As cover for its troublesome Boeing 787-9 fleet, British Airways has applied to the CAA for permission to wet lease three Qatar Airways long-haul aircraft for the period of 1st June to 30th September. (A ‘wet lease’ is where the aircraft comes with crew.)
There is no guarantee that the request will be granted. My understanding is that BA has to show that there are no comparable aircraft available for wet lease within the EU. Clearly BA pilots and cabin crew would only want the airline to use significantly lower-paid Qatar-based crew in exceptional circumstances.
The three aircraft involved are Airbus A330.
It is not clear what BA is getting. Here is the ‘Our Fleet’ page of the Qatar Airways website but if you believe that then you will see that no A330 aircraft have fully flat Business Class seats. That is not true. In reality, most (all?) now have a fully flat seat in a 2 x 2 x 2 forward facing formation.
What IS certain is that there is no Premium Economy on these aircraft so anyone who has booked World Traveller Plus will have to accept a downgrade, a refund or a different flight. As these aircraft will be used on flights departing in as little as three weeks, customers will struggle to find a replacement at a sensible price.
It is not clear at present which routes will use these aircraft. As the Business Class cabin is small (5 rows) I doubt it will be a straight swap for routes currently flying the Boeing 787-9. One option could be that the new aircraft go to Gatwick and are used on leisure routes, freeing up aircraft for use at Heathrow.
There is a little more information on FlightGlobal here.
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