The big story last week was of course the collapse of Monarch (Financial Times) which now joins bmi British Midland, Flyglobespan, XL Airways, and Zoom in the great airline graveyard in the sky. The Civil Aviation Authority fielded an impressive rescue to operation to bring passengers back to the UK. As of Saturday 7 October 56,000 Monarch customers have returned to the UK.
It now falls on KPMG to complete the administrative process. As no buyer could be found, it is near certain that the Monarch brand will not take to the skies again.
One asset that will be of interest to buyers will be Monarch’s slot portfolio at London Gatwick. easyJet will be keen to solidify its market leading position at the airport. BA parent company International Airlines Group will also be keen to stop this happening. Both bid for Flybe’s London Gatwick holding of 25 slot pairs in 2013. easyJet won and was able to significantly increase capacity at the airport as a consequence. However, according to the Financial Times doubts have been raised as to whether the administrator can sell the slots or has to forfeit them.
Another airline brand likely to disappear this year is Air Berlin. According to Reuters discussions with Lufthansa and easyJet are likely to conclude on Wednesday 12 October. Philipp Goedeking of Avinomics bemoans the consolidation of European aviation in Financial Times. Lufthansa is pre-empting criticism of its growing market dominance in Europe with a policy brief which is clearly aimed at Ryanair.
On the subject of Ryanair, Michael O’Leary had to apologise again this week. This time to his own pilots. The airline also announced the departure of its Chief Operating Officer Michael Hickey.
The adverse publicity for Ryanair has not deterred passenger numbers which increased 10% year on year. easyJet also posted similarly buoyant numbers. easyJet also forecasted a headline profit before tax of £405-410m for the year to 30 September 2017.
In terms of routes, BA announced a new summer seasonal route from London Heathrow to Almeria. BA also announced that London Heathrow – Inverness would increase from 7 to 10 times weekly from Saturday 25 March 2018. SkyWork Airlines announced its withdrawing from the London City – Basel route. VLM Airlines is to return to London City, operating London City – Antwerp from Monday 30 October. This is a route vacated by CityJet.
Aer Lingus also announced Dublin – Philadelphia. Somewhat disappointingly, there’s no date set yet for Aer Lingus to join the American Airlines/BA transatlantic joint-venture or the Oneworld alliance which all seems to be proceeding at a glacially slow pace. Aer Lingus Chief Operating Officer tells the Irish Independent that it will join the joint-venture “if and when” all regulatory steps are completed.
And finally, do look out for Concorde: A Supersonic Story on BBC4 (UK) this coming Tuesday. And do try to contain your excitement at The Hemsley Sisters being appointed Heathrow’s “Food Instagram Ambassadors”.