London Air Travel's Atlantic Update – 26 February 2020

Welcome to London Air Travel’s weekly bulletin on transatlantic travel, published every Wednesday at 06:00 GMT.

London Air Travel

American Airlines Boeing 787 (Image Credit: American Airlines)
American Airlines Boeing 787 (Image Credit: American Airlines)

Hello and welcome to London Air Travel’s Atlantic Update providing a weekly bulletin on developments on transatlantic travel between Europe and North America. The Atlantic Update is published every Wednesday morning at 06:00 GMT.

American Airlines & Qatar Airways Agree Codeshare

There has been a significant thawing in relations between two fellow members of the Oneworld alliance.

It wasn’t until that long ago that Qatar Airways was threatening to leave the Oneworld alliance following comments made by American Airlines and Qantas against the airline.

There are now signs of improvement in relations. American and Qatar have agreed to reinstate a previously severed codeshare agreement. American will place its code on both non-stop and connecting Qatar operated flights to the US. Qatar will place its code on American operated domestic flights beyond its US hubs and international flights from Europe, the Caribbean, and Central and South America.

This will substantially improve American’s coverage of the Middle East, Africa and Asia, where its is currently dependent on a relatively limited codeshare with BA.

American has also expressed an ambition to fly to Doha. The two airlines also plan to explore further commercial co-operation. A logical progression is a full revenue sharing joint-business. However, these take a long time to agree behind the scenes. Given it also involves sharing sensitive commercial information, it requires trust on all sides.

This development, together with new and reinstated relationships with Royal Air Maroc and Air Alaska does also point to American working much harder with its alliance partners.

Continue reading “London Air Travel's Atlantic Update – 26 February 2020”

British Airways Flexible Rebooking Policy For Italy

British Airways has introduced a flexible rebooking policy for passengers due to fly to Northern Italy following the Coronavirus outbreak.

London Air Travel

BA Airbus A319 aircraft at London Heathrow (Image Credit: British Airways)
BA Airbus A319 aircraft at London Heathrow (Image Credit: British Airways)

Following reports of an outbreak of Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Northern Italy, British Airways has introduced a flexible rebooking policy for passengers due to fly between any London airport and the airports below in Italy.

The airports are: Bergamo, Bologna, Milan Linate, Milan Malpensa, Turin, Venice and Verona.

Florence, Pisa and Rome are not currently included in the scope of the policy.

Passengers due to travel up to Monday 2 March 2020 can rebook up to Tuesday 31 March 2020.

Passengers can also change their flight to BA operated services to/from Geneva and Zurich airports. However, any consequential costs such as ground transportation will be at passenger’s expense.

Refunds are not currently available, unless allowed by existing fare rules.

Update: BA is now cancelling selected flights to Italy. If your flight is cancelled you are entitled to a full refund.

Note if you are booked to fly with BA on a codeshare booking made through another airline, such as American Airlines, you will need to contact the airline that issued your ticket for advice.

Affected passengers can check the status of their booking using the Manage My Booking tool on ba.com and should contact either BA or their travel agent.

As this is a fluid situation this guidance may be amended or withdrawn at any time.

London Air Travel's Monday Briefing – 24 February 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

Coronavirus
Coronavirus (Image Credit: Alissa Eckert, MS; Dan Higgins, MAM / Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

Welcome to London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing for the week beginning 24 February 2020.

Coronavirus

Two months into the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, we are beginning to see its impact on airlines outside of regions immediately affected by the virus.

Last week, Singapore Airlines announced network wide tactical cancellations up to 31 May 2020. This includes 23 return trips from London Heathrow to Singapore.

Air France-KLM estimates the outbreak will cost the group €150m -€200m up to April 2020. Approximately 5% of the group’s capacity is to mainland China. Long-haul forward bookings load factors for March 2020 are down 5 percentage points year-on year.

Air New Zealand estimates a cost of NZ$35m – NZ$75m with weaker forward bookings on domestic and Tasman routes. It is also temporarily suspending its route to Seoul from 7 March 2020 to the end of June 2020

Qantas estimates a cost of AUD$100m – AUD$150m due to Coronavirus in the first half this year. Whilst UK and US markets are considered to be largely unaffected, in addition to weakening demand from Asia, corporate and leisure domestic demand in Australia is also softening.

Closer to home, British Airways currently plans to tentatively resume flights to mainland China from mid-April 2020. However, London Heathrow – Hong Kong will remain at one flight a day until June 2020. BA has also taken the Airbus A380 off its terminating service from London Heathrow to Singapore during April and May. More details here.

