London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing – 29 November 2021

Welcome to London Air Travel’s weekly briefing on air travel around the world, as published every Monday at 06:00 GMT.

London Air Travel

British Airways Airbus A380 Heathrow
British Airways Airbus A380 Heathrow (Image Credit: Heathrow)

Welcome to London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing for the week beginning 29 November 2021.

One Step Forward…

This week was due to be a cause for celebration.

On Friday, BA is due to restart Airbus A380 long haul operations with daily flights to Dubai (BA107 & BA106). Miami (BA209 & BA208) follows on Sunday.

This was meant to further signal a return to normal and the release of pent up passenger demand. Events have now decided otherwise.

From 04:00 tomorrow morning all passengers arriving in the UK will have to take a PCR test by day 2 and self-isolate until they receive a negative test result. Full guidance is available on gov.uk

Whilst this is a temporary measure and scientific advisors would say it’s better to move hard and fast early than wait until you are certain you are right, the uncertainty, the one thing that irritates passengers more than anything else, is hugely damaging to the travel industry.

easyJet and IAG shares fell sharply on Friday and are likely to fall further when markets open this morning.

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London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing – 22 November 2021

Welcome to London Air Travel’s weekly briefing on air travel around the world, as published every Monday at 06:00 GMT.

London Air Travel

Virgin Atlantic Airbus A330-300 G-VKSS, Boston Logan Airport
Virgin Atlantic Airbus A330-300 G-VKSS, Boston Logan Airport (Image Credit: London Air Travel)

Welcome to London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing for the week beginning 22 November 2021.

Virgin Atlantic Seeks To Raise £400 Million

Virgin Atlantic is reported to be seeking new funds of up to £400 million to see the airline through the winter.

On Saturday Mark Kleinman of Sky News broke the story that Virgin Atlantic was seeking new funds from its shareholders Virgin Group and Delta Air Lines, as well as other creditors.

This was expected. When Virgin Atlantic undertook a solvent recapitalisation last year it was said that continued travel restrictions into 2021 would require further fund raising by the airline.

Last week, Virgin Group sold a further stake in Virgin Galactic of $300 million to support Virgin businesses. Last year, Virgin Atlantic’s 49% shareholder Delta Air Lines said it could not provide any direct financial support due to the state support it had received from the US government under the The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Delta did, however, agree to defer certain payments owed to it.

In August of this year Sky News also reported that Virgin was seeking an Initial Public Offering to raise funds. For anyone who has followed Virgin Atlantic over the years, a public listing for the airline is hard to visualise. This is postponed indefinitely.

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London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing – 15 November

Welcome to London Air Travel’s weekly briefing on air travel around the world, as published every Monday at 06:00 GMT.

London Air Travel

Singapore Airlines Airbus A380 London Heathrow
Singapore Airlines Airbus A380 London Heathrow (Image Credit: Heathrow)

Welcome to London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing for the week beginning 15 November 2021.

Eastern Airways Secures Newquay PSO Route

Eastern Airways is reported to have won a contract to operate the Public Service Obligation route from London to Newquay according to Cornwall Reports.

London – Newquay is designated a Public Service Obligation (“PSO”) route. These are subsidised by central and local government to preserve links between London and the regions of the UK.

Other PSO routes include Derry, operated by Loganair from Stansted, and Dundee, operated by Loganair from London City.

Flybe operated the Newquay PSO route from London Heathrow before its collapse in 2020.

Eastern Airways is expected to launch the route from Gatwick in December. It will initially operate daily, and increase up to three times daily in the peak summer season.

As the route operates from Gatwick there will be relatively limited opportunities for codesharing and onward connections. BA’s summer seasonal service to Newquay from Heathrow is due to resume from Sunday 26 June 2022.

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British Airways Returns To Heathrow Terminal 3

British Airways has resumed flights at London Heathrow Terminal 3 from Tuesday 9 November2021.

London Air Travel

British Airways Galleries Lounge London Heathrow Terminal 3
British Airways Galleries Lounge London Heathrow Terminal 3 (Image Credit: British Airways)

British Airways resumes short haul flights at London Heathrow Terminal 3 from, today, Tuesday 9 November 2021.

All BA flights at London Heathrow were consolidated at Terminal 5, initially “for a few weeks” from the end of March 2020. The terminal, along with Terminal 4, closed shortly afterwards with all airlines operating from Terminals 2 or 5.

