London Heathrow Airport Adds £5 Drop Off Charge

From Monday 1 November 2021, a £5 charge will apply to vehicles dropping off passengers at the forecourts of London Heathrow Airport terminals.

London Air Travel

Terminal 3 Forecourt, London Heathrow Airport (Image Credit: Heathrow)

On Monday 1 November 2021 London Heathrow Airport will introduce a £5 charge for all vehicles dropping off departing passengers at its terminal forecourts.

This will apply to all vehicles, including private hire cars. There are limited exemptions and discounts for Blue Badge holders, emergency vehicles, motorbikes, coaches and staff buses.

Black cab taxis registered with London Taxi and Private Hire will benefit from a 100% discount until 1 April 2022 to allow Transport for London to consult on changes to meter charges. Private Hire Vehicles do not benefit from this discount.

The charge will apply 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. There are no given times or circumstances where it will be waived for all passengers.

The £5 charge can be paid online, by setting up an autopay, or through an automated telephone service. It is not possible to pay the charge at the airport.

The charge can be paid in advance, on the day of travel, or by midnight the following day. It is also possible to prepay for a series of drop offs up to 12 months’ in advance.

Non payment will be enforced through Automatic Number Plate Recognition technology and will incur a fine of £80. This is reduced to £40 if paid within 14 days.

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London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing – 27 September 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

British Airways, London Gatwick
British Airways, London Gatwick

Welcome to London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing for the week beginning 27 September 2021.

The Hub Without The Hubbub

So that’s it.

After decades of short haul operations at Gatwick and periodic reinventions to compete against low cost airlines, BA has finally pulled the plug.

Or has it?

British Airways at London Gatwick Airport, 1979

There is a curious lack of detail on what BA and IAG have planned next for Gatwick. Last week the airline advised it will not pursue plans to set up a new subsidiary company to operate short haul flights after talks with the pilots union BALPA broke down. “Alternative uses” for the slots will be pursued.

Although short haul flights from Sunday 27 March 2022 at Gatwick are off sale, they are still loaded in online timetables. There’s also been no published guidance for the travel trade, nor any official updates to the stock exchange from IAG.

This was the first industrial relations test for Luis Gallego and Sean Doyle – both of whom have tried to emphasise a more emollient approach than their predecessors.

Anyone who has paid any attention to BA industrial relations over the years has come to expect a fair amount of sabre rattling and rough and tumble. The airline has also shown it can be very patient – even when this is tested to the limit – and will also sit out negative publicity to get what it wants. So it seems slightly odd the airline has appeared to have walked away from this so easily. BA and BALPA have certainly had much greater differences in the past.

It is inconceivable that any other IAG airline could have any more success at Gatwick than BA. This would leave slots having to be leased or sold to rival airlines. As history has shown once the capacity is lost, it is very hard to get it back.

Whilst many former Gatwick routes such as Jersey will work well at Heathrow. Accommodating many other leisure routes at Heathrow will not be so easy. As other routes return slots have to be optimised for long haul use and “out and back in a day” short haul business traffic. BA’s short haul network at Heathrow is also not insulated from competition at Gatwick.

IAG management will no doubt be quizzed further at investor updates in the coming weeks.

BA Route Network Updates

A few more BA route network updates for this week:

BA returns to The Maldives on Friday 1 October. It has also been confirmed that BA will return to Philadelphia and Austin from 12 & 13 October respectively. It is unlikely that any more transatlantic routes will return until the US border reopens to fully vaccinated tourists in November.

BA has also advised it will transfer its route to Providenciales from Gatwick to Heathrow for the winter season. It currently operates via Antigua from Gatwick and will do so via Nassau at Heathrow.

Continue reading “London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing – 27 September 2021”

London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing – 20 September 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

Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER Aircaft B-KPM (Image Credit: Cathay Pacific)

Welcome to London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing for the week beginning 20 September 2021.

In this week’s update we look at Cathay Pacific’s 75th anniversary celebrations and the return of South African Airways. We also have the latest BA route network updates for this week.

Plus tensions are rising between Heathrow and its airlines over passenger charges and between the EU and Asia over “use it or lose it” slot rules.

Cathay Pacific Marks Its 75th Anniversary

Cathay Pacific marks the 75th anniversary of its formation in 1946 this coming Friday 24 September.

It wasn’t until 1980 Cathay Pacific began flying from London. This was enabled in part by the Boeing 747 and an Open Skies treaty between the UK and Hong Kong. This ended BA’s monopoly on the route (and its small shareholding in Cathay Pacific) and opened the route to four airlines. The others being British Caledonian and Freddie Laker’s Sky Train.

