London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing – 23 November 2020

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

Collinson COVID-19 Testing Facility, London Heathrow
Collinson COVID-19 Testing Facility, London Heathrow (Image Credit: British Airways)

Welcome to London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing for the week beginning 23 November 2020.

UK Government To Relax 14 Day Quarantine?

As airlines trial their own COVID-19 testing regimes on transatlantic flights, there are now hopes for at least a partial relaxation of the UK’s mandatory 14 day quarantine regime.

Airline CEOs remain deeply frustrated at the lack of clarity on government policy on quarantine and testing. Though, many are still keen to talk up their individual prospects.

United Airlines is in the second week of its trial to test all passengers flying on flight UA14 from Newark to London Heathrow on Monday, Wednesdays and Fridays.

You can see a report from the first flight by Richard Quest from CNN International’s “Quest Means Business”. The pre-flight testing process is clearly aided by very light passenger numbers.

Also speaking to Richard Quest last week, Virgin Atlantic CEO Shai Weiss was optimistic about the prospects for recovery, pointing to a less than expected impact from England’s second lockdown. Bookings for 2021 are also said to be improving, possibly due to positive news on a number of vaccines against COVID-19.

Delta, which owns 49% of Virgin Atlantic, is less optimistic about the prospects of a London – New York travel corridor. CEO Ed Bastian told the Financial Times it would be easier to relaunch transatlantic flights to “just about any” other European capital.

Ed Bastian added “I think you will find on the continent several countries that are more open” and, due to the mandatory quarantine regime “I think New York – London is complicated.”

American Airlines and BA are starting their own testing trial on select inbound flights from Dallas / Fort Worth, Los Angeles and New York JFK from this Wednesday.

BA CEO Sean Doyle was quoted in The Times as saying “We’ve got an immediate crisis to deal with in the industry and we think testing in lieu of quarantine is a solution that’s staring us in the face. We just need clarity of policy.”

The Telegraph reports that the Transport Secretary Grant Shapps will today announce that England’s quarantine regime will be reformed from mid-December.

Passengers arriving from countries deemed to be a high risk will be able to stop self-isolating as soon as they receive a negative test result for COVID-19. However, this test must be taken from an approved supplier on arrival. In practice, this is expected to cut the mandatory quarantine period from 14 to around 5 days.

BA To Return To Dhaka?

The Daily Star Bangladesh reports that BA is in discussions with local authorities on a return to Dhaka after a hiatus of 11 years.

The route was previously suspended in 2009. Like the launch of Lahore and capacity increases to Islamabad, this points to a pivot by BA towards “Visiting Friends & Relatives” (VFR) traffic.

If you were to consult the Ministry for Speculation and Guesswork they might suggest that other VFR routes BA could reinstate include Kolkata.

It’s plausible that, if post COVID-19, passengers are less inclined to take indirect flights over direct flights, BA may also be able to return to destinations where it had lost traffic to Middle Eastern carriers. These could include routes in East Africa such as Dar Es Salaam, Entebbe and Lusaka.

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easyJet & JetBlue Fail To Acquire Heathrow Slots

easyJet & JetBlue have been unsuccessful in applying for slots at London Heathrow Airport for the summer 2021 season.

London Air Travel

JetBlue Airbus A321 Aircraft, Boston Logan International Airport
JetBlue Airbus A321 Aircraft, Boston Logan International Airport (Image Credit: London Air Travel)

easyJet and JetBlue have both been unsuccessful in applying for slots at London Heathrow for the summer 2021 season.

easyJet and JetBlue had applied for 98 and 42 weekly slots respectively from the pool at Heathrow and none were awarded.

They were far from alone. Each season a large number of airlines apply to Airport Coordination Ltd for slots from a pool of available slots. Almost all get nothing. Slots from the pool are very hard to come by as they only become available when forfeited or handed back by an airline, which most go to great lengths to avoid.

Other airlines that were unsuccessful in applying for slots include Air Baltic, Alitalia Cityliner, Blue Air, Brussels Airlines, Eastern Airways, Loganair, WestJet and Widereo. Unsurprisingly, Norwegian did not apply for any slots at London Heathrow this summer. Only Shenzhen Airlines managed to secure a mere 4 weekly slots.

That does not mean that any of these airlines won’t serve Heathrow this summer. Blue Air will fly from London Heathrow to Bucharest from 1 December 2020 and Cluj-Napoca from 1 March 2021.

