Monday Briefing – 17 June 2019

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

London Air Travel » Monday Briefing

CGI Image of Heathrow Airport Masterplan 2050
CGI Image of Heathrow Airport Masterplan 2050 (Image Credit: Heathrow)

Hello and welcome to our Monday Briefing for the week beginning 17 June 2019.

Is “Basic Business Class” on the horizon?

Over the past few years, most network airlines have introduced some form of “basic economy” long-haul fare.

The rationale for this was that low cost airlines such as Norwegian introduced fares that do not include, inter alia, a checked luggage allowance or free seat assignment. As many customers choose fares through price comparison sites, airlines believed that they have to offer a similarly competitive fare to capture these customers.

Like low cost airlines, these fares are offered based on the ability, whether the customer intended to or not, to up-sell at little marginal cost additional services after booking. It is intended to, at best, be revenue neutral.

Emirates confirmed last week that it is launching a new form of business class fare that does not include a car service to the airport nor lounge access. Seat selection privileges are also restricted and frequent flyer mileage accrual is also reduced.

This fare is not available on all routes and from a cursory scan of Emirates booking engine it does not appear to be available on any flights from London to Dubai.

Does this mark the start of the unbundling of business class?

This is not the first time airlines have discriminated between different groups of business class passengers.

BA requires Club World passengers who are not Silver & Gold members of the Executive Club to pay a fee to select a seat at the time of booking. Virgin Atlantic only provides a car service to the airport for passengers booking certain types of Upper Class fare. Indeed, business class was born out of airlines wanting to provide more to passengers buying full fare economy tickets.

Airlines have also got better at targeting different passenger groups – there are competitive Club World fares available for passengers willing to fly mid-week and book more than six months in advance.

It is a slippery slope if airlines start a full unbundling of business class. Airlines have always been fearful of business class passengers trading downwards, hence why so many took long to introduce premium economy – a stepping stone between economy and business class that Emirates does not yet have. The whole structure of airline fares and ground and onboard services is to encourage passengers to trade upwards.

Whilst price is a factor in securing business class passengers, there are many other factors too, namely networks and schedule, ground services and onboard product.

Successful business class products come from really understanding the needs of business passengers. It is this that led to valuable innovations such as fully flat beds, arrivals lounges and Fast Track immigration channels. If airlines start dismantling this – the clue is in the brand name most synonymous with business class “Club” – then it is a slippery slope downwards.

Heathrow Expansion Consultation

Heathrow will launch a statutory consultation on the expansion of airport tomorrow, Tuesday 18 June.

This follows an earlier consultation exercise this year. The significance of this exercise is that its fundings will be incorporated into a final proposal to the Planning Inspectorate next year.

After a period of public examination, the Secretary of State will then make a decision whether to grant a Development Consent Order which will encompass most of the authorities required to construct the third runway. This process is expected to take at least 18 months.

The consultation will cover four areas:

  1. Heathrow’s preferred masterplan for expansion, including the layout of the new north west runway (CGI image above) and supporting airport infrastructure, as well as the pace of expansion in the number of flights.
  2. How the airport will operate with a third runway such as how it will alternate flights between the three runways, a possible ban on scheduled night flights, and how additional flights may operate before the third runway opens.
  3. Heathrow’s assessment of the impact of expansion on the environment and local communities
  4. Heathrow’s plans to mitigate the impact of expansion in areas such as air pollution, carbon and noise.

The consultation will close on 13 September 2019 and more details will be available at the Heathrow Consultation Hub.

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Monday Briefing – 10 June 2019

London Air Travel » Monday Briefing

British Airways Airbus A350-1000, Toulouse
British Airways Airbus A350-1000, Toulouse

Welcome to our Monday Briefing for the week beginning 10 June 2019.

Airbus Prepares A321XLR Aircraft

The Paris Air show gets underway next Monday.

Airbus is widely expected to unveil its Airbus A321XLR aircraft, the latest variant of its largest single range aircraft. Bloomberg reports that American Airlines is considering this as a replacement for the Boeing 757. It is claimed Airbus A321XLR would be capable of flying from American’s principal hub in Dallas Fort Worth to Central Europe – where its presence is weak due to the lack of Oneworld alliance partners.

