BA ends A318 JFK service, Cathay Pacific hibernate,

A318 G-EUNA, now withdrawn

British Airways has ended its all business class A318 services from London Docklands to New York JFK.

The service used the old Concorde BA001, 002, 003, 004 flight numbers on a pair of A318’s specially purchased and configured for the purpose.

The twice daily (weather at Docklands notorious for winter fog permitting), operated successfully for a surprisingly long time, the aircraft being delivered in August 2009 as the recession was at its peak.

With exclusive restaurant in flight meals, all business lay flat seats and direct access to London and New York’s financial hubs (Docklands airport is literally on the doorstep of the Canary Wharf banking center), seats went for as much as £10,000 return and it was rarely ever more than half full, but still profitable.

The A318 all business interior

Growth in business video conferencing and a realisation that it just wasn’t essential to fly every time, slowly eroded its purpose. Big cuts in staff at banks, Brexit and so on have all played their part.

Three years ago BA decided to sell one of the aircraft (G-EUNB) and it was taken by Titan Airways at Stansted. From then on the eventual demise of the service was inevitable.

A318 G-EUNB was sold to a leasing company and then to Titan Airways in 2017

So gone are it’s outbound stints to Shannon for westbound refuelling, where passengers would clear US customs and immigration, arriving in the US as domestic travellers. The return eastbound flight didn’t need to refuel.

Gone too, at least for now are the flight numbers; and the diversions to Gatwick if Docklands was fogged in.

The aircraft required special pilots trained on steep angle approaches and were specially modified with over-powered engines and wing tweaks.

Another victim of Covid and Zoom.

Cathay Pacific hibernates 60 aircraft

Cathay Pacific which is in essence now controlled by the Chinese authorities and has ditched many of its British managers, is to store 60 aircraft from the main and Cathay Dragon fleets.

They will be flown to Alice Springs first and then to other long term storage facilities until needed. A wide mix of aircraft, mostly A330 and 777-300ER’s have been targeted.

The airline has found the A359’s are best suited to its current needs.

Many of the smaller bond investors are said to be getting cold feet over the bailout which gives technically, the Chinese government control through Hong Kong’s administration. However there is little they can do to prevent the company effectively being taken over by government interests, even if the legalities cloud the reality.

The situation with Britain, the USA, Australia, New Zealand and Canada continues to deteriorate following the imposition of the State Security law on Hong Kong. It effectively ends free speech and introduces sweeping censorship.

Cathay Pacific may find it impossible to return to its pre-Covid and pro-democracy days of glory. With Hong Kong’s trading status being downgraded and its special privileges as a banking centre withdrawn by the US, business has little incentive to remain there as it did.

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