Monday Briefing: 22 January 2018

Welcome to our weekly Monday Briefing on the main developments in air travel in London and around the world, as published every Monday morning at 06:00 GMT.

London Air Travel » Monday Briefing » Monday Briefing: 22 January 2018

A British Airways Airbus A380 aircraft takes off at London Heathrow airport.
British Airways Airbus A380 at take off, London Heathrow (Image Credit: Heathrow)

Hello and welcome to our Monday Briefing for the week beginning 22 January 2018, summarising the main developments in air travel over the past week, and a look the week ahead.

Emirates’ Airbus A380 Order: Will IAG follow suit for BA?

After a protracted and very public stand-off between Airbus and Emirates over an order for more Airbus A380s which included threats by Airbus to end production of the A380 altogether, one side finally blinked last week.

Airbus and Emirates have signed a Memorandum Of Understanding for Emirates to acquire a further 20 aircraft and options to acquire a further 16 aircraft.

Emirates currently has some 101 Airbus A380s in service, with a further 41 to be delivered before last week’s order. Some of the latest order will be used as replacements for existing A380 aircraft. (Emirates)

Following this announcement, someone has been briefing Bloomberg off the record that BA is interested in buying more Airbus A380s.

The headline in the Bloomberg article is wrong as this decision can only be made by its parent company, IAG. Willie Walsh, CEO of IAG, has long expressed an interest in buying more A380s to add to the 12 in BA’s fleet and has even mooted the possibility of A380s for Aer Lingus and Iberia (presumably on a seasonal basis).

However, Willie Walsh has insisted that the purchase price of new aircraft is too expensive. Expressions of interest in leasing second-hand A380s have not yet come to anything. There is clearly a case in adding more A380s to BA’s fleet. It’s clearly working well on many routes and given BA can send up to 3 Boeing 747s a day to Cape Town in the winter, there’s scope to add more A380 routes.

Airlines and aircraft manufacturers speak in private all the time and no-one gives comments to the press, either on or off the record, without reason, so there is probably something behind this.

Virgin Atlantic offers 50 economy returns to Miami for £50

If you are commuting into London Waterloo this Monday morning, then keep an eye out for representatives of Virgin Atlantic on the South Bank who are offering 50 economy returns to Miami for £50, first come first served. Each purchaser can also buy additional tickets for up to three companions for £50 each.

There are some conditions attached. You must be able to travel on a designated flight VS117 Tuesday 23 January 2018 and return on VS116 on Thursday 25 January 2018. All additional costs such as ground transportation, hotels and meals will be at your expense.

Full details and all the Terms & Conditions are available from Virgin Atlantic. Also keep an eye out on Virgin Atlantic’s Facebook page throughout the morning.

United Airlines to introduce Premium Economy

United Airlines has announced it is to introduce a new premium economy cabin.

Details are very scant at the moment. United has said nothing more other than it will introduce a new premium economy cabin on select international routes. It will be branded as United Premium Plus. It will include, as is to expected, upgraded dining and Saks Fifth Avenue bedding.

In the UK, we have long been accustomed to premium economy on BA and Virgin Atlantic for nearly 20 years. However, US airlines have been very reluctant to adopt the cabin. Both American Airlines and Delta are rolling out premium economy. In the case of American it is only operating, to our knowledge, on one route from London Heathrow, AA57 to Miami. It’s unlikely that Delta’s premium economy will appear in London anytime soon.

Heathrow Expansion Consultation

The seemingly interminable Heathrow expansion consultation process continues.

Heathrow has launched a new public consultation. This is in two parts. First, it relates to the location of a new runway north west of Heathrow’s two runways and the consequent design of taxiways and expansion of existing terminal infrastructure. The second part relates to the potential use of airspace post-expansion. The consultation closes on Wednesday 28 March 2018. There’s more on a dedicated consultation website.

Norwegian scales back UK transatlantic flights

Last year, Norwegian gained a huge amount of PR with the launch of transatlantic flights from Edinburgh to a trio of secondary airports on the US East Coast with Boeing 737 Max aircraft.

These were New York Stewart Airport; Bradley International Airport, Hartford, Connecticut; and T. F. Green International Airport, Warwick, Rhode Island with headline pricing of flights from £56 one way.

Proving that Norwegian’s relentless pursuit of transatlantic growth is not quite as straightforward as “build it and they’ll come”, flights between Edinburgh and Bradley International Airport, Hartford are suspended from 24 March 2018.

It was always clear from the outset that Air Passenger Duty alone made the promise of £56 one way fares was fantasy economics. Indeed, the finger of blame is pointed squarely at the Scottish Government for not honouring a commitment to reduce Air Passenger Duty.

In Europe, low cost airlines have of course made a name for themselves by flying to secondary airports. However, it is a legitimate question whether there is demand for both passengers flying point to point to secondary airports and those who are willing to add an extended ground transfer to reach their final destination after a long-haul flight.

Also published in the last week:

We review the American Airlines Arrivals Lounge at London Heathrow

Also of note this week:

Air France KLM, presumably piqued at the prospect of Lufthansa gaining Alitalia on top of Air Berlin, has reportedly entered negotiations to acquire the assets of Alitalia. Even though an official denial was issued 9 days ago. (Financial Times)

The Civil Aviation Authority has changed its rules to allow people with HIV to become commercial airline pilots following a report by BuzzFeed. (BuzzFeed)

Lufthansa launches a new brand micro-site ahead of an expected brand & livery relaunch ahead of the 100th anniversary of the creation of its crane-in-flight logo. (Lufthansa)

Ryanair’s UK pilots have voted to accept a new pay deal from the airline. (Ryanair)

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