This week British Airways previewed its new long-haul service from London to the Russian capital, which will kick off on March 25.
From the beginning of the summer schedule the airline will deploy four-class B747s and three-class B767s on the route, replacing the two-class 767s and A320s previously used.
It is the first time BA will have offered First and Club World on the London-Moscow route, and the shortest flight on which the airline will offer fully-flat beds.
At this week’s launch party for the service in Moscow (also attended by actress Gillian Anderson, who flew in to promote it – see picture), BA chief executive Keith Williams said:
“We are fully committed to the Russian market and the needs of Russian customers. British Airways is very proud to have been flying to Russia for more than half a century. I am delighted that we are enhancing our services to Moscow on our three return flights per day. No other airline offers such a premium service on the four-hour flight between our two capital cities.”
The first of the airline’s three daily flights, BA233, will be operated on a B747 with First, Club World, World Traveller Plus (premium economy) and World Traveller (economy) classes. It will depart Heathrow T5 at 0825, arriving at Moscow Domodedovo at 1525. The return flight BA232 leaves the Russian capital at 1715, landing in London at 1805. BA is in the process of rolling out its new First product, and it cannot yet guarantee that the B747 on this route will always feature it.
The other two flights – BA235 and BA237 – will depart Heathrow at 1105 and 2130 respectively on three-class B767 aircraft (without First), arriving in Moscow at 1805 and 0430. Return flights BA234 and BA236 will leave Russia at 1925 and 0550, arriving back into London at 2030 and 0655.
It could be seen as a bold step to place long-haul aircraft on a sector of this length when many UK companies continue to stipulate that employees fly short-haul in economy. But Richard Tams, the airline’s head of sales and marketing for the UK and Ireland, told Business Traveller that the decision was the result of customer demand.
He said: “It’s been driven by the market at both ends, in Russia and the UK. There has been demand for a long-haul luxury product for quite a while. There are a lot of Russians with disposable income who want to fly on such a product but also UK customers flying on to onward destinations.”
Tams added: “For the UK corporate market, Moscow is an increasing financial centre and the capital of one of the BRIC countries. It’s a financially important route. Russia has experienced economic growth in the past ten years, and growth in the luxury market. There are a lot of Russians living in London with business interests here who are commuting weekly.”
He said that fares would go up as a result but “not by a massive amount”. Fares for First are priced from £2,216, with Club World starting at £1,116, World Traveller Plus at £622 and World Traveller £292. Current lead-in prices for the short-haul service are £971 for Club Europe and £287 for Euro Traveller (economy).
Business Traveller tried out the new service on a preview flight this week – for reviews of both sectors click here.
Visit ba.com for more information.
Report by Michelle Mannion