“East, West, Our Jumbos Are Best”

Our seven part series on the history of the Boeing 747 at BA continues with the rapid expansion of its 747 network in the 1970s.

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British Airways Boeing 747-200 Aircraft Landor Livery
British Airways Boeing 747-236 Aircraft Landor Livery (Image Credit: British Airways)

Welcome to part two of our seven part series looking at the story of the Boeing 747 at BOAC and British Airways following its retirement in 2020.

In part one we looked at the introduction of the aircraft at BOAC, primarily on transatlantic routes. As BA continued to take delivery of more Boeing 747-136 aircraft, and longer range Boeing 747-236 aircraft, it continued to reach more destinations and cut journey times.

“East, West, Our Jumbos Are Best”

In the immediate years following the merger of BEA and BOAC, the 747 was touching all corners of BA’s global network.

New 747 network additions included Boston & Philadelphia, Kingston, Bermuda & Nassau, Tokyo via Anchorage (known as the Polar route) and Auckland.

British Airways Boeing 747 Superflights, March 1975
British Airways Boeing 747 Superflights, March 1975

“Wide Bodies All Over USA!”

By late 1975, BA served New York, Boston & Philadephia, Washington & Detroit and Miami with daily Boeing 747 services. Anchorage was served with a Boeing 747 three times a week.

The one exception in the United States was Los Angeles which was served by a DC10 aircraft. This was leased from Air New Zealand and was operated by BA crews between London Heathrow and Los Angeles, and by Air New Zealand from Los Angeles to Auckland.

British Airways, Boeing 747 USA Services Advertorial, 2 July 1975
British Airways, Boeing 747 USA Services Advertorial, 2 July 1975. Click here for a full PDF version.

In 1976, Barbados gained a non-stop Boeing 747 service with the aircraft continuing to Port of Spain, Trinidad.

At the same time, BA trialled an enhanced economy class service for full fare passengers on flights between London Heathrow and Hong Kong.

48 seats in Zone B of the aircraft were designated as an “Executive Cabin” with a free bar service and inflight entertainment.

British Airways, Boeing 747 Trinidad & Tobago Advertorial, 27 February 1976
British Airways, Boeing 747 Trinidad & Tobago Advertorial, 27 February 1976

“All-747 Service For Australia”

By the summer of 1976, BA had 18 Boeing 747-136 aircraft in its fleet. All services to Australia – Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydneywere operated with the Boeing 747.

However, multiple stops were still required en route. Only Perth had two stops en-route on some weekly flights. All other cities in Australia served by BA required at least three or four stops.

British Airways, Boeing 747 Australia Advertorial, 13 May 1976
British Airways, Boeing 747 Australia Advertorial, 13 May 1976

“A Touch Of Class For Executives”

After a successful trial on flights between London Heathrow and Hong Kong, the “Executive Cabin” was extended to all Boeing 747 flights in 1977, save for Chicago.

The main benefits were being first to receive the economy inflight service and early disembarkation from the aircraft. Being seated in the Executive cabin was not guaranteed – it could only be requested at the time of booking and passengers were advised to check-in early.

British Airways, Boeing 747 Club Class Advertorial, 27 May 1977
British Airways, Boeing 747 Club Class Advertorial, 27 May 1977
Continue reading ““East, West, Our Jumbos Are Best””

“All The 747 Needed Was BOAC Service”

Welcome to our seven part series on the history of the Boeing 747 at BOAC and British Airways.

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BOAC Boeing 747-136 aircraft
BOAC Boeing 747-136 aircraft (Image Credit: British Airways)

“All the 747 needed was BOAC service.”

That was the promise of BOAC as it introduced the Boeing 747 in 1971.

It was a tacit admission the airline had been behind its competitors in introducing the aircraft into service.

It is an understatement to say the launch of the Boeing 747 at BOAC was troubled. It would, of course, become the backbone of its successor airline British Airways until its abrupt and undignified retirement in 2020.

Welcome to part one of a seven part series looking at the Boeing 747 at BOAC and BA.

The Boeing 747 At BOAC

BOAC placed its first order for six Boeing 747-136 aircraft in 1966, following government approval. This would soon to be increased to twelve aircraft.

