British Airways has invested £5bn in new and upgraded aircraft as well as innovative technologies to ensure that our business and leisure customers continue to enjoy a top class and unparalleled travelling experience across the globe.
The A380 Airbus is one of British Airways' key investments and will become the largest in our long-haul fleet, with capacity for 469 customers across four cabins. There is a lot of anticipation about our services starting later this year on what is the world's largest commercial aircraft and we hope that our Northern Ireland passengers will be some of the first to experience it!
We will be taking delivery of 12 aircraft over the coming months beginning in July and the first Airbus will fly to its inaugural destination, Los Angeles from London Heathrow. Seats are now on sale for travel from October 15, though A380 enthusiasts eager to be on the very first commercial services should note that dates for these will be announced once plans for training flights are completed. The second A380 route will be Hong Kong and customers can book flights now for travel from November 15.
With over 90 years expertise in serving our customers and catering for their needs, the British Airways A380 double-decker superjumbo fleet is designed to ensure that our passengers travel in the luxury, comfort and style for which British Airways is renowned. The First cabin has been evolved from the current First class and will offer 14 seats on the main deck, providing customers with extra personal and stowage space. The Club World cabin will feature 44 seats on the main deck and 53 seats on the upper deck. There will also be 55 seats on the upper deck in the new World Traveller Plus layout as well as 104 seats in the World Traveller upper cabin and 199 World Traveller seats on the main deck.
The aircraft's innovative design makes it much quieter during take-off and landing and more fuel efficient than previous aircraft. Once on board, our passengers can also benefit from smarter and more elegant cabins. British Airways' latest Thales in-flight entertainment system will give customers the choice of up to 50% more movies, doubling the TV shows, audio programmes and music previously on offer. There will be new larger screens in all cabins with an easy-to-use system and shortcut buttons. In-seat power will also be available for the first time in all cabins so our business and leisure customers can make use of their personal devices such as laptops onboard.
British Airways' investment in the A380 Airbus not only extends to the actual aircraft but has also entailed a multi-million pound redevelopment of our Heathrow engineering base to support the maintenance of an aircraft of this size. This includes raising the height of the entrance to one of our aircraft hangars to accommodate the aircraft's 24-metre high tailfin.
At British Airways, ease of connection and providing a seamless, hassle- free travelling experience for our Northern Ireland passengers is vital. With up to seven flights a day from Belfast City airport to London Heathrow, we provide business travellers with excellent connectivity to our extensive global network.
We're very excited about the imminent arrival of the A380 Airbus and are confident it will deliver the highest possible customer experience and hope that many Northern Ireland customers will get to experience it first hand in the near future.
British Airways is sponsoring the Belfast Telegraph Business Awards 2013