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Aer Lingus Granted Transatlantic Joint Business Approval

The US Department of Transportation has allowed Aer Lingus to join American Airlines and BA’s transatlantic joint business.

London Air Travel

Airbus A321 XLR Aer Lingus Livery
Airbus A321 XLR Aer Lingus Livery (Image Credit: Airbus)

Aer Lingus has tentatively secured regulatory approval from the US Department of Transportation to join the transatlantic joint business with, amongst others, American Airlines and British Airways.

This has taken considerably longer than expected to obtain. IAG bought Aer Lingus in 2015. It did not start the formal process to join the transatlantic joint business until late 2018, and tentative regulatory approval has only just been granted.

Both Delta and JetBlue made representations to the US Department of Transportation. The concern of both airlines is securing slots at London Heathrow. The Competition & Markets Authority is still reviewing the competitive impact of the transatlantic joint business in the UK, and has deferred its final conclusion until 2024. Regulatory approval has been granted on condition that members of the joint business continue to comply with slot remedies at London airports.

As a condition of regulatory approval, the joint business is also required to remove exclusivity clauses from the agreements between airlines. These require any participating airline to obtain pre-approval before codesharing with another airline in the area covered by the joint business.

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London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing – 16 November 2020

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 De Havilland DH50 Aircraft
Qantas De Havilland DH50 Aircraft (Image Credit: Qantas Airways)

Welcome to London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing for the week beginning 16 November 2020.

Qantas Celebrates Its Centenary

Today, 16 November 2020, marks 100 years since the formation of Qantas, Queensland And North Territory Aerial Services Ltd, by Hudson Fysh, Paul McGinness and Fergus McMaster.

The Sydney Morning Herald has republished its original article from 16 October 1920 on the formation of Qantas:

An interesting experiment in the use of aircraft in the outback regions of Australia is to be made by the Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services Limited.

This is a company which is being formed to operate in the Cloncurry, Winton, Longreach, and Charleville districts of Queensland.

It is to begin operations early next month with two three-seater machines, and a large machine carrying four passengers with a comfortable cabin will be on service by the end of the year.

“We took up civil aviation not sure where it would lead us” said Hudson Fysh. Conscious of the need to encourage interest in flying and convince passengers that it was safe, Qantas initially offered joy flights. Early achievements included being first airline to carry a maternity patient in Australia by air and carry out an aerial photo shoot.

Qantas opened its first regular service on 2 November 1922 between Charleville and Cloncurry – a 577 mile flight with an overnight stop in Longreach.

In 1924, Qantas received its first aircraft with a cabin, a De Hallivand DH50. Two years later, Qantas built its first own aircraft, a De Hallivand DH50A.

By 1928, Qantas had its own flying schools in Longreach and Brisbane. In the same year it started providing aircraft to the Australian Inland Mission Aerial Medical Service, now better known as The Royal Flying Doctor Service. It also began to operate flights between Brisbane and Toowoomba, Australia’s first daily air service.

Next year, Qantas founder Hudson Fysh flew the Brisbane – Darwin section of the first experimental mail service between Australia and England. After becoming interested in operating the Brisbane – Singapore section of the proposed Kangaroo route between Sydney and London, Hudson Fysh met with Imperial Airways and Qantas Empire Airways was formed between the two carriers. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Also from the archives of the Sydney Morning Herald you’ll find an archive report of Qantas’ first air mail flight designated for London and an obituary for former Qantas cabin crew Patricia St-Leon.

ABC News has published previously unseen film of Qantas Flying Boats operating between Australia and Singapore from the 1930s.

Over the past week, we’ve looked at Qantas’ first international flights, its first round-the-world flights by jet, the Boeing 747, and the future of its presence in the UK.

As well as that Qantas most memorable TV advertisements and the extraordinary story of how one man managed to extort AU$500,000 from the airline.

Qantas has released a short film to mark its centenary. Due to COVID-19, celebrations are understandably muted.

Continue reading “London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing – 16 November 2020”

Qantas’ Most Memorable TV Advertisements

A look at Qantas’ most memorable television advertising from 1968 to 2020.

London Air Travel

Qantas Boeing 787-900 Dreamliner (Image courtesy of Qantas Airways)

For Qantas’ centenary on 16 November 2020, here is a look at some of its most memorable TV advertising over more than 50 years.

