British Airways has announced today what the airline industry has been looking forward to for a long time: the first orders to replace their long-haul fleet.
BA that has been using Boeing 57 B747-400’s and 43 B777’s and 14 B767-300’s for long-haul travels, have decided to place firm orders for 12 Airbus A380 superjumbos and 24 Boeing 787 Dreamliners to replace 34 of their older planes (20 B747 jumbojets and all 14 B767-300’s). This also means an increase of 2 planes in the fleet. The order includes options for a further 7 A380’s and 18 B787’s.
BA Chief Executive Willie Walsh told reporters the airline would use the A380 superjumbo to make best use of its limited take-off slots at London’s crowded Heathrow Airport and will be the first long-haul Airbus BA would ever use. It will fly on routes from London to Hong Kong, Singapore, South Africa (Johannesburg) and the west coast of the United States (Los Angeles and San Francicso) and possibly to Indian destinations as well. The 24 mid-sized 787 Dreamliners, will be used to open up new routes and increase the frequency of flights on existing ones. The two types of new aircraft will be delivered between 2010 and 2014, with the first 787 joining the fleet in 2010 and the firs A380 in 2012.
He denied the company had experienced political pressure to buy the superjumbo, the wings and engines of which will be built in Britain. “There was absolutely none,” he told reporters. “There was no contact, be it formal or informal. The decision was made in the best interest of British Airways. In the engines, the choice of Rolls-Royce was because British is best.” He also added that environmental concerns were a critical consideration: “These aircraft set the gold standard when it comes to environmental performance. . .[and] will contribute significantly to our target of improving fuel efficiency by 25% between 2005 and 2025.” BA took delivery of its first B747 jumbo on April 22, 1970, becoming just the fifth airline to get one and had used all types of the largest Boeing aircraft. That tradition will be broken now, as even though the new B747-8 is out on the market (and Lufthansa has ordered a few pieces of it as well), BA chose the A380.
BA said it was considering aircraft to replace a further 37 Boeing 747s and is examining the Boeing 777-300 ER, the Airbus A350XWB, as well as a stretched version of Boeing’s 787, the 787-10, which the planemaker has yet to launch to replace the remaining 747-400s. A follow-up order should not be expected before 2010 according to BA.