Royal Brunei Modifies Longhaul Route Network, Cuts Dubai To London Flight

Early last year I briefly visited Brunei, and also flew Royal Brunei Airlines.

They’re a unique airline — in addition to operating some shorthaul routes, they operate just three longhaul routes, from Melbourne to Bandar Seri Begawan to Dubai to London.

I flew them from Kuala Lumpur to Bandar Seri Begawan (on an A320), and then to Dubai (on a 787). I felt like I was almost the only person getting off in Dubai, as just about everyone on the flight seemed to be an Australian headed to the UK. The Australia to UK market is a big one, and Royal Brunei seems to get pretty good traction on the route (though based on the fares, it doesn’t seem to be very high yield traffic).

The airline has four Boeing 787s, and they primarily use those planes to operate that rotation, though they could probably have better fleet utilization.

It looks like the airline will soon be mixing up their route network. As of October 28, 2018, Royal Brunei will eliminate their Dubai stopover, and instead operate daily nonstop flights between Bandar Seri Begawan and London Heathrow.

The new nonstop flight will be operated by a Boeing 787-8 and is just over 7,000 miles, with a block time of 14hr35min in each direction (it’s a bit odd that they block it at the same time in both directions, given the winds). Here’s the schedule for the new service:

BI3 Bandar Seri Begawan to London departing 12:15AM arriving 6:50AM
BI4 London to Bandar Seri Begawan departing 5:05PM arriving 2:40PM (+1 day)

As a point of comparison, here’s the schedule for the old flight with the stop in Dubai:

BI97 Bandar Seri Begawan to London departing 8:25PM arriving 6:25AM (+1 day)
BI98 London to Bandar Seri Begawan departing 5:45PM arriving 5:30PM (+1 day)

As you can see, this cuts the travel time by about 3-4 hours in each direction for those traveling between London and Bandar Seri Begawan, and cuts the travel time by even more for those traveling all the way to/from Melbourne.

For those who used the Bandar Seri Begawan to Dubai route, the good news is that Royal Brunei isn’t totally cutting Dubai out of their route network. Instead Royal Brunei will operate 4x weekly Boeing 787 flights exclusively between Bandar Seri Begawan and Dubai as of October 29, 2018. That flight will operate with the following schedule:

BI7 Bandar Seri Begawan to Dubai departing 12:20AM arriving 5:00AM [Sun, Mon, Wed, Fri]
BI8 Dubai to Bandar Seri Begawan departing 6:00AM arriving 6:00PM [Sun, Mon, Wed, Fri]

Bottom line

Given that a majority of Royal Brunei’s longhaul passengers seem to be traveling between Melbourne and London, it’s logical enough that they’d make this a one stop routing rather than two stop routing, especially since they use 787s for the flight. This is a big win for passengers, as it greatly reduces the travel time to/from London, while they’re adding a separate flight to Dubai.

Comments

  1. @Tom W: Its one of the cheapest options out of Australia, and the timing is not terrible. My parents just flew it for that reason.

  2. The four times I’ve taken this routing (MEL-BWN-DXB-LHR), the loads were probably at 60% max across all cabins to DXB. At DXB the plane would completely fill up with Brits coming back from a cheap holiday— same thing the other way. Anecdotal, of course, but based on that it’s surprising to me that they’re cutting the DXB stop, since it seems DXB-LHR was the busiest part of the routing for them.

    Also, just being a little bit picky, but this isn’t the only long haul route Royal Brunei flies. They also fly BWN-JED four times a week.

  3. Tom W – as someone else said ,reason people fly Brunei to Europe is low price , not all Australians are wealthy .

  4. Also there is something about their product that older people seem to enjoy – some older couples I’ve spoke to even seem to appreciate the dry nature of the product! Which a Brit of a certain view of Australians is surprising haha!

  5. They don’t need to worry about Sydney; given that Melbourne is projected to become Australia’s biggest city by 2030 there is more than enough traffic from MEL to make this route more than viable.

  6. @Aaron – You just drink your own booze which you take on & if sensible bought in duty free. They’ll supply the mixers for you if you buy spirits. This is what I did when they operated to BNE many moons ago.

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