A consistent theme is Qantas unashamedly positioning itself as the national airline of Australia. Qantas has never been one for abstract concepts in advertising. Due to the country’s geography with Australians overseas being a long distance away from home, the airline also likes to emphasis its role in reuniting Australians.

“I Hate Qantas”

A grumpy koala that lived by the motto “I Hate Qantas” featured in Qantas TV adverts from 1962 to 1992.

Devised by Qantas’ US advertising agency, the live koala voiced by the late actor Howard Morris, bemoaned Qantas for bringing tourists to Australia and disturbing its solitude.

The grumpy koala was given something to smile about in 1989 when Qantas launched a non-stop service between Los Angeles and Auckland.

Qantas Los Angeles - Auckland Non-Stop, 1989
Qantas Los Angeles – Auckland Non-Stop, 1989

“The Flying Kangaroo”

Very 1980s!

“We’re Coming To Get You”

“I Still Call Australia Home”

“I Still Call Australia Home” is one of Qantas’ most famous advertising campaigns.

The latter adverts featured children’s choirs performing Peter Allen’s song at various locations around the world. This was at a time when airlines had the budgets for such extravagance.

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The 1971 Qantas Bomb Hoax

How Qantas was subject to one of Australia’s most audacious heists, as “Mr Brown” extorted AU$500,000 from the airline.

London Air Travel

Qantas Boeing 707-138 "City Of Canberra"
Qantas Boeing 707-138 “City Of Canberra” (Image Credit: Qantas)

On the afternoon of 26 May 1971, staff at Qantas House in Sydney received an unexpected telephone call.

At 12:15pm local time, a man identifying himself only as “Mr Brown” advised Qantas that a barometric bomb had been placed on board one of its Boeing 707 aircraft.

The aircraft had left Sydney 45 minutes earlier and was en route to Hong Kong with 116 passengers and 12 crew members.

Mr Brown claimed the bomb would be automatically exploded by a change in air pressure as the aircraft descended from its normal cruising altitude of 30,000 feet to 20,000 feet.

To prove that he was not bluffing Mr Brown advised that a similar bomb had been placed in a locker at Sydney airport. The bomb, made of gelignite with an altimeter-triggered detonator, was located shortly afterwards.

With the second bomb there were three typewritten notes. One written to Qantas General Manager Captain R J Ritche demanded AU$500,000 in exchange for instructions on how to locate and dismantle the bomb on board the aircraft.

To test the veracity of Mr Brown’s threat, the second bomb was diffused. Its explosives were replaced with a light bulb. The diffused bomb was put on board a second Boeing 707. It climbed to 8,500 feet. When it descended back to 5,000 feet the light bulb lit up.

Qantas immediately notified the aircraft’s Captain, William Selwyn. A thorough search of the aircraft was ordered. Passengers were only told that there was a technical difficulty – though many could tell that a bomb was suspected to be on board – and the aircraft would have to circle in the air until it could land in Sydney.

The aircraft returned to the East Coast of Australia and spent three hours circling over Brisbane and a further two and a half hours circling over Sydney.

With the aircraft running out of fuel, Qantas agreed to pay the AU$500,000 ransom. After hurriedly securing funds from its bank, without time to take numbers of the bank notes, a drop off was arranged outside Qantas House. The money was placed in two suitcases and put in the back of a van.

After doing so, Qantas was told there was no bomb on board the aircraft. The bomb threat was a hoax. The aircraft then landed safely in Sydney with just 15 minutes’ fuel left. Military aircraft and navy vessels were deployed by the Australian government in case the aircraft did not land safely.

Continue reading “The 1971 Qantas Bomb Hoax”

100 Years Of Qantas In The UK: Retreat & Renewal

The relentless rise of Middle Eastern airlines prompts Qantas to reassess its presence in the UK.

London Air Travel

Qantas Airbus A350-1000 Aircraft CGI Image
Qantas Airbus A350-1000 Aircraft CGI Image (Image Credit: Airbus / Qantas)

On 16 November 2020, Qantas will mark 100 years since its incorporation as Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services Ltd.

In the first part of our series on Qantas in the UK, we looked at its early co-operation with Imperial Airways and BOAC. In part two we looked at how the Boeing 707 established Qantas as a round-the-world airline. Part three looked at how the Boeing 747 transformed flying to Australia.