In the UK, American currently uses the 757 aircraft to fly seasonally from Edinburgh to Philadelphia. American has cut its presence at UK regional airports, notably Manchester, and this may help it reinstate previously suspended routes.

IAG has also been cited as a potential purchaser, but is likely to want to see how the Airbus A321LR performs for Aer Lingus first.

On an Airbus related note, every month it publishes an updated list of aircraft orders and deliveries.

Based on the update for May published last week, BA has reduced its orders for Airbus A320neo aircraft from 25 to 22 aircraft and increased Airbus A321neo aircraft from 10 to 13 aircraft. Based at London Heathrow, the Airbus A321neo has a capacity for 220 passengers, compared to 180 for the Airbus A320neo.

Staying with BA and Airbus, BA’s first Airbus A350-1000 aircraft emerged in its full Chatham Dockyward livery in Toulouse last week. The airline has not yet confirmed the exact delivery date to London Heathrow and will do so when Airbus gives one months’ notice. You will be seeing more of BA’s Airbus A350-1000 in production as Title Role Productions (who produced “British Airways: 100 Years In The Sky” for Channel 5 last year) have been filming in Toulouse for a forthcoming TV series recently.

The Boeing 747 Centenary Flights That Weren’t

There was a blip last week in what has so far been a well choreographed year of BA centenary celebrations.

BA has removed from its schedules three Boeing 747 flights to Glasgow, Manchester and Newcastle on the day of its centenary, Sunday 25 August 2019.

BA described as coverage of these flights as “speculation”, a common form of non-denial denial. What exactly has happened behind the scenes isn’t known. However, the airline may have been deterred by negative coverage – written by some who really should know better – of the environmental impact.

UK Bank Holidays

The Government has announced that the next early May Bank holiday will be moved from Monday 4 May to Friday 8 May 2020 to mark the 75th anniversary of VE Day.

Alas, Prime Minister Theresa May did not feel inclined to give the UK an extra public holiday as parting gift.

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Monday Briefing – 3 June 2019

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

London Air Travel » Monday Briefing

Airbus A330neo aircraft
Airbus A330neo aircraft (Image credit: Airbus)

Welcome to our weekly Monday Briefing for the week beginning 3 June 2019.

Reuters: Virgin Atlantic in talks to order Airbus A330neo

Reuters reports that Virgin Atlantic is in talks with Airbus to order up to ten Airbus A330neo aircraft.

This report has emerged ahead of the Paris Air Show which is due to begin in two weeks’ time on Monday 17 June 2019.

There are two Airbus A330neo models, the A330-800 and A330-900. The Airbus A330-900 has a range of 7,200 nautical miles and is designed to accommodate 260-300 passengers.

Virgin Atlantic’s 49% shareholder Delta Air Lines has also ordered 35 of the aircraft, having increased its order from 25 aircraft in late 2018.

The aircraft is currently operated by TAP Air Portugal, which will have 19 of the aircraft in its fleet by the end of this year, and Air Mauritius. Other airlines to have placed significant orders for the aircraft include Air Asia X which will take delivery of its first aircraft later this month.

In terms of where this fits into Virgin’s fleet plan, the airline has 12 Airbus A350-1000 aircraft on order and is currently leasing three Airbus A330-200 aircraft to compensate for Boeing 787 issues. Virgin has taken delivery of all ten Airbus A330-300 aircraft and 17 Boeing 787-9 aircraft it has ordered. Its last remaining 5 Airbus A340-600 and 8 Boeing 747-400 aircraft are due to be retired in the coming years.

South African Airways CEO Resigns

The South African Broadcasting Corporation reports that its CEO Vuyani Jarana has resigned from the airline.

Vuyani Jarana will leave the airline at the end of August and the South African Airways board has started a search for a successor. A lack of progress in its turnaround strategy has been cited as the reason for his departure.

South African Airways has not reported a profit in eight years. It has significantly reduced its presence in London, having cut Cape Town and reduced Johannesburg to once daily.

