London Gatwick North Terminal Closure

London Gatwick airport is to temporarily close the North Terminal from 1 April 2020.

London Air Travel

Gatwick Airport Runways
Gatwick Airport Runways (Image Credit: Gatwick Airport)

London Gatwick is to temporarily close its North Terminal from Wednesday 1 April 2020.

All existing airport operations will be consolidated in the South Terminal.

The airport’s single runway will also only be used for scheduled flights between 14:00 and 22:00 each day.

The runway will remain available for emergency landings and diversions outside of these hours.

The North Terminal is currently used by airlines such as easyJet, Emirates, Qatar Airways, Tui and Virgin Atlantic. easyJet is currently operating a skeleton schedule. Virgin Atlantic has temporarily transferred all operations to London Heathrow.

The few flights remain operating by these airlines will transfer to the South Terminal. This is currently used by airlines such as Aer Lingus, British Airways, Ryanair and Vueling.

This arrangement will continue for at least one month. London City airport has also closed until the end of April at the earliest. London Heathrow airport is expected to shortly announce terminal closures.

Given airlines have today, Friday 27 March, been given a slot alleviation until October 2020, schedules are likely to remain substantially reduced until the autumn.

“Use It Or Lose It” Slot Rules Relaxed Until October 2020

Airlines operating at London City, Gatwick and Heathrow airports have the flexibility to cancel flights up to 24 October 2020 without risk of forfeiting slots.

London Air Travel

London Heathrow Terminal 5A
London Heathrow Terminal 5A (Image Credit: Heathrow)

Airlines operating at London City, Gatwick, Heathrow and many other UK & EU airports have been granted further flexibility to cancel flights without forfeiting slots.

Under EU “use it or lose it” rules airlines must use their slots for at least 80% of each travel season. Otherwise, the slots are forfeited and will become available to other airlines.

Following a ruling by the European Commission, ACL, which is responsible for overseeing slot allocations at London City, Gatwick and Heathrow, had allowed an alleviation until Tuesday 30 June 2020.

This was granted just two weeks ago and was due to be reviewed again in May. However, this alleviation has now been extended to the entirety of the summer season, until Saturday 24 October 2020.

Continue reading ““Use It Or Lose It” Slot Rules Relaxed Until October 2020″

Coronavirus: British Airways Catering Changes

BA has reduced the quantity of food & beverage offered on short and long-haul flights in response to Coronavirus.

London Air Travel

British Airways Airbus A350-1000 Club World Service
British Airways Airbus A350-1000 Club World Service (Image Credit: British Airways)

British Airways has made changes to in-flight catering on short and long-haul flights in response to Coronavirus.

Some of the changes are quite vague in their description, but part of the aim seems to be to avoid the need to prepare food on board aircraft.

This will mean substantially less, and ambient only, food will be available on flights. These changes will be particularly noticeable in Club World and First Class.

All Flights

BA will no longer cater for any special dietary requirements or allergies.

So passengers who would ordinarily order special meals will have to make their own provisions.

Short-Haul Flights

In short-haul economy, M&S Buy On Board has been withdrawn.

Buy On Board will be replaced with a light refreshment, water and, on request, hot drinks.

Long-Haul Flights

Hot and soft drinks will continue to be offered as well as a light refreshment.

Meals will be prepared and packaged before each flight. So dishes will not be plated on board the aircraft as they usually are in First Class and Club World.

Pre-paid meals will not be offered in World Traveller.

Passengers can bring their own food on their flights, provided it does not need to be chilled or heated on board the aircraft.

The overall message seems to be expect less food and make your own provisions if possible.

As airlines are now operating an extremely limited schedule and are only carrying passengers who are returning to home, this arrangement is likely to continue until the situation with Coronavirus returns to normal.

Pre-Flight Dining

In terms of pre-flight dining options, it should be borne in mind that a large number of lounges operated by BA and its partner airlines are closed.

This includes the Concorde Room at London Heathrow and New York JFK, and BA lounges at UK regional airports.

Lounges at US airports where pre-flight dining is ordinarily offered to passengers, such as Boston, Chicago, Newark, Philadelphia and Washington Dulles, are also closed.

For the latest information on lounges check the Oneworld alliance website before your flight.

Virgin Atlantic Transfers Flights From Gatwick To Heathrow

Virgin Atlantic is to temporarily transfer all remaining flights from London Gatwick to London Heathrow airport.

London Air Travel

Virgin Atlantic Logo
Virgin Atlantic Logo (Image Credit: Virgin Atlantic)

Virgin Atlantic is to temporarily transfer what few remaining flights operate from London Gatwick to London Heathrow airport.

This will take effect for outbound flights from Tuesday 24 March 2020.

The last outbound flights from London Gatwick operated today, Monday 23 March.

On Tuesday 24 March, the last inbound flights will arrive at London Gatwick. These are VS90 from Grenada and St Lucia and VS34 from Antigua.

