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British Airways swaps 777 for 787 London-Singapore-Sydney in 2021

December 9, 2020 Aviation, Headline News No Comments

A report by Andrew Curran in simple Flying says that while there’s no guarantee these flights will run, British Airways plans to swap its Boeing 777-300ERs for Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners on the long-haul run to Sydney via Singapore next year, with according to the British Airways website, the swap occurs at the start of the 2021 northern summer season, March 28, 2021

The report goes on to say that it’s a welcome bit of news for BA loyalists who’ve long decried using the old Boeing 777s on such a long flight, with until earlier this year, British Airways offered a daily service down to Sydney via Singapore, the sole surviving route from what many of us will remember, was once a market leading extensive BA network into Australasia.

With the British Airways Boeing 777 never a widely popular choice for travellers, the report says that there were far more comfortable options on the departures board to Sydney, including the Gulf carriers, tiptop Asian carriers such as Singapore Airlines, and the Qantas A380 service.

In early April, British Airways temporarily axed its flights to Sydney, citing continuing changes in travel restrictions and last month, the airline extended that extension into 2021, with before that, British Airways was hoping to be back on the route by Christmas.

The report adds that with Australia maintaining a tough border policy, heavily restricting the number of inbound travellers and requiring them to undergo a 14-day self-funded quarantine at a guarded government facility, airlines are hindering form making make a dollar, or even break-even, on their Sydney-bound flights and while many airlines are maintaining some flights into Sydney, others like British Airways have cut their losses and suspended services.

A scan of the British Airways booking engine indicates the airline has pulled Sydney-bound flights from its schedules until the end of February. but from March 1, BA15 to Sydney is slated to resume, with throughout March, the mid-evening departure from Heathrow is operated by a Boeing 777-300ER.

Skip forward to the northern 2021 winter season, starting March 28, and the aircraft is swapped out for a Boeing 787-9, but if current border restrictions continue, there is no guarantee these flights will operate.

The report asks whether this is really an upgrade for passengers, with the key problem the previous British Airways flights faced was that their hard product was a generation old on most 777-300ER aircraft, although that aircraft type is now undergoing a refurbishment, with three planes scheduled to be upgraded this year. Better late than never, but before the flights were suspended, many potential travellers opted for more up-to-date hard products on other airlines.

The 787-9 Dreamliner is a smaller plane than the 777-300ER, and arguably not much of an upgrade for the bulk of passengers who travel in economy class, with on both the British Airways 777-300ER and 787-9 Dreamliner, the economy class seat configuration is 3-3-3, seat pitch on both aircraft types is 31″, and the seat width is 17.5″.

The economy class cabin on the 777-300ER is roomier, so for many travellers, the feeling of more space around might make the 777-300ER the preferable choice.

Passenger comfort probably isn’t at the forefront when it comes to planning at British Airways with it all about rightsizing the plane to demand.

Whether Australia winds back its entry restrictions or not, fewer people will be traveling next year, and the 777-300ER is too big for Sydney flights and the report says  that while The Dreamliner might be a pokier plane, it’s smaller and more efficient to operate and as we keep hearing, that’s what the airlines are chasing right now.

An edited report from Simple Flying by John Alwyn-Jones

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