Although BOAC took delivery of its first Boeing aircraft in May 1970, three aircraft sat idle at London Heathrow for a year due to dispute with its pilots over pay and productivity.

The delay was estimated to have cost BOAC upwards of £25,000 a day. Its transatlantic rivals Pan American World Airways and Trans World Airlines were already operating the Boeing 747 from London and were able to take advantage of rising passenger numbers between Europe and the US.

It did at least allow BOAC to learn of some of the teething troubles of Pan Am and TWA where some passengers complained of chaotic food and beverage service, malfunctioning inflight entertainment, long queues for bathrooms and extended waits for baggage on arrival.

The inaugural BOAC passenger flight from London Heathrow to New York JFK took place on 14 April 1971. Ahead the launch, BOAC opened its own dedicated terminal at New York JFK.

283 passengers were on board the aircraft, which had capacity for 300 passengers in tourist class and 50 passengers in First Class with 6 galleys and 12 bathrooms. At seat inflight entertainment consisted of 4 stereo and 3 mono channels of music. In common with other airlines, the Upper Deck featured a dedicated “Monarch” lounge for First Class passengers.

BOAC Boeing 747 Cabin Interior
BOAC Boeing 747 Cabin Interior (Image Credit: British Airways)
BOAC Boeing 747 Cabin Interior
BOAC Boeing 747 Cabin Interior (Image Credit: British Airways)

The launch of flights to New York JFK was not the end of BOAC’s industrial troubles as a dispute with engineers briefly grounded the aircraft again.

BOAC Boeing 747 Advertisement, April 1971
BOAC Boeing 747 Advertisement, April 1971

BOAC was keen to emphasis distinctive features unique to its Boeing 747 aircraft, such as its humification system. Other features claimed to be unique to BOAC included adjustable headrests and artwork on bulkheads.

BOAC Boeing 747 Advertisement, June 1971
BOAC Boeing 747 Advertisement, June 1971

After New York JFK, daily services to Montreal and Toronto followed on 12 July 1971. Economic pressures did however force BOAC to cancel orders for a further 4 Boeing 747 aircraft beyond its initial order of 12.

BOAC Boeing 747 Toronto & Montreal Advertisement, July 1971
BOAC Boeing 747 Toronto & Montreal Advertisement, July 1971

In November 1971, BOAC launched what it claimed was the first direct Boeing 747 service to Australia via Hong Kong and Darwin.

Continue reading ““All The 747 Needed Was BOAC Service””

British Airways Suspends Long-Haul Routes

British Airways has permanently suspended a large number of long-haul routes in response to COVID-19.

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Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner (Image Credit: British Airways)
Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner (Image Credit: British Airways)

British Airways has permanently suspended a large number of long-haul routes.

It was inevitable that due to COVID-19 marginal long-haul routes would be at risk of suspension. Many of these routes are Boeing 787 routes and, due to the retirement of the Boeing 747 and grounding of many other aircraft, these aircraft have been reallocated to other routes.

By region, BA’s weakest markets in Asia and the Middle East bear the brunt of route suspensions.

Some airports such as Pittsburgh have wanted to secure a BA service for some time. It is also disappointing to see years of network growth reversed.

The following routes are suspended permanently with effect from Sunday 28 March 2021 at the latest, unless otherwise stated. All routes are from London Heathrow, unless otherwise stated.

North America

Calgary

Charleston

Pittsburgh

Central & South America

Lima (from Gatwick)

Africa

Durban

Indian Ocean

The Seychelles (from 24 April 2021)

Middle East

Abu Dhabi

Damman

Jeddah (occasional flights may still operate for Hajj in July 2021)

Muscat

Asia

Kuala Lumpur (from 28 March 2021)

Osaka

Seoul

In addition, flights to Bangkok, San Jose (Costa Rica – from Gatwick) and Sydney are suspended until 30 October 2021. The last service to San Jose will operate on 17 April 2021.

Flights to Accra, Doha and Islamabad will also transfer from Heathrow to Gatwick from Sunday 28 March 2021.

As ever, in the current climate, further changes cannot be ruled out. There are also many destinations not listed above that are not yet operating and their return depends on the easing of travel restrictions.