On Tuesday 24 March, flight VS147 to Havana (formerly VS63 when operated at Gatwick) and VS133 to Antigua (formerly VS33 when operated at Gatwick) will operate from London Heathrow.

A number of destinations Virgin Atlantic ordinarily serves from Gatwick, such as Orlando, are suspended due to travel restrictions.

As Virgin is currently operating a severely limited schedule until the end of April, this arrangement is likely to continue for some weeks at least.

There has been a recent trend for Virgin to transfer routes from Gatwick to Heathrow. Havana was due to transfer Heathrow in June 2020 and Las Vegas was transferred last year. Other routes such as Cancun and St Lucia have been suspended.

If the medium to long term impact of Coronavirus does lead to a significant fall in demand for air travel, the transfer from Gatwick to Heathrow could well become permanent. Should Norwegian permanently withdraw from Gatwick and BA follow Virgin, this would be very damaging to the airport.

London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing – 23 March 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

Arrivals, London Heathrow Airport
Arrivals, London Heathrow Airport (Image Credit: Heathrow)

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

“We have no incoming bookings any more, hardly any.”

Carsten Sphor, Chief Executive, Lufthansa

At the time of a global crisis, it’s easy to catastrophise. Many in the immediate aftermath of 11 September 2001 thought aviation would never recover. However, the situation with Coronavirus is moving so quickly that the plans of airlines just seven days ago now seem hopelessly optimistic.

On both sides of the Atlantic, Governments are contemplating state support for airlines.

In the US, airlines have acted in concert and issued a plea for support of up to $60 billion. This includes payroll grants and loan guarantees. At the time of “going to press” a bill is unsurprisingly caught up in political wrangling between Democrat & Republican politicians.

In the UK, there is no consensus amongst the industry on what the Government should do.

The Government has appointed Rothschild to look at measures to support the industry. Some measures reportedly include a moratorium on EC261 compensation, waiving Air Traffic Control charges and temporarily suspending Air Passenger Duty.

Some reports have suggested that measures such as loan guarantees will not be enough and the Government will have to take an equity stake in UK airlines.

Last week, Virgin Atlantic issued an outright request for Government credit facilities of up to £7.5 billion for the industry. Virgin is clearly nervous that credit card providers will hold back funds as they have done to Flybe and Norwegian.

Yesterday, Sir Richard Branson also committed $250m of funds to his Virgin businesses which have all been impacted by Coronavirus (Virgin).

IAG has been keen to emphasise its resilience with cash of €7.35 billion and undrawn facilities of €1.9 billion. This may sound like a lot of money but UBS estimated last week that IAG could burn through €1.15 billion of cash a month.

A “senior IAG source” also briefed BBC News last week that there are better uses of taxpayer funds than a bailout for Virgin Atlantic.

(It’s also worth recalling there is a lot of history between Sir Richard Branson and Willie Walsh from the last financial crisis. When BA was reeling from the collapse of Lehman Brothers, in very public fashion due its status as a listed company, Sir Richard raised the question of the need for state support of BA. This triggered a fall in BA’s share price, and Sir Richard said of BA that “we should wait for its demise.”)

There are of course inherent conflicts in the Government taking equity stakes in different UK airlines where it would effectively have competing financial investments.

IAG has long been against Government investment in airlines and is likely to only accept an equity stake as an absolute last resort. The UK Government would only have interest in investing in BA. Ditto for the Spanish Government and Iberia. IAG has always wanted full control of all its airlines and is unlikely to be willing to cede minority interests in any of its subsidiaries, not least when there’s the potential for political interference.

Continue reading “London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing – 23 March 2020”

Virgin Atlantic Closes Clubhouse Lounges

Virgin Atlantic is to temporarily close all of its Clubhouse lounges.

London Air Travel

Virgin Atlantic Logo
Virgin Atlantic Logo (Image Credit: Virgin Atlantic)

Virgin Atlantic is to temporarily close all of its Clubhouse lounges.

Upper Class passengers and eligible members of the Virgin Atlantic Flying Club and partner airline programmes will no longer be able to access these lounges.

Virgin’s lounges at Boston, Johannesburg, London Gatwick, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington Dulles are closed.  

The lounge at Newark has also closed permanently due to the suspension of the route.

At London Heathrow, the Upper Class Wing and Revivals Lounge has closed.

Services in the Clubhouse lounge at London Heathrow Terminal 3 are reduced with no deli bar, salon & spa or shoe shine service.  The bar and the brasserie will remain open. The lounge will close temporarily from Monday 30 March 2020.

The New York JFK Clubhouse lounge will also remain open, but with reduced services.

Continue reading “Virgin Atlantic Closes Clubhouse Lounges”

BA Transfers All Flights From Heathrow Terminal 3 To 5

British Airways is to temporarily transfer all short and long-haul flights currently scheduled to operate from London Heathrow Terminal 3 to Terminal 5 from Sunday 29 March 2020.