Whilst BA does have a relatively small exposure to Asia compared to Air France-KLM and Lufthansa, with a much higher long-haul premium seat capacity, it is very exposed to marginal falls in premium demand.

History has shown one of the earliest indications of softening long-haul premium demand is BA turning on the taps of Club World reward seat availability, which now seems to be happening.

Many global events have also been cancelled. Due to the cancellation of Mobile World Conference in Barcelona, which was due to start today, you can buy an economy return from Heathrow to Barcelona on BA this week for less than £100. A similar fare next week will cost in excess of £300.

International Airlines Group Full Year Results

Staying with BA, its parent company IAG announces its annual financial results this coming Friday, 28 February 2020.

IAG has made much of its resilience and its preparedness to deal with any industry crisis. We should at least learn of the impact of Coronavirus on its plans for capacity growth for this year. At its Capital Markets Day last year, IAG had already cut its annual growth plans to 3.2% for 2020, with 3% growth at BA.

It is also Willie Walsh’s last results announcement as CEO. Never short of an opinion, Willie may well have a few things to get off his chest, particularly regarding Flybe and possible state support. We will report any announcements of note on Friday morning.

Continue reading “London Air Travel's Monday Briefing – 24 February 2020”

British Airways Long-Haul Changes – April / May 2020

British Airways has adjusted its long-haul schedules at London Heathrow following reductions in flights to Asia due to the coronavirus outbreak.

London Air Travel

British Airways Boeing 747 Heathrow
British Airways Boeing 747 Heathrow (Image Credit: Heathrow)

British Airways continues to change its long-haul schedules in response to the Coronavirus and weaking travel demand to Asia.

The airline has announced a number of changes for April and May 2020.

As there have been indications from airlines that demand is softening more widely, there may be further changes depending on how the Coronavirus outbreak evolves in the coming weeks.

Also, not all of these changes may be fully reflected in online schedules and bookings at the time of publication.

Beijing & Shanghai Route Suspensions

British Airways currently plans to resume flights to mainland China in mid-April 2020.

BA currently plans to resume flights from London Heathrow to Shanghai on Saturday 18 April 2019.

Flights will initially operate three times weekly, from Heathrow on Monday, Thursday and Saturday until Sunday 31 May 2020. The return operates to Heathrow on the next day.

BA also plans to resume flights from London Heathrow to Beijing Daxing on Sunday 19 April 2019. Flights will initially operate four times weekly, from Heathrow on Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday until 31 May 2020. The return operates to Heathrow on the next day.

A flexible rebooking policy remains in place for all passengers due to fly to mainland China up to 31 May 2020.

Hong Kong

BA currently plans to maintain London Heathrow – Hong Kong at one flight a day until Monday 1 June 2020.

Flights BA27 & BA28, which are flown with the Airbus A380, continue to operate. Flights BA31 & BA32 remain cancelled.

Ordinarily, BA27 & BA28 and BA31 & BA32 swap aircraft on Sunday 29 March 2020. However, flights BA27 & BA28 will continue to operate with the A380 until 1 June 2020.

A flexible rebooking policy also remains in place for all passengers due to fly to Hong Kong up to 31 May 2020.

Continue reading “British Airways Long-Haul Changes – April / May 2020”

BA Adds 100,000 Club World Reward Seats

British Airways has released 100,000 Club World reward seats for travel up to 31 July 2020.

London Air Travel

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

In a sign that the financial impact of the Coronavirus outbreak is being felt beyond Asia, British Airways has released 100,000 reward seats in its Club World long-haul business class cabin to members of the Executive Club.

This offer is valid for travel from Monday 24 February 2020 to Friday 31 July 2020. It expires on Monday 2 March 2020

It is theoretically on offer across all long-haul routes but is subject to availability.

It is not unusual for BA to release additional Club World reward seats.  However, this is usually done over periods such as Christmas when business travel is seasonally quiet. This is a relatively aggressive promotion over five months.

This does suggest that premium travel demand is softening – some global events have been cancelled as a precautionary measure. 

Long time BA flyers may recall some extremely aggressive frequent flyer promotions in the immediate aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis.

BA’s parent company International Airlines Group is due to announce its annual results on Friday 28 February 2020, where it will give an indication of the likely impact of Coronavirus on travel demand.

Members of the Executive Club can view details of this offer on ba.com

Virgin Atlantic Ends Free Upper Class Ground Transfers

Virgin Atlantic is to withdraw complimentary ground transfers for all Upper Class passengers booking flights from 1 July 2020.