Passengers whose flights have been cancelled are entitled to a full refund. Where, possible passengers can also be re-acommodated on alternative BA flights with connections to BA’s codeshare partners such as American Airlines, Iberia, Japan Airlines and Qatar Airways.

Any passengers who have booked with BA to fly to Kuala Lumpur from 28 March 2021 can be re-accommodated on Malaysia Airlines flights from London Heathrow.

Passengers due to fly to fly to Bangkok or Seoul can be re-accomodated on BA (up to 28 March 2021) or Malaysia Airlines (from 28 March 2021) services to Kuala Lumpur with onward connections on Malaysia Airlines to their final destination.

Affected passengers should check the status of their bookings using the Manage My Booking tool on ba.com and should contact BA or their travel agent.

© Copyright London Air Travel 2020.

British Airways Reinstates Gatwick – Manchester Connection

British Airways is to reinstate a connection between London Gatwick and Manchester from Sunday 28 March 2021.

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Gatwick Airport Runways
Gatwick Airport Runways (Image Credit: Gatwick Airport)

British Airways is to reinstate a connection between London Gatwick and Manchester after a hiatus of many years.

The route was suspended during a long process of “de-hubbing” BA’s operation at Gatwick with a focus on point-to-point traffic. It was a one of a number of domestic routes suspended at Gatwick including Aberdeen and Newcastle.

At present, timetables indicate that the route will operate once-daily. An early morning departure from Manchester will facilitate connections to long-haul flights at Gatwick.

BA is also transferring long-haul flights from London Heathrow Accra, Doha and Islamabad to Gatwick from 28 March 2021.

More broadly, this does suggest that BA is intent on restoring its short-haul operation at Gatwick next summer and preserving its slot portfolio.

That said, as ever in the current environment everything is subject to change at short notice.

Flights are on sale now at ba.com

Thanks to SeanM1997 for timetable information.

Continue reading “British Airways Reinstates Gatwick – Manchester Connection”

British Airways Ends Non-Stop Buenos Aires Flights

British Airways flights from London Heathrow to Buenos Aires will operate via Sao Paulo from Sunday 31 March 2021.

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British Airways Airbus A350-1000 Aircraft
British Airways Airbus A350-1000 Aircraft (Image Credit: British Airways)

British Airways’ service from London Heathrow to Buenos Aires will operate via Sao Paulo from Sunday 28 March 2021.

The last non-stop service from London Heathrow to Buenos Aires is currently scheduled to operate on Friday 26 March 2021.

As a consequence of the stop for one hour at Sao Paulo Guarulhos International Airport, the journey time from London Heathrow will increase from 14 hours to 15 hours and 40 minutes.

The flight numbers to / from Buenos Aires will also change from BA245 / BA244 to BA247 / BA246.

This is expected to continue until Sunday 31 October 2021 at the earliest. Long time BA flyers may remember that BA used to fly to Buenos Aires via Sao Paulo many years ago. A non-stop service to Buenos Aires is likely to return when economic conditions allow.

Continue reading “British Airways Ends Non-Stop Buenos Aires Flights”

London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing – 14 December 2020

Welcome to London Air Travel’s final Monday Briefing of 2020.

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Concorde and Santa Claus, Rovaniemi, Finland, 1997
Concorde and Santa Claus, Rovaniemi, Finland, 1997. Photo by Eric Chretien/Gamma-Rapho published under license from Getty Images. Unauthorised distribution and reproduction prohibited.

Welcome to London Air Travel’s final Monday Briefing of 2020. Our next Monday Briefing will be published on 18 January 2021.

What A Difference A Year Makes

12 months ago the airline industry was certain of its trajectory.

Consolidation was the order of the day. State intervention was a thing of the past. The days of making money in the good times, only to lose it all in a downturn, would never be repeated. Airlines had the financial resilience to withstand whatever challenges came their way.

Both British Airways and Virgin Atlantic had plans for a busy year, most of which have been abandoned.

Delta had pulled off a major coup, swooping LATAM out of Oneworld. It acquired, for some $1.9 billion, a 20% stake in the airline. That, along with its stakes in AeroMexico and Virgin Atlantic, are worthless as LATAM has entered Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

Even as the COVID-19 outbreak was underway, former IAG CEO Willie Walsh confidently asserted:

“To be honest we’ve gone through all of this before. We’ve all seen it before.”

