London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing – 5 February 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.

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Qantas Safety Video 2018 (Image Credit: Qantas Airways)

Hello and welcome to our Monday Briefing for the week beginning 5 February 2018, summarising the main developments in air travel over the past week, and a look the week ahead.

Expected disruption due to forecast snow and ice

First of all, not a good start to the week as many flights have been cancelled on Monday morning in anticipation of snow and ice.

At the time of writing BA has cancelled approximately 30 short-haul flights throughout the morning and early afternoon from London Heathrow. As usual, UK domestic flights have borne the brunt of cancellations.

The situation may well change throughout the morning as the impact of the weather is known. You can check live flight information on the websites of Gatwick, Heathrow and London City.

BA passengers can check the status of your booking with the “Manage My Booking” tool as well live arrivals and departures information and flight operations news on

WestJet launches London Gatwick – Halifax

WestJet is to launch a new summer seasonal route from London Gatwick to Halifax, Nova Scotia from Monday 30 April 2018 to Saturday 27 October 2018.

Flights will operate daily. This route will be operated by the Boeing 737-800 MAX aircraft. Air Canada will start using the Boeing 737-800 MAX aircraft on London Heathrow – St John’s later this year. Unless we are mistaken, these will be the first Boeing 737-800 MAX long-haul routes from London.

Primera Air launches London Stansted – Washington Dulles

Primera Air confirmed it is to launch a fourth transatlantic route from London Stansted this summer.

It will fly to Washington Dulles four times a week from Wednesday 22 August 2018, adding to New York Newark, Boston and Toronto. As Primera Air is a newcomer to the London transatlantic market, the operational and financial performance of these routes will be keenly watched.

South African Airways cuts London Heathrow – Johannesburg

South African Airways has confirmed it is cut its last remaining London route, London Heathrow – Johannesburg, from twice to once daily from Friday 20 April 2018.

This leaves BA in a very dominant position on London – South Africa routes. It is already the sole operator on London Heathrow – Cape Town and is now in an even stronger position on London Heathrow – Johannesburg which is currently the only route where BA flies two Airbus A380s a day.

It also has to be said that when you look at airlines that have cut capacity at London Heathrow (Alitalia, bmi British Midland, Cyprus Airways) it rarely proves to be the long-term answer to their problems.

BA adds lounge access at Ibiza, Innsbruck and Seville.

It’s not often there is good news to report for short-haul passengers in mainland Europe.

However, BA confirmed last week that it now provides lounge access for eligible passengers, eg those travelling in Club Europe and BA Executive Club Silver and Gold cardholders (one Oneworld Sapphire and Emerald equivalents), through a third party lounge operator at Ibiza, Innsbruck and Seville.

Given that BA now serves these destinations all year-round, this should be expected. Indeed, Ibiza is served by BA with more than 40 flights from 4 London airports a week in the summer peak. There are still a very large number of destinations in Europe, principally summer seasonal routes from London Heathrow where lounge access is not offered.

Lounge access is often cited by Executive Club members are one of the most valuable benefits of membership so this move is welcome.

Lufthansa opens new lounge at Milan Malpensa

Lufthansa Lounge Milan Malpensa Airport
Lufthansa Lounge Milan Malpensa Airport (Image Credit: Lufthansa)

On the theme of lounges, Lufthansa has opened a new lounge at Milan Malpensa airport.

Lufthansa is keen to emphasise floor-to-ceiling windows, design classics from Vitra and freshly prepared Italian dishes. And of course, Italian espresso and aperitifs are available from the bar. (Lufthansa Group)

The Airbus A321LR takes its first flight

Airbus confirmed that the first Airbus A321 Long Range aircraft has completed its maiden flight. Aer Lingus has 7 Airbus A321LR aircraft on order. Norwegian has ordered 30 aircraft. This aircraft could well herald many new transatlantic routes from London to secondary cites in North America. In particular the performance of the aircraft at Aer Lingus will be monitored closely by IAG to see whether it is fit for either BA or Iberia. (Airbus)

International Airlines Group presses UK Government to reform Chinese Visa regime

Prime Minister Theresa May completed her visit to China this week and was keen emphasise the potential to grow trade between the UK and China.

China has long been a target market for BA. However, the airline has had mixed success. Whilst it has, at a very slow pace, secured domestic codeshares with China Southern airlines. London Heathrow – Chengdu was suspended in January 2017.

The relatively expensive and restrictive visa regime for visitors from China to the UK has long been a huge source of frustration to IAG and BA. IAG has reiterated its demand for the UK Government to simplify and reduce the cost of visas for Chinese tourists visiting the UK and align it with that for mainland Europe. (IAG)

New Qantas safety video

Qantas has released a new safety video.

At no less than 7 minutes long, it is an updated take on Qantas’ famous “I Still Call Australia Home” TV commercials from the 1990s. The video features, in the words of Qantas, “Aussies Being Aussies” at numerous locations around the world, including London. With many aerial shots the production values are certainly impressive. There is also some clever use of non-airline imagery to explain key safety features of the aircraft.

Ocean Liners: Speed and Style

On a slight tangent, Ocean Liners: Speed and Style opened at the Victoria & Albert Museum last week.

The exhibition explores the design and cultural impact of the ocean liner in the 19th and 20th centuries around the world. It runs until Sunday 17 June 2018.

Also of note this week:

A hard-hitting undercover investigation by MailOnline has discovered that business class is better than economy. Truly Pulitzer Prize winning stuff. (MailOnline)

BA Communications Director departs the airline. (PR Week)

Ryanair signs a formal recognition agreement with the British Airline Pilots Association. (Ryanair)

Swiss introduces amenity kits from Victorinox on long-haul flights (SWISS)

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