Cathay Pacific initially flew from Gatwick via Bahrain three times a week from 17 July 1980.

Cathay Pacific, London Gatwick Hong Kong, via Bahrain, June 1981
Cathay Pacific, London Gatwick Hong Kong, via Bahrain, June 1981

Services soon increased to daily. On 2 July 1983 Cathay operated the first non-stop flight from London to Hong Kong.

Boeing 747 aircraft have long been replaced by Boeing 777-300ER and Airbus A350 aircraft.

Before COVID-19, Cathay had built up a high frequency service from London Heathrow and had added many new routes to Hong Kong from Europe with the Airbus A350, notably Gatwick and Manchester.

Cathay has enjoyed an excellent reputation for its lounges in Hong Kong and around the world, notably at London Heathrow Terminal 3, and its attentive in flight service.

That said, the last couple of years have been extremely challenging for the airline. The lack of a domestic network and strict restrictions on international arrivals in Hong Kong have almost wiped out passenger revenue. The airline has also been caught in political controversy with senior executives forced to leave after some Cathay employees participated in protests in Hong Kong against new security laws.

Like many airlines Cathay will emerge from COVID-19 with a radically different route network. You can follow Cathay Pacific’s celebrations on a dedicated microsite.

BA Route Network Updates

A few BA route network updates for this week:

BA restarts flights from London Heathrow to Basel today, with Istanbul to follow tomorrow.

BA had planned to move some short haul routes back to Heathrow Terminal 3 by the end of this month, but this has been delayed until October at the earliest.

At London City, flights to Rotterdam restart today. A number of summer seasonal routes end over the next seven days. Bergerac ends this Sunday, 26 September. Jersey, Guernsey and Skiathos end next Monday, 27 September.

BA is not expected to restart a full short haul schedule at Gatwick until Sunday 28 March 2022. The airline will restart daily short haul flights from Gatwick to Glasgow from this Friday 24 September.

You can also see our dedicated BA short haul and long haul route network pages which are continuously updated.

South African Airways Returns To The Skies

South African Airways restarts scheduled passenger flights in South Africa this week after the airline exited its business rescue process.

Its route network will initially be limited. From this Thursday 23 September, the airline will fly between Johannesburg and Cape Town.

Flights to Harare, Luanda and Maputo will follow in the coming days.

Before entering the business rescue the airline announced a significant restructuring of its International network. It’s not known when, if it all, it will resume flights to London Heathrow.

Continue reading “London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing – 20 September 2021”

Sunday Times Interview With IAG CEO Luis Gallego

IAG CEO Luis Gallego speaks to The Sunday Times on BA’s future at Gatwick and the possibility of buying easyJet.

London Air Travel

Luis Gallego, Chief Executive Designate, International Airlines Group
Luis Gallego, Chief Executive Designate, International Airlines Group (Image Credit: Iberia)

It has been just over a year since Luis Gallego replaced Willie Walsh as CEO of International Airlines Group, the parent company of Aer Lingus, BA, Iberia, LEVEL and Vueling.

Luis has a relatively low media profile in the UK compared to Willie Walsh. This is in part due to the fact that he came to the role via Iberia, rather than BA. If you are CEO of BA you will inevitably end up on the front pages of newspapers and leading TV news bulletins.

Luis was a protégé of Willie and was regularly praised by him for establishing Iberia Express with its industry leading punctuality and for overhauling Iberia. That said, he does have a very different management style. Unlike Willie, he also likes to keep his views on rival airlines to himself.

This week’s edition of The Sunday Times features an interview with Luis. Inevitably, much of it focuses on COVID-19 and ongoing frustration with international travel restrictions in the UK which means BA is recovering more slowly than other IAG airlines, notably Iberia and Vueling.

As always with interviews with CEOs of public companies, there are limitations on what can be said as any share price sensitive announcements have to be made to the stock exchange first.

That said, there some interesting points and comments which leave you trying to read between the lines:

BA Short Haul At Gatwick

IAG has always been an organisation that has prided itself on “transformational change” and was never going to let an industry crisis go to waste.

Attention in recent months has been focused on BA at Gatwick with a planned restructuring to introduce a more flexible cost base better suited to summer seasonal short haul operations.

On BA at Gatwick, Luis says:

“The thing is, in Gatwick for the last ten years, except 2016, we were losing money. And now we are going to have an even tougher environment, so we need to have an efficient vehicle there. What we want is to provide the same standard [of service] and the same BA experience but on a more efficient platform.”

