Monday Briefing – 19 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.

London Air Travel » Monday Briefing » Monday Briefing – 19 February 2018

Qantas Boeing 787 Dreamliner Emily Kame Kngwarreye
Qantas Boeing 787 Dreamliner Emily Kame Kngwarreye (Image Credit: Qantas Airways)

Hello and welcome to our Monday Briefing for the week beginning 19 February 2018, summarising the main developments in air travel over the past week, and a look the week ahead.

Singapore Airlines Documentary

Did you see “The World’s Most Luxurious Airline” on Channel 4?

If not, it’s available on Channel 4’s on-demand service, 4OD.

As with any documentary of this type, the combined influence of planning and casting, the production team standing behind the camera, and editing should never be under-estimated. There were the predictable juxtaposition of the worlds of First Class and the everyday and pure Alan Partridge moments from carefully cast and edited contributors.

It was noteworthy how Twitter’s typically mocking live commentary took an abrupt turn when the programme turned to Singapore Airlines’ cabin crew recruitment processes. “Singapore Girl”, which is literally a creation from the 1970s and has barely changed since, felt very out of step with the times and almost tone-deaf. Social attitudes and the constituency of air passengers has changed enormously since the 1970s and it’s clearly time for a rethink.

Norwegian Financial Results

Proving that PR is all about timing, Norwegian gathered the travel press cognoscenti together last week to set out its ambitions for London Gatwick in advance of the launch of its inaugural flight to Buenos Aires.

A shopping list of potential new routes was unveiled: Tokyo, Shanghai and Beijing with the Boeing 787; and Philadelphia, Detroit and Minneapolis with the Airbus A321.

There was much less positive news later in the week when it unveiled its financial results for the year to 31 December 2017. Norwegian is losing money. Not only that, as it is expanding and growing revenues, its cost base is too.

Whilst Norwegian is at pains to emphasise that it is seeking to improve revenues by adding more premium seating and increasing ancillary revenues, it is borderline implausible that it can continue to improve its financial situation through aggressive expansion.

2018 is going to be a pivotal year for Norwegian and it is going to face considerable scrutiny this year.

IAG rails against Air Passenger Duty

International Airlines Group has repeated its call for the abolition of Air Passenger Duty.

IAG has claimed that Air Passenger Duty is preventing the launch of flights by LEVEL from UK regional airports.

Whilst there is genuine frustration at levels of Air Passenger Duty and the UK Government did announce possible lower rates for UK regional airports three years ago, a cynic might wonder whether this is posturing.

At the time of the launch of LEVEL, IAG indicated it would choose locations in Europe where there is feed from other IAG airlines such as Vueling, and there is very limited feed at UK regional airports. There has also (surprisingly in our view) been very limited interest by IAG airlines other than BA in expanding at UK regional airports with very mixed success and some routes suspended.

IAG may well have plans to add long-haul flights at UK regional airports, but this most likely candidate is for BA to operate these flights with the as yet unordered Airbus A321 Long Range.

New BA policies for children flying alone

BA has introduced two policy changes for children flying alone.

The minimum age at which a child may travel alone has been increased from 12 to 14 years. In addition, all children flying alone must be in possession of a letter of consent from a parent or guardian. The changes take effect from Tuesday 1 May 2018. More details on London Air Travel.

Qantas unveils special indigenous aircraft livery

Qantas has unveiled a special livery honouring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians on its latest Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, Emily Kame Kngwarreye.

The new livery features the work of the late Northern Territory artist and senior Anmatyerre woman, Emily Kame Kngwarreye. It is based on her 1991 painting, Yam Dreaming and has been adapted for the aircraft by Sydney based and Indigenous owned design studio Balarinji.

This is the fifth design in the Qantas flying art series, and one of two Qantas aircraft currently in operation.

In other Qantas news, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has issued a draft determination authorising the joint-business between Qantas and Emirates for another five years. (Qantas)

Also of note this week:

Simon Calder of The Independent takes a look back at BA’s long-haul route network compared to 20 years’ ago. (The Independent)

There are certainly many long-gone routes. However, it has to be said that many of the former destinations mourned in the article were “tags ons” that did not operate as direct flights from London. The growth of the Oneworld alliance (which was formed in 1999) and joint-ventures (the former BA and Qantas Joint-Services Agreement was formed in 1995) meant it is operationally much more efficient to to rely onward codeshare connections with partners rather than operate additional stops with consequent increased crewing costs and more operational cycles for aircraft.

Virgin Atlantic brings back “Sleeping Beauty” from retirement. (Virgin Atlantic)

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

Our Monday Briefing is published every Monday at 06:00 GMT. If you have any comments, suggestions or tips then please drop us a line at mail [@]

We welcome any thoughts and comments below: