Sir Richard Branson complains about the “Big Three” US airlines and the competitive activity by United against Virgin America. This is the same Richard Branson that owns 51% of Virgin Atlantic, with the remaining 49% owned by its forthcoming joint-venture partner Delta.
It’s approaching one year since the parent company of British Airways, International Airlines Group, officially completed its purchase of bmi from Lufthansa. bmi’s former Heathrow operation has been fully integrated into BA for nearly six months. Of the two other airlines acquired from Lufthansa, bmibaby has been shut down and bmi regional has been sold to Sector Aviation Holdings.
The merger represented a significant milestone in BA’s history and a once in a lifetime chance to grow at a capacity constrained London Heathrow, so it’s worth looking at what has happened to former bmi routes and the current state of play at Heathrow.
As expected, following Delta’s acquisition of a 49% stake in Virgin Atlantic from Singapore Airlines, Delta and Virgin Atlantic have applied for anti-trust immunity for transatlantic flights from London Heathrow.
Delta will continue to operate a joint-venture with Air France-KLM for transatlantic flights to points beyond London Heathrow.
British Airways has this evening confirmed that it has converted 18 of its 28 options for Boeing 787 aircraft into firm orders for delivery between 2017 and 2021.
The airline currently has 24 Boeing 787 aircraft on order for delivery from this year and this takes the total number of 787s to be delivered to BA to 42, meaning that the 787 will represent a substantial part of BA’s long-haul fleet. This is a clear vote of confidence by BA in the 787.
There probably isn’t an airline route in the world where travellers have more choice of airlines routings than London to Australia. As non-stop routes between London and Australia remain a technical impossibility and fuel prices mean that is likely to remain the case, a stop en route has always been required.