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IAG, the parent company of British Airways, has published its latest quarterly results and alongside the news that the airline group made a loss of €1.3bn ($1.55bn) between April and June of this year, IAG announced that it was “exiting” the A318 fleet as part of its response to the current crisis and, with that, signaled the end of the all-business-class service that British Airways operated between London and New York.
IAG has published plans for fleet changes across the airlines it owns but with British Airways being by far the biggest of the group’s airlines, its British Airways that’s seeing the biggest changes.
Just last year I was fortunate enough to finally try out BA’s only A318 which it operated in an all-business-class configuration between London City Airport and New York JFK (reviewed here). It was a wonderful experience and even though the Business Class seating wasn’t anything close to the standard of the modern Business Class seats we’re now used to, it’s an experience I’m unlikely to forget.
BA’s A318 Business Class flight was special (it even inherited Concorde’s flight number) but its place in the British Airways schedules had been in doubt long before the travel world came to a standstill. The sad truth is that Covid-19 was just the last nail in the coffin for this unique flight as demand for the service dropped year on year (I shared my flight with just a handful of people). The lure of US pre-clearance at the flight’s stopover in Shannon lost its luster once Global Entry membership became more commonplace, and with Heathrow offering considerably more flight options and the option to enjoy a lounge before departure (London City doesn’t have any BA lounges), the longer journey time on BA1 became harder for Business Class passengers to justify.
The writing has been on the wall for BA’s all-business-class A318 for some time and not even the most optimistic of the aircraft’s fans could have expected it (or the route it has served) to survive the current crisis. Today’s news was inevitable but that doesn’t make it any less sad. I’m incredibly grateful that I had the opportunity to experience this incredible little aircraft before it was put out to pasture as the news of its passing would have been an even harder pill to swallow had I not.
RIP BA1 – you weren’t flashy or glamorous, but you were very special indeed.