British Airways welcomed a new generation of aircraft today, Thursday, September 23, with the arrival in Britain of its first Airbus A319.
Ahead of next month`s official delivery to subsidiary company British Airways Regional, Airbus Industrie operated a special preview flight to showcase the airline`s new £50 million package of improvements for Club Europe passengers.
The package includes new seats, new interiors, refurbished lounges and faster
Stephen Byers, Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, Bob Ayling, Chief Executive British Airways, and Dr Dietrich Russell, Airbus Chief Operating Officer, unveiled the new aircraft at a ceremony attended by 200 guests at Birmingham International Airport.
Bob Ayling, British Airways` Chief Executive, said: “The first A319 in British Airways colours is a significant milestone as we head towards the new Millennium with a new generation of Airbus aircraft. It underpins our strategy of focusing on the most profitable sections of the market with a young fleet and a new product.
“The new Airbus family will strengthen our ability to give our customers what they want - speed, comfort and a flexible schedule.
“The fleet is particularly good news for the UK regions and the communities around the airports we serve. The A319 has the widest fuselage of any single aisle aircraft which means extra overhead luggage space and higher levels of comfort.”
The aircraft is the first in a 24-strong A320 family for British Airways Regional and part of a larger order, placed last August, by British Airways mainline for 59 aircraft, with options reserved on a further 129.
The order represented the largest single commitment ever made to the European consortium by any airline outside the USA. It was also the largest number of aircraft ever chosen by British Airways in a single deal, underpinning the jobs of 38,000 people employed by some 300 companies working directly on Airbus activities in the UK alone.
The first arrivals in the Airbus fleet will be used by British Airways Regional on routes from Birmingham to Scotland, France and Germany The remaining firm orders are for use on British Airways UK domestic and European services from London.
The new aircraft are substantially quieter than the models they will replace and are part of a £6 billion investment programme to improve significantly every single product.
Aircraft are being fitted with V2500 engines made by IAE, in which Rolls-Royce has a 32.5 per cent stake.