Open sky you said, a world war over flights you said, and especially over popular routes. Well, the London route has surely stepped a gear today (Wednesday) with a dramatic announcement by the UK airline, British Airways.
The company announced that it will operate the new Airbus A350 on the route between London and Tel Aviv. The aircraft is expected to be delivered to BA this coming October and arrive in Israel early in December. The crowning glory of said aircraft, is the new and innovative Business Class, with 56 personal suites, each one equipped with a private door.
This decision by British Airways to introduce the flag carrier on the Tel Aviv route wasn’t made for nothing It seems that the penetration of BA’s rival, Virgin Atlantic, into the Israeli market was the driving force behind today’s announcement.
The airline's sophisticated and newly-branded business class is titled 'Club Suite' and offers direct-aisle access, a suite door for greater privacy and 2-meter long flat-bed seats in a 1-2-1 configuration. Boasting 40 per cent more storage, including a vanity unit and mirror, WiFi, enviable 18.5-inch inflight entertainment screens*, high definition gate-to-gate programming, and PC / USB power.
The renovation of the business class cabin is part of a £ 6.5 billion multi-year investment plan to upgrade the company's fleet. In the coming years British Airways is expected to receive delivery of 72 additional advanced aircraft, including the Airbus A350-100, Boeing 787-10 and 18 Boeing 777-9.
"British Airways has decided that Israel will be among the first countries in the world to welcome its new business class, with the exclusive personal passenger suites, onboard our newest Airbus A350” Said Yael Katan, Commercial Manager for British Airways in Israel "This is an expression of the deep confidence British Airways has in Israel, and demonstrates the company's great appreciation for this market."
British Airways, which operates in Israel since 1932, carries out 3 daily flights on the Tel Aviv-London route, in Long Haul configuration as well as a new Club World cabin, the A350 will feature a new economy class (World Traveller) and an upgrade (economy cabin, World Traveller Plus).
London VS New York: Who else flies on the TLV-LON route? And how will the entrance of Virgin Atlantic affect the flight routs to US?
The London route seems to be gearing up with the entry of Virgin Atlantic, most identified with its founder, the colorful billionaire Richard Branson. "The party starts in September. Virgin Atlantic comes to Israel with daily flights to London and then to the United States. Tickets are available for sale" said Virgin Atlantic.
Virgin Atlantic, which is represented in Israel by APG of the Maman Group, will operate a daily flight to London Heathrow, starting from September 25, and a daily flight from London to New York – which is the great surprise. It will be interesting to see how other airlines will operate on the London route and from there to the US.
British Airways also flies directly from London to 30 destinations in the US including New York, JFK, Boston, San Francisco, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Miami, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Newark and Seattle, and destinations in Canada such as Montreal And Toronto.
Other airlines operating on the route:
EasyJet, a low-cost pioneer for the Israeli market, operates 13-18 flights a week on the Tel Aviv-London route, minimum 2 of which are night flights. EasyJet lands at three airports in UK: Luton, Gatwick and Stansted. A company spokesperson in Israel, Or Aloni, told Passport that "Izzy Jet has no plans to change its flight schedule at this point".
The Easy Jet also operates charter flights to the United States, carried out by other airlines Code Share.
Hungarian Wizz Air, which began flying to Israel in 2012, operates one evening flight to London / 7 days a week.
The company doesn’t operate flights to the United States.
El Al operates 21 weekly flights from Ben-Gurion Airport to London, and Virgin's entry to Israel means additional headache for the national carrier, both on the London route and especially on flights to the United States, which are considered El Al's most profitable routes.
Arkia, operates flights to London as well with its new Airbus A321neo LR. The airline has three weekly flights to Stansted, London. The A321neo doesn’t have a business class cabin, however, it does feature a premium economy class
Which airline will offer you the lowest fares for London flights? Let’s find out
Using a flight search engine – alice.co.il, this morning we checked how much a flight ticket to London will cost on the date that all the airlines are operational. Our checkup shows that the most expensive ticket on the surveyed dates – October 2-7, for economy class booking including luggage, is sold by British Airways: $ 670. On the other hand, the cheapest ticket is offered by Arkia: $ 438. In between are EasyJet with $ 624 per ticket, Virgin with $ 607, El Al with $ 544 per ticket and Wizz Air with $ 508 per ticket, including a luggage.
And what are the fares for business class booking? Offer only by British, Virgin and El Al as other companies don’t operate business class. The most expensive flight ticket at the time of the test is $ 1,579 with British, followed by $ 1,564 in Virgin and the cheapest is El Al: $ 1,18
As for airfare, it should be taken into account that Heathrow flights cost more in general than flights to London's various airports, because of higher harbor taxes. This is why most low-cost airlines do not offer Heathrow flights, "said the CEO and founder of Alice Yaniv Schuldenfrei. "It is important to pay attention to the fine print, the cheapest flight might end up being very expensive, for example, late night or early morning flights are usually cheaper and more popular among the low-cost segment. Same goes for flights that arrive in London late at night and takes off from London early in the morning, they will cause two extra nights in the hotel without being able to enjoy the city, and the luggage costs are very high in some airlines, sometimes more than the ticket price. The search engine alice.co.ilshows you the full flight details, including luggage allowance and helps you run a smart and efficient price compariso"
According to Schuldenfrei, "A large segment of London flights is owned by the business community, and the competition for the business traveler between El Al and British has now opened one more front in the image of Virgin, who knows how to offer a quality product in its business class. For business travelers, I would recommend comparing business class according to the airplane model, since some companies operate a newer business class on some planes, and others have older business class and plane model which sums down to an inferior product but not always translated into a cheaper price.”
London here I come: 189,805 passengers flew on the Tel Aviv-London-Tel Aviv route since the beginning of 2019.
According to data from the Israel Airports Authority from the beginning of 2019 until the end of April, 189,805 of the 374,600 passengers flying to the United Kingdom during that period flew on the Tel Aviv-London-Tel Aviv route.
The number of flights to and from London, according to the Airports Authority, has declined by 5.21% since the beginning of the year, but that does not deter the British airlines that are heating engines on the route to the Holy Land.