British Airways is considering using some of its biggest planes on short routes to sunspots like Greece this summer, positioning the carrier to capture a bigger slice of revenue from returning travelers, according to people familiar with its fleet plans.
With the U.K. among the leaders in vaccine roll-outs, Greece – a favorite destination for Britons – is making plans to welcome visitors by mid-May, and Spain is set to follow.
Airlines that have largely been idled are angling to make the most of early-summer crowds.
At its London Heathrow hub, BA has a slew of twin-aisle Boeing 787s, 777s and Airbus A350s that can carry up to twice as many people as the single-aisle jets that typically ply European routes.
Many of the larger planes are available because long-distance destinations they normally serve are still largely off-limits, and aren’t expected to open up as quickly as regional connections.
A firm decision by BA will depend on booking volumes and the U.K.’s plan to reopen leisure travel, said the people, who asked not to be identified because discussions are preliminary.
In an email, British Airways said it kept its operation under constant review, declining to comment on specific plans.
While smaller planes are more fuel-efficient on shorter hops, it’s not unheard of for airlines to draft larger aircraft into use.
Air France used the Airbus A380 double-decker to shuttle 500 people at a time between London and Paris in 2010.
Gulf giant Emirates flew A380s on 40-minute hops between Dubai and Oman before the pandemic decimated air travel.
BA itself used its A350s between London and Madrid back in 2019, when it had just taken delivery of the type and was training staff on the aircraft.
The U.K. is poised to restart international trips as soon as May 17 as part of a phased plan to end lockdown measures – ahead of Europe, which may be months away from a coordinated system.
Britain is a top source of tourists among European nations, leading carriers like Lufthansa and Aer Lingus to reposition some planes there.
Some European Union countries are also making plans.
Greece is seeking to allow all vaccinated travelers, those who test negative for the virus, and those who have antibodies to enter the country beginning May 14. Cyprus will also let in Britons who have had two Covid-19 jabs the same month.
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