Monday Briefing – 1 April 2019

Welcome to our weekly briefing on air travel in London and around the world, published every Monday at 06:00 BST.

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Nigel Havers & Sally Lindsay with British Airways cabin crew
Nigel Havers & Sally Lindsay with British Airways cabin crew (Image Credit: Channel 5)

Welcome to our Monday Briefing for the week beginning 1 April 2019, mercifully free of April Fools stunts.

A “Disruptor” Falls

Last week, WOW air joined eos, FlyGlobespan, Laker Airways, MaxJet, Primera Air, Silverjet and Zoom on the roll call of defunct transatlantic airlines.

WOW air was founded by a technology entrepreneur. Very often when a legacy carrier is being publicly harangued for a customer service failing, the air travel market is cited as being ripe for “disruption”. If only someone could do to air travel what Uber did to the taxi industry. The answer is that the two could not be more different. Uber is a capital light company that has relied on circumventing local laws. Air travel is, for good reasons, the exact opposite.

Aside from the merits of its business model, one significant cause of WOW air’s downfall was pursuing too much growth too quickly. The basic rules remain the same: pursue steady, disciplined growth, and only when it adds to profitability.

WOW air’s failure is unlikely to deter many more new entrants to the transatlantic market. Indeed, next week JetBlue is expected to announce the launch of transatlantic flights to Europe.

“First Class vs Economy”

Nigel Havers and Sally Lindsay compare First Class and economy on British Airways on Channel 5 (UK), at 21:15 Tuesday 2 April 2019.

They travel from London Heathrow to Washington Dulles in economy and First Class as both passengers and cabin crew. For the latter they undergo training at BA’s Global Learning Academy.

The programme is an extension of an “Upstairs Downstairs” format from last year where the two actors explored luxury hotels acting as both staff and guests.

On a related note, a production crew from Title Role productions who made “British Airways 100 Years In The Sky” for Channel 5 last year have been doing more filming for BA in recent weeks at a number of locations around the world, including Toulouse for the launch of the Airbus A350. A production crew is currently filming in Japan for the launch of BA’s inaugural flight to Osaka yesterday.

Asia Pacific Update

There’s been a lot happening in the Asia Pacific market over the past week or so:

Asiana Airlines’ co-CEO Park Sam-koo has resigned from the airline after it had to restate its financial results for 2018 as its auditors could not sign off its accounts. (Reuters)

Cathay Pacific has acquired Hong Kong Express from the heavily indebted conglomerate HNA Group which will remain as a standalone airline. It operates a fleet of Airbus A320 series aircraft to destinations around Asia. HNA Group continues to hold interests in other airlines such as Beijing Capital Airlines, Hainan Airlines and Tianjin Airlines, who all serve London Heathrow. (Cathay Pacific)

Jet Airways has announced a financial restructuring which sees lenders exchange their debts for a majority stake in the airline. Its founder Naresh Goyal will also leave. Jet Airways has been forced to cancel flights as aircraft have been grounded. Pilots have also not been paid their salaries for some months. Jet Airways says it intends to repay outstanding salaries to pilots and return its schedules to normal. As part of changes to its network it has cut London Heathrow – Mumbai from three times to twice daily.

Paul Scurrah has taken up the position of CEO and Managing Director of Virgin Australia. Paul was appointed to the role last month and was previously CEO of DP World Australia. He replaces John Borghetti.

In case you missed it:

The evolution of Virgin Atlantic Upper Class (London Air Travel)

Flybe launches London Heathrow – Isle Of Man (London Air Travel)

Late Post Publication Updates:

[Reserved for updates throughout the day.]

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