Norwegian has always prided itself on operating a young, fuel-efficient fleet of aircraft.
However, there are signs this week that Rolls-Royce engine issues for Boeing 787 Dreamliners are not going away for airlines.
Data from Flightradar and Norwegian’s website indicates that it has been forced to wet lease aircraft from a number of third parties to cover its long-haul schedule at London Gatwick. These include:
Flight DI7151/2 London Gatwick – Chicago O’Hare (leased Wamos Air Airbus A330 from Wednesday 1 May)
Flight DI7171/2 London Gatwick – Denver (leased Wamos Air Airbus A330 from Tuesday 30 April)
Flight DI7013/4 London Gatwick – New York JFK (leased Airbus A330 from Friday 3 May)
Flight DI7043/4 London Gatwick – Miami International (leased Privilege Style Boeing 777-200 from Tuesday 30 April)
Flight DI7057/8 London Gatwick – Orlando (leased Hi Fly Airbus A340 from Tuesday 30 April)
On this occasion Norwegian does not appear to be giving passengers a choice of rebooking on to alternative flights.
Heathrow – Charleston Returns Next Summer
BA launched its inaugural route from London Heathrow to Charleston a couple of weeks ago, a relatively rare occurrence of a low frequency seasonal long-haul route at Heathrow.
It will be some weeks before we ascertain how the route is performing in terms of load factors. However, based on current schedules, the route is due to return next summer, operating from an earlier start date of 29 March 2020, again on Sundays and Thursdays.
In Canada, large parts of New Brunswick, Ontario and Quebec are hit by flooding. (CBC)
The Mayor Of Los Angeles announces a “Green New Deal” with the aim of substantially reducing the amount of driving in Los Angeles, with a target of half of all journeys being made by means other than a car by 2035. Given LA’s huge dependence on the car and prospective transport projects barely scratching the surface, this is going to be a huge task. (Curbed LA)
Hello and welcome to our weekly travel media and technology bulletin featuring the latest developments on media and technology around the world, published every Tuesday at 06:00 BST.
The Subscription Economy
The Harris Poll has conducted, on behalf of Zuora, an international survey of 13,359 adults across twelve countries on the subscription economy.
Citing a trend of “access over ownership”, 71% of adults now purchase subscription services, compared to 53% five years ago. A similar percentage also agree that subscriptions free people from burdens of ownership such as maintenance and clutter. This has already had significant implications for television, music and news.
To illustrate this, Spotify has reported 100m premium subscribers for the first time, compared to 75m in the previous year.
A word of caution should be sounded on subscription over ownership models. As subscribers to Netflix will soon learn, all it takes is for rights holders to withdraw content rights for the value of these services to rapidly diminish.
On the subject to streaming the BBC has submitted proposals to the communications regulator OFCOM to allow it to keep programmes on the BBC iPlayer (once the UK’s leading streaming service) for a year after broadcast and to increase archive content.
The Sharing Economy
In another sector of the economy, Uber is preparing for an investor roadshow ahead of its planned IPO where it hopes to achieve a valuation in excess of $90bn.
Uber is of course loss making and in a New York Times profile, Uber considers its losses analogous to Amazon which spent big to grow quickly.
Uber aims to repeat this through Uber Eats, Uber Freight and the acquisition of ebike and scooter company, Jump. However, there are fundamental differences. Amazon may have its distractors, however it is not facing the degree of resistance from regulators that Uber is. Amazon has also built a formidable logistics infrastructure, which Uber has not. To illustrate the point, Politico reports that both Lyft and Uber have stopped recruiting drivers in New York City due to regulatory pressures.
Also of note this week:
As the world enjoys the last series of “Game Of Thrones” the FT reports on tensions between HBO and its new parent AT&T. (Financial Times)
Evgeny Lebedev, owner of the Evening Standard, is reported to be in talks to sell local London TV channel “London Live”. Five years after launch, this channel has fallen far short of expectations and it is rarely seen or talked about in London. (The Guardian)
NBC and Sky News, both now owned by Comcast, are to explore the launch of a new global news channel to rival BBC World News and CNN. (Variety)
British Airways has unveiled official images of its revamped Club lounge at New York JFK Terminal 7.
The new lounge opened last week and completes BA’s refurbishment of its lounge complex at New York JFK Terminal 7, after the new First lounge opened last year. The Concorde Room is not being refurbished.
The lounge structure is largely the same as before with an Elemis travel spa, self-service bars and a revamped pre-flight dining area (for evening flights). New facilities include a new entertainment room with audio visual equipment from Sony, a BrewDog craft beer room and a granite topped Quaich Bar, staffed by a bartender.
If you’ve not visited the lounge before, it is huge, something that is not conveyed in the press photographs. It is easily the biggest BA lounge outside of London.
The lounge is also available to eligible passengers travelling on other airlines operating at Terminal 7 such as ANA and Iberia. The lounge is open all day (though BA check-in desks aren’t). This lounge will have a relatively short life span. Terminal 7 is due to be demolished and BA is to join American Airlines in Terminal 8 from 2022.
Update: BA has released a short video tour of the lounge:
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)
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 refurbishment of the Club lounge appears to be now complete. This must be the largest BA lounge outside of London. The facilities are largely the same as before with an Elemis travel spa and pre-flight dining.
However, BA promises a new lobby area, improved audio visual entertainment from Sony, a Brew Dog Craft Beer Room, and larger self-service food areas.
This new lounge will have a relatively limited life span as Terminal 7 is due to be demolished. BA will join its alliance partner American Airlines in Terminal 8 from 2022.
