British Airways Moves Forward A350 Routes

Filed Under: British Airways

On July 26 (a week from today) British Airways is expected to take delivery of their very first Airbus A350-1000, which has the registration code G-XWBA. The plane has been performing test flights, and will arrive at Heathrow late next week.

As the entry of this plane into service approaches, British Airways has updated their schedule. They’ve moved forward both the long haul launch city, and also the long haul launch date. So let’s look at at the details.

British Airways’ A350s feature new Club Suites

Several 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

Originally British Airways was supposed to commence long haul flights with the A350s starting in October, with Toronto being the launch destination. That’s no longer the case.

British Airways’ A350 Dubai flight

As of September 2, 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

Previously A350 service on this route was only supposed to launch on October 8, so that has been moved up considerably. Dubai is now going from the second long haul destination to the first long haul destination to feature this product.

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 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

Before British Airways launches long haul flights with their A350s, they’re first going to operate them on some short haul flights to familiarize crews with the planes and to work out any kinks.

The plan is for British Airways to start flying the A350 between London and Madrid in next few weeks. While nothing has been officially announced, sources suggest that short haul service with the A350 should start around August 6.

It’s possible that the service may start before then, given that they will have had the plane for over a week at that point. The speculation is that:

  • The A350-1000 will operate BA464/465 daily
  • On Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays, the plane will operate two rotations, as it will operate BA456/457 and BA464/465

We don’t know how long this service will run, though, and it may not operate on certain days.

British Airways’ reconfigured 777 routes

Just to be thorough, I should also point out that British Airways has loaded their first reconfigured 777s into the schedule. Before the end of the year British Airways will have two 777s featuring their new Club Suites. This service will launch on October 27, 2019.

These planes will initially fly to New York JFK, which is clearly a competitive response to Virgin Atlantic, which is putting their first A350-1000s on the New York route, featuring new Upper Class seats.

The reason they’re putting the 777s on the New York route rather than the A350s is because the 777s will still have eight first class seats, and New York is a market where first class sells.

Bottom line

British Airways has moved forward their A350 long haul launch by over a month, and we know that over the coming months the plane will operate flights to Toronto, Dubai, Tel Aviv, and Bangalore.

With British Airways taking delivery of their first A350 in a week, we can expect that it will be flying to Madrid within the next few weeks.

On top of that we can expect that in October the first 777-300ER featuring new Club Suites will be flying 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…

  34. @ Ben keeps recycling this post with the comment that BA’s roll-out of Club Suites will be “fairly slow”, but not once has he provided a source, or quantified it, or compared BA’s roll-out rate to Qsuites or Polaris or even airlines like LATAM (which just aren’t going to bother standardising the fleet with their new J product).

    On the other hand, we have BA insisting they chose this product because it offered the fastest roll-out time; that hard product consistency is essential to their brand; and that “no other airline has transformed a similar sized fleet in less than 3 or 4 years”.

    So I’m still curious: what is this “slow” rate, and which airline will be faster in transforming a similar sized fleet with a new product. Emirates? No, they’re not going to bother with consistency. Lufthansa? No, they won’t even start to install their new seat until years after announcing it.

    I’d love someone to have some data, rather than Ben just assuming BA is crap, because it’s easy.

  35. I have a daytime LHR-TLV flight on 777-200 in mid-March 2020 that is now showing a 1-2-1 seat map, so looks like they might be changing all the TLV flights to the new seats.

  36. Hi lucky, Is there a typo perhaps? “British Airways has loaded their first reconfigured 777-300ERs” maybe you meant 777-200ERS? Love your work anyways!

  37. Noah Bowie says:
    May 16, 2019 at 5:45 pm

    I’m not sure which ‘constraints’ BA are under when it comes to installing new seats. They have stashes of cash and a product which is way behind the curve. They need to get these seats out and quickly.

    On the TLV route I wonder how long it will take for the A350 to be subbed by a Euro config A321 and for them to tell passengers as they always do that they had business class service and a business class seat. Given how they are working the new fleet, I predict it won’t be too long and I certainly wouldn’t book that route in the hope of getting the new seat.

  38. @The nice Paul: it’s pretty much given that Ben will have a dig at BA. The vast majority of post with BE in the title seem to generate a lot of comments/views. It helps the bottom line!

  39. Is there a fair (or even good) chance the second A350-1000 (to be launched on the LHR-YYZ route) will be tested on the LHR-MAD route, like the first one, in September?

    I have a few speculative award bookings in mid-September because unfortunately, I couldn’t get over to London in August.

  40. Lol – anyone thinking that BA gives squats about what VS does knows sh*t about BA and the industry. The only thing that can move the dial towards VS in these markets is pricing, not product, simply because BA’s corporate deals are much larger than VS’. Think about it: if you were Accenture would you rather go with BA (that flies nonstop everywhere) or with a much smaller carrier with limited network…?

  41. @Frederick: Haven’t you learned that nobody cares about economy passengers?
    Expect to get bitch-slapped by FA’s if you even ask where the toilet is.

  42. Why Bangalore ? Simply because loads of Western multinational companies are there ,Cap Gemini, Nokia, Air Liquide etc
    Tons of British ones too given the strong ties the UK has with India.

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