Terminal 3 reopened to passenger flights in July 2021. BA’s Oneworld alliance partners American Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Finnair, Japan Airlines, Royal Jordanian, Sri Lankan and Qantas Airways are operating at Terminal 3.

American Airlines’ flights between Heathrow and New York JFK remain co-located with BA at Terminal 5.

A number of other airlines moved back to Terminal 3 many weeks ago including Delta, Emirates, MEA and Virgin Atlantic.

BA was originally due to return to Terminal 3 before the end of September 2021. The return to Terminal 3 is no doubt driven by the expansion of long haul routes to the US.

Terminal 4 is closed to passenger flights. It remains on standby to be used as an arrivals terminal should the UK government add any countries back onto its “red list”.

BA Terminal 3 Short Haul Routes

BA short haul routes moving from Terminal 5 to 3 in 2021 include:

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London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing – 8 November 2021

Welcome to London Air Travel’s weekly briefing on air travel around the world, as published every Monday at 06:00 GMT.

London Air Travel

Manhattan at Sunrise
Manhattan at Sunrise (Image Credit: London Air Travel)

Welcome to London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing for the week beginning 8 November 2021.

The US Reopens

So today’s the day.

The US has reopened to passengers from the UK and Europe who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

To mark the occasion, BA and Virgin Atlantic will put aside their long standing rivalry and simultaneously depart from London Heathrow for New York JFK at around 08:30 this morning, with BA using its most prestigious flight number, BA1.

(Readers with long memories will recall it’s not the first time the two airlines have raced from London to New York JFK. Virgin tried to spoil BA’s social media campaign during its inaugural London City – JFK service back in 2009!)

Today, BA expects to carry around 8,000 passengers from London to the US. It’s no exaggeration to say this cannot come soon enough for either airline.

The results for the quarter to 30 September 2021 from BA’s parent company IAG illustrate starkly how important it is that transatlantic traffic recovers.

IAG reported an operating loss of €452 million. Vueling broke even and Iberia reported a profit of €21 million. Aer Lingus and BA lost €80 million and £386 million respectively. This compares unfavourably to Air France KLM and Lufthansa – Robert Boyle of Gridpoint Consulting has done a full analysis of their relative performance.

And BA is betting on a full recovery of transatlantic traffic. Next summer it plans to operate 96% of its 2019 capacity to the North Atlantic, including Bermuda and Canada, across 34 routes. This is as measured by Available Seat Kilometres, not flights.

In 2020 BA’s long haul fleet was cut by 20%, primarily due to the retirement of the Boeing 747. This implies its long haul network will remain substantially geared towards North America next year. It is also suggests a lot of heavy lifting by the Airbus A380.

A route network published by IAG last week also indicates that BA may relaunch Portland and reinstate Pittsburgh again next year:

BA Transatlantic Route Network, Summer 2022 (Image Credit: International Airlines Group)

Whilst it is expected that many routes to Asia Pacific will not reopen well into 2022 and BA points to the withdrawal of Norwegian from the transatlantic market, it remains to be seen whether there will be the demand to the US there was in 2019. This week, BA will typically operate 5 flights a day to New York. This compares to up to 12 flights a day before COVID-19.

Sean Doyle expressed a hope in The Sunday Telegraph that many more suspended routes across the network will return. Sean denies these have been permanently suspended but, to get into semantics, they are removed from timetables with no date set for a return. Any substantial growth in the route network will need more aircraft. IAG is not currently giving any guidance on future aircraft deliveries for 2022 and beyond – other than that it is not cancelling any existing orders.

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New York, New York

As British Airways and Virgin Atlantic prepare to mark the reopening of the US with special flights to New York, a look at their commercially most important route.

London Air Travel

“New York. We’re Back.” British Airways Advertisement, October 2021 (Image Credit: Ogilvy for British Airways)

On Monday 8 November, there will be a rare moment of public cooperation between two arch rivals. 

British Airways and Virgin Atlantic will each operate special flights from London Heathrow to New York JFK to mark the reopening of the US to passengers from the UK and Europe who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

This may have seemed unthinkable 18 months ago. For the two airlines, it is no exaggeration to say the reopening of the biggest long haul air corridor in the world is a matter of commercial survival. 

In 2019, before COVID-19 ravaged the airline industry, nearly 5 million passengers flew between London and New York airports.

The route is often the first entry point for new long haul operators, whether it be Norwegian or, more recently, JetBlue.   It is also the showcase for many innovations, successful or not, such as fully flat beds in business class or all business class airlines.

