Monday Briefing – 16 September 2019

Welcome to our weekly briefing on air travel in London and around the world, as published every Monday at 06:00 BST.

London Air Travel

Norwegian Aircraft
Norwegian Aircraft (Image Credit: Norwegian)

Welcome to our Monday Briefing for the week beginning 16 September 2019.

Norwegian & Thomas Cook

This week could be a very significant one for both Norwegian and Thomas Cook.

Today is the deadline for Norwegian’s bondholders to agree to an extension for the redemption of two outstanding bonds valued at $380 million from 11 December 2019 and 7 August 2020 to November 2021 and February 2022 respectively. This would be backed by a security package that includes Norwegian’s slots at London Gatwick.

Thomas Cook is also in final negotiations with its shareholder Fosun, lenders and bondholders to complete a £900m rescue deal. This is expected to give Fosun and Thomas Cook’s lenders control of the business, with remaining shareholders seeing their investments virtually wiped out. The Financial Times has reported that a planned meeting of bondholders this Wednesday may be postponed.

Update: Norwegian’s bondholders have agreed to the extension.

Cathay Pacific August 2019 Traffic

Cathay Pacific has revealed the impact of disruption in Hong Kong on its traffic performance.

The number of passengers carried fell 11.3% year on year. Its load factor was also down 7.2 percentage points to 79.9%. Inbound traffic to Hong Kong fell 38% and outbound traffic from Hong Kong fell 12%. The falls in traffic were particularly pronounced in premium cabins and mainland China and North East Asia markets.

Europe was the best performing market and traffic has held up relatively well. Cathay has indicated that as there is no sign of an imminent improvement it will be making short-term capacity adjustments.

PriestmanGoode at The Design Museum

London Design Week is currently underway. As part of this the acclaimed design agency PriestmanGoode has an exhibition “Get Onboard: Reduce.Reuse.Rethink” at The Design Museum.

The exhibition looks at the typical amount of waste generated by a single passenger on a long-haul economy flight. This is estimated to be 1.43kg per passenger, of which 500g is single use plastic.

PriestmanGoode Display, The Design Museum, London
PriestmanGoode Display, The Design Museum, London (Image Credit: London Air Travel)

This is primarily from the food and beverage service. Plastic serves a useful purpose for airlines. It is cheap, durable and lightweight. The exhibition looks at what alternative sustainable materials could be used, such as bamboo and wheat bran.

PriestmanGoode Display, The Design Museum, London
PriestmanGoode Display, The Design Museum, London (Image Credit: London Air Travel)

A number of airlines have committed to reduce the use of single use plastics. Earlier year, Qantas operated a “zero waste” test flight in Australia from Sydney to Adelaide.

To implement this in practice airlines require supply chains that can meet the scale of their operations around the globe, whilst also meeting strict hygiene standards on the disposal of organic waste. Of course, there is a lot – as touched on by the exhibition – that passengers can do to reduce single use plastic. And that includes all passengers, wherever they are seated on the aircraft, being prepared to rethink what they really need from a long-haul flight.

“Get Onboard: Reduce.Reuse.Rethink” is on display at The Design Museum until Sunday 9 February 2020.

On a related note, BBC Radio 4’s “In Business” this coming Thursday looks at changing attitudes towards the environmental impact of aviation.

Continue reading “Monday Briefing – 16 September 2019”

British Airways Pilot Strike 27 September 2019 Update

British Airways has now changed its schedules in advance of planned industrial action by BA pilots at Gatwick and Heathrow on Friday 27 September 2019.

London Air Travel

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

British Airways has now updated its schedules in advance of a planned second phase of industrial action by British Airways pilots on Friday 27 September 2019.

Once again, there are very extensive cancellations to BA’s schedules at Gatwick and Heathrow. There is also residual disruption before and after the strike.

Flights operated by BA CityFlyer Ltd at London City are not affected. BA has advised that extra capacity has been added from London City to Amsterdam, Berlin Tegel and Munich on the day of the strike.

