Monday Briefing: 11 December 2017

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BA London Heathrow Departures – Sunday 10 December 2017

Hello and welcome to our weekly aviation business briefing for the week beginning 11 December 2017.

It is of course something of a fixture in the British Christmas calendar that there will be at least one “Christmas Travel Chaos” story somewhere on the transport network. Heathrow has long had plenty of form in this regard. The airport has got better in recent years in being proactive at requiring airlines to reduce their schedules in advance. However, it seems to have been caught by surprise by Sunday’s snow. BA’s schedules took the brunt of the cancellations with a very high number of short-haul cancellations and delays and an unusually high number of long-haul cancellations. Cancellations have continued into Monday morning.

BA has been keen to emphasise improving operational performance at London Heathrow and the use of digital tools to assist passengers during disruption. However, yesterday is something that clearly requires attention from its Chief Operating Officer Klaus Goersch.

If you have experienced disruption you can submit a claim for consequential expenses at

The UK was not alone in experiencing disruption. Delta experienced extensive disruption in Atlanta due to severe weather.

BA and Virgin Atlantic face Boeing 787 woes

Both BA and Virgin Atlantic are grounding Boeing 787 aircraft whilst maintenance work is undertaken to their Rolls-Royce engines. BA has cancelled London Heathrow – Doha throughout all of December and into early January. Virgin Atlantic has officially confirmed it is to lease four Airbus A330-200 aircraft to cover flights. Virgin has confirmed that these will operate select flights from Manchester in the spring of next year. These aircraft will be operated by Virgin Atlantic crews, but they won’t initially feature Virgin’s premium economy cabin, suggesting they will eventually have Virgin’s current cabins retrofitted to them. There is also the possibility of Virgin bringing its fuel hungry Airbus A340 aircraft from storage to cover flights.

Norwegian faces questions over its rapacious expansion

Norwegian has been the subject critical comments from investors over its growth strategy (Financial Times).

There’s no doubt that Norwegian is defying conventional wisdom that airlines should pursue disciplined rational growth that is only accretive to profit. Whatever the long term future of Norwegian, there’s no doubt it has made its mark with IAG and AirFranceKLM launching low cost long-haul airlines and other airlines “unbundling” their long-haul economy products.

British Airways to close its two pension schemes

BA’s parent company International Airlines Group announced that it is to close its two pension schemes to future accrual. The New Airways Pension Scheme (NAPS), a defined benefit scheme and the British Airways Retirement Plan (BARP), a defined contribution scheme, will both be replaced by a new pension fund.

The issue of BA’s pension deficit has dogged the airline for well over a decade whilst plans have been put in place to address the deficit through increased contributions by the airline and a raising of retirement ages, a decade of low interest rates have sustained the deficit.

Whilst this announcement has been made following consultation with BA’s trade unions, the closure is subject to approval by the union membership.

Also of note this week:

BA adds Manchester – Florence and Edinburgh – Florence to its summer regional route network and Manchester – Dublin to its list of random routes. (BA Mediacentre)

Today is the 5th anniversary of that bet between Sir Richard Branson and Willie Walsh. (Daily Telegraph)

BBC Radio 4’s “In Business” looks at Ryanair.

Bloomberg takes a look at WestJet’s “twin brand” strategy.

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