Air China pulls back on double-daily A350 flights to London

9 Apr 2019 by Craig Bright

Air China has pulled back on its plans to operate its newest aircraft, the Airbus A350-900, on two of its three daily flights between Beijing and London Heathrow this summer with the aircraft now only set to fly once per day on the route.

China’s flag carrier began flying its new A350 between Beijing and London at the start of February on its daily CA855/CA856 flights before boosting frequency on the route to thrice daily at the end of March.

Business Traveller Asia-Pacific previously reported that from June 1 this year, Air China would also start flying the A350 on its daily CA787/CA788 flights, giving Beijing-London two daily services operated by its newest aircraft.

That no longer appears to be the case, however, with the airline’s online schedule showing that CA787/CA788 will continue to be flown by its older A330 after the start of June. Air China’s other daily flight on the route, CA937/CA938, will continue to be operated by its Boeing 777-300ER.

What does this mean for travellers?

Air China’s A350 is notable for having a brand new seat product in the business class cabin modelled on Collins Aerospace’s “Super Diamond” design.

Air China Airbus A350 business class

For an in-depth guide to the different seat models used by airlines, take a look at our “Business Class Seat Guide”.

This seat is not only fully flat, but is also laid out in a reverse herringbone 1-2-1 configuration that gives all passengers access to the aisle without having to climb over their neighbours.

Compare this to the A330 and 777-300ER, which both feature a business class cabin laid out in a less preferable 2-2-2 set up (though each with different seat products).

While business class passengers will still have access to the new seat on the daily CA855/CA856 flights, having two daily services to choose from would certainly be preferable.

Below is the schedule for all three daily flights on the Beijing-London route:

Flight No. From To Departs Arrives Days Aircraft
CA787 Beijing (PEK) London (LHR) 0735 1150 Daily A330
CA937 Beijing (PEK) London (LHR) 1410 1745 Daily B777-300ER
CA855 Beijing (PEK) London (LHR) 1625 2040 Daily A350-900
CA788 London (LHR) Beijing (PEK) 1500 0815+1 Daily A330
CA938 London (LHR) Beijing (PEK) 2025 1305+1 Daily B777-300ER
CA856 London (LHR) Beijing (PEK) 2240 1525+1 Daily A350-900

Air China was the first airline in China to take delivery of the A350-900 back in August last year, the same day as Sichuan Airlines. Since then, Shanghai-based China Eastern has also taken delivery of the A350-900, being among the few airlines globally to outfit the aircraft with a first class cabin.

China’s flag carrier has been deploying its newest aircraft on routes to Europe, with Beijing-Milan, Shanghai-Frankfurt, Shanghai-Milan and Beijing-London all now having A350 flights.

Along with Beijing-London, Air China was also among a number of Chinese airlines that applied to launch a new route between Shanghai and London with the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) last month.

Both Air China and China Southern filed competing applications to launch services on the route after the smaller Shanghai-based carrier, Juneyao Airlines, filed its own application to launch flights connecting Shanghai and London.

The CAAC has yet to announce the results of these filings.

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