London, Saturday, May 22, 1999: British Airways is the only British carrier to confirm that it will be flying as the world enters the 21st Century.
Public confidence is at an all time high with more than half a million reservations already made on the airline’s 167-strong route network for the festive/New Year holiday season - a 150 per cent increase on the same booking period last year. Barbados, New York, Johannesburg and Los Angeles are top of the popularity polls.
The airline expects to operate 75 per cent of its longhaul network and around 50 per cent of shorthaul flights through the ten-day festive and millennium holiday - including a substantial programme of services on December 31.
As usual at Christmas and New Year, British Airways’ schedule will be adapted to reflect commercial demand. This will include adding extra flights at the beginning and end of the holiday, and continuing to maintain services throughout the middle, including on December 31. As always, British Airways will only operate where it is convinced it is safe to do so.
As on all other 364 nights of the year, there will be no UK domestic or European services in the skies at the magical midnight hour, but some longhaul flights will be at 35,000 ft as the new millennium dawns. The precise number and routings will depend on commercial demand. Concorde, the flagship of the fleet, will be in the air on New Year’s Eve.
Employees working on the night of December 31 will be offered a special one-off millennium payment of up to £400 or up to four worldwide air tickets.
British Airways is currently approaching the final stages of its £100 million millennium readiness programme. A 200-strong “flying squad” has been working on its systems since 1995. Some 3,000 systems have been under test and around 50 million lines of computer code scanned. Nearly 40,000 PCs and printers and more than 800 applications have been completely audited.
All aircraft have been checked, with all on board systems tested and given a clean bill of health. Boeing and Airbus Industrie have declared there are no flight safety issues with their aircraft.
More than 90 per cent of British Airways operating systems and environments - including check-in, reservations, ticket sales, airport arrival and departure display systems and flight tracking across the network - have been cleared as Year 2000 compliant, seven months ahead of December 31. The airline is on target to check the rest well ahead of the end of the year.
Bob Ayling, British Airways Chief Executive, said: “We have put in four years of meticulous planning to ensure we can fly millions of our customers to where they want to be to enjoy this once-in-a-lifetime occasion. We will be ready for the date change and as ever, will only fly where and when it is safe to do so and where there’s demand.”