Latest On British Airways’ A350 Routes

Filed Under: British Airways

Today British Airways’ very first Airbus A350-1000, with the registration code G-XWBA, performed its first test flight. This means that we should be just weeks from the plane entering commercial service. In this post I wanted to provide an update on the routes on which you should expect this new plane, given the latest updates.

British Airways’ A350s feature new Club Suites

A few months ago British Airways revealed the Club Suite, which is the name of their new business class product. This product caught almost all of us off guard, as British Airways is going from offering a pretty lousy business class seat, to offering what looks like an excellent product.

The catch is that the rollout of this seat will be fairly slow. While most long haul planes should feature these seats within several years, in the meantime the A350 is the only plane that will guarantee these seats, since the A350-1000 is being delivered with this new business class seat.

British Airways’ long haul A350 routes

British Airways will commence long haul flights with the A350 starting in October, and so far has announced four long haul routes.

British Airways’ A350 Toronto flight

As of October 1, 2019, British Airways will operate the A350 on the following frequency between London and Toronto:

BA93 London to Toronto departing 1:05PM arriving 3:55PM
BA92 Toronto to London departing 6:30PM arriving 6:40AM (+1 day)

British Airways’ A350 Dubai flight

As of October 8, 2019, British Airways will operate the A350 on the following frequency between London and Dubai:

BA107 London to Dubai departing 12:45PM arriving 11:00PM
BA106 Dubai to London departing 1:30AM arriving 6:15AM

British Airways’ A350 Tel Aviv flight

As of December 1, 2019, British Airways will operate the A350 on the following frequency between London and Tel Aviv:

BA163 London to Tel Aviv departing 8:55PM arriving 3:40AM (+1 day)
BA162 Tel Aviv to London departing 6:15AM arriving 9:40AM

British Airways’ A350 Bangalore flight

Lastly, as of January 1, 2020, British Airways will operate the A350 on the following frequency between London and Bangalore:

BA119 London to Bangalore departing 1:45PM arriving 5:00AM (+1 day)
BA118 Bangalore to London departing 7:00AM arriving 12:40PM

British Airways’ A350 flights to Madrid

This is the main reason for this post. When British Airways first announced the details of their A350, they said that they planned to fly it between London and Madrid starting in July, and many reported that the service would start on July 1, 2019.

That was yesterday, and obviously that didn’t happen. British Airways still plans to fly the A350 between London and Madrid for several weeks when they get the plane. The reason for this is to familiarize crews with the plane and work out any kinks before the plane enters long haul service.

So when will British Airways start flying the A350 between London and Madrid? We don’t actually know. What we do know is that British Airways plans on “receiving” the A350 at Heathrow on July 26, so it’s definitely not happening before then.

I’d say odds are good that the plane will enter service within a week or so of that date, given that the plane already features interiors, etc. So I’d expect it will start service in very late July or early August.

British Airways hasn’t yet updated their schedule to reflect which flight will be operated by the A350. If I had to guess, I’d say it’s likely that British Airways will fly the A350 on the once daily frequency that’s currently operated by a 777.

British Airways has all narrow body service between London and Madrid, except for one daily flight. So logically it makes sense that this flight would be the one to be operated by an A350 instead.

For what it’s worth, that flight operates with the following schedule:

BA460 London to Madrid departing 1:20PM arriving 4:45PM
BA461 Madrid to London departing 6:15PM arriving 7:40PM

Bottom line

We now know that the British Airways A350 won’t start service between London and Madrid before late July. I’d expect it will enter service either then, or otherwise in early August.

This slight delay into service shouldn’t delay the plane’s entry into long haul service, though.

We can expect that Toronto, Dubai, Tel Aviv, and Bangalore, will be the first four long haul destinations to be served by the A350-1000. That’s because British Airways will only have four A350s by the end of 2019, and those routes use up all of those “frames.”

With a bit more efficiency they might be able to squeeze in one more short route, but I doubt that will happen.

On top of that we can expect that by the end of 2019 British Airways will also have two 777-300ERs in a new configuration, and we don’t yet know which routes those will be on.

British Airways’ A350 strategy is different than Virgin Atlantic’s A350 strategy, as they plan to fly their new A350 between London and New York.

Comments
  1. Tel Aviv has surely been chosen for the new BA seat to compete with VS flying the route now.