“We know what to do in a time like this. We know how to respond.”

A planned near normal return to service for BA by the end of the year did not happen. There is at least positive news on the approval of vaccines against COVID-19 and pre-flight testing regimes underway.

That said, the fact that BA is barred from operating passenger flights to Hong Kong for two weeks following COVID-19 compliance failures, suggests airlines and passengers are going to have get used to extremely stringent measures in many territories for months to come.

Virgin Atlantic & Bain

What’s going on with Virgin Atlantic and Bain Capital?

Last week Sky News reported that Virgin had sold and leasebacked two Boeing 787 aircraft. According to recent filings at Companies House, there are further transactions involving Bain in connection with one of Virgin’s Airbus A350 aircraft.

Bain does of course have a connection with another Virgin airline as it owns the majority of Virgin Australia.

Staying with Companies House filings, Virgin Atlantic has yet to submit its annual accounts for the year to 31 December 2019. These should have been ready months ago. A cynic might wonder whether Virgin is waiting for a good day to bury bad news.

On a more positive note, Virgin is due to return to Cape Town this Sunday.

Coming Soon: The BA 747 Story

Over Christmas we will run a special series on the history of the Boeing 747 and some of its most memorable flights at BOAC and BA.

This will run over seven days from Christmas Eve to 30 December.

Continue reading “London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing – 14 December 2020”

BA Cancels Outbound Flights To Hong Kong

British Airways has been required to cancel outbound passenger flights from London Heathrow to Hong Kong up to 25 December 2020.

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British Airways Coat Of Arms
British Airways Coat Of Arms (Image Credit: British Airways)

British Airways has cancelled outbound passenger flights from London Heathrow to Hong Kong until Friday 18 December 2020.

BA will continue to send aircraft to Hong Kong with cargo only. Inbound passenger flights from Hong Kong to London Heathrow will operate as normal.

According to a report in the South China Morning Post, BA has been banned by local authorities from operating passenger flights to Hong until Friday 25 December.

This is after it was found that four passengers who travelled on a BA flight to Hong Kong on Tuesday had COVID-19. Another passenger’s documents were not checked properly by the airline.

Whilst BA has been banned from flying to passengers to Hong Kong for two weeks and flights have been taken off sale until 25 December, at the time of publication the airline has only cancelled flights to Hong Kong up to Friday 18 December. This suggests that BA is seeking an alleviation.

Continue reading “BA Cancels Outbound Flights To Hong Kong”

British Airways Launches Southampton Routes

BA CityFlyer will operate a series of seasonal routes at Southampton airport from May to October 2021.

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Ibiza
Ibiza (Image Credit: British Airways)

British Airways has launched a string of new summer seasonal routes from Southampton Airport.

These will be operated by its subsidiary BA CityFlyer, whose principal base is at London City Airport. For the past five years, BA CityFlyer has operated seasonal routes at weekends from UK regional airports. This primarily due to the closure of London City airport at weekends.

Summer seasonal routes at London Stansted and Manchester airports are cancelled next summer.

British Airways Route Network, Southampton
British Airways Route Network, Southampton (Image Credit: British Airways)

Next summer, BA will fly from Southampton to Bergerac, Berlin, Edinburgh, Faro, Florence, Ibiza, Limoges, Malaga, Mykonos, Nice and Palma de Mallorca.

Return flights typically operate 1 – 2 a week from early – mid May up to 31 October 2020. As these return flights are often “nested” in return flights from London City, it’s a safe assumption that many of these routes will operate from London City next summer.

Southampton has always seemed a logical choice given BA’s catchment in the South East. BA CityFlyer is operating a relatively high number of routes compared other regional airports previously served. No doubt the closure of Flybe is factor in BA CityFlyer choosing to fly from the airport next summer.

As these are new seasonal routes, the exact frequencies, timings and operating dates may change over the coming months according to commercial demand. There if course the unknown factor as to what travel restrictions will be in place next summer.

Flights are on sale now at ba.com

London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing – 7 December 2020

Welcome to London Air Travel’s weekly briefing on air travel around the world, as published every Monday at 06:00 GMT.

