You have ‘British Airways’ (BA) that operates in South Africa and you have BA that operates internationally, yes two BA’s. If you’re flying to London from Cape Town or Johannesburg you’re flying with ‘British Airways PLC’ that is based in London but if you’re flying in South Africa to Cape Town from Johannesburg then you’re flying with ‘British Airways Comair’ which is actually a BA flight but is operated by Comair, a locally based company. This came about as South African aviation law only permits scheduled flights within South Africa to be operated by companies that have at least 75 per cent South African ownership. Additionally Comair also operates Kulula flights.

Largest British Airlines

BA is the largest airline in the United Kingdom based on fleet size, international flights and destinations and boasts a fleet of 261 aircraft. In 1972 the ‘British Airways Board’ was set up by the government to manage two national airline companies, namely ‘British Overseas Airways Corporation’ and ‘British European Airways’ including two additional regional airlines. 1974 brought about the amalgamation of the four airlines, forming ‘British Airways’. After being privatised in 1987 BA grew even further purchasing ‘British Caledonian’, ‘Dan-Air’ and ‘British Midland International’.

The BA fleet of 261 aircraft consists of Airbus’s A318, A319, A320, A321 and A380 and Boeing’s 737-400, 747-400, 767-300, 777-200, 777-300, 787-800.

Out of the Airbus 318 series, the 318-100 is the smallest aircraft but due to its steep approach compatibility is capable of flying long-haul from London City Airport. The 318 can carry 107 passengers however BA operate this aircraft with 32 business class seats across the Atlantic.

The Airbus 319-100 (part of the Airbus 320 series) in its category has the longest flying range and is a shortened derivative of the triumphant A320 with the only difference being that it is shorter by seven fuselage frames.

The Airbus 318-100, 319-100, 320-200 and 321-200 all comprise a single aisle with a twin-engine jet and with the exception of the 318-100, all are part of the Airbus 320 series, the world’s top selling aircraft line, manufactured by the ‘European consortium, Airbus Industrie’.

In comparison to the A320, the A321’s only variation is the stretched fuselage, a strengthened undercarriage, bigger tyres and more powerful engines.

Passengers have the benefit of enjoying on all of the above aircraft, except for the 318, moving map video screens, leather seating and the widest single-aisle fuselage.

The Airbus A380 has a wide body with a double-deck and four-engine jets and is the world’s biggest commercial passenger aircraft with the upper deck extending along the total length of the fuselage. In comparison to the Boeing 747-400 series, despite having more floor and headroom space, on take-off its 50 per cent quieter. A strong and light material, carbon fibre is utilised in main parts of the A380 with approximately 25 per cent of the aircraft’s overall structure being made from carbon-fibre reinforced plastic. Passengers benefit from audio and video systems at each seat with spacious, quiet cabins.

Boeing’s 737-400 is the most successful aircraft of the 737 series having sold approximately 5,000 throughout the world. It has a single aisle with twin-engine jets and is manufactured by ‘Boeing’, an American aerospace company. The 737-400 is based only at Gatwick airport.

BA is the largest operator of the Boeing 747-400 that comprises a wide body with four-engine jets and with the shape of its distinct upper deck, has been nicknamed ‘Jumbo Jet’. This aircraft services more than 210 international airports and is the world’s fastest commercial jetliner. In comparison to previous 747s, the 747-400’s most obvious aerodynamic improvement is the six foot longer wing with a six foot high winglet angled slightly outward and upward allowing for less fuel burn and extending the aircraft’s range. Passengers enjoy spacious cabins including personal audio and video systems located at every seat.

The 767-300 has a dual aisle, is a mid size with twin-engine jets and was the first wide-bodied twin jet to be manufactured. BA utilise this aircraft for their long-haul and European network, intermittently utilising it for domestic flights. Passengers benefit from personal audio and video systems on long-haul flights.

The Boeing 777-200 is a long-range with a twin aisle and twin-engine jets and operates on long-haul routes to North and South America, the Caribbean, Africa, Australasia, the Far and Middle East and Gulf destinations. Often termed as the ‘Triple Seven’, this aircraft was the first in the world to be entirely designed by computer. It comprises much larger engines with lower hanging gear for landing and today is one of the world’s biggest operators emerging as a best seller in long-haul commercial aircraft due to its superb fuel efficiency and comfortable cabins. This aircraft burns 20 per cent less fuel than the Boeing 747 and passengers enjoy wider, quieter cabins with high ceilings and personal audio and video systems.

The Boeing 777-300 similar to the 777-200 is operated on routes to Asia and North America and unlike the 777-200, this aircraft features a body that is longer, extended and raked wingtips, fresh main gear for landing, toughened nose gear as well as additional fuel tanks.

The Boeing 787-800 is a mid-size, has a dual aisle, twin engine jets and is 20 per cent more fuel efficient than other similar sized commercial jets. It is to date Boeing’s most fuel efficient aircraft with composite materials making up 50 per cent of the primary structure including the fuselage and wing. Noise levels inside and outside the aircraft are reduced by 60 per cent with the engine nacelles being made up of serrated edges and to further enhance fuel efficiency, the aircraft has raked wingtips. Windows are 30 per cent larger than other aircraft of this size and passengers can adjust the brightness by the mere push of a button instead of pulling shades up and down. Passengers enjoy additional cabin comfort with larger windows, lower pressurisation and higher humidity.