed by the European Commission are due to expire and in light of the UK’s planned departure from the European Union, the CMA has opened a fresh review of the joint-business.

Following an initial information gathering exercise, in April the CMA opened a full investigation which is due to conclude this summer.

What can be said with confidence is that there will have been intense lobbying by JetBlue for slots at London Heathrow.

Also, nothing can be taken for granted as far as the CMA is concerned. It has taken a tough line in other cases. It effectively killed a planned merger between two UK supermarket chains, ASDA and Sainsbury’s. Also, when Amazon recently acquired a minority interest in the food delivery service Deliveroo during a funding round, the CMA issued an initial enforcement order barring any integration between the two businesses, ahead of a decision whether to carry out a formal investigation.

Also of note this week:

A heat wave is forecast this week for many Central and Eastern states. (National Weather Service)

The Atlantic Update returns on Wednesday 4 September. Join us next Monday 22 July, for the launch of a special series for the summer. You can always get in touch by dropping an e-mail to [mail @ londonairtravel.com]

Monday Briefing – 15 July 2019

London Air Travel

British Airways pilots pictured with the Red Arrows
British Airways pilots pictured with the Red Arrows (Image Credit: British Airways)

Welcome to our Monday Briefing for the week beginning 15 July 2019.

The Monday Briefing Takes A Summer Break

This will be the last Monday Briefing for a few weeks as it takes a break for the summer.

Does this mean a quiet summer? Not at all. Next week we begin a special series for the summer which will run until late August.

The Monday Briefing will return on 2 September 2019. We will of course report any major stories throughout the week as normal.

In terms of things to be looking out for over the next few weeks:

This coming Saturday, 20 July 2019, the Red Arrows will perform a fly past with a BA 747 in BOAC livery at the Royal International Tattoo.

Next Monday, 22 July 2019, BALPA’s ballot for industrial action at BA closes. It is likely that BALPA will announce its intentions immediately after the result of the ballot is known.

BA’s first Airbus A350-1000, G-XWBA, is expected to arrive at London Heathrow next week and we should see the first official pictures of the actual cabin interior.

Milan Linate airport will close for three months from Saturday 27 July 2019. Alitalia will transfer all Linate routes to Milan Malpensa. BA will also operate from London City to Milan Malpensa.

International Airlines Group announces its half-year results on Friday 2 August 2019. Given last week’s announcement that the Information Commissioner’s Office intends to fine BA £183m, Willie Walsh no doubt has a lot say about the matter but given a pending appeal and numerous group litigation actions, he may have to bite his tongue.

Qantas announces its annual results on Thursday 22 August 2019. Qantas usually has something to announce with its annual results. Whilst this may be too soon for a final announcement on whether it will place an order for aircraft to fly non-stop from London to Sydney and Melbourne, we should at least learn of the project’s progress.

Continue reading “Monday Briefing – 15 July 2019”

British Airways To Fly From Beijing Daxing International

London Air Travel

Beijing Daxing International Airport
Beijing Daxing International Airport (Image Credit: British Airways)

British Airways has confirmed that it will switch its daily service from London Heathrow to Beijing to Beijing Daxing International Airport from Sunday 27 October 2019.

Currently, BA flies daily to Beijing Capital International airport (airport code PEK). From Sunday 27 October 2019, BA’s entire operation to Beijing will transfer to Beijing Daxing International airport (airport code PKX).

The new airport opens on Monday 30 September 2019. BA’s Oneworld alliance partner Finnair has also advised that it will operate three flights a week to Beijing Daxing from Sunday 3 November 2019, in addition to Beijing Capital.

Currently, BA codeshares with China Southern on a number of domestic routes from Beijing. China Southern will be operating from the new airport, and passengers with connections should check their itinerary carefully.