It is claimed in the interview that Willie Walsh wanted to close down BA short haul at Gatwick. Luis was prepared to entertain proposals from BA to keep the brand at Gatwick, with flights operated by a new subsidiary company.

Whilst it won’t be known for some time whether talks with unions have been ultimately successful, some union sources note a more conciliatory tone than Willie Walsh:

“Gallego is an engineer, and wants to diagnose the problem and think through the solution. He can be very tough, but he likes to follow a process. With Walsh, it was toxic — you were either in the court of Willie Walsh, and could get a hearing, or you weren’t.”

Luis does not indicate what may happen if talks with unions fail, which would require IAG to either sell its slots, or hand them to other IAG airlines which have a significantly lower brand profile than BA in the South East.

IAG Buying easyJet

There has been speculation on the future of easyJet recently given it was disclosed that Wizz Air had made an unsuccessful bid for the airline.

Oddly, Luis does not deny outright the possibility of IAG buying easyJet. It is described as one of several airlines “on the radar”.

When pressed whether IAG has held merger talks with easyJet management, there is a rather curious non-denial denial “We talk to all airlines that can be interesting to us.”

Whilst IAG buying easyJet would be the sort of “transformational” deal the group seeks, it is hard to see competition regulators allowing it without significant slot divestures given the number of overlapping city pairs.

Continue reading “Sunday Times Interview With IAG CEO Luis Gallego”

British Airways Launches New Routes To The Azores

BA will fly from London Heathrow to São Miguel and Terceira Island once weekly in summer 2022.

London Air Travel

São Miguel, Azores
São Miguel, Azores (Image Credit: British Airways)

British Airways is to launch two new summer seasonal routes to the Azores in 2022.

BA will fly to Ponta Delgada on São Miguel Island once weekly on Saturdays from 2 July to 3 September 2022.

The airline will also fly to Lajes Airport on Terceira Island once weekly on Sundays from 10 July to 28 August 2022.

Both routes will operate from Terminal 5 with Airbus A320 aircraft in a two class, Club Europe and Euro Traveller configuration.

The addition of the Azores region to the BA route network is welcome. Though, given the relatively short season and limited frequencies, it is clearly a tentative move.

These routes have also been announced well ahead of their planned launch. As these are new seasonal routes the operating dates & frequencies may change according to commercial demand.

Flights are on sale now at ba.com

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London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing – 13 September 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

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

Welcome to London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing for the week beginning 13 September 2021.

easyJet Looks To Raise Funds As Wizz Air Circles

Last week the Commons Transport Select Committee, without any hint of irony, pondered the question what can be done to help the UK’s once buoyant aviation sector recover from COVID-19.

It is not the first time the Select Committee has looked at aviation during COVID-19. Its report last year, with carefully placed soundbites, earned itself plenty of headlines for kicking BA over what was largely a hypothetical legal scenario.

It had complete blindspots cover the imminent collapse of Norwegian’s long haul operations and Virgin Atlantic’s precarious financial position. It also had no practically useful content for anybody, whether they be passengers, employees or airline management. It is hard to see what influence this latest exercise this will have on anything.

One bright spot is yesterday’s Mail On Sunday splashed with a claim that the government is planning to end the requirement for a PCR test for fully vaccinated travellers before returning to England. A lateral flow test also need only be required two days’ after arrival.

This has been followed up by today’s Telegraph which reports that the traffic light system will be scrapped. Whilst a “red list” of countries that require hotel quarantine on arrival will remain, this will be shrunk.

Meanwhile airlines are making their own manoeuvres. Last week easyJet revealed it had received an unsolicited takeover bid from Wizz Air. It also plans a £1.2 billion rights issue.

Wizz Air is known for relentless cost control. Before COVID-19, easyJet was largely concerned with growing business traffic and selling packaged holidays, as well as defending itself from brickbats thrown in its direction by its own founder. Though, a promised frequent flyer currency never came to fruition.

easyJet was keen to emphasise its positioning at major airports in Europe and the fact that legacy network airlines are vulnerable to the slow recovery of long haul routes.

Michael O’Leary, never one to allow anyone else to have the last word, told the Financial Times, a merger between easyJet and Wizz Air is inevitable. In its favour are a common Airbus fleet and complimentary coverage of Western & Eastern Europe. Not in favour are relative differences in the cost base and culture between the two airlines. Michael O’Leary also reveals he tried to buy Wizz Air in 2015 before it listed on the stock exchange, but could not agree a price.

