A year ago, British Airways offered just one aircraft with the new Club Suite. However, with new aircraft deliveries alongside the retirement of the 747 fleets, how many of the airline’s long-haul aircraft will be fitted with the Club Suite as the airline rolls out of the COVID-19 crisis?
When launched, the Club Suite was hailed as a revolution for the British Airways business class cabin. With the implementation, the cabin went from a largely 2-4-2 layout without direct aisle access to a 1-2-1 plan, with fully enclosed private suites. Now the airline is placing a focus on retrofitting its remaining fleet.
So, what’s the situation?
Head For Points first posed the question of “Has your chance of getting the new British Airways business class seat improved with COVID-19?“. On the face of it, the answer seems to be yes. After all, the airline has cut its long-haul fleet size with the retirement of the Boeing 747. Even if no new Club Suite aircraft joined the fleet, the percentage would go up.
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However, precisely what percentage of the long-haul fleet will have the cabin? Let us take a look at the numbers.
Currently, the main sources of Club Suite cabins are on both the Airbus and Boeing production lines. So far, British Airways has taken delivery of six Airbus A350-1000s and two Boeing 787-10s, all with the new cabin installed before shipment. According to Head For Points, this should increase to 15 across the two types by the end of 2020.
However, British Airways is also taking delivery of Boeing 777s. HFP states that four 777-300ERs are due to be delivered by the end of 2020, each with the new cabin pre-installed. From 2022, British Airways is expecting to take delivery of its first 777Xs, complete with the Club Suite and a new First cabin. However, we’ll leave them out of the numbers for now.
As such, by the end of 2020, 19 aircraft should have been delivered with the new Club Suite installed. This leads us to…
The British Airways Club Suite plan doesn’t solely rely on brand new aircraft being delivered with the cabin. Instead, the airline is retrofitting aircraft with the new cabin over the coming years. This program is initially focusing on the 777 fleet.
According to Head For Points, so far, eight 777-200s have been fitted with the new cabin. A further eight will receive the cabin by the end of the year, if all goes to plan. Meanwhile, three 777-300ERs are due to receive the cabin refit by the end of the year. There are no plans to refurbish any Boeing 787s or Airbus A380s this year.
As we’ve learned above, by the end of 2020, there should be 19 new aircraft and 19 refurbished aircraft with the new Club Suite cabin by the end of 2020. This gives a total of 38 aircraft with the cabin installed by the year’s end.
Taking into account new aircraft deliveries, in addition to the retirement of the Boeing 747, British Airways is on course to have 118 aircraft in its long-haul fleet by the end of the year. Assuming all goes to plan, and 38 aircraft have the cabin by the end of the year, around one-third of the fleet will have the new cabin.
Have you flown on the new Club Suite cabin since its introduction? Let us know what you thought in the comments!