Vuyani Jarana recently gave an interview to the Centre for Aviation for the IATA AGM on the challenges facing the aviation industry in Africa.

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Monday Briefing – 27 May 2019

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

London Air Travel » Monday Briefing

Islamabad, Pakistan
Islamabad, Pakistan (Image Credit: British Airways)

Welcome to our Monday Briefing for the week beginning 27 May 2019.

BA Returns To Islamabad

BA returns to Islamabad this Sunday after a more than ten year absence.

BA had suspended all flights to Pakistan in September 2008 following the bombing of the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad.

In recent years BA has relied on codeshares with Qatar Airways to serve a number of destinations in Pakistan including Karachi and Lahore.

This is a relatively tentative return with three Boeing 787-8 flights a week. The route used to operate six times weekly with a Boeing 777-200 aircraft.

It was clear from the route announcement last year that there had been discussions between the governments of the UK and Pakistan on restarting the route. It is going to be watched very closely, both in terms of commercial performance and any potential security issues.

Air New Zealand Aircraft Order

Air New Zealand has this morning announced a new aircraft order.

It has ordered 8 Boeing 787-10 aircraft, with options for a further 12 aircraft. These will be delivered from 2022 to 2027 and will replace 8 Boeing 777-200 aircraft. Air New Zealand also has 13 Boeing 787-9 aircraft and 7 Boeing 777-300 aircraft in its fleet.

Joint-Venture Struggles

There are more signs that regulators are taking a tougher stance against airline co-operation and joint-ventures.

More than three years ago BA, Iberia and LATAM announced plans for a joint-business on routes between Europe and Latin America. Regulatory approval, which was initially expected to take 18 months, has been granted by Brazil, Uruguay and Colombia.

Approval was also granted by Chilean Free Competition Defence Court late last year but was subject to an appeal by a consumer group to the Chilean Supreme Court. Last week, the court has denied approval for the joint-venture.

Meanwhile in Australia, the International Air Services Commission has issued a draft decision denying approval for Cathay Pacific to codeshare on certain Qantas flights from Australia to Hong Kong.

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Monday Briefing – 20 May 2019

London Air Travel » Monday Briefing

Thomas Cook aircraft
Thomas Cook aircraft

Welcome to our Monday Briefing for the week beginning 20 May 2019.

Thomas Cook

There was more bad news for Thomas Cook over the weekend after it announced its half-year results with a loss of nearly £1.5bn on Thursday.

The bulk of the loss was a goodwill writedown in respect of its acquisition of MyTravel in 2007. However, the loss prompted Citigroup to claim Thomas Cook’s shares are worthless.

Sky News reported on Saturday that one credit card acquirer company that works with Thomas Cook in the Nordic region is reported to be seeking to hold on to customer payments for longer.

Key for Thomas Cook is the sale of its group airline. Whilst this has attracted interest, given it is known that Thomas Cook must complete the sale, and quickly, in the cold hard world of commercial negotiations, it is going to face demanding terms from potential purchasers.

Qantas Flight 72

More than ten years have passed since Qantas flight 72 was involved in an incident en route from Singapore to Perth on 7 October 2008.

The A330-300 aircraft, carrying 303 passengers and 12 crew, experienced two uncontrolled nosedives following a computer failure. It made an emergency landing at Learmonth Airport in Exmouth, Western Australia. A large number of passengers and crew were injured, and some experienced life changing physical and psychological injuries.

The Captain of the aircraft, Kevin Sullivan, has written a book “No Man’s Land: The Untold Story Of Automation On QF72” which will be published in the UK by HarperCollins on 27 June 2019.

In advance of publication, Kevin Sullivan has given an interview the Sydney Morning Herald.

Virgin Australia contemplates frequent flyer programme sale

Staying in Australia, Virgin Australia issued a profit warning last week, citing weaking demand.

The airline which has a complex history and ownership structure, with multiple shareholders with competing interests (Singapore Airlines, Etihad Airways, HNA Group, Nanshan Group and Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group), expected profits to be AUD$100m lower than last years profit of AUD$64.4m.