The Yankee Clipper

It was in July 1939 that Pan American World Airways, the closest the US has had to a flagship global carrier, completed the first passenger flight across the Atlantic from New York to Southampton with its “Yankee Clipper” flying boat.  

The trip was completed in 27 and a half hours with a flight time of 19 hours and 34 minutes. The flying boat departed Port Washington Long Island, stopping en route at Shediac, New Brunswick; Botwood, Newfoundland, and Foynes, Ireland. A mere 19 passengers were onboard.  Regular services would operate just once a week.

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“Use It Or Lose It” Slot Rules Waived For Winter 2021

Airlines flying from London airports over the winter season can reduce their schedules without risk of forfeiting airport slots.

London Air Travel

Heathrow Airport At Night
Heathrow Airport At Night (Image Credit: Heathrow)

Airlines operating from London airports can continue to run with reduced schedules over the winter 2021 season without risk of forfeiting their take off and landing slots.

Over the course of COVID-19 pandemic airlines have been granted a waiver of the 80 / 20 “use it or lose it” slot rules.

To benefit from the waiver airlines have to hand back slots they don’t plan to use so other airlines have the opportunity to use them. Slots could be handed back either before the start of the season or up to a set number of weeks before they were to be used.

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London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing – 1 November 2021

Welcome to London Air Travel’s weekly briefing on air travel around the world, as published every Monday at 06:00 GMT.

London Air Travel

Qantas Boeing 787-9 Aircraft VH-OJA Pre Departure, London Heathrow Terminal 3, Thursday 14 November 2019
Qantas Boeing 787-9 Aircraft VH-OJA Pre Departure, London Heathrow Terminal 3, Thursday 14 November 2019 (Image Credit: Qantas Airways)

Welcome to London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing for the week beginning 1 November 2021.

Australia Reopens To International Travel

Today marks the resumption of many scheduled international passenger flights to Australia. Sydney and Melbourne have reopened their borders to international travel without mandatory quarantine.

The first international flight to land in Sydney this morning was Singapore Airlines flight SQ211 arriving early at 05:21 AEDT. This beat the first scheduled arrival, Qantas flight QF12 from Los Angeles at 06:04 AEDT.

Qantas’ first scheduled flight to London in more than 18 months, QF1, departs Sydney at 18:30 AEDT today. After a refuelling stop in Darwin, it will arrive at London Heathrow Terminal 3 at 06:50 GMT tomorrow.

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London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing – 25 October 2021

Welcome to London Air Travel’s weekly briefing on air travel around the world, as published every Monday at 06:00 BST.

London Air Travel

Heathrow Airport At Night
Heathrow Airport At Night (Image Credit: Heathrow)

Welcome to London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing for the week beginning 25 October 2021.

Air Passenger Duty Rise?

The Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak is due to announce his budget this coming Wednesday.

As is par the course, selected tidbits are leaked to newspapers in advance. On Friday night The Guardian reported that the Chancellor is due to announce an increase in Air Passenger Duty.

This will be done by introducing a new higher band for longer range flights of more than 6,000 miles.

Currently, the reduced and standard rate of APD for flights longer than 2,000 miles is £82 and £180 respectively. This is due to increase to £84 and £185 from 1 April 2022.

Whilst the new band will not affect most destinations from London, further increases to the cost of flying will infuriate the airline industry.

Longer range flights can have relatively high volumes of Visiting Friends & Relatives traffic and are rarely taken on whim. This also comes on top of plans for substantial increases in passenger charges for airlines at London Heathrow.

Conversely, the Chancellor is reported to be considering reductions in APD for domestic flights to fit with the government’s “levelling up” agenda.

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BA Launches New Codeshares With Kenya Airways

British Airways has launched a new codeshare partnership with Kenya Airways covering 20 destinations from Nairobi.

London Air Travel

British Airways Boeing 777 at London Heathrow
British Airways Boeing 777 at London Heathrow (Image Credit: British Airways)

British Airways has launched a new reciprocal codeshare partnership with Kenya Airways.

BA will codeshare on Kenya Airways flights from Jomo Kenyatta International Airport Nairobi to 20 destinations in Central and East Africa.

These include Douala, Zanzibar, Lusaka, Mombasa, Addis Ababa and Entebbe.

These can only be booked when connecting to / from BA operated flights between London Heathrow and Nairobi. BA currently flies to Nairobi four times weekly.

Kenya Airways’ flights within Africa are operated with Embraer E190 or Boeing 737-800 aircraft in a two class configuration.

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