British Airways’ Unique ‘Baby Bus’ Airbus A318 Flown to Scrapyard

British Airways has flown its last all-business class Airbus A318 to the scrapyard where the unique ‘baby bus’ aeroplane will be dismantled.

Scrapyard

The British Airways Airbus A318 with tail number G-EUNA was flown two days ago (17th February) from Madrid Barajas Airport (MAD) to Twente Airport (ENS) in the city of Enschede, the Netherlands.

As is clearly visible on the map below, the Airbus A318 was granted a final flyover of London on its way from Spain to Holland.

Although Twente Airport is a small airport mostly used by a local flying club, it also has an on-site aircraft dismantling and recycling firm.

Called AELS, an acronym which stands for Aircraft End-of-Life Solutions, the company will dismantle and recycle the Airbus A318 which is only 11 years old.

british airways airbus a318 baby bus
Flight BA 9279 from Madrid to Enschede was the last ever flight of the British Airways Airbus A318. ©Flightradar24

All-business class

In its own right the Airbus A318 is not a particularly special plane as there are many more airlines around the world who are operating it, such as Air France and TAROM to name two.

However, the British Airways version of the Airbus A318 was rather unique. For years, BA had just two of these planes in their fleet, G-EUNA and G-EUNB (which has recently been sold to Titan Airways).

These British Airways A318s were affectionally called ‘baby bus’ by frequent flyers. What made them unique was mostly the fact that these two planes had an all-business class configuration, which meant there were just 32 seats in the cabin.

These were lie-flat seats in a 2-2 configuration, making it an intimate way to fly with so few other passengers on board.

british airways ba a318 baby bus
A British Airways captain flying an Airbus A318 into London City Airport. ©Screenshot

US flights

British Airways used these all-business class Airbus A318s to operate their unique flight route from London City Airport to New York JFK.

On the outbound, the narrow-body plane had to stop at Shannon Airport in Ireland to take on more fuel to be able to make the trans-Atlantic crossing. Due to tailwinds, the eastbound journey back to Britain could however be made without refuelling.

For passengers this extra stop on the outbound was however not bad at all because Shannon Airport has an US Customs and Border pre-clearance facility.

During the refuelling, passengers could already clear customs and immigration for the United States, which meant that the Airbus A318 could land at Kennedy Airport just like any other US domestic flight, saving passengers valuable time given the often long waits for international arrivals at JFK. It was really straight off the plane to the JFK taxi rank, basically!

Because of its departure from City Airport close to the financial heart of London and due to the absence of long waits at immigration and customs on arrival, the route managed to attract a niche but loyal following of deep-pocketed business travellers.

shannon airport us pre clearance
During the refuelling of the Airbus A318 at Shannon, British Airways passengers could go through passport control and customs at the airport’s US pre-clearing facility, meaning that they would arrive at New York JFK as ‘domestic passengers’. ©Screenshot

Corona

Unfortunately, the corona pandemic proved to be the nail in the coffin of the British Airways Airbus A318. As business travel has all but collapsed and both the US and the UK has introduced strict entry requirements, there really wasn’t much of a market left for this niche aeroplane and route.

Since 20th March 2020, G-EUNA has been in storage at Madrid Barajas Airport as the sunny and dry Spanish weather is far more suitable for long-term storage than the cold and damp British weather.

As the end of the corona pandemic is not yet in sight and aviation is likely to remain in a crisis in the years to come, it is therefore no surprise that British Airways decided to scrap the plane.

Other aircraft

The British Airways Airbus A318 is far from the only unique aircraft under threat by the corona pandemic. Two even more high-profile casualties have been the iconic Boeing 747 and double-deck Airbus A380.

Airbus has ceased altogether with the manufacturing of its giant Airbus A380, while a number of airlines such as KLM and again British Airways have scrapped or sold all their Boeing 747s, making them an increasingly rare sight these days.

british airways ba a318 baby bus
A British Airways Airbus A318 landing at London City Airport. ©Screenshot

In short

British Airways has scrapped its last Airbus A318 which brings an end to the unique ‘baby bus’ all-business class service between London City Airport and New York JFK.

For aviation geeks, British Airways loyalists and frequent London City flyers, this is of course sad news, as it really is an end of an era.

Given that so many other planes are nearing the end of their lives and more cuts are likely to come in the world of aviation, you are well advised to book a flight on your favourite aircraft as soon as possible.

If you wait too long, flights on some other unique planes or niche routes will most certainly be a thing of the past as well.

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Koen

Koen works as a freelance journalist covering south-eastern Europe and is the founding father and editor-in-chief of Paliparan. As a contributor to some major Fleet Street newspapers and some lesser known publications in the Balkans, he travels thousands of miles each year for work as well as on his personal holidays. Whether it is horse riding in Kyrgyzstan’s Tian Shan mountains, exploring the backstreets of Bogotá, or sipping a glass of moschofilero in a Greek beachside taverna, Koen loves to immerse himself into the local culture, explore new places and eat and drink himself around the world.

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