Its entire strategy is under review by its recently appointed CEO Paul Scurrah, which may explain the desire to get bad news out early, and some route network changes have already been made.

It is also contemplating a sale of a stake in its Velocity frequent flyer programme, of which it currently owns 65%. Like an airline selling off Heathrow slots, this is an easy means to raise cash in the short-term, but is of little benefit in the long term.

Heathrow “Britain’s Busiest Airport” Returns

Heathrow “Britain’s Busiest Airport” returns for a fifth series at 20:30 on ITV (UK) tomorrow.

Across no less than 12 twelve parts, it uses the all too common production devices of familiar recurring characters, this series covers the fall out of the Gatwick drone closures last Christmas.

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Monday Briefing – 13 May 2019

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

London Air Travel » Monday Briefing

A picture of a Virgin Atlantic Boeing 747 outside Terminal 2 at Manchester airport.
Virgin Atlantic Boeing 747, Manchester Airport (Image Credit: Manchester Airport)

Welcome to our Monday Briefing for the week beginning 13 May 2019.

There’s Trouble Ahead

It’s been more than ten years since the aviation industry experienced a major crisis, which was of course the collapse of Lehman Brothers and its impact on the global financial system.

Since then, in Europe there’s been a clear delineation between the three major airline groups (Air France-KLM, IAG, Lufthansa), low cost carriers (easyJet, Ryanair) and smaller airlines, many of whom such as Air Berlin and Monarch, have gone out of business.

The larger airlines and groups have certainly had individual challenges to deal with, but they have been aided by buoyant demand and the absence of a single major economic or geopolitical shock.

There are signs of trouble ahead. Last week, International Airlines Group reported a fall in profits for the first quarter of 2019. Whilst IAG can claim to be the only big three European group to be profitable in the quarter, that profit came only from BA. Other IAG airlines such as Vueling reported very sharp falls in profit. Demand in mainland Europe appears to be softening and there is industry-wide over-capacity. There are also tensions in the Middle East and the prospect of a growing trade war between China and the US bubbling under.

Not even Emirates is immune from challenges. It reported a sharp fall in annual profits last year and yesterday Reuters reported yesterday that its Chief Commercial Officer has resigned from the airline.

On Saturday, The Times reported that easyJet is expected to unveil its worst half-year losses on Friday in the region of £275m. The Sunday Times also reports that Thomas Cook will report half year pre-tax losses of around £227m this Thursday.

Virgin Atlantic has expressed an interest in buying Thomas Cook’s long-haul UK airline business. It’s far from unusual for Virgin to make its interest known when an airline is up for a sale. However, Virgin is in expansion mode and buying part of the airline would give it a much stronger position in Manchester. The one big the risk factor is the age of Thomas Cook’s Airbus A330 fleet which is around 20 years’ old.

BA Fleet News

A few items of BA fleet news in the past week:

As reported last week, Boeing 787 Dreamliner issues are not going away for BA. There are blanket cancellations over the coming months to Abu Dhabi, Doha and Mumbai and many more tactical cancellations up to the end of August. Full details are here.

BA is now around two-thirds of its way through its Gatwick Boeing 777 refurbishment programme. A ninth aircraft is currently in Singapore for refurbishment. Full details of the routes on which refurbished aircraft are operating are here.

BA has taken delivery of its fifth Airbus A321 Neo aircraft at London Heathrow. There are two ten Airbus A320 Neo and five Airbus A210 Neo aircraft at London Heathrow.

