British Airways is Back: Two Asian Capitals Rejoin Route Network 

Skift Take

After a major retreat from Southeast Asia during the pandemic, some doubted if these destinations would ever return to the BA route map.

British Airways (BA) is returning to two major Asian capital cities. Bangkok will rejoin the route map in October, with Kuala Lumpur beginning in November. 

Both destinations were served by the UK flag carrier before the pandemic. However, their lingering absence from the post-Covid network left many wondering if they would return at all.

Kuala Lumpur is due to start on November 10 and will operate from the carrier’s primary home and hub at Heathrow Airport. As a clear statement of intent, BA will fly daily on the revived route, with its full spectrum of cabin options. 

The Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner rostered for the route is in a four-class configuration. There will be eight seats in First, 42 in Club (business class), 39 in World Traveller Plus (premium economy), and 127 in World Traveller (economy). 

Commercial Shift for Bangkok

British Airways is taking a rather different commercial approach for its Bangkok service. Thailand is a hugely popular destination for visitors from Britain and surrounding markets, but it has historically been a leisure-heavy route. Price-sensitive backpackers and beach-lovers don’t usually make for a lucrative flight.

BA will be hoping that the soaring popularity of ‘premium leisure’ traffic will help boost the profitability of the revived Bangkok link. This was a key trend discussed just last week during parent company IAG’s annual results.

The developments come as Thailand seeks to overhaul its image. Last year, the country’s tourism authority launched a major new marketing campaign with a focus on more meaningful travel.

British Airways will fly thrice weekly from its secondary London base at Gatwick Airport to the Thai capital. This marks a notable change from its pre-pandemic daily service from Heathrow.

Flights will be operated by older three-class Boeing 777-200ERs during the coming winter season and start on October 28. 

As British Airways’ domestic air connectivity at Gatwick is almost non-existent, the airline will be drawing many outbound passengers from the London airport’s enormous catchment area.

Competitive Pressures

Despite being a major global player, BA faces incredibly tough competition for travel from London to both destinations. 

From Heathrow, Thai Airways and EVA Air operate nonstop to Bangkok, while Malaysia Airlines flies daily to Kuala Lumpur. 

An additional threat comes from Middle Eastern carriers who channel tens of thousands of European passengers a day through hubs such as Dubai and Doha and onwards to Asia. Fares are often low, with regional departure and arrival points adding to the appeal.

Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur joins Abu Dhabi (UAE), Agadir (Morocco), and Izmir (Türkiye) as new or restarted destinations for British Airways this year.

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