“City sources” also told yesterday’s Mail On Sunday that IAG may hold a second rights issue to bring down its debt levels, possibly to coincide with the reopening of the US border.

As borders remain closed, JetBlue has cut its planned service from London Gatwick to New York JFK to four times weekly from launch on 30 September until at least November. Delta has also postponed plans to restart Detroit and Seattle, as well as an increase frequencies to New York JFK.

BA Route Network Changes

A few more BA short haul network changes for this week:

At Heathrow, BA returns to Bari and Catania on Friday 17 September. Palermo follows on Saturday 18 September. As does Basel on Monday 20 September.

Summer seasonal services from London City to Faro, Gibraltar and Mahon have now ended for the year. Currently, there is no planned date for a return to Gibraltar from London City in 2022.

Seasonal services to Split end on 17 September. Rotterdam is due to restart on Monday 20 September. BA’s franchise partner SUN-AIR has pushed back the restart of London City – Billund until 10 January 2022.

Continue reading “London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing – 13 September 2021”

The Day That Changed The World – 20 Years On

How the events of September 11, 2001 changed the airline industry on both sides of the Atlantic.

London Air Travel

September 11, 2001

“21st Century Air Travel”

The airline industry, like much of the world, entered the 21st century with a sense of optimism.

Here in the UK, BA had become somewhat bruised in the late 1990s by the adverse reaction to the World Tailfins and rising competition from low cost airlines.

Under the new leadership of Rod Eddington and the theme of “21st century air travel” the airline had planned significant investment with a new World Traveller Plus cabin and revamped cabins in Club World, First Class and on Concorde.

Virgin Atlantic – now well into its teenage years – was firmly ensconced at London Heathrow. It had signed up as a launch customer for 6 Airbus A380 aircraft with “industry sources” touting the prospect of casinos and gyms on board a “flying hotel”. The airline was expanding to India with its first route to Delhi, and taking delivery of new Airbus A340 and Boeing 747-400 aircraft.

The Day That Changed The World

One day changed everything.

The facts of the single worst day in civil aviation history are well known.

At 07:59 Eastern Time on Tuesday September 11 2001, an American Airlines Boeing 767 aircraft operating as Flight AA11 departed Boston Logan International airport, bound for Los Angeles. The Captain was John Ogonowski and First Officer was Thomas McGuinness. 9 Flight Attendants and 81 passengers were on board the aircraft. The aircraft was hijacked. At 08:46 it crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center in Manhattan.

At 07:58, a United Airlines Boeing 767 aircraft operating as Flight UA175 also departed Boston for Los Angeles. The Captain was Victor J Saracini and First Officer was Michael Horrocks. 7 Flight Attendants and 56 passengers were on board the aircraft. The aircraft was hijacked. At 09:03 it crashed into the South Tower of the World Trade Center.

Two other aircraft were hijacked. An American Airlines Boeing 757 aircraft, operating as Flight AA77 from Washington Dulles to Los Angeles crashed into the Pentagon at 09:45.

A United Airlines Boeing 757 from Newark to San Francisco, operating as Flight UA93, with seven crew members and 37 passengers crashed near Somerset County, Pennsylvania.

The Guardian, Europe Edition Front Page, Wednesday 12 September 2001
Continue reading “The Day That Changed The World – 20 Years On”

BA Adds Salzburg At London City & Southampton

British Airways has launched a new winter seasonal route to Salzburg from London City & Southampton airports.

London Air Travel

Salzburg Landscape
Salzburg Landscape (Image Credit: British Airways)

British Airways has launched a new winter seasonal route from London City and Southampton airports to Salzburg.

Flights from London City launch on Friday 10 December 2021. They will initially operate twice weekly, before reducing to Saturdays only from 19 March 2022. The route is due to end Saturday 16 April 2022.

A weekly service from Southampton also launches on Saturday 11 December 2021 and will end at the same time as the London City route.

This will complement BA’s existing winter seasonal service to Salzburg from London Heathrow which is also due to resume on Friday 10 December 2021. Passengers can combine departure and arrival airports, if appropriate.

BA will also serve Chambery from Southampton twice weekly from Saturday 18 December 2021 until Sunday 17 April 2022, in addition to its service from London City.

Flights are operated with Embraer E190 aircraft in a two class, Club Europe and Euro Traveller, configuration.

As this is a new seasonal route, frequencies and operating dates, particularly towards the end of the season, are subject to change.

Also, as ever in the current environment, flight schedules are subject to change at short notice. Passengers are responsible for ensuring they comply with all pre-departure and arrival requirements.

