As a solution to on-going cabin crew strikes, British Airways is currently wet-leasing aircraft from both Qatar Airways and HiFly to operate flights across Europe, in order to keep up with demand.
The UK’s aviation regulator released this statement last week:
British Airways has requested to wet-lease nine Qatar-registered Airbus A320s and A321s from July 2 through July 16 — coinciding with the proposed strike.
The regulator said British Airways also wanted to use the aircraft “for additional periods, yet to be defined, for a maximum of two months.” The aviation authority said British Airways wanted to continue serving passengers while short-staffed. “The application has been made on the grounds that the lease is justified on the basis of exceptional needs,” the regulator said.
The move from the airline comes after British Airways mixed fleet cabin crew announced a two week strike over poor pay. The mixed fleet crew were hired several years ago as essential backups, when the airline previously had crew problems. Now the Unite union governing these flight attendants has forced industrial action after requests for increased pay were denied.
In order to cover the possibility of cancelled flights, British Airways looked to Qatar Airways, who own a 20% stake in the airline, to provide Airbus A320 aircraft as well as pilots and flight attendants to operate flights instead. British Airways have requested that the aircraft are flown on specific routes to minimise the effect on holiday makers.
The Qatari jets are configured in a C12Y132 layout, offering reclining business class compared to British Airways full economy seating, with a middle seat devoted to a tray table in “Club World,” a menial attempt at offering better service. Qatari crews also run the aircraft, providing better meal service as well.
In addition to wet leasing Qatar Airways aircraft, British Airways is also using HiFly Airbus A340-313 CS-TQZ (MSN 202) to operate certain routes with higher demand. Isaac Shenoy (@flightpath_aviation) flew on the aircraft, operating the BA349 service from Nice to London Heathrow.
The aircraft is configured in a F12C42Y213 seating layout, offering a larger and more spacious cabin as well as higher comfort and quality premium seats.