British Airways has launched its new Airbus A350, fitted out with its new business class seat offering, on the Dubai-London route with a promise that it would be able to compete with Dubai rival Emirates airline.
The A350 aircraft features British Airways’ latest generation business class seat, Club Suite, and offers customers direct-aisle access, a door for greater privacy and flat-bed seats in a 1-2-1 configuration. The airline said it also features 40 percent more storage, including a vanity unit and mirror, Wi-Fi, 18.5-inch inflight entertainment screens and PC/USB power.
Since its arrival from Airbus headquarters in Toulouse in July this year, the A350 has flown over 15,400 miles between Heathrow and Madrid completing over 40 take-offs and landings to further familiarise the airline’s crew with the service they will deliver on the new aircraft.
In addition to being quieter than some of its predecessors, the A350 also burns 25 percent less fuel.
While it was planned to operate the aircraft on the Toronto route, an early delivery of the aircraft meant it was deployed to Dubai, according to British Airways product manager Duncan Roberts.
“The original one was Toronto in October. When we got the opportunity to bring it earlier, we were able to look at a different route and we chose to bring it here,” Roberts told Arabian Business this week.
“It's a competitive route for us, so it's probably very strategic,” he added.
The Dubai-London route is one of the most competitive long-haul routes in the world, with Emirates dominating the passenger traffic, at it not only brings holidaymakers to the emirate, but also transits UK passengers to onward destinations in Asia, Australia and Africa.
Last month, aviation industry analysts OAG revealed that Emirates airline’s route to London Heathrow is its most lucrative, bringing in revenues of $796 million last year.
Emirates operates ten daily flights to London, six of which serve Heathrow with A380s. British Airways, on the other hand, operates 19 flights a week from Heathrow - three flights a day on five days of the week, and twice a day on the other two days.
Despite the competition, British Airways has thrived with its Dubai service, regularly featuring in its top five of long-haul flights.
One of those Dubai flights will be operated by the A350 (others are with 777) and Roberts said he expects the new aircraft to provide British Airways with a service that will be competitive when compared to Emirates.
“I think our product is very competitive against their A380 product. It's better than their 777 product because their 777 is still a stepover [in the aisle] which you don't always see. Their A380 is on our London route, it's all-aisle access but ours is, I think, a better product. It offers a privacy door and it's a newer product,” he said, adding that Emirates new first class offering in the 777 is “quite amazing”.
While Emirates has unveiled brand new cabins for its Boeing 777, which includes a 1-2-1 configuration in business class, the flights operated to London Stansted have the current 2-3-2 configuration in business.
British Airways’ A350-1000 is configured for 331 passengers in three classes, with 219 economy class seats, 56 premium economy and 56 business class seats.
The configuration in business class is 1-2-1 to replace the 2-4-2 of the existing business class seat. The 56 premium economy seats are in a 2-4-2 configuration (rows 20-27) and 219 economy seats cover two cabins in a 3-3-3 configuration.
The A350 flight departs Heathrow at 12.50pm and arrives at 11.05pm, returning as BA0106, departing Dubai 1.30am and landing in London at 6.15am.
British Airways has 17 more A350-1000s on order from Airbus, with plans to deploy the next arrivals to Toronto (Oct 1), Tel Aviv and Bangalore this year.For all the latest transport news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.
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