“No British Airways ownership of our Qantas. Piss off poms.”

By the end of the 20th century Qantas remained the dominant airline carrying passengers to Australia with an around 40% share of international traffic.

This was owed, in part, to a close relationship over many decades with BA and its predecessor airlines Imperial Airways and BOAC.

BOAC Qantas Kangaroo Route 25th Anniversary, 10 December 1959
BOAC Qantas Kangaroo Route 25th Anniversary, 10 December 1959

In 1993, when BA had ambitions to be a major global airline, it beat Singapore Airlines to acquire a 25% stake in Qantas in ahead of its full privatisation in 1997.

Not everyone was enamoured with the idea. One particularly dissatisfied Australian put up a sign “No British Airways ownership of our Qantas. Piss off poms.” at Sydney airport.

BA and Qantas formed a joint-business in 1995 to co-operate on Europe – Australia services. This involved co-ordination of fares, schedules and many joint airport lounges throughout Asia. BA and Qantas also shared aircraft, with BA leasing 7 Boeing 767 aircraft to Qantas.

At the turn of the century, with a focus on reducing complexity in its operations, BA turned its attention away from Australia. To reduce the amount of debt on its balance sheet BA also sold its stake in Qantas.

Meanwhile, Qantas saw its future in the Airbus A380 carrying ever larger numbers of passengers to Europe and the Middle East. Towards the end of 2000, Qantas ordered 12 aircraft. A further 8 were ordered in 2006 (International Herald Tribune), but this was subsequently cancelled.

BA and Qantas explored a merger in 2008. The deal was pulled after the two airlines could not agree on the relative shares in the combined business. Given the physical distance between the UK and Australia, it is hard to see how the merger could have achieved the synergies BA has done with Iberia. Legally, it would have to had to comply with the Qantas Sale Act which caps foreign ownership of Qantas. It could have also faced huge political opposition in Australia.

Continue reading “100 Years Of Qantas In The UK: Retreat & Renewal”

100 Years Of Qantas In The UK: The Boeing 747 Era

How the Boeing 747 transformed flying to Australia reducing journey times and enabling Australia to be reached with just one stop en route.

London Air Travel

Qantas Boeing 747 VH-EBA Seattle Test Flight Seattle 1971
Qantas Boeing 747 VH-EBA Seattle Test Flight Seattle 1971 (Image Credit: Qantas Airways)

On 16 November 2020, Qantas will mark 100 years since its incorporation as Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services Ltd.

In the first part of our series on Qantas in the UK, we looked at its early co-operation with Imperial Airways and BOAC. In part two we looked at how the Boeing 707 allowed Qantas to establish itself as a round-the-world airline.

It is no exaggeration to say that, throughout the 1970s and 1980s, the Boeing 747 transformed flying between Europe and Australia, enabling it to be ultimately reached with just one stop en route.

The Boeing 747B At Qantas

Qantas Boeing 747-238B “City Of Canberra”
Qantas Boeing 747-238B “City Of Canberra” (Image Credit: Qantas Airways)

Qantas’ first Boeing 747 aircraft was the 747B. This had the same dimensions as the first version of the 747, but with a longer range and higher maximum take-off weight.

It had capacity for 356 passengers, with the galleys located below the main deck. In common with other airlines, there was a dedicated “Captain Cook” lounge for First Class passengers on the Upper Deck with a nautical theme and a rather lurid 1970s colour scheme!

Qantas Boeing 747 First Class Captain Cook Lounge, 1970s
Qantas Boeing 747 First Class Captain Cook Lounge, 1970s (Image Credit: Qantas Airways)

The economy cabin shows that the 1970s was certainly the decade that taste forgot.

Qantas Boeing 747 Economy Class Cabin, 1970s
Qantas Boeing 747 Economy Class Cabin, 1970s (Image Credit: Qantas Airways)

Qantas’ first Boeing 747 flight departed London Heathrow for Sydney via Bahrain and Singapore on Friday 26 November 1971. Flights initially operated twice weekly on Fridays and Sundays.

In March 1974, Qantas added a second one-stop service from London Heathrow to Perth via Mumbai with a journey time of around 20 hours.

