With Qantas out, BA adds third HK-London flight
British Airways will launch a third daily flight between Hong Kong and London in March, in a move that will replenish some of the capacity lost when the Australian airline Qantas withdraws from the route.
Kevin McQuillan, the airline's regional general manager in East Asia, said BA was studying whether to make the extra flight, which would operate three times a week, permanent or just a temporary measure to cope with additional demand for the spring and summer travel season.
He said the third flight, which would leave Hong Kong in the daytime, would help British Airways better align its flight schedules when Qantas pulled out.
The preferred routing between London and Australia for British Airways customers is likely to be via Singapore, where passengers can connect to a Qantas Airbus A380 service to Australia.
Flight connections via Hong Kong and Bangkok could prove less attractive but the fare pricing structure would reflect this ranking, with flights via Hong Kong likely to be cheaper than those via Singapore.
McQuillan said Britain remained a popular destination for the Christmas and Lunar New Year holiday periods for Hongkongers.
'As usual, many Hong Kong students and residents are travelling to visit relatives and to be with friends. In December and January, the top destinations being booked by Hong Kong travellers on British Airways are London, Rome, Manchester, Paris and Geneva.'
He said that British Airways was 'all geared up' for the introduction of the European Union's emission trading scheme on all international flights from January 1.
'Clearly it would be better if there was a global solution,' McQuillan said, but the EU scheme would also give airlines an incentive to meet the carbon emissions target they set themselves.
McQuillan said that European governments should reduce the duty levied on passengers once the emissions trading scheme was introduced, to mitigate the impact that higher fares would have on passengers.
Britain's tax authority already charges each passenger GBP150 (HK$1,828) on a flight between London and Hong Kong, and this is due to climb by 10 per cent from next April. Germany also levies a Euro45 (HK$454) green tax on every adult long-haul passenger leaving the country.
In the longer term, British Airways is mulling the launch of more Asian flights after the first of 24 Boeing 787 Dreamliners on order is delivered in the first half of 2013. The 787s are part of a GBP5 billion investment by the airline in new aircraft, cabin revamps, staff training and various other improvements.
McQuillan said while the days of British Airways Asia, when the carrier operated intra-Asia flights to Taipei, Manila and Seoul, 'are no more', the 787 was the right size for the airline to launch more long-haul flights between London and Asia, especially China.
'The Boeing 747 is too big. The 787 makes more sense,' McQuillan said, adding that the airline was already looking at other parts of China to which it could launch 787 flights.
British Airways operates services between London and Beijing and Shanghai. The four-engine Boeing 747-400s operated by British Airways carry up to 345 passengers, while the twin-engine Dreamliner can carry between 210 and 290 passengers, depending on the model.
The number of 747 'Jumbo Jets' in service with British Airways
- Each 747 can carry 345 passengers 13,450 kilometres