British Airways will include a westbound refuelling stop as part of its new all-business Airbus A318 transatlantic service from London City next year.
It has yet to decide where the stop will be on the New York-bound service. Eastbound flights will be non-stop.
The airline today revealed it had placed its first A318 order, with a deal for two aircraft for delivery in 2009. The aircraft will be powered by CFM International CFM56 engines.
A graphic depicting a BA A318 flying over the city of London
Nominally a 100-seat aircraft, the A318 will be configured by BA with 32 lie-flat seats. The service will operate twice a day to New York, although BA has yet to disclose which specific US airport it will serve.
“The flights will operate non-stop from New York to London City but will make a refuelling stop when flying westbound,” says BA. The airline adds that it is “talking to a number of airports” about where the stop will be, although sources say that Shannon is the frontrunner.
BA says that the A318s will be operated by its mainline division and will not be equipped with auxiliary fuel tanks.
According to London City Airport, the westbound technical stop is required as the aircraft cannot lift sufficient fuel for the transatlantic flight from the downtown airport’s short runway, which has a take-off run of 1,199m (3,930ft), given the airfield’s “obstacle environment”.
The connection will be the first scheduled service from London City to use the A318, which has been certified to conduct the steep approach required to serve the airport.
It is also the first transatlantic airline service from the airport, although flights have been operated by Falcon 900EX business jets.
The move to launch an all-business service marks a departure for BA and pitches it into competition with transatlantic premium players such as Eos and Silverjet.
Silverjet, which operates Boeing 767s on non-stop flights from London Luton, is playing down the impact of the BA move. Chief executive Lawrence Hunt claims BA’s plan is a “ringing endorsement for Silverjet’s business model”.
Source: flightglobal.com's sister premium news site Air Transport Intelligence news