In case you missed it:

Cathay Pacific unveils a refreshed brand identity with the strapline “Move Beyond”. There’s nothing particularly groundbreaking here, but as a historically conservative with a small c airline, Cathay is clearly trying to shout a little louder. (London Air Travel)

Also of note this week:

The Airline Insolvency Review, established following the collapse of Monarch in 2017, proposes a Flight Protection Fund, financed by a fee of up to 50p on passenger tickets issued in the UK, to pay for the repatriation of UK passengers when airlines fail. This has drawn short shrift from airlines. (Gov.UK)

Finnair, which has previously expressed a desire to play a part in European consolidation, foresees remaining an independent airline. (Financial Times)

A Boeing 787 pilot and train driver swap simulators and compare notes. (Virgin Atlantic)

Monocle magazine, through the prism of its editorial worldview, selects its annual Travel Top 50. (Monocle)

Late post publication updates:

Qantas launches “Points Plane” – – a one-off flight from Melbourne to Tokyo in October which will be available solely to frequent flyers redeeming frequent flyer miles. (Qantas)

Air France plans to cut domestic short-haul capacity by 15% by 2021 and will cut 500 jobs through voluntary redundancy. (Financial Times)

WestJet has announced it is to be acquired by private equity firm Onex Corporation. (WestJet)

Our Monday Briefing is published every Monday at 06:00 BST. If you have any comments, suggestions or tips then please drop us a line at mail [@]

Monday Briefing – 6 May 2019

London Air Travel » Monday Briefing

Eurowings Halloween Barb (Image Credit: Eurowings)
Eurowings Halloween Barb (Image Credit: Eurowings)

Welcome to our Monday Briefing for the week beginning 6 May 2019.

18 months or so when Ryanair was on the receiving end of another periodic bout of public opprobrium, Eurowings posted the image above on social media as its Hallowee’n fancy dress outfit.

Ryanair is having the last laugh. In publishing its quarterly results last week, Lufthansa Group revealed an overall loss of €342m. Of its airlines, only SWISS was profitable and there were widening losses of €256m and €99m respectively at Eurowings and Austrian Airlines.

Eurowings has a complex history and operation with multiple air operating certificates. It has grown to become one of Europe’s biggest low cost airlines largely from the transfer to it of Lufthansa short-haul routes outside of Frankfurt and Munich (including routes to many cities in Germany at Heathrow), low cost long-haul flights initially from Cologne in 2015, and the acquisition of aircraft from Air Berlin in 2018.

Austrian Airlines is also feeling significant competitive pressure from the rapid expansion of Laudamotion, LEVEL and Wizz Air in Vienna.

To address this Lufthansa is focusing on improving productivity at Eurowings. It will also launch long-haul flights at Frankfurt later this year. Austrian Airlines is also to reshape its network and simplify its fleet, with a greater focus on Vienna.

There was a similarly downbeat outlook from Air France-KLM which reported a widening loss of €320m for the first quarter. International Airlines Group will report its quarterly results this coming Friday.

Heathrow Third Runway Judicial Review

As has been widely reported, the Mayor Of London, a number of London Borough Councils and Heathrow Hub Ltd have lost judicial review proceedings in the High Court against the Secretary of State For Transport concerning the decision to allow a third runway at Heathrow.

A judicial review concerns not so much the merits of the third runway at Heathrow but rather whether the Government acted lawfully in reaching its decision. It is a difficult test to meet and these cases are not easily won.

There are two judgments handed down by the High Court. One judgment is in the case brought by the Mayor Of London and London Borough Councils. A second judgment in the case brought by Heathrow Hub Ltd.

Few will probably be inclined to even begin reading either of the judgments, but a cursory scan of the cast of thousands involved, and their sheer length, illustrates just how complex airport policy and planning issues are.

Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 Engines Update

Airlines are continuing to suffer from the impact of the grounding of Boeing 787s and additional maintenance to Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engines. At present, around 35 aircraft are grounded worldwide.

Rolls-Royce provided an update to investors last week, confirming that it has now settled compensation claims with airlines. Rolls-Royce has previously advised that the cash cost of disruption, which includes compensation, is £1.5bn. Rolls-Royce also expects the number of grounded aircraft to be in the single digit range by the end of 2019. Should this not be the case, IAG has made it clear this will have a significant impact on its long-term relationship with Rolls-Royce.

