At the start of the pandemic, British Airways was forced to slash its route network in response to plummeting passenger demand and strict travel restrictions. The airline wasted no time in cutting unprofitable routes but has been quick to add back flights as soon as restrictions are rolled back.
But it’s only in the last couple of months has British Airways has been able to get its route network back to a semblance of what it was in late 2019.
One of the trickiest areas for British Airways has been routes to and from Asia and Australia where some of the toughest restrictions have remained in place since 2019. But now, those restrictions are being unexpectedly eased well ahead of what even the most optimistic analysts predicted.
The question is whether there is enough demand for British Airways to restart services to Sydney when New South Wales lifts a travel ban for Australian citizens, permanent residents and their families.
BA’s once-daily service to Sydney from London has been suspended since March 2020 and the airline hasn’t shown much interest in trying to get the service restarted. That, though, may just have been because no one thought the route was a realistic possibility.
After all, the service routed through Singapore which has a similarly tough approach to border restrictions during the pandemic. But Singapore is also reopening to visitors from the UK and several other countries as the city-state learns to live with the virus.
The trip to Sydney and back took pilots and cabin crew a total of 10-days to complete, covering 10,672 miles each way.
There is now the very real possibility that BA’s longest route could once again be viable but there are a few hurdles for it to overcome first. The first is whether there will be enough demand from Australian citizens and permanent residents to travel all the way to Sydney.
British Airways would be competing with Qantas which is operating a flight from London to Sydney via Darwin but Qantas has decided not to operate a daily service as it gauges demand. There will, of course, be a lot of competition from Middle Eastern rivals, as well as Asian carriers.
Second, is whether BA could secure the flight to Singapore as a Vaccinated Travel Lane, allowing passengers to get off in Singapore as part of the deliberate restriction on the number of arrivals allowed to enter Singapore under its phased reopening.
British Airways isn’t willing to comment on speculation about the route but the airline gearing up for a massive ramp-up in operations with plans to hire as many as 3,000 cabin crew by Spring 2022.
No doubt, route planners and the finance team have already discussed the Sydney route and will be adding it back as soon as they think it will be profitable.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.