Flights operated by franchise partners SUN-AIR A/S of Scandinavia and Comair are not affected. Nor are flights operated by codeshare partners under BA flight numbers.

If your flight is cancelled you should have now received an e-mail from BA. The best way to monitor the status of your booking is to use the Manage My Booking tool on ba.com

If your flight is cancelled you are entitled to a full refund. BA is offering rebooking on what is now a wide range of Oneworld alliance and non-alliance partner airlines.

BA Executive Club Avios and Tier Points

BA has today, Friday 13 September 2019, updated its guidance on ba.com to clarify its position on the awarding of Avios and tier points to members of the BA Executive Club whose flights have been cancelled.

BA now advises that if you are rebooked on a BA or Oneworld partner airline flight you will be awarded Avios and tier points automatically after you have taken the flight. (In actuality, it can take time for these to credit, so it’s worth keeping a close eye on your account).

If you are rebooked on a non-Oneworld alliance partner airline, you will need to submit a claim directly to BA in order to earn Avios and tier points. These will be awarded on the basis of your original booking with BA.

If you believe you have missed out on retaining your existing Executive Club tier or reaching the next tier as a consequence of industrial action, you should contact BA and they will look at your account on a case-by-case basis.

This is the guidance, as published this evening on ba.com, which may be amended at any time:

If your flight was cancelled as a result of the industrial action, and you were rebooked onto an alternative service operated by British Airways or a oneworld partner airline, you will automatically be credited with the applicable Avios and Tier Points once you have flown the rebooked flight.

If your flight was cancelled as a result of the industrial action, and you were rebooked by British Airways onto an alternative service operated by a non-partner airline, we will award you the Avios and Tier Points for your original cancelled British Airways flight. Please raise a claim online by logging into your Executive Club account and click the option “claim missing Avios on BA” and submit your original British Airways flight details.

In all other cases where you believe you would have upgraded or retained your Tier status had your flight not been affected by the industrial action, please contact your local Executive Club Service Centre who will review cases on an individual basis.

Continue reading “British Airways Pilot Strike 27 September 2019 Update”

The Atlantic Update – Wednesday 11 September 2019

A weekly bulletin on transatlantic travel, published every Wednesday at 06:00 BST.

London Air Travel

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

Hello and welcome to the The 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 BST.

San Francisco Runway Works

One of San Francisco International Airport’s four runways, Runway 28L, is closed for works until 27 September 2019.

This has resulted in substantial delays at the airport. Some airlines including Air Canada, Delta and United have implemented flexible rebooking policies as a consequence.

Canada Lounge & Route Developments

A number of developments have been announced in the Canadian market have been announced in the past week or so:

Air Canada has announced that it will operate its service from London Heathrow to Ottawa with the Boeing 787 Dreamliner from Sunday 29 March 2020. This will replace a Boeing 767 aircraft. (Air Canada)

Air Canada has also announced that it will suspend its summer seasonal route from Frankfurt to Ottawa from 24 October 2019. Lufthansa will operate this route five times weekly from 16 May 2020. (Lufthansa)

Air Canada is to also introduce a year-round service from Brussels to Toronto from May 2020. (Air Canada)

Air Canada has opened what it hails as an innovative lounge concept for premium domestic customers at Toronto Pearson International Airport.

The Air Canada Cafe is located at Gate D20 and offers seating for 120 passengers with complimentary hot beverages and soft drinks and breakfast foods and sandwiches and salads later in the day.

Also of note this week:

American Airlines bids adieu to its last McDonnell Douglas MD-80 aircraft. (American Airlines)

Miami-Dade County invites bids for a new transit link between Miami Beach and downtown Miami. (Miami Herald)

Why reports of “soiled cars” on the New York Subway are increasing. (The City)

Virgin Atlantic has started Airbus A350-1000 operations from London to New York JFK with the inaugural flight departing under flight number VS153 yesterday.

Continue reading “The Atlantic Update – Wednesday 11 September 2019”

Monday Briefing – 9 September 2019

Welcome to our weekly briefing on air travel in London and around the world, as published every Monday at 06:00 BST.