We continue to implement the fixes to improve the health of the Trent 1000 fleet. Retrofits of the new design of the Intermediate Pressure Compressor (IPC) blade for the Package C variant are underway. Additionally, inspections of Trent 1000 TEN High Pressure Turbine Blades (HPTBs) are progressing and work continues on testing a redesigned HPTB for the Trent 1000 TEN ready for introduction into the fleet in early 2020. Based on our current understanding of the situation and fleet management plan, our guidance for in-service cash costs on the Trent 1000 in 2019 and 2020, as published with our 2018 Full Year Results on 28 February, remains unchanged.

In case you missed it:

BA has unveiled its new Club lounge at New York JFK. BA’s press photographer is flying to New York today to photograph the lounge so more photos should be available shortly. (London Air Travel)

BA introduces new M&S Buy On Board short-haul menus. (London Air Travel)

BA adds third party lounge access at more airports on its short-haul network. (London Air Travel)

BA launches worldwide flights and holidays sale. (London Air Travel)

Aer Lingus, four years later than planned, is to introduce its new “AerSpace” premium seating on select short-haul routes. (London Air Travel)

Also of note this week:

A snippet on the BA vs Financial Times battle: This article by The Guardian’s media editor Jim Waterson suggests that the decision to remove the FT from BA aircraft and lounges actually came from Willie Walsh at IAG. BA’s parent company does not usually get involved in the minutiae of BA’s service offerings. (The Guardian)

A “blueprint” for direct high speed rail services from London to Bordeaux is presented to the Mayor of Bordeaux. (Railway Gazette)

The Connect Airways consortium is seeking to recover funds in the tens of millions withheld from Flybe by credit card processing companies. (Financial Times)

Monocle 24 continues its review of the “golden era” of civil aviation with a look at Braniff’s uniforms designed by Emilio Pucci and its advertising campaign “The End of the Plain Plane”. This edition also features interviews with former cabin crew from the 1960s from airlines such as Continental. (Monocle)

Qantas has appointed Tino La Spina, currently Qantas Group CFO, as CEO of Qantas International following the sudden departure of Alison Webster. The prospect of a management reshuffle has prompted speculation whether Qantas Chairman Richard Goyder is preparing to replace Alan Joyce as CEO. According to commentary in the Australian press, Alan Joyce is likely to stay on for another three years, most likely to see out Qantas’ centenary next year and the launch of non-stop flights from London to Melbourne and Sydney. (Sydney Morning Herald)

Virgin Atlantic marks the thirtieth anniversary of its in-house engineering team. (Virgin Atlantic)

Our Monday Briefing is published every Monday at 06:00 BST. If you have any comments, suggestions or tips then please drop us a line at mail [@]

Monday Briefing – 29 April 2019

London Air Travel » Monday Briefing

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)

Our Monday Briefing  is published every Monday at 06:00 BST. If you have any comments, suggestions or tips then please drop us a line at mail [@]

Monday Briefing – 22 April 2019

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

London Air Travel » Monday Briefing

Welcome to our Monday Briefing for the week beginning 22 April 2019.

Sri Lanka

Following yesterday’s events in Sri Lanka, additional security measures have been put in place at Bandaranaike International Airport.

The airport has advised passengers to arrive four hours before scheduled departure. Sri Lankan Airlines is also providing additional assistance to its customers at its ticket offices and call centres.

Should a curfew imposed yesterday be extended further passengers will still be able to travel to the airport by presenting their passports and tickets to security officers.

A number airlines that serve Sri Lanka, including Cathay Pacific and Emirates have implemented flexible rebooking policies for all passengers.

Norwegian Financial Results

Norwegian publishes its first quarter financial results this coming Thursday 25 April.

These will be keenly awaited to see how Norwegian has survived what is traditionally the toughest quarter and whether measures such as switching some routes to seasonal have been effective.

Norwegian has already advised that it has reached an agreement with Airbus to defer planned deliveries of Airbus A320neo and Airbus A321 long range aircraft. This will reduce capital expenditure by $570m over the next two years.

BA Adds Mumbai Flights

Following the collapse of Jet Airways which, despite being claimed to be a temporary suspension, is unlikely to ever return to the skies, BA has scheduled additional flights between London Heathrow and Mumbai.

