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BA’s novel plan to beat the 2-week strike – borrow nine planes from Qatar Airways

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Back in 2015, I reviewed the Qatar Airways ‘regional First Class’ service.

Qatar Airways First Class on short-haul uses 2 x 2 fixed seating, rather like the Virgin America First Class seat I flew in 2014:

Qatar Airways short haul First Class review

Leg room was more than acceptable – remember that I am 6’2′:

Qatar Airways short haul First Class review

Why am I mentioning this today?

Because this aircraft – possibly this exact aircraft – is coming to a British Airways Club Europe service near you.

British Airways mixed fleet cabin crew have announced a two week strike from 1st to 16th July.  For clarity, this will only impact flights from London Heathrow.  Gatwick and City are unaffected.

During previous strikes BA has pulled together a random mix of crewed charter aircraft to provide cover.  However, at the moment, Qatar Airways has a lot of short-haul aircraft sitting around doing nothing following the ban on flying into Abu Dhabi, Dubai and other regional centres.

British Airways has agreed, subject to CAA approval, to lease nine of these Airbus short-haul aircraft for the duration of the strike and up to six weeks afterwards.  Qatar Airways will be providing the crew, which is a little surprising as I would have doubted they have enough short-haul (as opposed to long-haul) crew who can legally work in the UK.

Food and drink will be provided by British Airways.

It is not all good news.  These aircraft only have 12 First Class seats.  This means that a lot of passengers will be downgraded from Club Europe to Euro Traveller at peak periods.

Ironically, this is a potentially risky move for BA because once Club Europe passengers have seen what Qatar Airways offers its passengers for the 45 minute hop to Dubai, they may start questioning why BA offers them its current Club Europe seat for flights of up to 5 hours …..

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Comments (69)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • RIcatti says:

    I think Business Class passengers and frequent flyers are well-aware.

  • anon says:

    Those seats are mostly retired, now fitted with lie flat 2-2 seats.

    • Alex says:

      Not correct. There are plenty of the non-lie flat variations that operate(d) the intra-Gulf sectors.

      QR also has 8 all-Y configured A320s which were supposed to fly for their nixed Saudi operation Al Maha. Leasing these would allow BA to maintain the current flexi Club Europe configuration that they need, albeit with no cabin divider.

      • Rob says:

        The lie-flat ones are still needed by Qatar – they are used out of Pisa, Sofia etc to Doha. The ones being borrowed are the ones that go to Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Jeddah etc usually.

  • Alex says:

    All QR crews (apart from the A380) are cross-fleeted and are not divided into short haul and long haul.

    • NJ says:

      Cabin Crew yes, pilots no (All airbus types operated as seperate fleets except 320 TRIs fly 330s as well as 320s)

  • Henk says:

    Until Qatar Airways is allowed to operate intra-europe flights, this is not a risky move. It is about local competition, and not what some middle eastern airline may offer between DXB and DOH (when they flew it). No BA competitor (other than perhaps TK on the mid-haul sectors) provides this sort of business class on intra-europe flights

    • AndyR says:

      Exactly. It is a different market so until the competition offer a better seat BA won’t.

      It’s not even approved. Is this really worthy of a whole page of news?

      • the real harry1 says:

        certainly piqued my interest as we have a decent chance of ending up on one of these on the flight out @ start of school hols

  • JamesB says:

    A very stupid move by BA IMO, the most likely outcome will be to escalate and widen the dispute with their own employees witn further negative consequencies for their customers, their brand and their bottom line. .

    • Barry cutters says:

      Much better option than cancelling flights

      • BlueThroughCrimp says:

        An even better and cheaper option would be to settle with the staff…

        • RIcatti says:

          Given the management as of today, the staff are not in the strong position.

        • Callum says:

          No, giving into demands from staff isn’t necessarily “cheaper”. Give in now and they can just do it again next year with the knowledge that the company will cave in to prevent disruption.

  • Fox999 says:

    O/T – BA codeshare with Loganair. Some months ago there was an article on here re the ending of the franchise agreement between Flybe and Loganair. It was noted that there was a codeshare agreement between BA and Loganair. I use that regularly and appreciate the Tier points/Avios I get from it. However, I am unable to book it beyond 01 Sep 17. Does anybody know what’s happening?

    • Brian W says:

      I believe Loganair are going it alone from the divorce date and that Flybe are going to operate some of the routes, now in a franchise with Eastern Airways, in direct competition with Loganair. Not sure if tier points and Avios will still be awarded on the new Flybe / Eastern routes but I imagine there is a chance they will be.

    • Fox999 says:

      It’s clear that Loganair are breaking from Flybe, I thought the codeshare arrangement was a BA/Loganair arrangement. I am unclear how this fits in with the Loganair/Flybe break up.

      • Brian W says:

        Good point, I’m not sure if BA/Loganair will continue to operate in the way they have done. You should still be able to collect Avios on the Flybe routes though, if they post correctly!

    • Volker says:

      A few weeks ago, Loganair published this statement (which hasn’t been updated yet):
      “Interline and codeshare bookings can currently be made until August 31st via our codeshare partners or your travel agent.
      We know that for all our customers this service is vital for travel convenience and confidence in connecting journeys.
      Therefore the timely recommencement of this service for travel from September 1st is recognised as a significant priority for us.
      Here at Loganair we are working hard to assist our codeshare and interline partners to ensure they can reinstate this service for our customers as soon as possible.
      We would like to thank all our customers intending to make interline and codeshare bookings from September 1st for their patience.”

    • Genghis says:

      Bookings can be made for travel post 1 Sep directly on the loganair website. I booked some Barra flights for early Oct

      • Brighton Belle says:

        The baggage carousel at Barra is unlikely to breakdown 🙂 Minimalist technology…. a rack.

        Be sure to wear stout shoes lest you step off the plane steps into an inch of seawater.

      • Fox999 says:

        OK, thanks all, my corporate TA does not seem to recognise you can book Loganair direct. I really want BA through tickets to the Hebrides from london via Glasgow that gain tier points on both. A BA ticketed LHR return to the Hebrides currently gives four sectors of Tier points. I will hang on to see what develops, fall back to book Loganair direct.

  • Mario says:

    A couple of points on this:

    – QR has (or at least had) a number of aircraft that are in all Y configuration. I don’t know how many but I’ve been on one and downgraded from F to Y when they swapped the aircraft
    – If BA goes ahead with borrowing QR planes who’s to tell that BA wouldn’t just continue to sell as many CE seats as they do today and then occupy the F seats pictured above with the remaining CE passengers seating behind them with a blocked middle?

  • the real harry1 says:

    Go on – some flier pls put me out my misery. You’re not really saying that QR only has 12 seats in first, none in business & the rest in economy?

    Otherwise why won’t the BA business seats already booked (usually about 32 people on my regular flight depending on where they put the curtain) all fit into QR first & business?

    • Tom says:

      Yes, that’s precisely what’s being said, although as someone else has I think pointed out, what’s the real difference between BA CE and QR Y with a blocked middle seat and CE service? I think it’s basically zero.

      • the real harry1 says:

        oh right – then I’m surprised that if QR first is effectively also business, that it’s only 12 seats

        looks like QR economy seats offer more room than BA, so they should be happy enough – but I guess you’d naturally be a bit fed up not to win a seat in QR first

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