British Airways engineers and other technical staff based at Heathrow Airport are now travelling between assignments in a fleet of petrol-engined Mercedes-Benz Citans.
Supplied by the Heathrow branch of Rygor, all are long-bodied Traveliner 112 models with five seats.
Twenty-eight are now in service with the airline’s Ramp Operations team, which is expanding. A further 18 vehicles have gone to BA Engineering, while 11 more will be delivered shortly, for use by BA World Cargo Operations.
The 1.2-litre petrol-engined version has only just been introduced – and British Airways’ vehicles are the first to be powered by the new 114 hp unit.
BA contract management executive Billu Kler said: “Ours is not a typical transport operation. These vehicles are required to move staff from one aircraft stand to another, and between buildings around the airport.
“So journeys are invariably short, and undertaken at very low speeds. Diesel engines are not appropriate, because the fact that they never reach high temperatures means the particulate filters can struggle to cope and even become clogged.”
Kler added: “We were keen to keep things as simple as possible by identifying a single vehicle that would meet the needs of our various teams. After conducting trials our colleagues in BA Engineering concluded that the Long-bodied Citan Traveliner is the ideal size for the job, while our adoption of the petrol engine means the particulate filter issue does not arise.”
“Our experience of operating a variety of Mercedes-Benz trucks at Heathrow has shown them to be highly reliable and I’m confident the same will be true of our new Citans,” continued Kler.
“The service from Rygor, and particularly its sales executive Bill Cooper, has also been first class throughout this exercise.”
Cooper added: “As the national flag carrier British Airways is a highly prestigious customer, and a great advertisement for the Mercedes-Benz brand. We began talking to the airline about the Citan before the model was even launched, and have put a lot of work into winning this order, so it’s great to see these vehicles now in service around the airport.”