12 Years Ago BA Operated Its First Transatlantic A318 Flight

12 years ago today, a British Airways Airbus A318 took to the skies from London City Airport. The flight marked the start of an era, with the launch of flights between London City Airport, and New York’s JFK Airport. The all-business-class service was unfortunately suspended at the height of the pandemic, and won’t be returning.

British Airways, BA1, Airbus A318
12 years ago British Airways launched its baby bus service to JFK. Photo: Vincenzo Pace – Simple Flying

The Airbus A320 family is largely seen as a narrowbody aircraft. In recent years, the addition of the A321LR and A321XLR have made it more attractive for lower-demand long-haul routes. However, British Airways was operating transatlantic flights with the family before it was cool.

BA 1’s launch

The number one is a particularly prestigious flight number for airlines. British Airways used to use it for one of its New York Concorde services before the type’s retirement. The number was reactivated 12 years ago when the airline launched its one-stop service from London City to New York.

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British Airways used to have two Airbus A318s for its special route, although one of the two was retired in mid-2017. These two aircraft were unlike any other airline’s A318s. Instead of a typical 3-3 cabin, the aircraft only had 2-2 business class seats.

British Airways, Airbus A318, Retirement
At the start, British Airways had two Airbus A318s. Photo: British Airways

London City Airport has a relatively short runway, meaning that the A318 wasn’t able to depart with enough fuel to get across the Atlantic. As a result, on the way to New York, it would stop in Shannon to refuel. While this took place, passengers would undergo immigration formalities, meaning that the flight could land as a domestic arrival in New York.

On the return flight, the jet was able to take off from JFK with a full tank of fuel. By the time it arrived in London, it had burned enough fuel that it was able to land on the shorter runway.

A flight not returning

The special BA 1 service to New York will not be returning any time soon. As the COVID-19 pandemic spread, low-load levels prompted British Airways to suspend the route. In July 2020, IAG revealed that it would be retiring its only remaining Airbus A318.

British Airways, Airbus A380, Delivery
G-EUNA came nose to nose with the Airbus A318 in Shannon (It wouldn’t have been possible at London City!) Photo: British Airways

In February, the aircraft embarked on its final flight. It had been stored in Madrid while it wasn’t in use. On February 17th, the jet took to the skies, for a rather protracted flight to Enschede in the Netherlands. While Lufthansa had removed all its Boeing 747s from the Dutch airport, G-EUNA won’t be leaving.

The aircraft was recycled here, with ch-aviation.com reporting that it had been scrapped as of July. Having taken its first flight in August 2009, and being delivered that same year, the jet was just 11.87 when it was scrapped. During its life, the jet clocked 38,060 flight hours across 8,318 flights. This means that it was used for an average of 08h47m each day. Interestingly, given the short hop across to Shannon, the aircraft’s average flight length is just four hours and 25 minutes.

Did you get to fly on British Airways’ Airbus A318 service to New York? Let us know what you think in the comments below!