British Airways has placed an order for 12 Airbus A380 and 24 Boeing 787 aircraft with options for a further seven Airbus A380s and18 Boeing 787s.Both aircraft types will be powered by Rolls-Royce engines.
The new aircraft will replace 34 of the airline’s longhaul fleet and will be delivered between 2010 and 2014. The order, including options, will give the airline the ability to grow its capacity by up to four per cent per year and the flexibility to tailor its future capacity growth in line with market conditions.
The aircraft will be greener, quieter and more fuel efficient with significantly lower carbon dioxide emissions and reduced impact on local air quality. This was a key consideration in the order.
Willie Walsh, British Airways’ chief executive, said: “This is an exciting day for British Airways with our largest fleet order since 1998. It’s great news for our business, our customers and the environment.
“These aircraft set the gold standard when it comes to environmental performance in the key areas of CO2 emissions, local air quality and noise. They will contribute significantly to our target of improving fuel efficiency by 25 per cent between 2005 and 2025.
“They are also much quieter than their predecessors, which is of vital importance at Heathrow. Both the A380 and B787 are rated as producing a quarter of the noise level of the B747-400.
“These new aircraft will continue our commitment to deliver the best travel experience to our customers. This order builds upon our recent investment in improving the customer experience through Terminal 5, the new Club World cabin, inflight entertainment system and ba.com.”
The new aircraft types will enable the airline to strengthen further its network strategy, complementing each other in the longhaul fleet. The A380 will be used to provide more capacity for the airline’s key high-density markets and maximise use of scarce Heathrow slots. The B787 will be used to start new routes and increase frequencies in existing markets.
Both aircraft bring significant economic benefits with lower costs per seat. They are both long range aircraft and bring more flexibility in to the fleet as, unlike the B767 that they replace, they can be flown across the airline’s network.
British Airways will continue to consider the most suitable aircraft to replace its remaining B747-400 aircraft and is examining the B787-10, B777-300 ER and A350XWB.
The airline has arranged for a group of banks to provide $1.5 billion of debt financing to cover all of the airline’s firm orders to the end of 2011.