2019 was a busy year for BA with its centenary celebrations, the launch of its first new long-haul business class cabin in nearly 20 years, and the delivery of its first Airbus A350-1000 aircraft.
The delivery of new long-haul aircraft and retrofitting the new Club Suite to its existing Heathrow fleet will be a continuing theme throughout 2020, as well as potentially significant changes to its relationships with alliance and codeshare partners.
Here are some of the major known changes to aircraft, routes and partnerships for 2020:
Long-Haul Fleet – New Aircraft Deliveries
In 2020, BA will take delivery of new Airbus A350-1000, Boeing 777-300 and Boeing 787-10 aircraft.
As at December 2019, BA has taken delivery of 4 of its order of 18 Airbus A350-1000 aircraft. These will continue throughout 2020 and all aircraft are expected to be delivered by 2022.
BA will also take delivery of four new Boeing 777-300 aircraft and the first 6 of its order for 12 Boeing 787-10 aircraft.
The Boeing 787-10 aircraft will feature an 8 seat First Class cabin, 48 Club Suites, and 35 seats in World Traveller Plus and 165 seats in World Traveller. The first aircraft is due to arrive in January and the first confirmed route is Atlanta.
Long-Haul Fleet – Aircraft Refurbishments
BA has now completed the refurbishment of its Gatwick based Boeing 777-200 aircraft.
This has primarily involved “densifying” its World Traveller economy from 9 to 10 seats abreast as well as fitting new in-flight entertainment systems and new World Traveller Plus seats.
BA is now refurbishing its fleet of Boeing 777-200 aircraft at London Heathrow. As well as “densifying” its economy cabin, the airline is also retrofitting its new Club Suite to the aircraft and reducing the size of the First Class cabin to 8 seats. It also expected that some four class aircraft will also be converted to three class. Some of BA’s 12 Boeing 777-300 aircraft will also be refurbished in a similar fashion this year.
Long-Haul Fleet – Aircraft Retirements
BA will continue to retire aircraft from its Boeing 747 fleet, with the number of aircraft in service at Heathrow expected to reduce from 32 to 25 by the end of 2020.
The airline also plans to retire 3 Boeing 777-200 aircraft at London Heathrow. These are known as the “odd-ball” aircraft with registrations G-ZZZA, G-ZZZB, and G-ZZZC and 17 First Class seats which typically operate to the Middle East and US East Coast.
BA is expected to continue to take delivery of new Airbus A320neo and Airbus A321neo aircraft to replace its oldest Airbus A319 and A320 aircraft.
In June 2019, BA’s parent company IAG announced it had signed a Letter Of Intent with Boeing to acquire up to 200 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft for delivery to BA at London Gatwick and Vueling from 2023.
This was in part intended to introduce competition between Airbus and Boeing for short-haul aircraft and mitigate the risk of delivery delays from Airbus. Given Boeing’s decision to suspend production of the Boeing 737 MAX and its well documented problems bringing the aircraft back to service, IAG will have to make a decision shortly whether to order alternative aircraft from Airbus.
2020 is a relatively quiet year for new routes.
BA is to introduce just one new long-haul route, from London Heathrow Terminal 5 to Portland, Oregon from 1 June 2020.
Given the number of long-haul aircraft deliveries, refurbishments and retirements at Heathrow it is likely that there will be a significant reallocation of aircraft between routes during the course of the year.
BA will launch new summer seasonal short-haul routes from London Heathrow to Bodrum, Dalaman, Perugia, Podgrica, Pristina and Rhodes. BA’s summer seasonal service from London Heathrow to Nantes will not return in 2020.
At Gatwick, BA will launch a new summer seasonal route to Antalya. However, summer seasonal services to Gibraltar and Limoges will not return. It is noteworthy that, despite the acquisition of slots from Monarch, BA has not added new long-haul routes at Gatwick for some time.
To London City, BA will launch a new summer seasonal service to San Sebastian. However, summer seasonal service to Granada will not return in 2020.
In-Flight Products & Service
It’s highly unlikely there will be any radical changes to BA’s approach of targeted investment, focused on premium cabins.
Given the retirement of Boeing 747 aircraft and the planned conversion of some four class Boeing 777-200 aircraft to three class, it is inevitable that First Class will continue to be removed from some routes.
Taking into account planned aircraft deliveries and refurbishments above, it is estimated that the new Club Suite will be fitted to a third of long-haul aircraft at Heathrow by the end of 2020.
As far as ground services are concerned, automation and efficiency is likely to be a continuing theme. BA will even trial robots to guide passengers at London Heathrow Terminal 5.
A new BA uniform, designed by Ozwald Boateng OBE will also be introduced in 2020.Continue reading “What To Expect From British Airways In 2020”