Monday Briefing – 28 May 2018

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The books of Paul Jarvis on British Airways
The books of Paul Jarvis on British Airways (Image Credit: Amberley Publishing)

Hello and welcome to our Monday Briefing for the week beginning 28 May 2018, summarising the main developments in air travel over the past week, and a look the week ahead.

BA Winter Schedules

BA has started to update its schedules for the winter season, which officially starts on Sunday 28 October 2018.

The changes at Heathrow are detailed fully here.

In addition to changes in Africa below, Warsaw moves from Heathrow Terminal 3 to 5. Palermo is suspended for the winter. BA also returns to Moscow Sheremetyevo International Airport.

There has been a conspicuous lack of announcements at London Gatwick so far. We have detailed here known seasonal changes to long and short-haul routes.

BA has yet to announce how the 20 or so slots it has acquired from Monarch will be used beyond the end of September. It is known that some slots have been leased to other airlines, notably Qatar Airways which has now relaunched Gatwick – Doha. However, that still leaves a substantial number of slots to be used over the winter.

The mixed fortunes of BA in Africa

BA announced the suspension of another route in Africa last week: London Heathrow – Luanda is suspended from Thursday 7 June 2018.

Whilst BA has also announced the launch of a seasonal London Heathrow – Marrakech service, this latest news follows the suspension of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania in 2012; Lusaka, Zambia in 2013; Freetown and Monrovia in 2014; and Entebbe, Uganda in 2015.

It also suspended a number of routes it inherited from bmi including Addis Ababa, Casablanca and Khartoum.

In South Africa, it’s a very different story.

Aided by the withdrawal of South African Airways and Virgin Atlantic from London – Cape Town, BA is the sole operator of the route from London Heathrow where BA can dispatch up to three Boeing 747s in the winter.

BA is also launching a new direct route to Durban. Not only that, BA also adding more flights to Johannesburg in the winter, with four weekly flights operated with a Boeing 787. This is on top of two daily Airbus A380 departures.

There are of course economic and geopolitical reasons behind many of these suspensions, but its network in the region is diminishing rapidly behind other European airlines. If BA ever follows Aer Lingus in ordering the Airbus A321 long range aircraft, this may change matters.

Qantas continues to go full circle in Europe

Five years ago it seemed that Qantas’ fate in Europe was sealed.

It had tore up its near 20 year old joint-business with BA in favour of new joint-venture with Emirates.

In the process Qantas abandoned all flying to Europe via Asia. There were even questions as to whether Qantas would continue serving Europe at all.

Five years on, Qantas is progressively sidestepping its five year relationship with Emirates. It reinstated London – Singapore – Sydney. Then came the suspension of London – Dubai – Melbourne in favour of a direct route to Perth.

Qantas has now reinstated its former codeshare relationship with Air France, with Qantas adding its code to Air France flights between Paris Charles de Gaulle and Hong Kong and Singapore.

Will Qantas also renew its codesharing with BA between London and Australia?

Well, the divorce in 2013 was reported in the Australian press to be quite acrimonious. The two airlines now have a very limited relationship. Qantas puts its code on a small number of BA short-haul flights at Heathrow. Whilst BA continues to codeshare with Qantas on flights from Singapore and in Australia, BA also has a codeshare relationship with Cathay Pacific and a joint-business with Qatar Airways.

BA and Qantas have also moved apart in other ways. They no longer operate joint lounges in Bangkok and Singapore. Qantas now has its own lounge at London Heathrow and Qantas no longer uses BA lounges in New York JFK and San Francisco.

Whilst nothing in air travel should be taken for granted, it’s more likely than not the two airlines, which once came close to merging, will continue to go their own separate ways.

Paul Jarvis

We were sadded to hear that Paul Jarvis the curator of the British Airways Heritage Collection passed away recently.

This was just after his latest book British Airways: 100 Years Of Aviation Posters was published.

One of the things we have learned running this site is just how ephemeral a lot of online content can be. Airlines delete historic press releases and images from their online media centres. Videos are removed from official YouTube channels. When Virgin America was officially merged into Alaska Airlines its entire Instagram account was deleted.

Not only that, virtually all websites have no choice but to degrade the quality of a lot of media to maintain site loading speeds to satisfy search engines.

Third party platforms can also not be relied on remain in pertetuity. Not long ago it seemed that Facebook was on course to becoming the internet itself, but will it survive public enquiries on both sides of the Atlantic?

With digital now the main means by which airlines promote and communicate, it is important that high quality archive material is retained in the public domain. Hopefully in the case of BA, Paul’s work will be continued.

Also of note this week:

There was a time when before going to any destination for the first time you had to do your homework first.

Without the internet and resources like TripAdvisor, let alone a smartphone, you had to be armed with a guidebook and a map.

(Before TripAvisor it was only when you checked into your accommodation did you understand what guidebook descriptions “basic” and “lively” actually meant..)

In the case of guidebooks, it was typically a choice of the Rough Guide, Time Out or Lonely Planet. Tony Wheeler, co-founder of Lonely Planet looks back at its 45 year history. (Financial Times)

The Sunday Times interviews Sir Richard Branson on the “imminent” launch of Virgin Galactic and its plans for Virgin Hyperloop One. (The Sunday Times)

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