London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing – 18 March 2019

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British Airways Club World logos from the late 1970s
British Airways Club World logos from the late 1970s

Welcome to our Monday Briefing for the week beginning 18 March 2019.

Stand By For BA’s New Club World Seat

As has been widely trailed on social media over the weekend, BA will be officially unveiling its new Club World seat at around 10:00 GMT this morning.

Much is known already. It’s an entirely new seat and cabin layout with direct aisle access for all passengers. Unlike the existing Club World seat it is not an entirely bespoke design for the airline.

There will be gate to gate in-flight entertainment for the first time. Privacy and personal storage will also be significantly improved.

There is also an important element of expectations management. It is going to take some time for new aircraft to arrive with the new seat. The first 4 of 18 Airbus A350-1000 aircraft will arrive this year. Next year, BA will begin to take delivery of 12 Boeing 787-10 aircraft and 18 Boeing 777-9 aircraft from 2022. It will also take time to retrofit to the existing fleet and many aircraft will not be retrofitted.

The importance of Club World to BA cannot be overstated. It is not dubbed the “profit engine” for no reason. History has shown that the financial performance of the airline is inextricably linked to volumes of Club World traffic.

It’s also worth remembering how very reluctant BA has been to give up the existing 2-(3/4)-2 layout. Up until a couple of years ago IAG was adamant that whilst the seat would be updated for the Airbus A350 it would maintain the existing cabin layout because of its space efficiency. Market forces have dictated otherwise.

Here’s our history of Club World from its humble origins as a curtained off section of economy in the 1970s, to Super Club, and Club World.

Virgin Atlantic is also expected to reveal its new Upper Class cabin for its Airbus A350-1000 in the next few weeks.

Boeing 787 Woes Continue For BA

There are signs that the Trent 1000 engine Boeing 787 Dreamliner issues are not going away at BA.

It will continue to wet lease an Air Belgium A340 aircraft throughout the summer on selected London Heathrow – Toronto flights. BA has also instituted blanket cancellations on Mumbai and New Delhi.

In case you missed it:

American Airlines & BA increase London Heathrow – Miami to five times daily. (London Air Travel)

Also of note this week:

KLM marks 100 years of Dutch aviation, citing changing consumer behaviour. (KLM)

KLM is to also suspend duty free sales on short-haul flights from July and long-haul flights from January 2020. BA seems intent on maintaining duty free sales having recently added pre-ordering for short-haul flights. (KLM)

Lufthansa has ordered Airbus A350-1000 and Boeing 787-9 aircraft. It will also return 6 of its 14 Airbus A380 aircraft to Airbus from 2022. (Lufthansa)

Mark Vanhoenacker on pilot rest mid-flight. (Financial Times)

SWISS is to introduce its first premium economy cabin, which will be first retrofitted to Boeing 777-300 aircraft from Spring 2021. (SWISS)

Late Post Publication Updates

British Airways has unveiled its Club World suite. (London Air Travel)

[Reserved for updates during the day.]

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