London Air Travel

London Heathrow Terminal 5 (Image Credit: Heathrow)

British Airways Pilot Strike

BA is no stranger to signifiant operational disruption, whether it is fog, snow, IT failures, terrorist threats or, indeed, industrial action.

However, it is hard to recall a time when its entire flying programme from both Gatwick and Heathrow has been cancelled for 48 hours, as it has today.

At the time of publication there is no sign of an end to the current impasse between BA and BALPA as no negotiations are underway between the two.

The strike has of course generated significant media coverage with claim and counter-claim and whilst in IAG’s view this is all “noise” if the dispute becomes protracted there will be political pressure on BA and IAG to bring it to an end. Ultimately, both sides need to reach an agreement.

Unless a settlement is reached by Friday, BA is likely to start cancelling flights for the second phase of industrial action on Friday 27 September 2019.

BALPA is required to give 14 days’ notice of any further strike action and to give an indication of how it might ratchet up the pressure, last week BALPA announced a further 7 days of strike action over a period of 12 days at Ryanair.

BA Updates iPad App

In other BA news, BA has updated its iPad app.

This was previously a version of its smartphone app for the iPad. It has now been entirely redesigned and is now geared solely towards buying flights.

“Heathrow: Britain’s Busiest Airport” Returns

Channel 5’s behind the scenes series on BA “British Airways 24/7 Access All Areas” debuted last week.

These shows do depend on access, and the production company Title Role productions certainly secured that. However, some of the production devices shows like these rely on, such as jeopardy, were absent. It continues this Thursday with a look at BA’s new First Class service.

Also returning this week is “Heathrow: Britain’s Busiest Airport” on ITV this coming Wednesday at 20:00.

Continue reading “Monday Briefing – 9 September 2019”

British Airways Pilot Strike Update

An update on planned industrial action by British Airways pilots on Monday 8 & Tuesday 9 September 2019.

London Air Travel

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

With less than 24 hours before a strike by British Airways pilots represented by the British Airline Pilots Association (BALPA) is due to start, here is a quick summary of the status of the dispute between the airline and its pilots.

Strike – Monday 9 & Tuesday 10 September 2019

The planned strike by BA pilots at Gatwick and Heathrow on Monday 9 and Tuesday 10 September 2019 is due to go ahead.

Very often planned strikes in a pay dispute can be called off at the last minute as talks go right up to the wire. However, no discussions appear to be currently underway between BA and BALPA. A revised pay proposal was presented by BALPA to BA this week, but this was rejected out of hand by BA due to its cost. The airline maintains it is available for talks, provided there are no pre-conditions.

Disruption to flights will begin, today Sunday 8 September 2019, as a number of inbound long-haul flights, particularly transatlantic flights from North America, are cancelled. Theoretically, these flights can operate as pilots can only strike when in the UK but there is the issue of where to park all the aircraft when they land at Heathrow.

BA has always adopted a conservative approach to strike schedule planing and virtually no BA flights are expected to operate from Gatwick and Heathrow on Monday 9 and Tuesday 10 September. From a cursory scan of scheduled flights from Heathrow on Monday 9 September, no BA flights are scheduled to operate.

Short-haul flights operated by BA CityFlyer Ltd at London City and franchise partners SUN-AIR A/S of Scandinavia and Comair are not affected. Nor are flights operated by codeshare partners under BA flight numbers.

Flights will resume on Tuesday evening as a number of inbound long-haul flights are expected to operate.

There will be some residual disruption beyond Tuesday, particularly on Sydney-Singapore-London, due to the length of time it takes pilots to complete a return trip on this route.

You can view the latest guidance from BA and check the status of your booking using the Manage My Booking tool on ba.com

Strike – Friday 27 September 2019

BA has not yet announced cancellations for the second strike on Friday 27 September 2019.

The airline is expected to do so at least 14 days before the strike is due to start. If you are due to fly on BA between Thursday 26 and Saturday 28 September 2019, you can rebook on to an alternative date free of charge.

