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British Airways powers 1st transatlantic flight following lifting of US restrictions with SAF

Photo: British Airways

British Airways flight BA001 became the airline’s first flight to depart for the U.S. Nov. 8, as the country lifted restrictions imposed on British travelers for more than 18 months.

The BA001, the flight number previously reserved for Concorde, departed Heathrow at 8:30 am Nov. 8 in a synchronized take-off with Virgin Atlantic’s VS3 flight. Both flights were bound for JFK airport in New York City.

The British Airways A350 flight is being directly powered by a 35 percent blend of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) provided by BP and made from used cooking oil. It is believed to be the first commercial transatlantic flight ever to be operated with such a significant level of the fuel blended with traditional jet fuel.

The airline’s newest and most fuel-efficient long-haul A350 aircraft are up to 40 percent more efficient than the Boeing 747-400 Jumbo Jet aircraft that used to operate between London and New York. Combining this modern aircraft efficiency with a blend of SAF means the flight’s overall CO2 emissions are more than 50 percent less than those emitted by the now retired 747 aircraft that previously operated on this route.

In addition, British Airways also offset all emissions associated with the flight, to demonstrate the various ways in which the airline is decarbonizing its operations.

In September, British Airways announced a collaboration with BP to source SAF in respect of all flights between London, Glasgow, and Edinburgh during the COP26 conference. British Airways’ parent company International Airlines Group recently committed to operating 10 percent of its flights using SAF by 2030.

The lifting of US restrictions after more than 600 days means that fully vaccinated Britons are now able to travel freely between the two countries—something that has not happened since March 16, 2020. The changes have enabled British Airways to meaningfully restart direct services to 17 U.S. destinations. The airline is set to extend its services to 23 U.S. airports this winter, with up to 246 flights a week, more than any other transatlantic carrier. Flights to New York will increase from five to eight per day in December. There will also be double-daily services to Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Washington, Dallas, Miami, and Toronto, as well as daily services to Philadelphia, Phoenix, Seattle, Atlanta, Denver, Houston, and Vancouver.


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