British Airways axes Kuala Lumpur, suspends Sydney and Bangkok till November

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British Airways is permanently cutting service to Kuala Lumpur, Seoul and Osaka, while the oneworld carrier’s Sydney and Bangkok flights won’t see a return before November 2021.

British Airways has taken a knife to a swathe of international routes, with cuts to its usual network set to take effect including the permanent withdrawal of service on three Asia-Pacific routes, such as Kuala Lumpur, and a seasonal pause for flights to Sydney and Bangkok until at least November 2021.

The carrier will cease operations on a total of 13 routes next year, according to information provided to the airline’s trade partners, with no plans to return to these cities currently on the cards.

Kuala Lumpur will end

Most notably for our readers, flights to and from Kuala Lumpur, just a short hop from Singapore, will be cut from BA’s network.

The airline previously had a 14-year gap in service on the route, discontinuing it in 2001, but reinstating flights to the Malaysian capital with 4-class Boeing 777-200ERs in March 2015.

Flights switched to the Boeing 787-9 with newer cabin products later that year, in December 2015.

BA’s Kuala Lumpur flights benefited from the airline’s latest First Class product on the Boeing 787-9. (Photo: British Airways)

This was a good way to pick up First Class award space to London using Avios points or Asia Miles, with generally better availability than the Singapore route, provided you were prepared to take a short hop to KL in the afternoon or evening to give yourself sufficient time for BA34’s midnight departure.

The Kuala Lumpur route was temporarily suspended for six months in 2020 due to the COVID-19 situation, however it has been back in operation a couple of times per week since October 2020.

BA’s final Kuala Lumpur to London flight will depart on 28th March 2021, leaving fellow oneworld carrier Malaysia Airlines as the only operator on the city pair.

Permanent cuts

BA’s full list of permanent route cuts taking effect from the start of the summer season in late March 2021 is as follows:

  • Abu Dhabi (AUH)
  • Calgary (YYC)
  • Charleston (CHS)
  • Dammam (DMM)
  • Durban (DUR)
  • Kuala Lumpur (KUL)
  • Jeddah (JED)*
  • Lima (LIM)
  • Muscat (MCT)
  • Osaka (KIX)
  • Pittsburgh (PIT)
  • Seoul (ICN)
  • Seychelles (SEZ) – last service 24 Apr 2021

* Short-term Hajj flights will operate in July 2021

Aside from Kuala Lumpur, in this region both Osaka and Seoul will suffer from the cull.

That’s not too surprising in the case of the Japanese city, which was a new addition in 2019 and has already seen frequency reductions before COVID-19, but it does seem like a big loss for South Korea, with BA exiting that market having resumed services there some eight years ago.

British Airways has already retired its last Boeing 747s from service, but now 13 routes will also follow. (Photo: Heathrow Airport Limited)

British Airways is far from the only airline globally to be scaling back its route network post-COVID, with Singapore Airlines announcing in September this year that its services to Canberra, Dusseldorf, Stockholm and Wellington will not be returning.

Seasonal suspensions

BA will temporarily suspend service to three cities for the summer 2021 season, but in these cases the airline plans to reinstate operation from November 2021:

  • Bangkok (BKK)
  • San Jose (SJO) – last service 17 Apr 2021
  • Sydney (SYD)