Hello and welcome to our weekly aviation business briefing for the week beginning 4 December 2017.
London Gatwick: The hub without hubbub.
IAG confirmed that it is to acquire Monarch’s portfolio of slots at London Gatwick from the start of the summer 2018 season.
This is equivalent to approximately 20 daily slot pairs, and a very significant expansion. IAG has long had an ambition to expand at Gatwick. It bid for Flybe’s slots two years ago, but lost out to easyJet.
IAG has previously indicated that all of its group airlines would bid for Monarch’s slots. Currently, Aer Lingus, BA, Iberia and Vueling have a presence at the airport. In the case of Aer Lingus and Iberia this is very limited and unlikely to expand further. BA is likely to be the biggest beneficiary. However, it does not appear to have much by way of spare aircraft. London Heathrow – Doha and London Gatwick – New York JFK are regularly cancelled due to aircraft issues.
Whatever happens it is highly unlikely BA will return to its dual London hub “the hub without the hubbub” of the 1990s.
Pity the pour soul at BA’s Waterside Headquarters who drafted the now widely publicised internal memo on planned changes to its boarding procedures that its frequent flyers had been pleading for in focus groups for years.
Presumably he or she was under the blissful ignorance that it would become one of the most read (and poorly drafted) stories on BBC News Online last week.
Heathrow’s Christmas TV ad
What more can be said about this year’s Christmas TV ad from Heathrow Airport?
A perfect blend of concept, technical excellence and emotional appeal. Perhaps the greatest signficance is simply how much the airport’s reputation has improved that it can run such an ad in the first place. It was seven years ago this Christmas that a hapless PR officer appeared before TV cameras claiming everything at the airport was operating normally, just as the airport seized up for days due to snow. The airport was subsequently castigated for its lack of preparedness and care for passengers.
Hello and welcome to our weekly aviation business briefing for the week beginning Monday 20 November 2017.
Is BA going to order more Airbus A380s?
Interest in the future of the Airbus A380 was piqued this week following a claim in FlightGlobal that BA, as well as other airlines, were in talks about acquiring Airbus A380s that Singapore Airlines has returned to its lessor.
IAG CEO Willie Walsh is a fan of the Airbus A380: “It’s a great aircraft when you can fill it.” It clearly serves BA well on trunk routes such as Johannesburg and major US gateways such as Los Angeles and Miami. BA currently has 12 Airbus A380s in service, with options to acquire a further 7 from Airbus. However, Willie Walsh has declared the cost buying new aircraft as too expensive. Willie has expressed an interest in leasing second-hand Airbus A380s so the story, whatever the intentions of the source, is at least plausible. However, technical differences between BA and Singapore Airlines aircraft may prohibit a deal, unless it is at a very good price.
BA and IAG (which ultimately controls the purse strings) is clearly looking for a solution that gives flexibility to adjust capacity in a downturn. BA does not want to have to park 20+ A380s in the desert during the next recession.
The airline most closely associated with the Airbus A380 is of course Emirates which currently has some 100 of them in service. The airline was expected to announce a deal to acquire more at the Dubai Air Show, but it failed to materialise. Bloomberg has the story. Continue reading “Monday Briefing: 20 November 2017”
Hello and welcome to our Monday Briefing for the week beginning Monday 13 November 2017.
BA CEO Alex Cruz addresses the World Travel Market London
BA CEO Alex Cruz addressed the World Travel Market last week. Alex gave a 20 minute speech, followed by a 40 minute interview with aviation consultant John Strickland.
As BA is part of a publicly listed company (IAG) it is bound by Stock Exchange rules on the release of market sensitive information. This means that CEOs cannot give away too much in media interviews. This is why the vast majority of what was said was announced at IAG’s Capital Markets Day in early November.
One thing of note in Alex’s speech is the reference to BA as the UK’s national carrier. This is of course how many in the UK see it. But not its parent company which is, in its own words, “brand agnostic”. And herein lies the rub. Media commentators and large swathes of the travelling public see BA as having a special status, whereas as far as its parent company is concerned, it must compete with other airlines in the group all over Europe for investment, based on profitability alone.
Taking the opportunity to review again the presentations and compare notes to previous year what emerges is often these events are more interesting for what wasn’t said.
For BA, there was an underlying degree of contrition. Last year, there were plenty of suggestions that BA would trial an unbundled World Traveller fare as Aer Lingus has implemented and Alez Cruz has intimated BA would consider introducing a fare without free meals. However, there is now a promise of improved long-haul economy catering from next year and BA being “premium for everyone”. By IAG’s own admission, pitching a brand with four different classes of travel on long-haul isn’t easy, and introducing effectively a fifth class of travel is perhaps a step too far.
easyJet and Lufthansa have both confirmed they have expressed an interest in buying parts of Alitalia.
Note that both are at pains to emphasise their interest is in a restrutured airline, something that has eluded Alitalia to date.
Qantas Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner
Qantas took delivery of its first Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner last week.
This will operate non-stop flights between London and Perth. CNN Travel takes a look back at the evolution of London to Australia flights with a nice archive gallery of BOAC/Qantas flights to Australia.
Welcome to our weekly aviation business briefing for the week beginning Monday 16 October 2017.
Air Berlin confirmed last week that it is to suspend operations from Saturday 28 October 2017. The airline has already suspended long-haul operations. Its frequent flyer programme TopBonus, which operated as a separate legal entity, had also closed. Flights operated by NIKI will continue. easyJet announced late on Friday afternoon that negotiations are still underway for it to acquire a substantial part of Air Berlin’s operation at Berlin Tegel airport. Lufthansa is due to acquire a substantial number of Air Berlin aircraft and its subsidiaries Niki and LG Walter. It is now something of a given that the Air Berlin brand will not survive. Oneworld has yet to announce when Air Berlin will leave the alliance. For legal reasons, it may not officially leave the alliance until some time after it has suspended operations (this was the case with former member Mexicana). Continue reading “Monday Briefing: 16 October 2017”
The big story last week was of course the collapse of Monarch (Financial Times) which now joins bmi British Midland, Flyglobespan, XL Airways, and Zoom in the great airline graveyard in the sky. The Civil Aviation Authority fielded an impressive rescue to operation to bring passengers back to the UK. As of Saturday 7 October 56,000 Monarch customers have returned to the UK.
It now falls on KPMG to complete the administrative process. As no buyer could be found, it is near certain that the Monarch brand will not take to the skies again.
Here’s the first of our weekly round-up of aviation business news, published every Monday at 07:00 UK time.
A major theme in European aviation this year has been another wave of consolidation in Europe. This time it has been forced by Air Berlin, Alitalia and Monarch entering into administration procedures. easyJet, International Airlines Group, Norwegian and WizzAir have all been identified as potential buyers for Monarch’s short-haul business. However, the main value to these airlines will be its slot portfolio at London Gatwick. Full details of the Civil Aviation Authority’s plans to bring stranded passengers back to the UK are on its website.