Aviation Business Briefing – Monday 4 December 2017

Welcome to our weekly aviation business briefing for the week beginning Monday 4 December 2017, as published every Monday at 07:00 GMT.

British Airways
British Airways “The hub without the hubbub” TV ad 1993

Hello and welcome to our weekly aviation business briefing for the week beginning 4 December 2017.

London Gatwick: The hub without hubbub.

IAG confirmed that it is to acquire Monarch’s portfolio of slots at London Gatwick from the start of the summer 2018 season. This is equivalent to approximately 20 daily slot pairs, and a very significant expansion. IAG has long had an ambition to expand at Gatwick. It bid for Flybe’s slots two years ago, but lost out to easyJet.

IAG has previously indicated that all of its group airlines would bid for Monarch’s slots. Currently, Aer Lingus, BA, Iberia and Vueling have a presence at the airport. In the case of Aer Lingus and Iberia this is very limited and unlikely to expand further. BA is likely to be the biggest beneficiary. However, it does not appear to have much by way of spare aircraft. London Heathrow – Doha and London Gatwick – New York JFK are regularly cancelled due to aircraft issues.

Whatever happens it is highly unlikely BA will return to its dual London hub “the hub without the hubbub” of the 1990s.

On a related note, WizzAir (often cited as a potential takeover target for IAG) announced it is to acquire a number of Monarch slots at Luton. (WizzAir Investor Relations)

There’s was a lot of activity in Paris in the past week. International Airlines Group announced that Paris Orly would be the second base for its nascent brand LEVEL. Next summer LEVEL will fly from Paris Orly to Guadeloupe, Montreal, Martinique and Newark. LEVEL also announced another new route from Barcelona, Boston.

Air-France KLM’s new airline Joon also took to the skies. Its launch routes include Barcelona, Berlin, Lisbon and Porto.

What LEVEL and Joon have in common is that, for now at least, they are not airlines. They are merely brands operated by fellow group subsidiaries in different colours: Iberia in the case of LEVEL and Air France for Joon. IAG CEO Willie Walsh has been very bullish about the prospects of LEVEL, but was much less so in Bloomberg about Air France’s efforts.

There was less positive news for another IAG airline: OpenSkies. IAG confirmed that the brand would cease to exist from the end of the summer season. The airline has seemed somewhat neglected and in limbo for some time. It was also clear shortly after launch that it would never fulfil its original ambitions. On a tangental note, as OpenSkies has long no longer had its own website, much of the online history of the airline has sadly been lost.

IAG has been careful to state that it is the OpenSkies brand that is being retired, suggesting that the actual airline itself may be used for other purposes in the group.

Air Canada opens its “Signature Suite” at Toronto Pearson

Air Canada Signature Suite, Toronto Pearson Airport (Image Credit: Air Canada)

Air Canada opened its new “Signature Suite” lounge at Toronto Pearson for international business class passengers.

A new lounge opening is not itself a novelty. However, what is noteworthy about this lounge is that it is only open to international business class passengers paying certain classes of fare. Passengers redeeming frequent flyer miles are denied access. Airlines have long offered different lounges by class of travel and frequent flyer status. However, this is the first lounge we are aware of that discriminates between passengers travelling in the same cabin by virtue of the fare paid. More details from Air Canada.

In other lounge news, Qantas has opened its new London Heathrow lounge.

“Have you been offered a small glass of orange juice and a complimentary browse of the Daily Mail?”

One of aviation’s great mysteries: What does a global airline with a substantial international passenger base hand its passengers on board its aircraft a newspaper so at odds with its ambitions? We refer of course to the daily exercise in unconstrained rage and fury at the modern world, the Daily Mail, and its inexplicable presence onboard BA.

Well the answer is, in part, that its publisher provides BA with what the newspaper industry calls “bulks” which are substantially discounted. This practice is to be discontinued which means The Daily Mail won’t be offered on BA flights from later this month.

Also of note this week:

BA adds another route to its London Heathrow summer leisure portfolio: Kefalonia

BA returns to the UK regions for the summer with a portfolio of weekend routes from Birmingham, Bristol and Manchester to Alicante, Florence, Ibiza, Mykonos, Nice and Palma. Further regional routes may be announced in the coming weeks. (BA Mediacentre)

Another great blog by Virgin Atlantic on a day in the life of its cabin crew. (Virgin Atlantic)

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