British Airways scraps all-business class London-New York flight

The immediate retirement of BA's all-business class Airbus A318 means an end to the unique BA1 trans-Atlantic service.

By David Flynn, July 31 2020
British Airways scraps all-business class London-New York flight

British Airways has pulled the plug on its all-business class flight between London and New York, with the airline retiring the Airbus A318 jet which was dedicated to the premium transatlantic route.

BA parent company IAG confirmed this evening it was "exiting (the) A318 fleet" as part of a sweeping response to what is described as the "worst quarterly result" in its history, with a loss of over €1.3 billion across April-June 2020 and the expectation that "it will take until at least 2023 for passenger demand to recover to 2019 levels."

This will also see total fleet deliveries across the IAG family – which also includes Aer Lingus, Iberia, Vueling and Level – reduced by 68 aircraft between 2020 and 2022, and the return of 20 leased aircraft due to expire in 2020, while IAG will seek to raise an additional €2.75bn "to further strengthen IAG’s financial and strategic position."

British Airways' relied on the nimble Airbus A318 –  the smallest member of the Airbus A320 family, and sometimes called the 'Baby Bus' – for its flagship BA1/BA2 service which shuttled high flyers between London and New York.

ET review: British Airways' all-business-class flight review, London City-New York JFK

BA1/BA2 was suspended in late March 24 as the Covid-19 pandemic moved onto an irrevocably global footing and travel restrictions took hold, although at the time British Airways' schedule indicated the flights would resume on September 1.

However, IAG's announcement makes it clear that the unique BA A318 service won't be coming back. 

British Airways' Airbus A318 featured just 32 business class seats across eight rows.

While they lacked many of the mod cons you'd otherwise take for granted, such as personal video screens – most passengers went the BYO video routine with movies or TV shows on their own tablets or laptops  – the seats at least folded down into a flat bed.

Beyond being an all-business class flight, what also made BA1 rather special was that it ran from London City Airport instead of Heathrow.

London City is close to the city’s financial and business district, including the financial hub of Canary Wharf, which underscored BA1's corporate travel cred.

However, due to the very short length of London City Airport’s runway, the A318 was unable to take off with the full load of fuel needed to fly all the way to New York.

British Airways' novel solution: BA1 would make a stopover en route in the Irish town of Shannon, where passengers could pre-clear US passport control and customs while the A318 was fuelled up for the seven-hour flight ahead.

That meant that BA1's busy travellers arrived into New York as domestic passengers with their passport already stamped.

If you didn't have any checked baggage, as was commonplace with BA1 regulars, you could walk straight out of the terminal at New York's JFK Airport and make your way into the city in time for pre-dinner cocktails.

Also read: How British Airways created the world's first business class bed


David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

Not entirely unexpected but a shame nonetheless.

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

10 Jul 2015

Total posts 15

Was a great experience! Lucky enough to fly it once from New York to London back in 2014 , which doesn't have the stop in Shannon. Flight wasnt full then almost everyone had a spare seat next them and apparently rarely was full. Was perfect flight timing departing at 10pm and arriving at 10am. Is there any business class only flights left? SQ has COVID suspended their returned SIN-EWR service.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer - Chairmans Lounge

01 Sep 2011

Total posts 414

I did jfk-lcy a few times and loved it. The flight was never full.

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