British Airways, the flagship carrier and the largest airline in the United Kingdom based on fleet size, is celebrating 80 years of flights to Hong Kong in 2016. One would think that the carrier wouldn’t have any more surprises up its sleeves, but happily, British Airways has more in store.
“British Airways has been serving the Hong Kong-London route for 80 years. We are constantly thinking of ways to develop our products and services to serve our customers in Hong Kong better,” says Noella Ferns, British Airways’ regional general manager, Greater China, and the Philippines.
British Airways’ route network currently serves more than 190 cities in 80 countries. It has been flying to Hong Kong for 80 years and currently operates 14 non-stop flights a week between Hong Kong and London. British Airways is the only carrier to operate an Airbus A380 on the route.
To understand why Hong Kong (and also Asia) is very near to British Airways’ hearts, here’s a bit of history: On 24 March 1936, British Airways’ predecessor Imperial Airways became the first commercial airliner to land at Kai Tak Airport. Back in 1936, a trip from London to Hong Kong would take eight days and a one-way ticket would cost £175, which is equivalent to £11,113 (HK$127,800) in 2016. The entire trip from London to Hong Kong 80 years ago involved 21 stops to change aircraft and refuel. Passengers would stay overnight in hotels in Alexandria (Egypt), Baghdad (Iraq), Sharjah (UAE), Jodhpur and Calcutta (India), and Bangkok (Thailand).
In Asia, apart from Hong Kong, British Airways is also flying to eight other markets namely Sydney in Australia, Beijing and Shanghai in China, Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad, Mumbai, and New Delhi in India, Tokyo’s Haneda and Narita in Japan, Seoul in South Korea, Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia, Singapore, and Bangkok in Thailand. “Our airline has a long tradition of connecting people and businesses between Asia and the U.K. and Europe,” says Ferns.
New offerings in store
British Airways will continue to deliver quality offerings to its customers as the years go by, and has already announced a couple of initiatives. In terms of technology, for instance, British Airways will be offering high-quality Wi-Fi connectivity on selected flights starting in 2017. Customers will be able to enjoy broadband internet access on their own mobile devices for emails, web browsing, social media, and video streaming. Passengers will have the bandwidth capacity to use multiple devices at the same time, and connection speeds will be similar to what they have at home.
Furthermore, British Airways’ mobile app also offers new features which allow customers to book flights using Apple Pay and to receive promotional upgrade offers. This gives customers the simplicity and flexibility to pay how they want with absolute peace of mind. It also puts Apple and Android smartphone users in the best possible position to take advantage of any promotional upgrade offers.
In terms of travel, meanwhile, British Airways has teamed up with the London-based developers of the AirPortr app, to provide a new luggage service for passengers travelling to or from London Heathrow, Gatwick, and London City airports. British Airways has become the first airline in the world to offer the “AirPortr + Bag Check-In” service. “Passengers who have booked the service check-in online with British Airways before the AirPortr driver arrives to collect their bags,” says Ferns. “The luggage will then be taken to the airport and checked-in for the flight. Passengers will then collect their bags at their destination.”
And on a more exciting note, British Airways will be opening new routes to several destinations in Europe. “We are thrilled to announce that seven new European routes will begin operating in the summer of 2017,” says Ferns. “This includes Brindisi and Nates in Italy, Montpellier in France, Murcia in Spain, Pula in Croatia, Tallinn in Estonia, and Zakynthos in Greece. We encourage travellers from Hong Kong to be the first to explore these exciting cities in 2017.”
Furthermore, British Airways has been serving the China market for more than 35 years. “We strive to make our product and service offerings more appealing to Chinese travellers by adding more local cultural flavours to our service,” says Ferns.
In July, British Airways opened one of the first Chinese cabin crew bases to offer more bespoke services to Chinese customers. Also, 66 Chinese cabin crews are now serving on our flights departing from both Beijing and Shanghai. “Our customers from China can enjoy the Chinese version of the airline’s in-flight magazine—High Life in-flight magazine—with content that is genuinely tailored to Chinese customers. We also offer an extensive choice of Chinese-language movies and TV shows through our in-flight entertainment system,” notes Ferns.
Aside from its future offerings, British Airways is also in the process of developing a bespoke corporate social responsibility programme for Hong Kong with a credible partner that’s tailored to benefit Hong Kong youth by harnessing their core skills and developing their interest in aviation.
This is still an ongoing development, but the carrier will have more to share when it is ready to make the announcement in 2017, according to Ferns.
As a carrier with a distinct footprint in Hong Kong and in Asia, British Airways upcoming plans will surely not disappoint. With a rich history here in the region, British Airways knows the sky’s the limit with regard to what it still has to give its customers.
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