British Airways is the largest airline at London City and London Heathrow airports. It also has a substantial presence at London Gatwick.
It is a subsidiary of International Airlines Group which also owns Aer Lingus, Iberia and Vueling who all have a presence in London.
BA is also a member of the Oneworld alliance and many of its fellow members such as American Airlines and Cathay Pacific have a substantial presence in London. BA therefore features very heavily on this site.
We’re not sure what was prompted the move. It may simply be a more effective use of capacity. BA will continue to offer three classes of service (World Traveller Economy, World Traveller Plus Premium Economy and Club World Business Class) on the route.
British Airways is not normally an airline to announce aircraft orders at aviation shows.
However, to co-incide with the launch of Farnborough Air Show, BA’s parent company, International Airlines Group (“IAG”), announced that it has converted 20 of 100 options to buy Airbus A320neo aircraft into firm orders.
The London City – Dublin route is going to become significantly more competitive from 26 October 2014 when British Airways launches a five daily service between the two airports.
This route has traditionally been a mainstay of CityJet which operates the route up to 7 times a day. BA will also be completing against Flybe, a new entrant to the airport, which also launches this route at the time as BA.
There are two points of note from this announcement:
1. It shows a significant commitment by BA to Dublin.
Until two years ago, BA did not serve the city at all as it relied on codeshares with Aer Lingus. BA returned to Dublin after it inherited the London Heathrow – Dublin route from BA. From 26 October 2014, BA will operate up to 13 flights a day combined from London Heathrow and London City. BA is also moving London Heathrow – Dublin flights from Terminal 1 to 5 on the same day.
2. This puts more competitive pressure on CityJet.
This is the second occasion in recent times BA has launched a route at London City that has been well served CityJet, which was recently sold by Air France-KLM. The other route being Rotterdam. CityJet has withdrawn routes such as London City – Edinburgh and diversified away from London City, launching routes from UK regional airports, such as Cardiff.
BA is cancelling the London City – Aberdeen and London City – Stockholm routes to make way for this service and flights are now on sale on ba.com
In recent months, there has been a flurry of activity by Europe’s legacy airlines in respect of their short-haul operations.
Traditionally, these airlines (British Airways, Air France, Lufthansa etc) have operated a business model of broadly making all of their profits on long-haul flights whilst losing money on short-haul flights.
Losses on short-haul flights have historically been tolerated on the basis they provide connecting passengers to support long-haul operations.
However, the maturing of low cost carriers such as easyJet into credible rivals for lucrative business passengers has put pressure on short-haul revenues. Furthermore, the intensity of competition from Middle Eastern airlines has reduced the profits on long-haul against which losses on short-haul operations can be offset.
Lufthansa is in the process of transferring short-haul flights that do not serve is Frankfurt and Munich hubs to Germanwings. British Airways has undertaken a number of revenue-raising measures such as short notice day-tripper and weekender flights and seasonal flights during quiet business travel periods.
The next phase of activity from BA is a complete reconfiguration of almost all of its Airbus short-haul aircraft.
For passengers travelling in the economy EuroTraveller cabin, the changes are broadly positive. For passengers travelling in the business class Club Euroe cabin the picture is more mixed.
Here are the main changes:
1. New ergonomically designed, slimmer leather seats with moveable armrests and a 4-way moveable headrest.
2. New literature pockets that can also hold the sleeve of an iPad for passengers who want to bring their own in-flight entertainment.
3. In Club Europe, a new central table feature called the ‘Centre console’ will be positioned in the middle seat that is traditionally kept free.
4. The aircraft will also be fitted with new curtains, carpets and wall coverings and a LED lighting system and “refreshed” washrooms.
The big downside is that leg room in Club Europe will be reduced from 34 inches to 30 inches. However, BA claims that this will not impact significantly on “usable” space due to the design of the seats which allow for more knee room.
