BA gets first Airbus A380 in fleet upgrade
London, July 4, 2013
British Airways welcomed its first Airbus A380 jet, the world's biggest commercial aircraft, on Thursday, part of a $15 billion upgrade to top-of-the-range planes that it hopes will give it a boost in the lucrative market for long-haul business travel.
The emergence of the fuel-efficient double-decker through the grey clouds over Heathrow airport in west London was greeted by hundreds of British Airways (BA) staff and spectators, a boon to a group that has been weighed down by its ageing fleet.
The plane touched down on time and taxied into a hangar near Heathrow terminal five, met by cabin crew in uniform waving British flags. The first long-haul flight on the A380 will run to Los Angeles on Sept. 24, the British flag carrier said, slightly earlier than the originally planned October start.
"These aircraft are the start of a new era for British Airways," said chief executive Keith Williams, noting the airline hadn't had any new long-haul aircraft for 17 years.
"Over the next 15 months, we will take delivery of new aircraft at the rate of one a fortnight as we put ourselves at the forefront of modern aviation."
BA's ageing long-haul fleet has put it at a "cost and quality" disadvantage to rivals, especially deep pocketed Middle Eastern carriers such as Emirates, which run newer, more cost-effective planes that are also more comfortable and better equipped, according to Davy analyst Stephen Furlong.
BA, part of International Airlines Group (IAG), received the first of its new Boeing 787 Dreamliners last month, making it the first airline in Europe to fly both new planes once commercial operations begin. -Reuters