Monday Briefing – 29 October 2018

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International Airlines Group Airlines & Businesses
International Airlines Group Airlines & Businesses

Welcome to our Monday Briefing for the week beginning 29 October 2018, summarising the main developments in air travel over the past week.

IAG Capital Markets Day

International Airlines Group will be holding its annual Capital Markets Day this coming Friday 2 November 2018.

The event is primarily aimed at institutional investors with industrial quantities of Powerpoint and talk of Earnings Per Share and Return On Invested Capital. However, there should be presentations by individual IAG member airlines. There are also often some fairly “candid” views, particularly post-lunch, from IAG CEO Willie Walsh.

In previous years, it’s at these events we have first learned of BA’s plans to “densify” its Gatwick based Boeing 777s and to revamp Club World.

Developments we will be looking out for this year from IAG and BA may include:

– BA’s plans for its centenary year in 2019

– At least some outline plans for introducing a new Club World seat with the Airbus A350-1000 in 2019

– Possible improvements to in-flight catering amenities in First Class and World Traveller Plus

– Lounge investment plans for 2019, most likely Geneva, Johannesburg, Manchester and San Francisco and at least a timescale for revamping the London Heathrow lounge complex

– BA’s plans for expansion at Gatwick in 2019

– Possible plans to redevelop some facilities at London Heathrow Terminal 3 in conjunction with American Airlines

– Timescales for a revamp of the Avios frequent flyer currency

If there is anything of note, we will share on Friday morning from 08:00 GMT.

Why Virgin Atlantic will not be flying to Perth

Interest was piqued this week when Sir Richard Branson told Brooke Corte of the Australian digital channel “Your Money” that Virgin Atlantic wants to launch non-stop flights to Perth “as soon as possible”.

This was widely repeated online. However, nobody seemed to check with the Virgin Atlantic press office to confirm whether it was true or not.

Sir Richard Branson is President of Virgin Atlantic. However, by his own words, he has little involvement in the day-to-day running of the airline. Virgin Group is a majority shareholder for now, but is expected to sell part of its stake to Air France-KLM in the next 12 months. This will leave Delta as the single largest shareholder in the airline.

With Virgin Atlantic seeking to return to profitability and the imminent merger of Delta’s transatlantic joint-venture with Virgin into its longer standing joint-venture with Air France-KLM, it seems implausible that Virgin would return to Australia.

Virgin Atlantic stopped flying to Australia in May 2014 when it suspended its London Heathrow – Hong Kong – Sydney route. Also bear in mind what Virgin said when it launched the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner:

“It will also be instrumental in introducing new routes like Bangkok, Melbourne, Rio de Janeiro, Seattle, Toronto and Vancouver. Due to the long range of the aircraft, both Perth and Hawaii are currently under consideration.”

Virgin currently only flies to one of these: Seattle.

Whilst this sort of behaviour has diminished, Virgin has form in announcing things that don’t ultimately happen.

When Virgin Atlantic placed its now cancelled order for six Airbus A380s it expressed a desire to fit the aircraft with gyms, beauty salons, and casinos.

Some ten years or so ago, it also announced its intention to launch all business class flights from London and European airports to the US.

Market conditions may have played a part in these plans not being realised, but a public company would never have the luxury of such ambiguity.

BA begins winding down Boeing 767 operations

BA has begun to wind down its Boeing 767 short-haul operations.

The 767 is no longer operating to Frankfurt or Madrid. Athens, Edinburgh, Rome and Stockholm will follow this week. Currently, the last scheduled return Boeing 767 flight is London Heathrow – Larnaca on Sunday 25 November 2018.

Qantas Calls Singapore Home

Qantas confirmed last week that it is to open a new First Class lounge in Singapore in 2019.

It will also expand its existing business class lounge to address capacity issues.

After previously cancelling all flights to Europe via Singapore in favour of Dubai, it has this year reinstated London – Singapore – Sydney. It has also reinstated codeshares with Air France on Paris – Singapore and launched a new codeshare with KLM on Amsterdam – Singapore. Qantas clearly has more freedom to pursue codeshares in its renewed joint-venture with Emirates.

With Qantas also pursuing regional codeshare relationships with Air New Zealand and Cathay Pacific, where there is a lot of history, many more announcements may follow.

In case you missed it:

Fancy a watch made with aluminium from Concorde? It’s yours from £9,495. (London Air Travel)

BA short-haul route moves between Gatwick and Heathrow from late March 2019 (London Air Travel)

BA updates on its investigation into the cyber attack on ba.com (London Air Travel)

Also of note this week:

This was mentioned in our weekly Atlantic Update but it proved quite popular so it’s worthy of a repeat mention. A SWISS return flight from Zurich to Los Angeles with a visit to the Mojave desert in between and some excellent photography from the cockpit. (Part 1) and (Part 2)

Finnair on Helsinki airport’s plans for expansion. (Finnair Blue Wings)

Qantas reflects on one year of Boeing 787 operations. (Qantas)

On The Tube, the Circle and Hammersmith & City lines, along with parts of the District and Metropolitan lines will be closed this weekend. (Transport for London)

Late Post Publication Updates:

[Reserved for updates during the day.]

The Chancellor of the Exchequer has announced that rates of Air Passenger Duty for long-haul flights will increase in line with the Retail Price Index from 1 April 2020. Short-haul flights are not affected. (HM Revenue & Customs)

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