Early last year I briefly visited Brunei, and also flew Royal Brunei Airlines.
They’re a unique airline — in addition to operating some short-haul 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]
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.