Monday Briefing – 10 December 2018

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Monday Briefing Montage

Welcome to our Monday Briefing for the week beginning 10 December 2018.

At the risk of being proved wrong, news tends to thin out in the run up to Christmas so this is our last Monday Briefing for 2018. It will return on Monday 14 January 2019.

2018 has been a tough year for the industry.

The oil price remains volatile. Primera Air and Cobalt Air have failed. Flybe is searching for a buyer. WOW air is scrambling to secure new financing. Etihad is shedding itself of aircraft, lounges and routes.

There are still questions over Norwegian. Last week, it reported a fall in its load factor from 83.7% to 78.8% year on year as revenue growth did not keep up with capacity expansion of more than a third.

Alitalia somehow stumbles on regardless.

2019 will be no less an eventful year.

Indeed, before it has even begun we know to expect:

– BA’s Centenary Celebrations

– BA and Virgin Atlantic both introducing the Airbus A350-1000 aircraft and new Club World and Upper Class cabins respectively.

– easyJet launching a new frequent flyer currency.

– JetBlue possibly announcing new transatlantic routes from Boston and New York to London.

– Qantas confirming whether it will launch non-stop flights from London to Sydney.

– Virgin, subject to regulatory approval, launching a new combined transatlantic joint-venture with Air France-KLM; and relaunching its frequent flyer programme.

– WestJet introducing the Boeing 787 with its first international business class cabin at Gatwick.

The one thing you won’t be seeing is Crossrail as this is now expected to be delayed until 2020.

Buckle up, it’s going to be quite a ride!

Virgin Atlantic Industrial Action

The Professional Pilots Union which represents approximately a third of Virgin Atlantic pilots announced a series of strikes last week.

The first set of industrial action will take place from Saturday 22 December 2018 to Tuesday 25 December 2018.

We’ve seen enough airline industrial disputes over the years to know that the source of the dispute is never quite as presented in public. And we’ll certainly pass on commenting on the issues behind the dispute itself as these discussions best take place behind closed doors.

Virgin has said very little so far. It is inevitably downplaying the potential impact.

Initially, Virgin said “We expect to fly services as planned, so customers can continue their journeys this Christmas as planned”. It now says “all of our customers will be able to complete their journeys this Christmas as planned”.

This is not quite the same, and suggests there may be some consolidation of flights.

In case you missed it:

BA launches London Heathrow – Ljubljana and Montpellier. (London Air Travel)

LOT launches London City – Vilnius. (London Air Travel)

easyJet launches London Gatwick – Dusseldorf. (London Air Travel)

Royal Air Maroc joins Oneworld. (London Air Travel)

Fiji Airways is now a Oneworld Connect partner. (London Air Travel)

BA Club World > Club Europe downgrades. (London Air Travel)

BA gives away one million Avios. (London Air Travel)

BA trials check-in at the Sofitel Terminal 5. (London Air Travel)

Also of note this week:

Crossrail is expected to receive a third injection of funding, this time £1bn, and the line may not be ready until late 2020. (Financial Times)

Malaysia Airlines is to rebrand First Class on its Airbus A350 and A380 aircraft as Business Suites. (Australian Business Traveller)

Late Post Publication Updates:

[Reserved for updates during the day.]

Our Monday Briefing will return at 06:00 GMT on Monday 14 January 2019. If you have any comments, suggestions or tips then please drop us a line at mail [@] londonairtravel.com

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