Monday Briefing – 12 March 2018

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London Heathrow Terminal 5 (Image Credit: Heathrow)
London Heathrow Terminal 5 (Image Credit: Heathrow)

Hello and welcome to our Monday Briefing for the week beginning 12 March 2018, summarising the main developments in air travel over the past week, and a look the week ahead.

It’s a week of anniversaries. This week marks both ten years of the official opening of London Heathrow Terminal 5 and the operation of scheduled Airbus A380 passenger flights from London Heathrow.

Ten Years of London Heathrow Terminal 5

Wednesday 14 March 2018 marks the 10th anniversary of the official opening of London Heathrow Terminal 5.

The start of passenger flights on 27 March 2008 is something both BA and Heathrow would rather forget as neither side covered themselves in glory.

However, after a difficult start and IT issues aside, Terminal 5 did trigger a radical improvement to BA’s Heathrow operation compared to the days of Terminals 1 and 4. Terminal 5 was also catalyst to a signifiant improvement of rest of Heathrow, driven by both the airport and airlines.

We take a look back at the opening of the terminal as well as how much Heathrow has changed in ten years.

Ten Years of the Airbus A380 at London Heathrow

Another Heathrow anniversary this week: On Sunday 18 March 2018, Singapore Airlines will have operated the Airbus A380 at London Heathrow for ten years.

We take a look at 10 years of the Airbus A380 at London Heathrow.

This brings us neatly on to..

The sheer chutzpah of Virgin Atlantic (Part 1)

You have to admire the sheer chutzpah of Virgin Atlantic.

In 2005, Virgin Atlantic generated huge amounts of PR with an order for 6 Airbus A380 aircraft. It mooted the possibility of double beds, in-flight gyms, beauty parlours and casinos.

Sir Richard Branson even quipped at the time: “To be perfectly honest, it would be quite nice if BA were to buy some A380s as well – because it would support British aerospace and it would support Europe.”

Officially, Virgin’s order was deferred. It wasn’t until 13 years later, last week in fact, that the airline that once daubed “4 Engines 4 Long-Haul” on its aircraft, officially confirmed to Bloomberg (and only after a change to the Airbus order book was spotted online) that its order has been cancelled.

(BA now has 12 Airbus A380s at Heathrow.)

The sheer chutzpah of Virgin Atlantic (Part 2)

You have to admire the sheer chutzpah of Virgin Atlantic.

Last week, Virgin Atlantic invited a cast of journalists to a Central London venue on Wednesday night for a major announcement.

Was it a glimpse at the new Airbus A350? A new Upper Class cabin perhaps? May be plans for a revamped Heathrow Clubhouse?

No, Virgin was unbundling its economy product to align itself with its transatlantic joint-venture partner Delta. More details here.

International Womens Day

Many airlines around the world marked International Womens Day last week with all female flights. Here are two films from Air Canada and BA:

Inside the World of the Frequent Flyer

Last week, Monday 5 March 2018, BBC Radio 4 stepped, in a rather sardonic fashion, Inside the World of the Frequent Flyer.

If you haven’t heard it yet, it is available for download and streaming and it is certainly worth a listen.

On a similar note, the board of International Airlines Group is expected to review changes to its Avios programme this month so changes to the BA Executive Club could be announced in the coming weeks and months.

Also of note this week:

Christopher Orlebar An Obituary. (The Times)

Qatar Airways relaunches London Gatwick – Doha (London Air Travel)

Here are the latest editions of the Monday Briefing (including this week):

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