London Air Travel » Page 2

British Airways, London Gatwick
British Airways, London Gatwick

Welcome to London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing for the week beginning 7 December 2020.

BA Returns To Gatwick

BA should resume long-haul flights at Gatwick this week.

Flights to Punta Cana and St Lucia are currently scheduled to resume this Thursday, 10 December. A number of destinations follow on Friday including Antigua, Barbados, Bermuda, Cancun and Kingston.

Grenada, Montego Bay and St Kitts return on Saturday, with Providenciales due to follow on Sunday.

This restart of a number of the above routes has been postponed many times before, so this is all subject to change.

London Heathrow Route Updates

In other route updates at London Heathrow, BA continues to reinstate scheduled passenger flights.

Last week, BA reinstated scheduled passenger flights to Bahrain, Boston, Buenos Aires, Cape Town, Kuala Lumpur, Mexico City, Philadelphia, Riyadh, Santiago, Tel Aviv and The Maldives.

This week the airline is also due to return to Kuwait, Rio de Janeiro, San Francisco, The Seychelles and Tokyo Haneda.

In a sign of progress on at least some routes, BA will increase Dubai to three times daily from 10 December.

Also at Heathrow, Virgin Atlantic will operate its inaugural flight to Islamabad on Saturday and Lahore on Sunday.

London City Airport Publishes Its Masterplan

London City Airport published a revised masterplan last week.

The masterplan sets out its ambition to increase capacity so it is capable of handling 11 million passengers a year, with Air Transport Movements also increased from 111,000 to 151,000 a year.

The airport still has ambitions to expand its route network, with the return of transatlantic routes. However, with CityJet and Flybe having withdrawn from the airport – and a likely downsizing by BA CityFlyer which is serving just three destinations at present – this is going to be difficult to achieve.

Bonhams Vintage Poster Auction

If you are looking for a Christmas gift for an aviation enthusiast and happen to have a thousand pounds or so hiding down the back of your sofa, then look no further than Bonhams’ auction of vintage posters tomorrow.

The auction includes these vintage posters by Imperial Airways posters from 1936 and 1937.

Continue reading “London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing – 7 December 2020”

BA Adds Long-Haul Routes In December

British Airways plans to reinstate many long-haul routes at London Heathrow throughout December.

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Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner (Image Credit: British Airways)
Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner (Image Credit: British Airways)

British Airways will reinstate a number of long-haul routes at London Heathrow in December.

This follows the easing of lockdown restrictions in England in December which had prompted the airline to operate many routes on a cargo only basis during November. Frequencies are also increased on a number of other routes.

As ever, schedules are subject to change at short notice. There is limited visibility on flight schedules. Timetables indicate some long-haul routes may return at London Gatwick later in December. However, these have been postponed at short notice many times before.

Passengers due to fly in December are strongly advised to keep a close eye on their bookings using the Manage My Booking tool. All passengers must comply with pre-departure and entry requirements.

BA’s Galleries Club South and First lounges at Terminal 5 also reopen from 2 December.

By region, routes expected to return at Heathrow, or benefit from frequency increases, include:

North America

Destinations provisionally due to return in December include Boston and Philadelphia from 3 December as well as Atlanta and San Francisco from 10 December.

Flights from London Heathrow to Barbados will increase to daily from 9 December.

BA will continue to operate passenger flights to Chicago O’Hare, Grand Cayman, Los Angeles, Miami, New York JFK, Seattle, Toronto and Washington Dulles throughout December.

Central & South America

BA returns to Rio de Janeiro with three times weekly flights from 12 December.

Flights to Sao Paulo increase to daily from 2 December. BA will also provisionally fly to Buenos Aires and Mexico City from 4 December and Santiago weekly on Saturdays from 5 December.

Africa & Indian Ocean

BA reinstates daily flights to Cape Town from 3 December and to The Maldives from 4 December.

Flights to the Maldives are operated with BA’s latest Boeing 777-300ER aircraft which features a modified First Class cabin and the Club Suite in Club World.

Flights to Abuja increase to daily from 2 December. Accra also increases to daily from 3 December.

BA is provisionally due to return to The Seychelles from 12 December.

BA continues to serve Johannesburg, Lagos and Nairobi throughout December.

Continue reading “BA Adds Long-Haul Routes In December”