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
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.