London Air Travel

Virgin Atlantic Airbus A350-1000 Upper Class Cabin
Virgin Atlantic Airbus A350-1000 Upper Class Cabin (Image Credit: Virgin Atlantic)

For the entirety of Virgin Atlantic’s existence a signature part of the Upper Class experience has been a complimentary transfer to and from the airport.

It has featured prominently in Virgin’s advertising.

Virgin also has a dedicated Upper Class Wing Check-in area at London Heathrow Terminal 3 for passengers arriving by car.

Complimentary transfers are currently available for any Upper Class passengers booking tickets in J, C and D booking classes.

It encompasses a complimentary chauffeur car to and from the airport and, for those passengers travelling to/from London airports, the additional choice of a complimentary limo bike or Gatwick/Heathrow Express tickets.

Virgin Atlantic has now decided to withdraw all complimentary ground transfers for Upper Class passengers who book flights from Wednesday 1 July 2020.

Passengers can still choose to purchase a car transfer service through Virgin Atlantic, as those passengers who are not eligible for a complimentary transfer can do at the moment.

For the avoidance of doubt, all existing bookings will be honoured. As will any eligible bookings made up to 1 July 2020. The Upper Class Wing at London Heathrow Terminal 3 will continue to operate.

Virgin has cited evolving customer needs and the fact that of the 20% of Upper Class passengers who are eligible for a complimentary transfer, only 50% take advantage of it.

Virgin has also cited the desire to provide a consistent experience with its transatlantic joint business partners Air France, Delta and KLM.

Undoubtedly, cost is also a factor.  It also has to be said that with increasing environmental scrutiny of aviation, complimentary chauffeur transfers are out of step with the times.

At the time of publication the main page on the Virgin Atlantic website for car transfer services has not been updated.  However, you can read the latest guidance on the travel news section.

London Air Travel's Atlantic Update – 19 February 2020

Welcome to London Air Travel’s weekly bulletin on transatlantic travel, published every Wednesday at 06:00 GMT.

London Air Travel

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

Hello and welcome to London Air Travel’s Atlantic Update providing a weekly bulletin on developments on transatlantic travel between Europe and North America. The Atlantic Update is published every Wednesday morning at 06:00 GMT.

BA Delays Boeing 787-10 To Atlanta Again

British Airways appears to have once again delayed the entry of its first Boeing 787-10 aircraft into service.

It was originally due to enter service this month on London Heathrow – Atlanta. This was then delayed until Saturday 14 March 2020. There now appears to be a further delay until Sunday 29 March 2020. This may of course be subject to change at short notice.

Boeing 737 MAX Operations

Airlines continue to extend the cancellation of Boeing 737 MAX operations pending the return of the aircraft into service.

American Airlines has extended the period of cancellation once again from Wednesday 3 June 2020 to Tuesday 18 August 2020. Assuming it does in fact re-enter service in August, American plans to gradually phase the aircraft into its operations.

Air Canada is currently scheduled to resume Boeing 737 MAX flights from London Heathrow to Halifax and St John’s on Thursday 2 July 2020.

Continue reading “London Air Travel's Atlantic Update – 19 February 2020”

London Air Travel's Monday Briefing – 17 February 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 Airbus A350-1000 Aircraft CGI Image
Qantas Airbus A350-1000 Aircraft CGI Image (Image Credit: Airbus / Qantas)

Welcome to London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing for the week beginning 17 February 2020.

Another weekend. Another UK winter storm. There are some continued delays and cancellations at London Heathrow this morning due to Storm Dennis and yesterday’s IT failure at the airport.

British Airways has extended its flexible rebooking policy. Passengers due to fly on short-haul flights to / from Heathrow today can rebook up to Thursday 20 February 2020. The latest guidance on the Heathrow IT issue is available from BA.

Qantas Project Sunrise

Qantas’ self-imposed deadline of 31 March 2020 to place an order for Airbus A350-1000 aircraft capable of flying from London to Sydney non-stop is not far away.

Two hurdles remain.

The first is regulatory approval from the Civil Aviation Safety Authority in Australia.

The second is negotiating an agreement with the Australian & International Pilots Association.

Negotiations appear to hinge on securing productivity and efficiency gains to make these ultra long-haul flights economically viable. These are now at an impasse.

In an e-mail to Qantas pilots from CEO of Qantas International Tino La Spina, which has been widely circulated, Qantas has threatened to create a separate pool of pilots to operate ultra long-haul flights:

“We will be left with no viable alternative but to have Sunrise flying performed by a new employment entity that can provide the cost base we need for this important business opportunity

“To be absolutely clear, this is not our preferred option. And we know that flagging this will not be well received by many of you. But we want to make sure you have all relevant information when you are weighing a decision.”

