British Airways’ Cityflyer subsidiary has taken delivery of the first of its Embraer jets, which will replace its ageing Avro RJ fleet serving London City (LCY) airport. Business Traveller was at the handover ceremony at Embraer’s delivery centre in Brazil.
BA has ordered 11 of the Embraer jets – six of the 170 model, which seats 76 passengers, and a further five of the longer 190 model, which seats 98. Both models feature a 2-2 layout throughout, with the 170 version offering a 30- to 31-inch seat pitch, and the 190 model offering an impressive 33-inch pitch for all passengers.
Having taken delivery of the first aircraft this week at a handover ceremony at Embraer’s centre in Sao Jose Dos Campos near Sao Paulo, BA will quickly replace its entire fleet of Avro RJs, with the rollout expected to be complete by June 2010.
The first aircraft (named G-LCYD) will make its way back to the UK via Recife, Cape Verde and Tenerife, before going into service on the London City-Edinburgh and Amsterdam routes from September 28.
Speaking at the ceremony, Cityflyer’s managing director Peter Simpson said: “Our Avro RJ fleet represents 14-year-old technology – it’s been a great workhorse but it’s time for new technology and that’s what the Embraers will give us.”
Simpson described the new fleet as a “win, win, win” situation for BA, with advantages including the 2-2 layout instead of the 3-3 offering on the current Avro aircraft, as well as greater capacity in the overhead storage bins, which will undoubtedly please passengers with carry-on luggage at LCY.
The Embraer fleet will reduce Cityflyer’s CO2 emissions by 50 per cent, and will lower the carrier’s operating costs by around 27 per cent. The jets also have a greater range that their Avro predecessors, giving BA the option to introduce new services from London City, and while Simpson refused to be drawn on possible new destinations, he said that there was “a genuine opportunity for at least another five business routes” out of the airport.
BA will be the only carrier to operate the Embraer aircraft out of London City, which has strict rules on the type of aircraft that can use the facility, due to its steep take-off and landing procedures. Simpson said jokingly that he hoped “Embraer would not sell the aircraft to any other airline”, and there is no doubt that BA feels the jets will give them a unique selling point for its LCY customers.
The 170 model has a cabin height of two metres, and features smart, dark blue seats. The aircraft features a “double bubble” shape, meaning that instead of having a circular tube form, the bottom and top halves of the fuselage have distinct circular shapes, giving both greater storage space below deck, and a less cramped feeling for the passenger above. Seat width is 18.5 inches (excluding the armrests), while the aisle is 19.75 inches across.
The first jet will go into service at about the same time as BA starts its all-business class service from London City to New York using an A318 aircraft, and Simpson said that Cityflyer would use “every opportunity” to take advantage of onward traffic possibilities for its passengers arriving into LCY from places such as Edinburgh, Frankfurt and Munich.
Business Traveller will be publishing images of the new aircraft taken at the delivery ceremony next week, as well as pictures of a forthcoming jet being painted in its BA livery, so be sure to return to businesstraveller.com on Monday to view these.
Report by Mark Caswell