Airbus has delivered the first of two A318 aircraft equipped with “steep approach” capability to British Airways, the manufacturer announced today. The A318 is the largest commercial aircraft certified to land at London City Airport (LCY), from where BA plans to launch transatlantic service to New York JFK Airport on September 29. This will be the first scheduled airline route from LCY to a destination outside of Europe.
The all-business-class A318s will fly a daily return to LCY, except on Saturdays when London City Airport is closed. BA plans to increase to two flights a day starting in mid-October.
After a weight-restricted departure from LCY’s 4,948-foot runway, the aircraft will refuel at Shannon, Ireland, where customers will also be able to clear U.S. Customs and Immigration, before continuing the flight across the Atlantic. Schedules call for nonstop return flights from New York, as the A318s can use JFK’s longer runways and take off with sufficient fuel for the whole transatlantic crossing.
Equipped with a pair of CFM 56-5B9/3 engines, British Airways’ new A318s will feature 32 business-class seats equipped with lie-flat beds and OnAir connectivity, allowing passengers to work during the flight with e-mail, web surfing and mobile phone text messaging. The delivery makes the carrier a new operator of all four members of the A320 family, said Airbus. The two A318s ordered join a fleet of 11 A321s, 37 A320s and 33 A319s already in service. British Airways awaits a further nine A320s and 12 A380s on firm order from Airbus.