How has COVID-19 changed British Airways’ long haul fleet?
Since the start of the pandemic, BA’s long haul fleet has shrunk by nearly 20%.
Its wide body fleet has been cut from 135 to 111 aircraft. This was due the retirement of 32 Boeing 747 and 3 Boeing 777-200 aircraft. This has been offset by deliveries of new 5 Airbus A350-1000, 4 Boeing 777-300ER and 2 Boeing 787-10 aircraft.
Whilst further deliveries of new aircraft have been delayed, BA does not intend to cancel any existing orders for new aircraft.
BA has 10 Airbus A350-1000, 18 Boeing 777-9 and 10 Boeing 787-10 aircraft to be delivered. BA’s parent company IAG is not currently confirming delivery dates for new aircraft.
BA does not intend to reconfigure aircraft specifically in response to COVID-19. It is currently refurbishing Boeing 777-200ER and 777-300ER aircraft at London Heathrow. This involves reducing the size of First Class cabins to 8 seats, installing the new Club Suite, larger premium economy cabins and 10 abreast seating in economy.
The airline has not shown any interest in either the Airbus A321LR or XLR aircraft which have been ordered by its sister airlines Aer Lingus and Iberia.
Here’s a breakdown of the different types of aircraft in BA’s long haul fleet:
As at November 2021, eight Airbus A350-1000 aircraft are in BA’s fleet with a remaining 10 to be delivered.
These Airbus A350s are in a three class configuration, with no First Class. There are 56 Club World “Club Suite” seats, 56 World Traveller Plus seats, and 219 World Traveller seats.
BA originally expected to take delivery of all aircraft by the end of 2023. This is likely to be extended. The airline also has options for 36 more aircraft. BA originally planned add a First Class cabin to later deliveries of aircraft which may be revised post COVID-19.
BA’s sister airline Aer Lingus had ordered 5 Airbus A350-900 aircraft which it has now cancelled. IAG expects to allocate these aircraft to either BA or Iberia.
BA has 12 Airbus A380s in its fleet.
Having been grounded due to the COVID-19 pandemic, these aircraft are returning to long operations.
The Airbus A380 is currently operating to:
Dubai – Flights BA107 & BA106
Los Angeles – Flights BA269 & BA268
Miami – Flights BA209 & BA208
It is due to fly on the following routes in 2022:
Boston – Flights BA213 & BA212 from Sunday 15 May 2022
Chicago O’Hare -Flights BA295 & BA294 from Wednesday 1 June 2022
Dallas / Fort Worth – Flights BA193 & BA192 from Friday 1 July 2022
Johannesburg – Flights BA55 & BA56 from 10 January 2022
San Francisco – Flights BA287 & BA286 from Sunday 1 May 2022
Vancouver – Flights BA85 & BA84 from Wednesday 1 June 2022 to 2Sunday 5 September 2022
Washington Dulles – Flights BA293 and BA292 from Sunday 27 March 2022
BA had options to acquire a further 7 A380s which have lapsed. BA did explore leasing second-hand Airbus A380s. This did not come to anything due to the cost of reconfiguring aircraft.
Prior to COVID-19, BA had planned to retrofit its new “Club Suite” to A380 aircraft from 2023.
BA has 43 Boeing 777-200ER aircraft in its fleet.
The Boeing 777-200ER is the only long haul aircraft operated by BA at London Gatwick.
BA has refurbished its Gatwick based Boeing 777-200s, principally to increase seating in World Traveller from 9 to 10 abreast, but also to reduce the size of Club World and increase the size of World Traveller Plus. There are currently no plans to retrofit the new Club Suite to Gatwick based Boeing 777 aircraft.
Please see here for images of the refurbished aircraft.
BA has started to refurbish Boeing 777-200ER aircraft based at Heathrow. This includes a reduction in First Class seats on four class aircraft from 14 to 8, the installation of the Club Suite and 10 abreast seating in World Traveller. As at February 2021, around 14 Boeing 777-200ER Heathrow aircraft have been refurbished. BA has expects all Heathrow based Boeing 777 aircraft to be refurbished by the end of 2022.
