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.
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.