Continue reading “British Airways Pilot Strike Update”

The Atlantic Update – Wednesday 4 September 2019

London Air Travel

Norwegian Boeing 787 Aircraft, Boston Logan International Airport
Norwegian Boeing 787 Aircraft, Boston Logan International Airport (Image Credit: London Air Travel)

Hello and welcome to our Atlantic Update on its return from a summer break. The Atlantic Update is a weekly bulletin on transatlantic travel between Europe and North America.

Attention is of course still focused on Hurricane Dorian. The latest updates on the progress of the hurricane are available from the National Weather Service. On the West Coast, heat warnings are in place for parts of Los Angeles County.

Norwegian seeks to refinance its debt

Norwegian issued a significant update on Monday morning.

It has asked its bondholders to delay the redemption of two bonds, worth a combined $350m, from 11 December 2019 and 7 August 2020 to November 2021 and February 2022 respectively. The delay would be secured by a package of Norwegian’s slots at London Gatwick. A decision is expected by bondholders in the next two weeks.

There have long been signs that Norwegian is scaling back its growth ambitions. In the summer, Norwegian announced it has permanently suspended all transatlantic routes from Ireland from 15 September 2019. Its credit card companies are holding back more funds as security. Fears of airline liquidity can become a self-fulfilling prophecy, but it’s clear that Norwegian has now entered a very different phase.

BA Transatlantic Route Performance

Airlines, for obvious reasons, do not say much about the performance of individual routes other than vague comments about performance against expectations.

However, Civil Aviation Authority traffic data can provide a useful indicator of how routes are performing. BA has not yet announced a new transatlantic route from Heathrow for next year, as it usually does at this time of year. Here are indications of how some recent Heathrow routes are performing, based on passenger numbers for July 2019. Prior year numbers, where available, are in brackets.

Charleston 3,239 – 94% load factor

Nashville 11,220 (8,076) – 84% load factor

New Orleans 6,635 (7,564) – 78% load factor

Pittsburgh 6,642 – 86% load factor

Nashville is clearly performing very strongly, as is Pittsburgh in its first year. Charleston, with just two flights a week, is also generating high load factors.

Continue reading “The Atlantic Update – Wednesday 4 September 2019”

Monday Briefing – 2 September 2019

Welcome to our weekly briefing on air travel in London and around the world, as published every Monday at 06:00 BST.

London Air Travel

British Airways 2019 Logo
British Airways 2019 Logo (Image Credit: British Airways)

Welcome to our Monday Briefing on its return from a summer break. It has of course been an eventful summer, particularly for BA and Cathay Pacific.

BA Pilot Strike

BA’s first pilot strike in decades looks set to go ahead next Monday 9 September 2019.

It could still be called off at any time up to 23:59 BST on Sunday, but there are no signs of any talks taking place between BA and BALPA. With BA having announced cancellations for the first two days of industrial action immediately following its announcement, the substantial financial impact has already been felt by BA.

BA has yet to announce cancellations for the 2nd strike on Friday 27 September 2019. BALPA has not yet announced any further strikes and must give 14 days’ notice before doing so.

Those who have seen industrial disputes before will know that a settlement can ultimately hinge on issues that were not originally the subject of the dispute. BA is likely to withdraw staff travel privileges from pilots taking part in the strike, and its reinstatement will probably be a condition of any settlement.

Inaugural BA A350-1000 Long-Haul Flight

BA’s Airbus A350-1000 aircraft makes will operate its first long-haul passenger flight from London Heathrow to Dubai today.

Flight BA107 from Heathrow to Dubai will be operated with the Airbus A350-1000 from today (with the return BA106 from tomorrow), save for Saturday 7 and Sunday 8 September.

Route Changes & Heathrow Slot Trades

A number of Heathrow slot trades for the winter season have been announced in the past week, some of which dovetail with a number of route changes.

Etihad is leasing one of the three daily Heathrow slot pairs it took back from Jet Airways to BA.

