Royal Brunei Airlines has announced that it will resume its London Heathrow-Dubai route after four years of absence. The fifth-freedom route was axed in 2018 in lieu of direct flights between the UK and Brunei’s capitals. Now, the carrier is resuming both flights to bring in more passengers.

Back again

According to Aeroroutes, Royal Brunei is bringing back its Bandar Seri Begawan (BWN) – Dubai International (DXB) – London Heathrow (LHR) route from November 1st. Flights will operate thrice weekly, with the following schedule:

  • BI 97: Operating Sunday, Wednesday, and Friday. Leaving BWN at 20:25 and arriving in DXB at 01:10 AM, and departing DXB at 03:00 and reaching LHR at 07:20 AM (+1).
  • BI 98: Operating Sunday, Wednesday, and Friday. Leaving LHR at 17:00 and reaching DXB at 04:15 AM, and departing DXB at 05:45 AM and reaching BWN at 17:30 (+1).
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Royal Brunei Airlines Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner V8-DLC

Notably, the direct BWN-LHR (BI3/4) will continue to operate thrice weekly with a block time of 15.5 hours. The new one-stop BI97/98 takes 18.5 hours, adding three hours and nearly hours on the ground in Dubai before landing in London. Notably, the fifth-freedom DXB-LHR route is not on sale just yet and may not be available until the end of the winter season.

Dreamliner on the route

Royal Brunei will use its trusty Boeing 787-8, which seats 254 passengers in a two-class configuration. This includes 18 lie-flat business class seats and 236 in standard 3-3 economy. The plane is also deployed for long-haul routes to Australia and Europe, including the direct London service.

The carrier operates five 787-8s and nine A320s (seven A320neos and two A320s) in total, meaning London will now occupy two valuable Dreamliners. However, given the high-revenue nature of the route, London is likely a good choice for the carrier.

Airbus A320neo Royal Brunei

Royal Brunei’s new A320neos are built for long-haul travel and will be flying to Melbourne this winter. Photo: Airbus

Notably, London is the only route seeing an expansion this week. Royal Brunei is also planning to add two flights to Melbourne in December using the Airbus A320neo. The new narrowbodies come with modern in-seat entertainment screens for all passengers to spend the 7+ hours in the back of the A320.

What is a fifth-freedom flight?

Occasionally, you might notice a seemingly random airline operating a route between two countries that it is not native to. Think Emirates from Milan to New York or Singapore Airlines from Milan to Barcelona. These routes are known as ‘fifth-freedom’ flights, allowing airlines to operate flights between two countries where they are not based. To start any such routes, government permission is needed, which may be difficult to receive depending on local competitors.

Royal Brunei’s flight from Dubai to London is another such example of a long-haul fifth-freedom flight. While currently not on sale, eventually, we will see DXB-LHR also flown by Royal Brunei, giving passengers another option on the Emirates-dominated route.

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