BA Dreamliner Makes Flying Visit to Newcastle

A British Airways (BA) Boeing 787 Dreamliner made a flying visit into Newcastle International Airport in North East England as it made final preparations for its first customer flight.  The aircraft touched down just after 10:25 on the morning of August 8, 2013 following a positioning flight from Manston Airport where it has been over the past month for crew training.  The aircraft departed later that day to Edinburgh where it performed its first passenger flight.

VIEW OUR STORY: British Airways Launches Boeing 787 Passenger Operations

BA took delivery of its first Dreamliner in late June, followed by a second aircraft shortly after.  It has 24 of the type on order for delivery by 2017 and will launch scheduled passenger flights with the type on September 1, 2013 between London Heathrow and Toronto Pearson, followed by a service from London to Newark Liberty International Airport from October 1, 2013.  The carrier currently serves both the markets using Boeing 767s as well as larger equipment and the new generation airliner will enable it to better compete with rivals to the two Star Alliance hubs.

The Dreamliner’s short familiarisation visit to Newcastle is to help train BA operational staff based at Newcastle to handle the aircraft in the event of a diversion, as well as to further build flight crew training hours as part of a wider entry into service programme.  It also allows British Airways’ staff who work in the airline’s Bamburgh Court offices to familiarise themselves with one of the newest members of the airline’s almost 300 strong aircraft fleet.

Speaking after the aircraft’s arrival in Newcastle, Richard Tams, British Airways’ head of UK & Ireland sales and marketing said: “We’re very excited to have flown our new Boeing 787 Dreamliner into Newcastle International Airport, which hundreds of thousands of our customers use every year to transfer onto international flights at Heathrow.  Our customers in the north of England are hugely important to us, and we wanted them to be among the first to see the new aircraft and to learn about all the benefits it brings.”

British Airways is taking the Dreamliner to several regional airports that it serves but Newcastle International is the first to receive the aircraft.  Speaking to The HUB last week ahead of the jet’s arrival Dave Laws, chief executive officer, Newcastle International Airport said: “We are honoured to be the first.  British Airways’ Heathrow service is a vital link for business and leisure travellers in the North East and one which sees thousands of passengers connect onto international services.”

According to UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) 489,726 passengers flew on this route in 2012, up 3.4 per cent on the previous year.  According to our own analysis approximately 47 per cent of the passengers on this route in 2012 connected at London Heathrow to other services, with the Dreamliner route to Newark the third most popular onward destination with an annual bi-directional O&D demand of over 6,000 passengers.

After its passenger debut the 787 is due to substitute for other equipment on the carrier's London Heathrow - Stockholm Arlanda passenger flights beginning on August 9, 2013, as has been the case with BA’s new Airbus A380s on the London Heathrow – Frankfurt route.

The 787 will bring new opportunities for BA and will seat 214 passengers (35 in Club World Business Class, 25 in World Traveller Plus Premium Economy and 154 in World Traveller Economy).  In terms of capacity it will act as a direct replacement for its ageing 767-300ER fleet, seating around 20 additional passengers in this three-class configuration.  However, its efficiency and operational performance means it is also well placed to open new long-haul markets and to replace larger 777-200ER equipment and right-sizing demand in some particular markets.