Following on from Friday’s announcement that British Airways was canceling its flagship Airbus A318 service between London and New York, we thought we would take a look to see where you could still fly the ‘baby bus’. Using British Airways former Concorde premium flight numbers BA-1 and BA-2, the 32-seat all-business configured plane flew between London City Airport (LCY) and John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) in New York.
Having the distinction of being one of the only passenger jets that could take off and land from LCY and complete the JFK trip, the A318 still had to land in Shannon, Ireland, and take on more fuel. While this might sound a little inconvenient for business travelers, it was a double-edged sword. By making a short stop in Ireland, passengers could clear US immigration allowing the A318 to land in New York as a domestic flight. If you have ever landed at JFK and had to clear immigration, you will understand how much time you save by not waiting in line.
Who still flies the A318?
Of the few airlines still flying the Airbus A318, Air France is by far the biggest operator with 18 of the type. Of these, 15 are active, and three are parked according to Planespotters.
Romanian National flag carrier Tarom uses its four A318-100s to fly short-haul routes between Bucharest and other European capitals.
London Stansted Airport (STN)-based Titan Airways is a British carrier specializing in short notice ACMI (aircraft, crew, maintenance, and insurance) and wet lease operations.
In April of this year, Titan Airways flew an Airbus A318 that it acquired from British Airways in 2017 to the British Overseas Territory of St. Helena. On behalf of the British government, the aircraft was chartered to transport medical staff and 2.5 tons of equipment to the isolated Atlantic island.
One of the reasons the A318 was selected for the mission was the aircraft being able to land and take off from challenging runways. After a stopover at Accra Kotoka International Airport (ACC), Ghana, the plane navigated St. Helena’s notorious crosswinds successfully, making a picture-perfect landing.
Why was the A318 not more successful?
Despite its ability to land at challenging airports and its long-range 5,700 km (3,100 nm), the single biggest downfall of the Airbus A318 was its price. In total, over its ten-year production (2003–2013), only 81 aircraft were built.
Just slightly larger and able to carry between 107 to 132 passengers the A318 could not compete with the Brazilian ERJ-195 and the Canadian CRJ-1000, both of which cost around 50% less than the baby Airbus. Add to this the nearly identical but slightly larger Airbus A319, and it made sense for the European planemaker to drop the A318.
The A318 still has a role to play
An interesting fact about the A318 and why you would want to fly in is the aircraft near immaculate safety record, having never suffered a fatality. While the A318 may be seeing its role as a commercial airliner coming to an end, it still has a position to play as a corporate or government jet.
What do you think about the Airbus A318? Please let us know your thoughts in the comments section.