Welcome Back: British Airways Resumes Montreal and Vancouver

British Airways has resumed flying to the Canadian cities of Montreal and Vancouver. This is because Canada is now on the UK’s green list – meaning no quarantine is required – and accepts fully vaccinated arrivals from the UK. This follows the relaunch of Toronto in August.

British Airways Boeing 777-236(ER) G-VIIB (2)
BA is currently using the B777-200ER to Vancouver, although the A350-1000 will replace it in 2022. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying.

BA took to the skies between London Heathrow and Vancouver on September 7th. It was joined the following day by Heathrow to Montreal. As Toronto is already operational, all three of BA’s Canada routes have now resumed. Note that Heathrow to Calgary, launched in 2006, was cut in the wake of the pandemic, while Gatwick-Toronto is no more.

BA to Canada
BA has resumed Montreal and Vancouver. Photo: British Airways

What’s happening with Vancouver?

Vancouver is served nine-weekly in the current week with the following schedule, although it reduces to seven-weekly soon. This is actually a higher number of flights in the same week in 2019. However, while it was then operated by 469-seat A380s, they’re now scheduled by 275-seat B777-200ERs. These don’t have first class but 48 seats in Club World, 24 in World Traveller Plus, and 203 in World Traveller.

  • BA87, Thu and Sat: Heathrow-Vancouver, 13:30-14:55
  • BA85, daily: Heathrow-Vancouver, 17:10/17:15-18:35/18:40 (depending on the day)
  • BA88, Fri and Sun: Vancouver-Heathrow, 17:55-11:10 the next day
  • BA86, daily: Vancouver-Heathrow, 20:35-13:50 the next day

The 4,723-mile link to Vancouver is set to see the 331-seat A350-1000 from March 1st. It’s noteworthy that the British Columbia city is not scheduled to the A380 in 2022. Instead, the A350 is expected to operate exclusively. We previously looked at how much it costs BA to fly the A380 to Los Angeles.

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And Montreal

For the past few years, BA to Montreal had roughly the same volume of seats as Calgary. But with the end of the Alberta route, Montreal is now BA’s ‘thinnest’ Canadian market. It presently has five weekly flights, scheduled as follows.

  • BA95, Mon, Wed, Thu, Fri, Sun: Heathrow-Montreal, 17:40-19:50
  • BA94: Mon, Wed, Thu, Fri, Sun: Montreal-Heathrow, 21:35-09:10 the next day

Montreal is fully by 214-seat B787-8s, BA’s lowest-capacity widebody. The type has 35 seats in Club World, 25 in World Traveller Plus, and 154 in World Traveller. The contrast between it and the premium-heavy B787-9 – with first-class and more seats in business and premium economy – is stark. Montreal has been B787-only since 2017.

BA Montreal
Seen pulling on stand at Montreal on September 8th was BA95 from Heathrow. Photo: via British Airways.

How has BA developed to Canada?

BA’s Heathrow to Canada capacity was 20% lower in 2019 than in 2011, as shown below. In contrast, Heathrow to the US grew by 5%. All four of BA’s Canada routes saw capacity reduce. On an absolute basis, Toronto, the largest market, reduced the most, with a fall of 61,000 round-trip seats.

This was not really because of frequency cuts (flights remained about the same) but from a change of gauge and lower seats per flight, which fell from 277 (when the B747-400, B777-200ER, and B767-300ER all operated) to 244.

British Airways to CanadaBritish Airways to Canada
BA had 874,000 Canada seats in 2019. Source of data: OAG.

BA has low seats per flight to Toronto

In 2019, BA’s most-used equipment to Toronto was the B787-8, although the B777-200ER, B787-9, A350-1000, and Air Belgium’s A340-300 were used too. BA had by far the lowest seats per flight to Toronto, with Air Canada and (from Gatwick) WestJet and Air Transat all having a high-density offering. In the case of Air Canada, an average of 359 seats, 44% more. And the gap has increased further in 2021.

Vancouver is in stark contrast to Toronto. BA’s number of flights fell by more than one-fifth as seats per flight rose from 337 to 391, mainly from introducing the A380. This clearly suggests that Vancouver revolves much more around leisure demand than Toronto.

What are your experiences of flying BA across the North Atlantic? Let us know by commenting.

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