2 Years In: Where Has British Airways Been Flying Its Airbus A350s?

Next week will mark two years since British Airways took delivery of its first Airbus A350-1000. Since then, the fleet has grown to include eight aircraft, with a further ten on backorder. The airline has kept the type operating throughout the past two years, but where have they flown?

British Airways, Airbus A350, Destinations
British Airways has had its first Airbus A350-1000 for almost two years. Photo: Tom Boon – Simple Flying

The general consensus in the United Kingdom seems to be that the Airbus A350-1000 rules the roost. Both British Airways and Virgin Atlantic opted for the larger of the two A350 variants, and both airlines appear to be considering the aircraft to be their respective flagships.

Madrid premier

British Airways took delivery of its first Airbus A350-1000 on July 27th, 2019. The jet had been due a few days earlier but was delayed due to inclement weather causing chaos at Heathrow. The aircraft, G-XWBA, has since racked up 5,043 flight hours from 882 flight cycles as of February 28th, according to data from ch-aviation.com.

While the airline took its first A350 on July 27th, the jet didn’t jump straight into service. In fact, the airline’s inaugural flight didn’t operate until August 5th. While rival airline Virgin Atlantic jumped straight into long-haul flights to New York, British Airways initially confined the A350 to Madrid for crew training.

British Airways, Airbus A350, Destinations
The aircraft’s inaugural flight took it to Madrid. Photo: Airbus

Venturing further afield

In September 2019, British Airways began extending its Airbus A350-1000 network slightly further afield. The first longer-haul flight took the aircraft to Dubai, where it flew 27 times that month. In October, following the delivery of a second Airbus A380, the airline also began flying the type to Toronto. Tel Aviv followed in December, with Bengaluru in January 2020.

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Then the pandemic stuck, significantly impacting the airline’s operations. Thankfully, the A350 remained relatively unscathed as the British flag carrier put it to work for IAG cargo, carrying freight around the world.

British Airways, Airbus A350, Destinations
Each of these destinations has seen the Airbus A350. Photo: Cirium

According to schedule information from aviation data specialists Cirium, 2020 saw the airline expanding the Airbus A350’s network over the Atlantic. In April, the aircraft only had two rotations scheduled to Tel Aviv and 12 to Washington Dulles. In May, a daily service to Dulles was scheduled. In July, the airline added a daily rotation to Boston, followed by a daily Chicago flight in August.

From November to January, British Airways scheduled seven A350 flights to Philadelphia each month. In December, the aircraft also made its African debut, flying down to Acra daily until March. Finally, Miami flights were scheduled since March 2021. This month, the airline has A350 flights scheduled to Bengaluru, Chicago, Accra, Miami, and Mumbai.

British Airways, Airbus A350, Destinations
The aircraft’s utilization had gone up and down with the impact of the pandemic. Data: Cirium

The type’s use took another large dive in the first half of the year as the UK Government’s tough stance on travel made frequent services challenging. The aircraft type is now operating at late 2019 levels once more.

Have you flown on a British Airways Airbus A350 in the past two years? How did you find it? Let us know what you think and why in the comments down below!

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