BA will add four weekly flights from Sunday 2 June 2019, which will take its flights from Heathrow to Mumbai up to three times daily. BA135 departs Heathrow at 17:50 on Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. BA134 departs Mumbai at 12:10 on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday.

As part of tactical cancellations announced in March BA139 from Heathrow to Mumbai is cancelled from Friday 14 June to Sunday 30 June 2019. BA138 from Mumbai to Heathrow is cancelled from Saturday 15 June to Monday 1 July 2019.

Monocle on the “Golden Era” of aviation

Monocle continues its audio series on the “golden era” of aviation.

The third episode looks at the former TWA flight centre at New York JFK (soon to be subject of a documentary by filmmaker Peter Rosen), the archives of Cathay Pacific and former Australian airline Ansett. On a related note, The Urbanist looks at the city centre airport.

Also of note this week:

Why failure is the rocket fuel of aviation. (Financial Times)

Canary Wharf is working on a proposal to extend the Docklands Light Railway from Bank to Euston (Ian Visits)

Lufthansa reports a sharp fall in its preliminary first quarter results from a profit of €52m to a loss of €336m, citing fuel prices and over-capacity in Europe. (Lufthansa)

Qantas announces a new winter seasonal route from Sydney to Sapporo from 16 December 2019 to 28 March 2020. (Qantas)

Thomas Cook is reported to be in discussions about the sale of parts, or all, of its business. Any acquisition of its airline would be subject to EU ownership rules. (Sky News)

Our Monday Briefing  is published every Monday at 06:00 BST. If you have any comments, suggestions or tips then please drop us a line at mail [@]

Monday Briefing – 15 April 2019

London Air Travel » Monday Briefing

Jet Airways Boeing 777-300ER aircraft
Jet Airways Boeing 777-300ER aircraft (Image Credit: Jet Airways)

Welcome to our Monday Briefing for the week beginning 15 April 2019.

Jet Airways

There is a book to be written about Etihad’s string of disastrous minority investments in airlines.

In near repeat of Swissair’s Qualiflyer alliance, almost every one has been an unmitigated failure: Air Berlin; Alitalia. And of course Jet Airways. It’s not as if there were no warning signs. Alitalia had been through numerous recapitalisations. Many European airlines that could have bought Air Berlin outright had declined to do so.

Jet Airways has long been insolvent and by any standard should have ceased trading some time ago, let alone continue to take forward bookings which after a brief pause over the weekend it is now continuing to do. Over the weekend, hundreds of Jet Airways employees have protested outside New Delhi and Mumbai airports against unpaid salaries – a reminder of the significant human cost of the airline’s troubles.

The one sensible thing Etihad did was take ownership Alitalia and Jet Airways’ Heathrow slots. Jet Airways’ three daily Heathrow slot pairs are to be returned to Etihad and its intentions should become clear in the next couple of weeks.

Virgin Atlantic wants to be loved

Virgin Atlantic launched its latest Upper Class cabin with typical fanfare last week.

There was less positive news when the airline revealed another financial loss. Worse still, the airline does not expect to return to profitability until 2021.

Virgin Atlantic’s ambition is now to be “the world’s most loved travel company”. It has a new three year business plan “Velocity” which runs until 2021. Green joins purple and red in its colour scheme to signify its commitment to sustainability. Virgin is also promising much greater integration between Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Holidays.

As well as taking delivery of four Airbus A350-1000 aircraft this year, it will reduce the number of Airbus A340 aircraft from 7 to 3 this year. The remaining 3 have been taken under the airline’s ownership.

The Connect Airways consortium expects to secure regulatory approval for its purchase of Flybe in the third quarter of this year. It is at this point the consortium can exercise financial and operational control over Flybe. In the interim, the consortium has provided Flybe with £135m of funding to maintain the airline’s operations.

In case you missed it:

JetBlue publicly states its ambition to fly from London from 2021. (London Air Travel)

Also of note this week:

Qantas’ CEO of Qantas International Alison Webster abruptly departs the airline. (Sydney Morning Herald)

Qantas looks at the work of its in-house meteorologists. (Qantas)

UK domestic flights fall 20% in a decade. (Financial Times)