In the medium term, it is possible that some four 4 class aircraft will be converted to 3 class.
Two Boeing 777-200ER aircraft (G-YMMG and G-YMMK) have been converted to temporary cargo-only use with all seats apart from First Class removed.
In 2020, BA retired 3 Boeing 777-200 aircraft at London Heathrow. These were known as the “odd-ball” aircraft with registrations G-ZZZA, G-ZZZB, and G-ZZZC and 17 First Class seats which typically operated to the Middle East and US East Coast.
As at Janaury 2021, BA has 16 Boeing 777-300s in its fleet.
All operate in a four class configuration. Prior to COVID-19, it ordinarily operated routes such as Austin, Hong Kong, Sao Paulo, Singapore-Sydney, and Tokyo Haneda. It worked well paired with the A380 as it was on Hong Kong and Singapore.
The first 12 were delivered to the airline between 2010 and 2014. These feature 14 First Class seats, 56 Club World seats, 44 World Traveller Plus seats and 183 World Traveller seats.
Prior to COVID-19, BA had planned to retrofit its new Club Suite business class cabin to these aircraft and reduce the size of the First Class cabin to 8 seats. BA has expects all Boeing 777-300 aircraft to be refurbished by the end of 2022.
BA has leased 4 additional Boeing 777-300ER aircraft. These feature a modified 8 seat First Class cabin, and BA’s new Club Suite. The modified First Class cabin will be retrofitted to existing Boeing 777-300 aircraft, as well as the Club Suite.
In February 2019, IAG ordered 18 Boeing 777-9 aircraft for BA, with options for 24 further aircraft.
These were originally planned to replace 14 Boeing 747 and 4 Boeing 777-200 aircraft. These will operate in a four class configuration with 325 seats.
Prior to COVID-19, 15 aircraft were to be delivered by 2023. It is highly likely this will be delayed.
BA has 12 Boeing 787-8 aircraft in its fleet.
These all operate in a three class configuration, with no First Class. They fly on routes such as Baltimore, Chennai, Hyderabad, Lahore, Montreal, Nashville, New Orleans, Pittsburgh and Portland.
Prior to COVID-19, BA had planned to retrofit its Club Suite to Boeing 787-8 aircraft from 2021. The airline has not given a revised timetable for this, which is unlikely to take place before 2023.
BA has 18 787-9 aircraft in its fleet.
These aircraft all operate in a four class configuration, with an 8 seat First Class cabin.
Prior to COVID-19, it ordinarily operated routes such as Mexico City, San Jose, and Santiago.
BA had options for a further 6 aircraft. These have expired. Prior to COVID-19, BA had planned to retrofit its Club Suite to Boeing 787-9 aircraft from 2022.
BA has 2 Boeing 787-10 aircraft in its fleet, with a further 10 on order.
The first 2 aircraft, G-ZBLA & G-ZLBB, were delivered in 2020. It was originally planned that 6 aircraft would arrive in 2020 with all delivered by 2023. Deliveries of new Boeing 787 aircraft are currently delayed as Boeing has yet to agree an inspection regime with the Federal Aviation Administration.
The aircraft is configured in four classes with 8 seats in First Class, 48 seats in Club World, 35 seats in World Traveller Plus and 156 seats in World Traveller. The First Class seat is the same as on the Boeing 787-9 aircraft.
In total, BA will ultimately have a fleet of 42 787 family aircraft.
Boeing 747-400 (Retired)
In 2020, BA retired all 32 Boeing 747 aircraft at London Heathrow.
BA had planned to retire its last Boeing 747 in February 2024. Prior to COVID-19, it was planned that 25, 20 and 12 aircraft would be in service by the end of 2020, 2021 and 2022 respectively.