The Inside Word

2013 – an interesting year for British Airways

Early next year, BA is due to take delivery of two, totally new, types of aircraft: the Boeing 787 and the Airbus A380. It will become the world’s only operator to fly both of these ground-breaking aircraft. Introducing one new type to a large airline is a challenge, but introducing two at once is not something you would plan to do; however, the long delays to the 787 have given the national flag-carrier no option other than to take both types more or less simultaneously. Planning for the new aircraft and crew training has been in progress for a long time so we would imagine the process will be fairly smooth once the aircraft arrive. Just to add to the fun, the airline will still be busy integrating British Midland into its business. Much of the reorganisation has already been worked out. The old British Midland Airbus fleet is going to Shannon, one at a time, for re-painting in BA livery with aircraft also due to be fitted with BA-style seating (an important point because BA shorthaul aircraft have 34 inches of legroom at the front of the aircraft for Club, whereas British Midland had the more standard 31–32 inches throughout the aircraft). All British Midland crew will also need retraining and testing to BA standards. Obviously, cabin crews have to learn the different service routines. Airlines differ slightly in their emergency procedures and cabin crew need to be tested on these. Pilots also have to learn the specific procedures for flying with BA, which will be different from British Midland. There is no suggestion that one airline was better than the other but safe flying is about following the precise rules of the airline and it is vital that pilots are following the same rulebook.

Incidentally, BA has been saying it will use the 787 to open up new routes to China among other destinations but we hear that one of the first new routes could be to Vietnam.


Airlines to avoid

We made a brief mention about a rumoured new Greek charter airline, GreenJet, a couple of months ago: the latest news snippet from a local publication does nothing to add to our confidence. “GreenJet Airlines of Athens plan to start operations shortly with an Airbus A320 operated by Avion Express of Vilnius and managed by Cosmo Airlines of Madrid. It is thought that some previous employees of Viking Hellas are involved in the new company.”

That short statement raises so many different red flags we will not waste time going through them but, suffice to say, a one-aircraft company is bound to be prone to serious delays if things go wrong. If we saw this airline operating to Greece, or elsewhere, for a UK tour operator, we would be very cautious about booking and want to question whether the tour operator had really done its homework properly.

We have already been rather negative about the new flights from Gatwick to Trinidad and Barbados by Caribbean Airlines and our initial fears have been realised. The airline started with rather a complicated schedule of flights to Port of Spain with connections to Barbados…