Qantas, QF8 London Heathrow to Perth, March 1974
Qantas, QF8 London Heathrow to Perth, March 1974
Qantas, London Heathrow to Australia Services, March 1974
Qantas, London Heathrow to Australia Services, March 1974
Continue reading “100 Years Of Qantas In The UK: The Boeing 747 Era”

100 Years Of Qantas In The UK: Enter The Jet Age

Qantas enters the Jet Age in the 1960s with the Boeing 707 bringing radical improvements to journey times and its route network.

London Air Travel

Qantas Boeing 707-138 "City Of Canberra"
Qantas Boeing 707-138 “City Of Canberra” (Image Credit: Qantas)

On 16 November 2020, Qantas will mark 100 years since its incorporation as Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services Ltd.

In the first part of our series on Qantas in the UK, we looked at Qantas early co-operation with Imperial Airways and BOAC and its own first flights to London.

Over the course of the 1960s, Qantas entered the jet age, operating the Boeing 707 on routes from London. This delivered radical improvements to journey times and increased the scope of its global network.

Qantas Boeing 707 Jets From London, 31 July 1959
Qantas Boeing 707 Jets From London, 31 July 1959

The first Qantas Boeing 707 routes from London operated to Sydney via the Pacific. The first flight departed London on 31 July 1959, two days after its inaugural flight from Sydney to San Francisco.

Passengers could fly from London to Sydney via San Francisco in just over 30 hours, saving over 25 hours’ journey time. It would shortly fly the “Kangaroo Route” to Australia via Singapore.

Qantas Boeing 707 Jets Around The World, October 1959
Qantas Boeing 707 Jets Around The World, October 1959

“Fastest Jets To USA & Australia”

Two years later in 1961 introduced a special version of the Boeing 707 known as the “V Jet”.

This had more powerful engines, delivering more journey time improvements from London to Sydney.

Qantas Boeing 707 V-Jets, 25 September 1961
Qantas Boeing 707 V-Jets, 25 September 1961
Continue reading “100 Years Of Qantas In The UK: Enter The Jet Age”

100 Years Of Qantas In The UK: The First Flights

How Qantas, Imperial Airways and BOAC pioneered the first scheduled passenger flights between the UK and Australia.

London Air Travel

Qantas Empire Airways Lockheed Constellation Aircraft VH-EAC, Sydney, 1947
Qantas Empire Airways Lockheed Constellation Aircraft VH-EAC, Sydney, 1947 (Image Credit: Qantas Airways)

On 16 November 2020, Qantas will mark 100 years since its incorporation as Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services Ltd. It would soon become known as Q.A.N.T.A.S. and then Qantas.

It was many decades in to its existence before Qantas started flying to the UK in its own right. Together with BA’s predecessor airlines Imperial Airways and BOAC, it pioneered the first flights between the UK and Australia from the 1930s.

On 8 December 1934, the first UK to Australia mail service began operated by Imperial Airways (from Croydon to Karachi), Indian Trans-Continental (Karachi to Singapore) and Qantas Empire Airways, formed by Qantas and Imperial Airways, (Singapore to Brisbane).

The event was marked by a special ceremony at Croydon presided over by Lord Londonderry, Secretary of State for Air. Included in the two tons of letters were three addressed by the King, the Queen, and the Prince of Wales to the Duke of Gloucester at Auckland.

Imperial Airways Air Mail Services, December 1934
Imperial Airways Air Mail Services, December 1934

The next year, on 13 April 1935, the first passenger service operated from London to Brisbane by Imperial Airways and Qantas Empire Airways. It initially operated weekly and the trip took 12 and a half days. It would become officially known as the Kangaroo Route.

Services initially operated weekly, and were progressively increased to twice weekly and thrice weekly throughout the 1930s. The journey time was improved so that flights to Australia took “only” 10 days.

Imperial Airways Services To Australia, May 1936
Imperial Airways Services To Australia, May 1936
Imperial Airways Flying Boats, March 1937
Imperial Airways Flying Boats, March 1937
Imperial Airways Flying Boats, May 1939
Imperial Airways Flying Boats, May 1939

By 1939, services to Australia were operated with flying boats. Passengers would depart from the Imperial Airways Terminal in Victoria to catch a train to Southampton.

Imperial Airways / Qantas Empire Airways Poster
Imperial Airways / Qantas Empire Airways Poster (Image Credit: Qantas)
Continue reading “100 Years Of Qantas In The UK: The First Flights”