British Airways is to end its flagship Airbus A318 service between London and New York. The news was revealed in the IAG results presentation earlier today, as the group confirmed the retirement of the Airbus A318 fleet.
The Airbus A318, also known as the baby bus, has always had an exciting role in the British Airways fleet. The aircraft has always only been used for a specific route between London City and New York. However, now the type is being retired, meaning that the route from London City will also be forced to end.
Earlier this year, British Airways halted flights between London City and New York due to growing travel restrictions and decreased demand. The route from London City to New York via Shannon served a very niche market, with just 32 business class seats. There was already a worry when the service was suspended that perhaps its time was up.
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This was today confirmed by British Airways’ owner, the International Airlines Group. In their second half presentation, the group gave a fleet update for all of its aircraft. Some pieces of news came as no surprise, such as “exiting [the] 747 fleet through early retirements“. However, the group also said that it was “exiting [the] A318 fleet”.
As the Airbus A318 fleet is only used for the airline’s premium BA1 service to New York, this route is the only one that will be cut as a result. However, we also know that the route won’t be substituted with another aircraft. The A318 is the only aircraft in the British Airways fleet that can land at London City Airport, and make it across the Atlantic. As such, the route will almost certainly be dead, as there will be little point in operating it from another London Airport.
Why did the route die?
Concorde services previously held the BA1 and BA2 flight numbers. They are the British flag carrier’s flagship route numbers. British Airways gave its services between London City and New York the honor of holding its prized flight numbers.
The route between London City and New York was a niche one for British Airways. The Airbus A318 only had 32 business class seats, and thus relied on business travelers to turn a profit. The aircraft was unable to depart City with enough fuel for New York and therefore stopped in Shannon. While in Shannon, it would be refueled, and passengers would clear customs, meaning the flight could land as a domestic arrival in New York.
When the current crisis came about, it became clear that British Airways wasn’t going to be able to fill its A318. Instead, it made sense to consolidate the few A318 passengers onto its other widebody services. This meant that the airline grounded the service.
It seems as though the prolonged recovery expected by the industry was the final nail in the coffin. Despite this, British Airways is still selling tickets for the service from October 25th.
Have you flown on the Airbus A318 to New York? Will you miss BA1? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!