This would be a highly contentious move. It will be seen by pilots as a Trojan Horse to undermine the entire principle of collective bargaining.

Qantas does of course have form on playing hardball with its unions. CEO Alan Joyce famously shut down the airline at no notice to secure an end to a long running industrial dispute.

PriestmanGoode Rebrands Aegean Airlines

London is often seen as lagging behind other major cities in aviation.

Other hub airports have more runways and their growth is not impeded by public policy.

However, one area where London does lead is the number of agencies it plays host to who design the cabins and brand identities for many airlines around the world.

These include Factory Design, Tangerine, and PriestmanGoode. The latter’s latest project is a new brand identity and cabin interior for Aegean Airlines which was unveiled last week:

Continue reading “London Air Travel's Monday Briefing – 17 February 2020”

British Airways Cuts London Heathrow – Hong Kong Flights

British Airways is to suspend one of its twice daily flights to Hong Kong until the end of May 2020 at the earliest.

London Air Travel

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

British Airways has cut one of its twice daily return flights from London Heathrow to Hong Kong until the end of May 2020.

This move is expected given the large fall in demand for travel to the region.

Flights BA31 & BA32, operated with a Boeing 777-300 aircraft, have been suspended until Sunday 31 May 2020.

Flights BA27 & BA28, which operate with the Airbus A380, continue to operate.

Whilst BA has said these flights are suspended until the end of May 2020, given the current situation, the period of cancellation may well be extended.

From Sunday 29 March 2020 until Saturday 24 October 2020, the two flights are supposed to swap aircraft with BA31 & BA32 operated with the A380. However, BA27 & BA28 will continue to operate with the A380 up to and including 31 May 2020.

Passengers whose flights have been cancelled should be re-accommodated on alternative BA flights.

BA also has a flexible rebooking policy in place for all passengers due to fly to Hong Kong up to 31 May 2020. All passengers can rebook onto alternative BA services to Hong Kong up to Friday 31 July 2020 or obtain a full refund.

Those passengers who have connections to/from Cathay Pacific and Qantas at Hong Kong will need to check their itinerary to confirm they meet minimum connection times.

Passengers can check the status of their booking using the Manage My Booking tool on ba.com and should contact BA or their travel agent.

Cathay Pacific Lounge Closures

Cathay Pacific has also announced that it will temporarily close some of its departure lounges at Hong Kong international airport from Monday 17 February 2020 until further notice.

These are: The Bridge at Gate 35, The Deck at Gate 6; and The Pier First Class Lounge at Gate 63.

The Wing First Class and Business Class Lounges at Gates 1 – 4 and The Pier Business Class Lounge at Gate 65 will remain open.

Alaska Airlines To Join Oneworld Alliance

Alaska Airlines is to become a full member of the Oneworld alliance from summer 2021.

London Air Travel

Alaska Airlines, Palm Springs Airport
Alaska Airlines, Palm Springs Airport (Image Credit: London Air Travel)

Alaska Airlines is to join the Oneworld alliance.

The announcement was made today, Thursday 13 February 2020, as part of a plan for increased co-operation between American Airlines and Alaska Airlines.

American Airlines has also announced that it plans to launch a daily service from London Heathrow to Seattle from March 2021.  This will go on sale from May 2020.

This will complement British Airways’ existing services to Seattle.  Though, BA may reduce frequencies to compensate for the increase in capacity.

Alaska Airlines intends to become a full member of the Oneworld alliance by the summer of 2021.  This means that members of Oneworld alliance frequent flyer programmes will benefit from full frequent flyer recognition when flying on Alaska Airlines and vice versa.

However, the Oneworld alliance seems to have been caught by surprise by Alaska’s announcement. Normally, press releases are issued simultaneously by Oneworld and all current and prospective members. Some hours after Alaska’s announcement, Oneworld issued a statement welcoming Alaska’s intentions. However, it seems that the formal application process has not been completed.

Alaska Airlines and British Airways

British Airways already has a codeshare partnership with Alaska Airlines and places its code on a number of Alaska Airlines routes from the US West Coast to Hawaii and other destinations in North America.  

It also currently possible for members of the British airways Executive Club to earn and redeem Avios on Alaska Airlines.  

This latest announcement should also lead to further co-operation between BA and Alaska Airlines.

Full details of the planned co-operation between Alaska and American Airlines are available from Alaska Airlines.