Lufthansa is leasing six weekly slot pairs to United Airlines and one weekly slot pair to Austrian Airlines. These slots will enable United to make its summer seasonal route to Denver year-round. These were previously used by Eurowings which is suspending its twice daily service from London Heathrow to Berlin Tegel for the winter.

Asiana is to lease two weekly slot pairs to Kuwait Airways. As a consequence, Asiana will reduce its flights to Seoul Incheon from daily to five times weekly.

In other recent route news:

Flybe is to operate its route from London Heathrow to Guernsey year-round. It was initially planned to operate for the summer season.

TAP Air Portugal is to suspend London City – Lisbon and Porto from Saturday 26 October 2019.

Continue reading “Monday Briefing – 2 September 2019”

BA100: Number One.

London Air Travel

British Airways Pilots & Cabin Crew
British Airways Pilots & Cabin Crew (Image Credit: British Airways)

Well what did you think would be Number 1?

You can fly the most advanced commercial aircraft with market leading cabins all supported by big budget advertising campaigns, but if you don’t have the people – both in the aircraft and on the ground – to deliver the service, it all falls flat.

As recent events have shown relations can become strained – it wouldn’t be BA if its centenary wasn’t interrupted by “events” – but in its people BA has a phenomenal wealth of flying “know how” based on decades of experience and passion for aviation.

British Airways Engineers
British Airways Engineers (Image Credit: British Airways)
British Airways Cabin Crew
British Airways Cabin Crew (Image Credit: British Airways)
Continue reading “BA100: Number One.”

BA100: 2. Concorde

100 Years Of British Airways: The First Lady of aviation, Concorde.

London Air Travel

British Airways Concorde Landor Livery
British Airways Concorde Landor Livery (Image Credit: British Airways)

Welcome to our 100 part series on the history of BA and its predecessor airlines.

“You leave. Arrive before”.

That was the promise of Concorde. One of the 20th century’s greatest design icons and the world’s only supersonic aircraft, flying at around twice the speed of sound at 1,350mph and at an altitude of 60,000 feet.

Concorde was in commercial service at BA from 1976 to 2003. In that time more than 2.5 million passengers flew on the fleet of seven aircraft. It operated scheduled services principally to New York, but also at times to Barbados, Bahrain, Dallas Fort Worth, Miami, Singapore and Washington. It also operated charter flights to over 250 destinations worldwide, including annual flights to Lapland.

One of its most frequent passengers was an oil industry executive who notched up 70 return trips a year.

Concorde also benefited from its own dedicated “cellar in the sky” wine collection and the promise that bags would be delivered to passengers within 8 minutes of arrival.

British Airways Concorde G-BOAD, Negus Livery
British Airways Concorde G-BOAD, Negus Livery (Image Credit: Heathrow)
British Airways Concorde G-BOAF Chatham Dockyard Livery
British Airways Concorde G-BOAF Chatham Dockyard Livery (Image Credit: British Airways)
British Airways Concorde
British Airways Concorde G-BOAB
British Airways Concorde Wimbledon Advert
British Airways Concorde Wimbledon Advert
Continue reading “BA100: 2. Concorde”

BA100: 3. “The Face”

100 Years Of British Airways: One of the greatest airline advertisements of all time, “The Face” from 1989.

London Air Travel

"The Face" British Airways, 1989
“The Face” British Airways, 1989

Welcome to our 100 part series on the history of BA and its predecessor airlines.

When the idea for what is possibly the greatest airline advertisement of all time was presented by Saatchi & Saatchi to BA, it is existed solely as a rough scribble on a single sheet of paper.

BA had asked Saatchi to prepare a new blockbuster advertising campaign. Saatchi had presented two ideas, which by its own admission were fairly unremarkable, to an unimpressed BA.

They then pulled a rabbit out of the hat. Out came a crumpled piece of paper bearing a sketch with the fairly unappealing sight of a disconnected smiling mouth, an eye, and a nose and a scribbled face.

But BA bought into the idea. And so “The Face” was born.

Continue reading “BA100: 3. “The Face””