Monday Briefing – 15 January 2018

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BA World Traveller Catering January 2018
BA World Traveller Catering January 2018

Hello and welcome to our Monday Briefing for the week beginning 15 January 2018, summarising the main developments in air travel over the past week, and a look the week ahead.

BA Upgrades World Traveller Catering (again)

BA announced a series of changes its catering in World Traveller economy from Wednesday 17 January 2018.

More details here. This was heralded as a major upgrade. In truth, it was largely a reinstatement of items that had previously been cut. Indeed, some items have been cut, added back, cut and now added back again.

It’s hard not wonder how much management time is consumed by constantly discussing whether a packet of pretzels should be offered with a passenger’s first drink, reviewing budgets and renegotiating with suppliers, as well as the complex logistics of making any changes to its catering operation at more than 70 airports around the world.

That said, this does suggest that BA has realised there are limits on how far it can, to use its own words, “stretch the brand”. There was talk 12 months ago of BA launching an “unbundled” long-haul fare and this latest move suggests this may be put on the back burner for now.

BA Flash European Sale

BA has unveiled a “flash sale” on a number of short-haul routes with its most aggressive pricing to date.

Some routes are priced as low as £23 one way. Many of the destinations such as Alicante and Palma are ones where BA has recently added capacity at Gatwick due to the acquisition of Monarch’s former slots.

We would surmise this likely due to a change in strategy to use price to stimulate new demand and new customers to the airline. There are of course more seats to be filled on short-haul aircraft this year due to “densification of the fleet.” The flash sale is available on Gatwick routes until Tuesday 16 January 2018.

The easiest way to browse the fares is to use the low fare finder on ba.com

BA – The World’s Favourite Headline

On the subject of “densification”, there was a lot of press last week about the seating configuration of forthcoming Airbus A320Neo and Airbus A321Neo aircraft.

There will be 3 Airbus A321Neo in service this year, with a further 7 in service by 2019. There will be 10 Airbus A320Neos in service this year, with 15 in service by 2020. Whilst it is true that, as widely reported, these will feature non-reclining seats, much of the coverage missed the underlying reasons why.

This principal reason for this is that the specification of this aircraft has been done not by BA, but its parent company IAG. It has adopted what it calls a “zero base” approach which means the entire configuration has been started from scratch without any reference to the existing fleet. In addition, IAG has sought to have as much commonality as possibility for new deliveries of aircraft to all of its subsidiaries (Aer Lingus, Iberia and Vueling). This is so not only can IAG take advantage of economies of scale in procurement but also it can move aircraft between airlines in less than a week should commercial demand or economic conditions dictate. IAG estimates this results in savings of €500,000 – €1m per aircraft.

BA Removes Payment Card Surcharges

BA has withdrawn all credit card payment surcharges in the UK and Finland with effect from Wednesday 10 January 2018.

This is in order to comply with European law known as The Payment Services Directive 2. In the UK, this means that no surcharges will be levied in respect of any form of payment whether it be credit card or other electronic payments such as Paypal.

Virgin Atlantic Premium Economy

Virgin Atlantic has confirmed that a number of routes from London Gatwick will operate without its premium economy cabin in the summer of 2018.

These include London Gatwick to Antigua, Barbados, and Saint Lucia on selected dates between mid-May and the end of July 2018. This is whilst Virgin shuffles around its fleet as repairs are carried out to the engines on its Boeing 787 aircraft. More details, including compensation and rebooking options from Virgin Atlantic.

Alitalia

The Alitalia sale process rumbles on.

easyJet, Lufthansa and Lufthansa, US private equity fund Cerberus are reported to be interested in bidding for the airline’s assets. Unsurprisingly, Lufthansa is reported to have demanded a significant restructuring before it will take on any Alitalia assets. (Reuters)

Also published in the last week:

We review the new Qantas London Heathrow Lounge (Spoiler: It’s wonderful.)

We also look at summer seasonal routes from London City and London Heathrow.

Also of note this week:

“Asia’s airline wars: The great profit squeeze in the sky” How Cathay Pacific and Singapore Airlines are coming to terms with increased competition. (Nikkei Asia Review)

Excellent article by Michael Skapinker about what can be learned from aviation’s safety culture. (Financial Times)

Gatwick Airport celebrates a record breaking year with 45.6m passengers travelling through the airport in 2017. (Gatwick Airport)

Heathrow Airport celebrates a record breaking year with 78m passengers travelling through the airport in 2017. (Heathrow Airport)

International Airlines Group CEO Willie Walsh fires a broadside at the Civil Aviation Authority and Heathrow Airport over the planned cost of expansion. (Financial Times)

Icelandair announces a trio of new routes from Keflavik to Baltimore, Kansas City [insert obvious quote] and San Francisco from late May / early June 2018. It has also previously announced it will fly from Keflavik to Cleveland and Dallas Fort Worth from late May 2018. (Icelandair)

Keep The Lights On How to power a plane on the ground. (Qantas Roo Tales)

Previous editions of the Monday Briefing

Here are the latest editions of the Monday Briefing (including this week):

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