The Atlantic Update – Wednesday 29 August 2018

The Atlantic Update is published every Wednesday morning at 06:00 BST, providing a weekly bulletin on developments on transatlantic travel between Europe and North America.

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Manhattan Skyline
Manhattan Skyline (Image Credit: London Air Travel)

Hello and welcome to the The Atlantic Update for Wednesday 29 August 2018. As the summer draws to a close, we are beginning to see a number of announcements by airlines for their schedules for summer 2019.

Will “London Airways” return to UK regional airports?

A little over 10 years ago, BA earned itself the moniker “London Airways”.

The airline had been progressively reducing its presence at UK regional airports. It effectively paid Flybe to take its regional short-haul operations off its hands. The straw that broke the camel’s back for many regional passengers was the withdrawal of the last remaining long-haul flight from Manchester, a Boeing 767 service to New York JFK. The aircraft was transferred to Heathrow to enable BA to launch a new flight to Calgary.

For a time, it seemed that BA could leave regional transatlantic flights to its joint-venture partner American Airlines.

However, it has not worked out quite like that. American Airlines has withdrawn both New York JFK and, from 3 September 2018, Chicago, from Manchester. This leaves just one route to Philadelphia. Meanwhile, both Thomas Cook and Virgin Atlantic have built up credible networks to most major transatlantic gateways at Manchester.

The picture is similarly patchy at other regional airports. American’s seasonal routes from Glasgow to Philadelphia and Edinburgh to New York JFK are suspended permanently this year. United also flies to Newark from a number of UK regional airports.

Of course, American and BA do have by far the biggest prize of all, which is a dominant position at Heathrow. This is a market that can sustain nearly 30 flights a day to New York alone. They may be happy to leave regional flights to others and it does also have Aer Lingus to draw feed into its hub in Dublin. However, the transatlantic market is clearly growing in markets like Manchester. BA’s cost base is radically different from what it was ten years ago and, combined with an aircraft like the Airbus A321 Long Range, this could prompt a return.

Primera Air Diversions to Reykjavik

Primera Air’s troubled start to transatlantic operations continues.

After having to wet lease aircraft to cover some flights, it is now operating some flights on its Stansted – Newark route with a Boeing 737-800 aircraft in place of an Airbus A321. A consequence of this, yesterday’s flight to Newark had to stop in Reykjavik for refuelling. Publicly available flight data shows a number of flights from 2 September will also be operated with a Boeing 737-800.

Of course Reykjavik has, though the ambitions of Wow Air, been aiming to become the “Dubai of the North Atlantic”, but this is not what was intended.

Ad Hoc BA Boeing 787 Cancellations

Due to continued maintenance to BA’s Boeing 787 fleet there have been a number of ad-hoc transatlantic flight cancellations this week, specifically to Los Angeles, New Orleans, Newark, and Philadelphia.

Full details of known cancellations are contained here.

Labor Day Holiday

A gentle reminder if you are travelling to the US and Canada this week, Monday 3 September is Labor Day, marking the official end of summer and that pleasantly relaxed air in New York when the locals are out of town.

Also of note this week:

The American Airlines CR Smith Museum in Dallas reopens to the public this weekend. (American Airlines)

What it takes to be a a Delta Air Lines pilot. (Delta)

Late Post-Publication Updates

[Reserved for updates during the day.]

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