British Airways 787 Grounding Continues As Air Belgium Lease Extended

British Airways has extended their lease of an Air Belgium A340 amid 787 groundings. Air Belgium’s A340 previously flew multiple routes on behalf of British Airways amid these groundings. Now, the aircraft will fly for a little longer to North Africa.

Air Belgium A340
British Airways has extended their lease of an Air Belgium A340. Photo: Air Belgium

British Airways leases an Air Belgium A340

British Airways used an Air Belgium A340 on routes from London to Toronto and Newark. Originally, the A340 was supposed to remain in operation until only mid-August. However, in a recent schedule update reported by Routes Online, the Airbus A340 will remain flying for British Airways until the end of October.

The aircraft sports one of the most colorful and interesting A340 liveries. On the inside, you’ll find a different interior compared to British Airways. When it comes to business class, passengers may prefer Air Belgium’s A340 staggered business class over British Airways’ high-density business class. That is, until the Club Suite debuts.

Air Belgium Business Class
Air Belgium has a staggered business class. configuration. Photo: Air Belgium

Here is British Airways’ business class:

Club World
British Airways Club World. Photo: British Airways

The route

Air Belgium’s A340 will take a break from long-hauls for British Airways. Instead, the A340 will be flying from London-Heathrow to Cairo. The A340 will be replacing a Boeing 787-8.

Air Belgium A340
Air Belgium’s A340 is a significant capacity increase. Photo: Air Belgium

In terms of capacity, British Airways outfits their 787-8s with 214 seats. On the other hand, Air Belgium’s A340 has a capacity of 303 in a three-class configuration.

 British AirwaysAir BelgiumChange from BA 787 to AB A340
Premium Economy2521-4

British Airways’ 787

British Airways is having trouble with the engines on their 787s. The Rolls Royce Trent 1000 need additional maintenance and inspection amid concerns of wear on the engine blades. As a result, several 787s are grounded.

BA engine
British Airways is having engine issues with their 787s. Photo: British Airways

For BA, this represents a significant capacity crunch. As British Airways seeks to increase capacity on certain routes, it is difficult for them to do so without additional aircraft. Thus, short-term leasing is one way the carrier can preserve its schedule.

What’s next?

The real question is, what’s next for British Airways? Leasing long-term can be difficult for an airline. Passengers, who may expect a certain product or offering, could find themselves confused to be on a leased aircraft. Although this represents a significant capacity increase, premium cabins are smaller, which means frequent fliers looking for award availability may have difficulty finding a good redemption in a premium cabin.


787 groundings have affected many airlines. Several airlines, including Air New Zealand, have leased aircraft from other airlines to operate on various routes. It remains to be seen whether the lease will again be extended.

BA 787
British Airways 787 groundings are making capacity increases difficult. Photo: British Airways

Have you flown on an Air Belgium A340 on a British Airways route? Are you scheduled to fly on an Air Belgium A340? Let us know in the comments!