Unfortunately, no official press pictures are available at the moment. But these should be made available in the next couple of weeks.
Air Canada has issued an update on its flight operations and schedules following the widely publicised grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft.
This has caused significant problems for Air Canada as it had 24 of the aircraft in service. It was also due to receive a further 12 aircraft this summer and deliveries of new aircraft have been suspended by Boeing.
The grounding of aircraft has caused disruption to flights within North America and is also causing disruption to Air Canada’s summer schedule.
As a consequence of this, Air Canada’s routes from London Heathrow to Halifax, Nova Scotia; and St John’s, Newfoundland remain suspended until Thursday 1 August 2019 at the earliest. These were scheduled for resumption on Sunday 2 June 2019 and Air Canada has updated its schedules today, Thursday 25 April 2019.
Passengers whose flights have been cancelled will be re-accommodated via Air Canada services from London Heathrow to Montreal and Toronto. However, this obviously involves significant backtracking and extended journey times.
Outside of London, summer seasonal routes have been delayed and some routes have been swapped between Air Canada and Air Canada Rouge. The airline is also wet-leasing aircraft from Qatar Airways on some routes, subject to regulatory approval.
British Airways is to suspend its route from London Gatwick to Fort Lauderdale.
The last flights between Gatwick and Fort Lauderdale are scheduled to operate on Saturday 7 September 2019.
The route currently operates three times weekly. It launched in 2017 and, like BA’s now suspended route to Oakland, followed the launch of this route by Norwegian at Gatwick.
Norwegian has in the past month switched its Gatwick – Fort Lauderdale route to Miami International. This means London will have no direct link to Fort Lauderdale. This is a shame as Fort Lauderdale is a worthwhile destination in its own right and an alternative to what is a very unpredictable arrivals experience at Miami International.
Passengers whose flights have been cancelled are entitled to a full refund. Alternatively, passengers can be re-accommodated on American Airlines and BA services from Heathrow to Miami International. However, any additional costs such as ground transportation will be at your own expense.
Every year the parent company of British Airways, International Airlines Group, publishes an annual fleet plan at its Capital Markets Day.
Here’s the latest fleet plan published last November:
As this is published for the group as a whole, it’s not easy to distill which orders and future deliveries relate to BA, particularly for short-haul aircraft.
However, BA has just filed its own annual accounts. We read these things so you don’t have to, and here is BA’s plan for new aircraft deliveries as at 31 December 2018:
This does pre-date IAG’s decision to order 18 Boeing 777-9 aircraft for BA. Although it includes one wet-leased SAAB aircraft, it doesn’t include others such as Air Belgium’s Airbus A340. BA CityFlyer is also due to acquire an additional (presumably second hand) Embraer E190 aircraft for London City.
Taking this into account, planned deliveries of new aircraft are:
Airbus A320neo: 18, with options for 33. 3 have been delivered this year. Airbus A321neo: 9, 2 have been delivered this year.
Airbus A350-1000: 18 aircraft, with options for 36 more. 4 will be delivered this year. Boeing 777-300: 4 aircraft, to be delivered in 2020. Boeing 777-900: 18 aircraft, to be delivered from 2022 to 2025. Boeing 787-9: options for 6 more aircraft. Boeing 787-10: 12 aircraft, to delivered from 2020 to 2023.
In total, that’s 52 new wide body aircraft over the next five years so, to replace at least 35 Boeing 747 and 3 Boeing 777-200 aircraft.
This does allow for a substantial amount of growth, but is of course subject to change depending on economic and geopolitical events.
On other point of note is that BA’s options to acquire a further 7 Airbus A380 aircraft have now either expired or been cancelled. Following the decision by Airbus to end production of the Airbus A380 it has been clear that BA would not be ordering any more new A380s. This is now beyond any doubt.
British Airways continues to put in place ad hoc blanket cancellations between London Heathrow and Doha.
BA123 from London Heathrow to Doha is cancelled from Thursday 9 May until Monday 27 May 2019.
BA122 from Doha to London Heathrow is cancelled from Friday 10 May until Tuesday 28 2019.
No specific reason has been given for the cancellations other than “operational reasons”. The most likely reason is to release capacity in the Boeing 787 fleet. There have been ad hoc cancellations on a number of other routes. An aircraft has also been wet leased from Air Belgium to cover other routes.
If history is anything to go by, the cancellations could well be repeated.
Rebooking on Qatar Airways
BA has a rebooking agreement with its codeshare partner Qatar Airways.
If your flight is cancelled you have the option of rebooking on to Qatar Airways from London Heathrow to Doha. You can rebook up to three days before or after your original date of travel.
World Traveller Plus Premium Economy
Qatar Airways does not operate a premium economy cabin.
Therefore, you will be downgraded to economy. You will be entitled to claim compensation for the downgrade.
Qatar Airways London Heathrow Aircraft
Qatar Airways use a variety of different aircraft on the London Heathrow route.
This includes Boeing 777-300, Airbus A350 and Airbus A380 aircraft.
If you have a particular preference for one aircraft, it’s worth checking your specific flights on your day of travel.
It should also be noted the following Qatar Airways operated flights depart from London Heathrow Terminal 4.
Alternative Routing Options
If you are connecting from a flight in the UK to London Heathrow for onward travel to Doha (for example, Edinburgh) you have the option of rebooking on to a direct Qatar Airways flight to Doha, if available.
If any of the rebooking options are not satisfactory, you will have the option of cancelling your booking and receiving a full refund.
Affected passengers should check the status of their booking at ba.com and contact either BA or their travel agent.