London Air Travel

London Heathrow Terminal 5
London Heathrow Terminal 5 (Image Credit: Heathrow)

British Airways is to temporarily transfer all short and long-haul flights currently scheduled to operate from London Heathrow Terminal 3 to Terminal 5 from Sunday 29 March 2020.

This follows a substantial reduction in BA’s schedules during April and May.

The transfer will take effect until mid-April at the earliest.  

Given disruption to air travel from Coronavirus is likely to continue into the autumn, the transfer may well become prolonged, if not permanent.

Passengers with connections to / from BA and its partner airlines should bear in mind that the Minimum Connection Times for intra and inter-terminal transfers are different.  

The Minimum Connection Time for T3-T5 connections is 90 minutes and for T5-T5 connections is 60 minutes.  

These changes are showing on ba.com as of Monday 23 March. Passengers with connections should check their bookings to see they are compliant. There may also be some slight changes to flight times.

Continue reading “BA Transfers All Flights From Heathrow Terminal 3 To 5”

British Airways Suspends Flights At London City Airport

British Airways is to temporarily suspend all flights from London City airport from Monday 23 March 2020.

London Air Travel

British Airways Embraer E170, Airbus A318 aircraft, London City airport
British Airways Embraer E170, Airbus A318 aircraft, London City airport (Image Credit: British Airways)

British Airways is to temporarily suspended operations at London City airport.

BA has previously suspended its all business class service to New York JFK until September 2020.

The airline has also suspended all short-haul flights operated by its subsidiary BA CityFlyer from Monday 23 March to Saturday 4 April 2020.

Passengers whose flights have been cancelled will be re-accommodated on alternative services from London Gatwick and Heathrow.

Passengers should receive an e-mail to advise that they have been automatically rebooked.

In theory, passengers are also entitled to a refund as their original flight has been cancelled. However, if you try to do this on ba.com you will be offered a voucher for redemption against a future booking.

Passengers can check the status of their booking using the Manage My Booking tool on ba.com. If you need to contact BA, telephone numbers are on this page of ba.com

All airlines are asking passengers not to contact them unless they are due to travel within the next 72 hours.

A very large number of BA short-haul flights have been cancelled outside of the dates above, and this is likely to continue until June at the earliest.

Given how fast moving events are with Coronavirus, further cancellations, and indeed airport closures, are possible.

Update Wednesday 25 March

London City Airport plans to temporarily close to commercial and private flights until the end of April 2020.

Qantas To Close London Heathrow Lounge

Qantas is to temporarily close all of its international lounges in Australia and worldwide.

London Air Travel

Qantas London Heathrow Lounge (Image Credit: Qantas Airways)

Qantas is to temporarily close its lounge at London Heathrow Terminal 3.

This follows a decision by Qantas to operate no scheduled international flights from the end of March until at least the end of May 2020 at the earliest.

Qantas will also close all of its international lounges around the world. This includes Qantas operated lounges in Los Angeles, Hong Kong, Singapore and in Australia.

A number of Qantas domestic lounges in Australia will also close. Full details are on the Qantas website.

When Qantas does resume international flights, it plans to operate two services a day between London Heathrow and Perth with a Boeing 787 aircraft until the end of September at the earliest.

Given we are approaching a near complete shutdown of international travel from the end of March and disruption is likely to run for many months, this is all of course somewhat academic.

A number of other airlines and third party operators are closing lounges and those who have not yet announced closures are likely to do so.

American Express is closing its Centurion lounges worldwide from Saturday 21 March.

Plaza Premium has also closed, or reduced opening hours at, a number of lounges around the world. Full details are on its website.

It is also now plausible that some airports and terminals will close entirely.

Passengers travelling from London Heathrow Terminal 3 on Oneworld airlines in business and First Class, and eligible members of Oneworld frequent flyer programmes, can use the Cathay Pacific business and First Class lounges as an alternative.

Virgin Atlantic Cuts Lounge Services

Virgin Atlantic is to reduce its lounge services for Upper Class passengers until 1 June 2020.

London Air Travel

Virgin Atlantic Logo
Virgin Atlantic Logo (Image Credit: Virgin Atlantic)

Virgin Atlantic is to reduce its lounge services for Upper Class passengers, and eligible members of the Virgin Flying Club and partner airline programmes.

At London Heathrow, the “Revivals” lounge for arriving passengers will close entirely from Thursday 19 March.

The Clubhouse lounge at Terminal 3 will remain open but with reduced staffing.  The deli counter will be closed and shoe shine services will not be offered.  The spa and salon will also close from Monday 23 March.

The current plan is for services to return to normal on Monday 1 June 2020.

However, given how quickly events are moving with Coronavirus, nothing than can be ruled out.  

No airline is expecting a return to normal schedules for many months, if at all this year.

Virgin is currently operating a significantly reduced schedule and expects to have 85% of its aircraft grounded in April. Given the scale of this reduction, a number of lounges outside of London will inevitably close temporarily.

On a lounge related note, American Express has announced that all of its Centurion lounges worldwide will close temporarily from Saturday 21 April 2020.