LONDON, UK: British Airways' first Boeing 787 Dreamliner arrives at London Heathrow on 27 June 2013 (Picture by Jeff Garrish/British Airways)

LONDON – British Airways will launch flights between London-Heathrow (LHR) and Osaka-Kansai International Airport (KIX) starting March 31, 2019.

The new flight to Japan will start operating on a four times per week basis with the carrier’s Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner.

This will take the number of daily flights between London and Japan to 32 per week thanks to joint business agreements with Japan Airlines (JL).

Flight BA19/JL7078 will depart from LHR at 14:20 and arrive in KIX by 09:50 the next day every Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday.

The return, BA20/JL7079, will depart Osaka at 11:30 and arrive back into London at 15:50, all local times on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.

BA’s 25th 787 Dreamliner, G-ZBJI. Photo courtesy of British Airways

According to British Airways, this new route responds to rising tourism demand in Japan, as it is set to grow from 24 million annual visitors in 2016 to 40 million by 2020.

Expanding on this was Sean Doyle, BA’s Director of Network and Alliances. “Our partners Japan Airlines and Finnair have demonstrated that Osaka is a hugely popular route with leisure and business travelers alike, so we are excited to launch direct flights from London, giving customers another gateway,” he said.

According to Doyle, BA’s experience in Japan “soaks well, especially as November this year will celebrate 70 years of operations to Tokyo.”

“This new route will also open up more opportunities for companies to explore and build the business in the region so we’re expecting this new service to be well received by our customers,” he added.

Photo courtesy of British Airways

Hideki Oshima, Japan Airlines’ Executive Officer of International Relations and Alliances admitted being excited with the announcement of this new route in British Airways’ network.

“Not only does it provide more choices and greater convenience for our passengers traveling between Japan and Europe, but it is also great news for the Kansai region,” he said.

This new route to Osaka is part of a £4.5 billion strategy that the airline has been implementing over the past couple of years.

Under the plan, 17 new routes (including Osaka) will be launched over the course of the next two years.

This investment also includes funding for the installation of WiFi, power outlets in every seat, fitting 128 long-haul aircraft with new interiors and the delivery of 72 new planes.

BA had previously served Osaka until 1998. The airline will now be returning to this destination hoping to regain some lost ground.

It will be interesting to see what the load factors will be on this service, bearing in mind already existing connections to Japan from Heathrow overall.