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British Airways Abu Dhabi passengers to be flown with budget airline Air Belgium

Instead of a shiny new BA “Dreamliner”, passengers between Heathrow and Abu Dhabi are about to find themselves aboard a 10-year-old Airbus belonging to Air Belgium.

As The Independent reported, British Airways has just finished chartering in the A340 for its Heathrow-Cairo link, normally operated by a Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

For 20 days from 15 September, flight BA73 from Heathrow to Abu Dhabi will be operated by the same Belgian airline. The aircraft will operate the inbound flight, BA72, for the same duration from 16 September.

British Airways, along with Norwegian and Virgin Atlantic, has 787s powered by Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engines. Some of the planes are facing long spells on the ground due to unexpected maintenance needs.

A spokesperson for BA said: “We’re doing everything we can to make sure our customers travel as planned, in light of continuing issues with Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engines which are affecting many airlines around the world.

“In order to fly as many customers as possible on their original dates of travel, we have leased an aircraft from Air Belgium.

“We are in touch with customers who are affected to offer them a range of options if they don’t wish to continue with their booking.”

British Airways’ first and premium economy classes are not available on the Air Belgium aircraft. 

BA’s rival, Norwegian, is to axe its link between Gatwick and Singapore. The news emerged less than a year after the route started. 

A Norwegian spokesperson said: “We continually evaluate our global network to ensure that we operate routes in response to customer demand.

“We have taken the decision to no longer operate our Gatwick to Singapore service from 12 January 2019 and use this capacity elsewhere on our network.

“Customers who have booked to fly after this period will be offered alternative options to reach their destination or a full refund.”

The Rolls-Royce engine issue is having reverberations elsewhere.

The Indian Ocean airline, Air Austral, chartered in an Airbus A380 “Superjumbo” belonging to HiFly to cover flights between Paris and Reunion which were due to be operated by the 787.

But while the A380 was being towed at Charles de Gaulle Airport, one of the aircraft’s Rolls Royce Trent 900 engines was damaged in a collision with a jet bridge.

No one was hurt. It is not known when the Superjumbo will return to service.

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