Readers can keep up to date with the latest network changes with our dedicated pages for BA’s short haul network and London City.

Flights are on sale now at ba.com

London City – Salzburg

Flight BA8479 Depart London City 07:05 – Arrive Salzburg 10:00 (Friday & Saturday)
Flight BA8480 Depart Salzburg 10:50 – Arrive London City 11:45 (Friday & Saturday)

Southampton – Salzburg

Flight BA2929 Depart Southampton 13:00 – Arrive Salzburg 16:00 (Saturday)
Flight
Flight BA2930 Depart Salzburg 16:50 – Arrive Southampton 17:50 (Saturday)

Southampton – Chambery

Flight BA2935 Depart Southampton 07:15 – Arrive Chambery 09:55 (Saturday)
Flight BA2925 Depart Southampton 07:30 – Arrive Chambery 10:10 (Sunday)

Flight BA2936 Depart Chambery 10:45 – Arrive London City 11:25 (Saturday)
Flight BA2936 Depart Chambery 10:55 – Arrive London City 11:35 (Sunday)

© Copyright London Air Travel 2021.

London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing – 6 September 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

BA CityFlyer London – Amsterdam, Dublin, Zurich (Image Credit: British Airways)

Welcome to return of London Air Travel’s weekly Monday Briefing after a summer break.

The September Issue

Today, Monday 6 September, is the end of the Parliamentary Recess in the UK.

It is also the Labor Day holiday in the US and Canada, effectively marking the end of summer and “back to work”.

It is traditionally at this time that airlines begin announcing their plans for the next summer season. There is much to do to get through the winter first.

Over the summer Mark Kleinman of Sky News broke the story that Virgin Atlantic is seeking a listing on the stock exchange to raise new funds. The Sunday Telegraph followed this up yesterday.

Talks are said to be underway with bondholders, creditors and lenders to secure their approval. There is said to be concern amongst some about Virgin Group ceding control of the airline and what may happen if it requires further financing.

It’s worth recalling that when Virgin Atlantic undertook a solvent recapitalisation last year, its worst case scenario was that travel restrictions would remain in place until August. It’s now expected that the US will not relax travel restrictions until at least late November this year.

BA Route Network Updates

In anticipation of the Canadian government relaxing travel restrictions for fully vaccinated passengers from Tuesday 7 September, BA returns to Vancouver on the same day.

Montreal follows five times weekly from Wednesday 8 September. Toronto also increases to three times daily on certain days from this week.

BA also returned to Nairobi on Saturday. Flights to Dubai increase to twice daily today.

Additional seasonal flights to Antigua and Saint Lucia at Heathrow ended on Saturday and will return on 18 December.

Short haul routes that resumed in the past week at Heathrow include Brussels, Hannover, Porto, Seville, Stuttgart and Vienna. Summer seasonal flights to Newquay ended for this year on Saturday.

At London City, BA CityFlyer restarted Amsterdam and Zurich yesterday. Dublin follows today. As does Geneva on Friday 10 September.

Please also see our dedicated BA short haul and long haul route networks which are continuously updated.

Continue reading “London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing – 6 September 2021”

British Airways To Set Up New Airline At Gatwick

BA plans to restart short haul flights at London Gatwick in March 2022 with a new subsidiary airline.

London Air Travel

British Airways, London Gatwick
British Airways, London Gatwick

British Airways has once again extended the suspension almost all short haul flights at London Gatwick airport. It plans to restart flights in March 2022, operated by a new subsidiary airline.

The vast majority of Gatwick short haul routes have transferred to London Heathrow for the winter 2021 season. This runs from Sunday 31 October 2021 to Saturday 26 March 2022.

The only short haul routes expected to operate at Gatwick over the winter season include Amsterdam, Glasgow and Manchester. The airline will continue to run a limited network of long haul flights at the airport. All BA flights at Gatwick continue to operate from the North Terminal.

This was expected as BA should be able to cancel flights at Gatwick over the winter season without forfeiting its airport slots.

This means the airline will go two years without operating a significant schedule of short haul flights at Gatwick.

Further changes to BA’s short haul route network and schedules from all UK airports are likely over the winter season. This is due to continued uncertainty over both COVID-19 related travel restrictions and the level of demand for business and leisure travel.

What Happens To BA At Gatwick Next Summer?

BA CEO Sean Doyle has previously said that the airline is reviewing, with its parent company IAG, plans at Gatwick for the summer 2022 season.

Continue reading “British Airways To Set Up New Airline At Gatwick”