British Airways is to suspend its service from London Heathrow to Baku (Azerbaijan) from Friday 29 April 2016.
The airline has cited unsatisfactory commercial performance as the reason for the cancellation.
Passengers affected by the cancellation have the option of rebooking on an alternative BA flight before Friday 29 April 2016 or a full refund.
Will British Airways rebook me on to another airline between London Heathrow and Baku?
BA has now agreed rebooking options with a number of airlines which include Azerbaijan Airlines from London Heathrow, Lufthansa via Frankfurt, Air Baltic via Riga, Turkish Airlines via Istanbul and Ukraine International Airlines via Kiev Boryspil International. Note that some options are not available for tickets purchased using the Avios frequent flyer currency.
Affected passengers should contact their travel agent, or if your booking was made directly with BA, you can access your booking via the Manage My Booking on the BA website.
The London Heathrow – Baku route was one which has inherited by British Airways following its merger with bmi in 2012. It joins a long list of former bmi London Heathrow routes which have been suspended by BA and include Almaty, Damascus, Addis Ababa, Dammam, Bishkek, Khartoum, Yerevan, Amristar, Casablanca, Marrakech and Tbilisi.
The timings below are not particularly useful for anyone in the UK flying from Stansted looking to spend a weekend in Berlin. We can only surmise that the main benefit is positioning an aircraft at Stansted to operate BA’s other weekend flights from the airport.
American Airlines’ arrivals lounge at London Heathrow Terminal 3 is now closed for refurbishment. The new lounge will open on an as yet unspecified date later this year.
Passengers arriving in to London Heathrow Terminal 3 on American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, and Qantas Airways long-haul flights in first and business class can use the British Airways arrivals lounge in Terminal 5.
The lounge is not part of Oneworld alliance reciprocal lounge access arrangements. Therefore, members of American Airlines, Cathay Pacific and Qantas frequent flyer programmes cannot access the lounge unless arriving from a long-haul flight on these airlines in first and business class.
Only Gold members of the British Airways Executive Club can access the lounge when arriving from a long-haul flight in any cabin on British Airways.
Terminal 5 can be accessed from Terminal 3 by taking a free transfer on the Heathrow Express train service between Heathrow Central and Heathrow Terminal 5. The BA lounge is located on the first floor in the arrivals area and is accessible by lift from the arrivals area.
The BA lounge is open until 2pm and offers hot showers and a full English breakfast until around 11am and continental breakfast options until around midday.
Please note that in light of increased access to the lounge it is likely to be much busier, particularly during the transatlantic arrivals “rush hour” from 6am to 9am and access may be denied due to capacity constraints.
Withdrawal of Skyflyer Solo service from 31 January 2017
British Airways has announced it is to withdraw its Skyflyer Solo service for children travelling alone (often referred to as “unaccompanied minors”) from Tuesday 31 January 2017.
The airline has also closed its Skyflyer Solo service for future bookings with immediate effect. Therefore, no new bookings for the Skyflyer Solo service will be accepted, regardless of the date of travel.
The Skyflyer Solo service was a paid-for service whereby children travelling alone would be escorted and supervised at the airport by a dedicated airline representative. On arrival, the child would be met at the aircraft door and escorted through the arrivals process until handed over to a nominated adult.
BA will continue to allow children over the age of twelve to travel alone. Any children under the age of twelve must be accompanied by an adult over the age of sixteen.
The only reason given by BA for the withdrawal of the service is a decline in demand.
Whilst BA is at pains to emphasise that the decision has not been made lightly, there is bound to be a loss of goodwill amongst many of its frequent flyers. No doubt the first introduction to British Airways amongst many such frequent flyers was travelling alone as a child.
Alternative options for affected passengers
For parents & guardians looking for alternative services, airlines which provided dedicated services for unaccompanied minors include Virgin Atlantic,KLM,Lufthansa and Swiss. easyJet do not offer a dedicated unaccompanied minors service.
Somewhat ironically, Iberia and Iberia Express which are both owned by the same parent company as British Airways (International Airlines Group) will continue to provide an unaccompanied minors service, even for flights they operate from London Heathrow Terminal 5.
British Airways is to sub-contract the operation of selected flights from London Heathrow to Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Copenhagen to Danish charter airline Jet Time from Sunday 27 March 2016 until the end of October.
