Monday Briefing – 26 March 2018

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Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce, Qantas Pilots & Cabin Crew at Perth Airport
Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce, Qantas Pilots & Cabin Crew at Perth Airport (Image Credit: Qantas)

Hello and welcome to our Monday Briefing for the week beginning 26 March 2018, summarising the main developments in air travel over the past week, and a look the week ahead.

Qantas completes inaugural non-stop Perth – London flight

There will no doubt be a great sense of relief at Qantas that its inaugural flight from Perth to London Heathrow, with a fuselage brimming with journalists and politicians, went without a hitch.

Alas, our invitation to the inaugural flight was lost in the post. However, you can read first hand accounts from Natalie Richards of The West Australian and this video report from Beau Pearson of Network Ten Australia:

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce told the Sydney Morning Herald that non-stop flights to Paris are under consideration, subject to the performance of London – Perth.

Many UK journalists will be on board the inaugural London – Perth flight QF10 which left Heathrow at 13:09 Sunday afternoon and should arrive in Perth at around 06:00 BST / 13:00 AWST. They will no doubt be filing their own reports shortly after landing.

Qantas is naturally upbeat on forward bookings for the route. Whilst airlines never give away exact numbers on the performance of individual routes we should know in a couple of months from Civil Aviation Authority data how the route is performing in terms of passenger numbers.

Qantas has also opened a new international transit lounge in Perth dedicated to passengers transiting in Perth when travelling on QF9/Q10 services from/to Melbourne and passengers travelling from Perth to London.

Qantas International Transit Lounge, Perth Airport
Qantas International Transit Lounge, Perth Airport (Image Credit: Qantas Airways)

One of the lesser commented aspects of this weekend is that, together with Qantas reinstating London Heathrow – Singapore – Sydney, Dubai will be losing two Airbus A380 services a day from London Heathrow.

Also with London Heathrow – Perth replacing London Heathrow – Dubai – Melbourne, Qantas also joins Malaysia Airlines in reducing Airbus A380 services from London Heathrow this month.

Norwegian Refinances

Norwegian launched its inaugural flight from London Gatwick to Chicago yesterday, Sunday 25 March.

It will also launch its inaugural flight from London Gatwick to Austin tomorrow, Tuesday 27 March.

Of more significance is that last week Norwegian undertook a financing exercise to raise more capital from its shareholders. It is to also sell some aircraft. Norwegian is also to undertake a “strategic review” (read: look at selling) of its frequent flyer programme, Norwegian Reward.

An airline selling its own frequent flyer programme is up there with selling Heathrow slots as short term fixes that don’t work in the long term. Norwegian is going to face considerable scrutiny in the coming months.

BA confirms London Heathrow – The Seychelles to operate a year-round

Another inaugural route launched this weekend, with BA launching a direct route to The Seychelles.

The route was originally planned to operate up until the end of October but BA has confirmed it will now operate year round.

Virgin suspends London Gatwick – Cancun

Virgin Atlantic is to suspend London Gatwick – Cancun from 12 January 2019.

No specific reason has been given for the cancellation. However, commercial performance is likely to be the cause. BA and Thomas Cook will continue to fly direct from Gatwick to Cancun. Affected Virgin passengers should have the option of rebooking via North America on Delta Air Lines.

Heathrow Expansion

The consultation on Heathrow Expansion closes at 23:55 BST on Wednesday 28 March 2018.

On Friday 23 March 2018, the Transport Select Committee published a third report on The Government’s Airports National Policy Statement.

Whilst the report is supportive of the third runway, there are specific concerns around noise and air quality. It proposes a minimum night time ban of 7 hours. At the moment, there are limited number of arrivals before the post 6am transatlantic rush hour, principally from Asia, the Middle East and Africa.

Iberia’s A350-900 expected to come to London Heathrow

Iberia will soon take delivery of its first Airbus A350-900 aircraft. It will fly from Madrid to New York JFK from Wednesday 8 August 2018.

Iberia operates one daily flight (IB3166/IB3167) between London Heathrow and Madrid with an Airbus A340. It is expected that the A350 will be substituted on these flights to allow for crew familiarisation.

There are some flights showing as operated with the A350, but only from Madrid to Heathrow, and from Friday 20 July to Friday 3 August and from Friday 17 August to Friday 31 August. There has been no official announcement from Iberia and timetables may be changed before then.

BA is due to take delivery of the Airbus A350-1000 in 2019. Like forthcoming deliveries of Airbus A320 aircraft, the specification of the Airbus A350 has been standardised between IAG group airlines to maximise economies of scale and operating efficiencies. The cabin interior of the Iberia A350 should give some clues as to what to expect from BA. Although BA and Iberia are likely to continue to have different business class cabins.

Also of note this week:

Abi Coomber, BA’s Head Of Global Brands and Marketing, is to leave the airline. (Campaign)

BA releases its gender pay gap survey. (BA Media Centre)

Stobart Group confirms it is not make a bid for Flybe. (Stobart Group Investor Relations)

Virgin Atlantic, once known for distinctive touches like on board massages and Ozwald Boateng amenity kits, introduces a dedicated scent. (Virgin Atlantic)

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