BA kicks off A380 service to Singapore with Gwyneth Paltrow

HOLLYWOOD celebrity Gwyneth Paltrow lent star power earlier this week to the launch of British Airways’ thrice-weekly Airbus A380 service from Heathrow to Singapore, which is now the fifth destination to be served by the world’s largest passenger aircraft after Hong Kong, Johannesburg, Los Angeles and Washington.

The London-Singapore turnaround service is also being served four times weekly with B747-400.

But Jamie Cassidy, British Airways’ area general manager Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa, said: “We hear calls from travel agencies to offer a homogenous product throughout the week for their higher-yield corporate clients and will eventually operate the A380 on a daily basis.”

The four-class A380 is configured with 14 First Class seats on the main deck, 97 Club World business class seats, 55 seats in the World Traveller Plus cabin on the upper deck and 303 World Traveller seats.

In the Club World cabin, 45 of the 97 seats are backward-facing, an arrangement made for easy conversation. Seats in the First and Club World cabins double as fully flat beds too.

British Airways continues to offer First Class service on all flights to the Asia-Pacific region except for Bangkok, Chengdu, Chennai and Hyderabad.

Appraising the airline’s network, Cassidy noted that the imbalance between services across the North Atlantic and the Asia-Pacific has been recognised. In four years, four new destinations will be added (Tokyo Haneda, Chengdu, Seoul and Kuala Lumpur) compared to only one to North America (Austin).

In 2015, the B787-8 Dreamliner will be deployed on a daily basis to Seoul by March 29, while daily services using the B777-200ER will be launched to Kuala Lumpur starting May 27.

India is currently British Airways’ second-largest longhaul market after North America, with five Indian cities (New Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Chennai and Hyderabad) being served. In China, British Airways operates to Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu and Hong Kong.

In serving Asia-Pacific and the Kangaroo Route to Australia, British Airways faces growing competition from at least 26 airlines.

However, Cassidy said the airline would resist the trend to establish hybrid or low-cost carriers for longhaul operation. “No one seems to be able to make the longhaul low-cost or lighter service work,” he noted, explaining that the inability to increase aircraft utilisation and the same high costs of airplane, crew and fuel were key factors.

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