Although no specific reason has been given for this move, it is likely to be due to the fact that BA has gained additional slots at London Heathrow following the closure of Virgin Atlantic Little Red.
Under slot usage rules, airlines are required to use their Heathrow slots for at least 80% of the time, or risk forfeiture of the slots.
Flights operated by Jet Time will be flown with Boeing 737-700 aircraft.
The sub-contracting arrangement is known as a “wet lease” which means that the flights will also be operated by pilots and cabin crew of Jet Time.
Qantas Airways has just announced it is to open a new dedicated lounge for first and business class passengers flying on its daily services to Sydney and Melbourne from London Heathrow Terminal 3, which will open in 2017.
Currently, Qantas does not have its own lounge at London Heathrow and eligible passengers have to make use of the British Airways Galleries Club and First lounges at London Heathrow Terminal 3.
The lounge will occupy two levels of the airport terminal with capacity for 230 passengers. The new lounge is expected to be modelled on recent Qantas lounges in Hong Kong and Singapore. Construction will commence later this year.
Features of the new lounge will include:
• Australian chef Neil Perry’s Rockpool menu and dining experience;
• Full-service bar with Rockpool cocktails;
• Full bathroom facilities including showers;
• Business facilities; and
• Children’s zone.
Eligible members of Oneworld alliance frequent flyer programmes will also have access to the lounge and with Cathay Pacific also refurbishing its lounges at London Heathrow Terminal 3, Oneworld passengers will have a good choice of lounge facilities at London Heathrow.
This is also a welcome investment by Qantas in London. Qantas has previously reduced its daily services from London Heathrow from four to two daily. It also ended its partnership with British Airways in favour a partnership with Emirates with all services to Sydney and Melbourne routed via Dubai as a consequence. There have been question marks over its long term commitment to London which can be allayed by the news of this investment.
Update January 2018: This route, which currently operates on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday is suspended from Saturday 24 March 2018. Iberia’s sister airline Vueling will continue to fly from London Gatwick to Asturias three times weekly on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. It is also possible to fly to Asturias from London Heathrow indirectly via Madrid.
British Airways is to return to London Stansted airport after a long hiatus with the launch of weekly summer seasonal flights to four destinations: Faro, Ibiza, Malaga, and Palma de Mallorca.
Flights will operate to each destination once a week at weekends.
Flights will be operated using a single Embraer E190 jet, offering a Club Europe business class and EuroTraveller economy service.
Flights launch on the weekend of Saturday 28 and Sunday 29 May 2016 and will run for the duration of the summer season.
Whilst not explicitly mentioned in the airline’s press release, the launch of the routes seems to be driven by a desire to use an aircraft that would otherwise be parked at London City airport.
The announcement is clearly good news for BA flyers who live close to London Stansted.
However, some of the flight times are not the most convenient.
The scheduling of flights also looks tight, with 45 minute turnarounds between most flights. Delays across the weekend could easily build up.
That said, Faro, Ibiza, Malaga, Palma Mallorca are all served by BA from London City, Gatwick and Heathrow (except Palma de Mallorca does not operate from Gatwick). It is of course possible to “mix and match” London departure & arrival airports in one booking.
British Airways has today announced that it is to return to Iran with the launch of a six times weekly direct flight from London Heathrow to Tehran (Imam Khomeini International Airport) from Thursday 14 July 2016.
Flights will depart from London Heathrow Terminal 5 and will be operated using a four class Boeing 777 aircraft (First Class, Club World business class, World Traveller Plus premium economy and World Traveller economy). The flight will not operate from London Heathrow on Sundays.
That BA is launching the service using a twin-aisle long haul aircraft six times a week is clearly a sign of confidence that there will be strong passenger and cargo demand.
This route is also currently operated by Iran Air on a 3x weekly basis. The last British airline to serve Tehran was bmi British Midland which operated the route until October 2012. It was suspended following the acquisition of bmi by International Airlines Group. bmi was later merged into British Airways.
London Heathrow – Tehran
Flight BA153 Depart London Heathrow 21:10 – Arrive Tehran 06:25
Tehran – London Heathrow
Flight BA152 Depart Tehran 08:35 – Arrive London Heathrow 11:10