With the ongoing problems from the Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engines, British Airways has been forced to continue their wet lease with Air Belgium. British Airways have been leasing the A340 from Air Belgium for several months now, operating on a number of different long-haul flights. The A340 is currently planned to operate one of two daily flights to Toronto from Heathrow this summer.
Air Belgium was founded in 2016, operating a fleet of four Airbus A340-300 aircraft. The airline only operated commercial flights to Hong Kong, canceling flights after a few months of service. The airlines’ intention was to connect Belgium to several cities in Asia. Currently, Air Belgium have been leasing their aircraft out to airlines. As of now, they operate on behalf of LOT Polish Airlines to New York and on behalf of British Airways to Dubai.
Air Belgium will operate the Toronto route for BA from June 9th through August 17th, 2019, operating flight BA93 from London and BA92 from Toronto.
Why is Air Belgium operating flights for British Airways?
British Airways are carrying out detailed precautionary inspections on their Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engines on some of their Boeing 787-9 aircraft to ensure they meet safety requirements. Due to this issue, BA has grounded several of their 787-9 aircraft and has had to make adjustments to their long-haul flight schedule. To minimize the disruption for customers, BA have leased additional long haul aircraft from Air Belgium.
Currently, British Airways operates twice daily flights to Toronto from Heathrow. The flights are operated with a mix of 777s, 787-8s, and 787-9s. Air Belgium will be replacing a four-class 777 on the route, which features first class, business class, premium economy and economy. The flights will be operated by Air Belgium’s pilots and cabin crew. When asked, British Airways assured me the cabin crew will provide passengers with the same great experience they would receive with BA cabin crew onboard.
Air Belgium’s A340
The substitution in aircraft to the A340 for some passengers may be unfavourable due to the different layout. Air Belgium’s A340 operates a two-class layout that includes business and economy class. The business class features fully flat staggered seats in a 2-2-2 and 1-2-1 configuration. I’d say this is an upgrade for passengers traveling in business class as this looks far more comfortable and offers more space.
The economy class is configured in a 2-4-2 layout compared to the 3-3-3 configuration BA operates on the route.
With first class fares often exceeding £6000, it’s not ideal if you get downgraded to fly on the A340. However, British Airways will be accommodating passengers booked in first class and premium economy by offering to move them to different flights.