  2. Is there already more information on which flight to Madrid the A350 will be? I made a speculative booking on the current 777 for July 1 and I hope it will be the A350.

  3. I hope the economy seat has more support and comfort in the a350. They are almost crisp thin now the seats, even if slightly more legroom, it isn’t much use if your back is in agony.

    It is true that economy has got worse, while premium cabins have improved.

  4. I wounder if the refurbished 777300s will keep their first class or if they will eliminate first on these planes as the business class seat count will inevitably go down with the new seat ?

  5. Bangalore?! For goodness sake… Could have picked any other US route or Far East route.

  6. @Aaron

    A number of US routes have F cabins and BA won’t want to lose those passengers.

    VS is putting it’s new A350’s on LHR-JFK so may get some traffic from BA.

    @Ryan – no guarantee as it depends on the delivery of the planes to BA and then the putting it in the rotation.

  7. @Luk,

    They will reduce the amount of F seats I believe to 8 seats, like the 787, but will keep First Class on the 777s. The design will take a cue from the 787 seats.

  8. @ Lucky
    “The catch is that the rollout of this seat will be fairly slow.”

    Really? I haven’t seen a final timeline confirmed, only Alex Cruz’s interview in which he said the main reason they chose this seat was that it guaranteed the fastest-possible roll-out.

    So I’m intrigued to know what the roll-out speed is, and how that compares to, say, UA’s Polaris or Qatar’s Qsuite or Delta’s One, or anyone else, really?

    And what do you think would be a reasonable timescale, as you think the BA timescale (whatever that is) is “slow”?

  9. Always wondered why so many European airlines pick ~3 a.m. as their arrival time into Tel Aviv. Swiss, BA and others… what’s restricting them from doing daytime flights?

  10. @Paul

    the rollout will be as quick as it can be but apparently the real limiting factor is that the manufacturers can only complete 3 seats a day* so approx 90 seats per month (assuming 7 day a week working).

    One A350 has 56 CW seats so it takes approx 5 weeks production to complete two planes. I make that 20 planes a year max

    * I can’t remember if Lucky has covered that aspect but a couple of other travel writes have

  11. Seriously no LAX? Come on BA — there is way too much good competing product already out there — you can’t expect loyal customers to put up with the current CW for that much longer??!

  12. Tel Aviv actually makes sense but Bangalore? 56 Club Suites from 48 Club World which I didn’t think carried such heavy loads? What an upgrade! To be quite honest I was expecting Beijing, Shanghai, Tokyo, DC, or Kuwait as premium-heavy desinations as they carry their most important flyers.. Bangalore definitely never crossed my mind

  13. Bangalore does make sense as it is considered silicon valley of east and most of the IT firms are either in Hyderabad and Banglore while not many airlines have direct flights to those cities
    Mumbai or any other US, Asian routes have first class which they dont want to remove and get more money out of existing first class
    And believe me Banglore route never goes empty in business class

  14. Thanks, ChrisC. Very interesting.

    Let’s see what Lucky thinks is an appropriate speed – or how it compares to others who are, presumably, faster.

  15. I’m a BA frequent flyer and it just annoys me that they haven’t put the Club Suite onto the routes I fly most often. I occasionally have to go to Toronto but normally I go to other places as well and don’t fly there from London.

    And they are rolling out the Club Suite in a relatively short time, it’s less than many other airlines but it could be bigger. But given the constrains British Airways is under I would cut them slack.

  16. @Ray

    The premium destinations you are mentioning actually have First Class demand, so they are a step above BLR, which has fine CW demand but not really FC demand.

  17. I agree with MS’s comment on Bangalore. People have a tendency to stereotype an Indian city as third world economy-heavy traffic. I don’t know what made them choose an Indian city but beyond that, Bangalore is the only city that makes 100% sense.

    Literally all the top IT management whether based in LHR or BLR will fly business. It was operated by a 747-400 before with low yield in F so they are now getting rid of it. They had monopoly on that route until…until AI recently started a BLR-LHR flight which (through insider info) has the youngest traffic on all AI long haul flights. BA has a good chance of maintaining their current monopoly by upgrading their product and not let young leisure flyers switch over to AI’s 787 Y product (less worse out of AI’s 777 and 787 products).

    It’s an extraordinarily palpable decision..