The effect of the reduction in leg room and other changes is that the overall number of seats will increase on each aircraft. On an Airbus 319 aircraft BA will provide 143 seats instead of 132 seats. On an Airbus 320 aircraft will provide 168 seats instead of 162 seats. On an Airbus 321 aircraft will provide 205 seats instead of 188 seats,
The first refurbished aircraft will enter into service on 4 July of this year and the rollout is expected to be completed by next year.
The Boeing 767s that operate in a short-haul configuration and the Boeing 737s that operate at Gatwick are not being reconfigured as they are both shortly being retired from the fleet.
Update December 2014: BA has announced that First Class will return to Vancouver from Sunday 29 March 2015 and Cape Town, Las Vegas and Phoenix from Sunday 25 October 2015. More details here
Many readers will know that, over the past five years, British Airways has been progressively updating its four class Boeing 777 and 747 aircraft with a new first class product.
The roll out on Boeing 777 aircraft has long been complete. Out of BA’s fleet of nearly fifty Boeing 747 aircraft, less than ten do not have the latest first class product. These aircraft are left with the Kelly Hoppen designed interior from the year 2000.
It is no exaggeration to say these cabins are showing their age and, in response, BA has by default offered 50,000 Avios to members of the Executive Club frequent flyer programme as compensation.
With number of 747s in BA’s fleet expected to fall to approximately thirty by 2018 and the last 747 due to retire after 2020, many of those aircraft that do not have the new first class cabin are likely to be retired over the coming year.
BA has now decided to stop selling first class on these aircraft and will instead offer a three class service, with business class passengers seated in the first class cabin (who will receive the standard “Club World” service) if there is the demand.
A few years ago, British Airways earned itself the moniker “London Airways” amongst some frequent flyers.
A long struggling regional operation, latterly known as “BA Connect”, offering flights from Birmingham, Manchester, Southampton and other regional airports was sold to Flybe in late 2006.
BA’s sole remaining international flight from a non-London UK airport, Manchester to New York JFK, was cancelled a couple of years later. This left BA, excluding franchise partners, operating international flights only from London airports.
Whether this was the right move strategically depends on your point of view. There is the argument that BA is right to focus on London which is one of the largest centres of premium business traffic in the world. There is also the argument that BA failed to make the necessary moves to adapt its cost base to changing market conditions and maintain its resonance in the UK market.
Yet tonight, Sunday 1 June, the very last departure of an any airline at Edinburgh airport is a BA Airbus A320 operating as flight BA8990 direct to Ibiza.
The flight will arrive on the white island shortly after 02:30. One hour later it will return to Edinburgh as BA8991 to land in Edinburgh at 05:40. Just in time for one of the first of 25 flights BA will operate from Edinburgh to London Heathrow, Gatwick and City airports on Monday.
An easyJet Airbus A320 aircraft spends, on average, 10.9 hours a day in the air. The equivalent number for British Airways is 8.4.
The difference can in part be explained by Heathrow. Parking and slot restrictions and the need to offer business friendly timetables for “out and back in a day” business travellers mean that not all aircraft can return to Heathrow overnight.
Nonetheless the difference is significant as far as profitability is concerned. Legacy carriers have traditionally lost money on short-haul operations but have relied on more profitable long-haul operations to offset them. Rising fuel prices and intense competition from new entrants means this is no longer possible.
Some airlines, like Lufthansa, have transferred some short-haul operations to lower cost subsidiaries. In Lufthansa’s case this is Germanwings.
BA seems to be opting for a number of initiatives to improve short-haul profitability. And this is one of them. By flying from Edinburgh to Ibiza overnight the aircraft is working for six hours that would otherwise be spent idle on the ground in Edinburgh.
The one downside is of course that if the aircraft decides it doesn’t want to leave La Isla Blanca there will be a lot of disgruntled commuters in Edinburgh on Monday morning!
At the moment this is just a tentative step with two weekly return flights to Ibiza, increasing to three later in the peak of the Ibiza season. However, if this is considered a success then expect the initiative to be extended to other regional airports next summer.