Monday Briefing – 29 April 2019

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easyJet - Inside The Cockpit
easyJet – Inside The Cockpit (Image Credit: ITV)

Welcome to our Monday Briefing for the week beginning 29 April 2019.

Norwegian’s Credit Crunch?

Last week was not a good week for airlines in Northern Europe.

Danish, Norwegian and Swedish unions representing pilots at SAS have been on strike since Friday. Whilst some London flights are still operating, there have been cancellations to some flights on all routes from London Heathrow to Copenhagen, Oslo, Stavanger, and Stockholm. Disruption is expected to continue today and tomorrow.

Finnair reported an operating loss of €16.2m for the first quarter, compared to a profit of €14.8m for the previous year. Finnair has cited higher fuel prices and over-capacity in Europe (as Lufthansa has done) as well as relatively slow growth in China compared to its other main long-haul markets in Japan and North America.

However, this all pales into insignificance compared to Norwegian which reported a pre-tax loss of nearly NKr2bn (~£178m).

One figure that stands out on its balance sheet is sharp increase in receivables year on year from NKr7,677m to NKr10,703m. This suggests that credit card companies are holding back some funds as security. Such similar moves caused significant problems for Flybe, before it was acquired by the Connect Airways consortium.

Norwegian has reiterated that it is looking to moderate growth by deferring aircraft deliveries and is now focused on cost control. Whilst deliveries of Boeing 737 MAX and Airbus A321 Long Range aircraft have been deferred this year, it has yet to present a firm revised plan for the coming years.

“easyJet: Inside The Cockpit” Returns

In recent years, organisations have become extremely guarded about giving access to TV production crews.

Many, such as The Royal Opera House, learned to their cost the risks of allowing TV camera crews to roam free in their corridors. Access is now tightly controlled and scenes are largely stage managed for the cameras. TV production companies, also facing ever tighter budgets and production deadlines, have little choice but to oblige. This has been very evident in recent TV series featuring BA and Virgin.

One exception has been “easyJet: Inside The Cockpit”. This uses a style of filming known as “fixed rig”, also used in series such as “Educating Yorkshire” and “One Born Every Minute” on Channel 4. Cameras are fixed into place and no production crews are present when filming. This is not without risk – the last series did result in complaints to the UK communications regulator OFCOM over some comments by flight crew.

“easyJet: Inside The Cockpit” returns for a second three part series this coming Thursday 2 May, on ITV (UK). The first episode features easyJet flight crew dealing with ill passengers, aborted landings in Innsbruck, and easyJet’s inaugural flight to Aqaba in Jordan. 

Qantas looks back at the “Fiesta Route”

In a few months’ time we should learn whether Qantas will order long-range aircraft capable of flying from London to Melbourne and Sydney non-stop.

The first flights from London to Australia can be traced back to the 1930s when Imperial Airways operated joint-services between London and Australia. It involved multiple stops in Europe, the Middle East and Asia before reaching Australia. After the resumption of commercial aviation following the Second World War, BOAC and Qantas operated joint-services between London and Australia, on what became known as the “Kangaroo Route”.

When BOAC and Qantas took delivery of the Boeing 707 aircraft, they both operated transpacific services between London and Australia. BOAC flew from London to Australia via New York, San Francisco, Hawaii and Fiji as per this film from British Pathe. The inaugural flight was in 1967.

Qantas, however, took a slightly more exotic routing known as the “Fiesta Route” via Bermuda, The Bahamas, Mexico City, Acapulco, Tahiti and Fiji. The inaugural flight took place in 1964, but the route was to only last a decade as the more efficient and longer range Boeing 747 came into service. Qantas looks back at the route.

In case you missed it:

Air Canada extends London Heathrow – Halifax / St John’s Boeing 737 MAX cancellations to 31 July 2019. (London Air Travel)

BA continues to cancel its London Heathrow – Doha service in May 2019, with passengers rebooked on to Qatar Airways. (London Air Travel)

BA’s plan for new aircraft deliveries. (London Air Travel)

BA suspends London Gatwick – Fort Lauderdale. (London Air Travel)

BA completes the refurbishment of its Club lounge at New York JFK. (London Air Travel)

Also of note this week:

Air New Zealand is voted Australia’s most respected company. Ouch Qantas & Virgin Australia. (NZ Herald)

Crossrail has updated on its plans to launch the Elizabeth Line, with the first central section not expected to open until late 2020 at the earliest. However, the new Crossrail station at Bond Street will be delayed further. (Crossrail)

The mini-tribes of frequent flyers. (Financial Times)

Obituary: Patricia St-Leon, former Qantas cabin crew. (Sydney Morning Herald)

From the archives of the Sydney Morning Herald, the first Australian air mail flight to London. (Sydney Morning Herald)

SWISS on its training of on board Sommeliers. (SWISS)

Virgin Atlantic’s London Marathon runners. (Virgin Atlantic)

Late post publication updates:

[Reserved for updates during the day.]

BA has published images of its new Club lounge at New York JFK. (London Air Travel)

BA plans to change the pricing of Avios reward flights on partner airlines from 30 May 2019. (BA)

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