  18. To all those people surprised at Bangalore, let me tell you BA have themselves once claimed that India is one of their highest revenue centre like the US and China . Plus the growing competition with ME3 has led to BA up gauging BLR.
    I hope BOM/ DEL gets club suite 77W too

  19. Fielding every long-haul aircraft they’ve got, BOS will no doubt see the A351 in 2020 as more come on.

  20. so people from Bangalore like me are going to get spoiled with choices in J… both BA and QR with their a350 suites, AF with its reconfigured a330 and SQ with its a350 !!

  21. Do you know if they will use the A350 on the London Cape Town route? The 747s they operate currently are a disgrace.

  22. I’m seeing 777 seat maps on Bangalore-LHR flights in May and June 2020, but A350 seat maps on the same flights in Jan and Feb 2020. Does this mean the flight will go back to a 777 in the summer of 2020?

  23. Hi

    I love your blog & all the information you share with us. Could you tell me how do you generate the maps to show City+Route information in your posts? Is there a tool you use to create that?

    For example: The image which shows LHR-DXB-BLR etc & then LHR-MAD?

    Thanks

  24. Given BA’s overpriced fares, surcharges for all and failure to even clean their cabins, let alone service damaged kit or treat customers as customers, rather than an inconvenience to the airline, I’d ask a different question.
    Should you join the ever increasing band called #FlyABBA given the Beyond Abysmal service delivery, poor basic product in all classes and overpriced fares, that then come with supplemental charges if you need to eg. reserve a seat

  25. The dates and flights have been confirmed on FlyerTalk, credit to RDWRER.

    “For August and September, starting 6th Aug.

    Mon, Tue, Wed, Fri – BA464/BA465
    Thu, Sat, Sun – BA456/457 and BA464/BA465

    A couple of days are No Op due to training and other requirements.”

    So the 777 flights remain 777 as many people (incl. me) expected.

  26. @Willem – It’s the same reason they do land after midnight in Cairo, Delhi, and Mexico City. They have a heat issue on the takeoff for the flight back and it’s better to fly out as early in the morning as possible to maximize allowable takeoff weight. That means flying in in the middle of the night to keep plane utilization high.

  27. “With a bit more efficiency they might be able to squeeze in one more short route, but I doubt that will happen.”

    Crews spend time onboard the aircraft before doing the LHR-MAD-LHR to familiarise themselves with the plane. I believe they stay onboard afterwards to do a ‘how did the flight go?’ review and do any in-situ demonstrations they might need to do.

  28. @Ayush, I asked Lucky this before and he responded to me. He uses a website called Great Circle Mapper – http://www.gcmap.com/. Many fun hours ahead for you!

    On this post, why the funky timings for Tel Aviv?

  29. I went to college with a handful of indians from Bangalore and all of them were extremely rich…also given the huge population of indians in England, the premium route makes sense.

    Still sad it wont fly to US 🙁

  30. @Willem
    Many premium class passengers on these flights are actually connecting in Europe. This is particularly true for BA that has very strong coverage of the US. Passengers would rather connect in LHR and fly comfortable than connect in JFK and fly a US Domestic flight.
    Also – as someone who flew into TLV recently there is a massive difference between landing at 4:00 or 5:00 AM (in which case you can be in Tel Aviv proper within 15-20 minutes) and landing at 8:30 or 9:00, taking 90+ minutes to get into town.

  31. @Ayush, I asked Lucky this before and he responded and said he uses a website called Great Circle Mapper… many hours of fun for you ahead!

    On this topic, what’s with the funky timings for Tel Aviv?

  32. I think the motivation behind the Bangalore flight is that it allows for the usage of only a single aircraft for every cycle. It means that the outbound aircraft from Lhr to Blr can return to lhr and operate the same flight the next day. Flying to the US. Any further than New York or Chicago would not be possible with only a single aircraft, as well as any destination further south or east of Bangalore. Same goes for Hyderabad but Bangalore is a significantly better yield market with growing services and frequencies.

  33. Echoing The Jetset Boyz comment about crew debriefs during turnarounds, but also to say that the Engineering teams are also all over the aircraft on arrival, to familiarise themselves, get more hands-on experience and learn how to deal quickly and efficiently with any tech problems, as are the rest of the ramp staff with their own processes.
    Slipping in another shorthaul sector may improve daily aircraft utilisation, but would reduce this important learning time and could even jeopardise punctuality. It’s all about finding the right balance…

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