London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing – 11 June 2018

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London Air Travel » Monday Briefing » London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing – 11 June 2018

Her Majesty The Queen officially opens Gatwick on 9 June 1958; the North Terminal on 18 March 2018; Gatwick check-in area 1958
Her Majesty The Queen officially opens Gatwick on 9 June 1958; the North Terminal on 18 March 1988; Gatwick check-in area 1958 (Image Credit: London Gatwick)

Hello and welcome to our Monday Briefing for the week beginning 11 June 2018, summarising the main developments in air travel over the past week, and a look the week ahead.

Qatar Airways now operating for BA

Qatar Airways is now operating selected long-haul flights for BA.

It is operating all BA flights to Kuwait until 30 June / 1 July, Muscat until 20 / 21 August, as well as one of its two daily flights to Dehli, also until 20 / 21 August.

All flights are being operated by Airbus A330-200 aircraft in a two class configuration. Qatar has sent three aircraft to Heathrow for these flights.

It is worth noting that since BA first published rebooking guidance for passengers, this has been updated.

Passengers in Club World can also fly to Kuwait and Muscat via Abu Dhabi on Etihad by connecting from a BA flight from London Heathrow to Abu Dhabi. Club World passengers due to fly to Delhi can also fly on Air India by connecting from one of BA’s own services from London Heathrow to India.

According to publicly available flight data, two out of ten BA Boeing 787-8 aircraft have been out of service for some weeks (Registrations G-ZBJD & G-ZBJE). At the time of writing, four out of eighteen BA Boeing 787-9 aircraft have not flown since at least Friday 8 June 2018 (Registrations G-ZBKC, G-ZBKJ, G-ZBJK & G-ZBKO).

The following flights also remain cancelled:

– BA280 / BA281 London Heathrow – Los Angeles until Thursday 5 July 2018
– BA278 / BA279 London Heathrow – San Jose until Sunday 17 June 2018
– BA5 / BA6 London Heathrow – Tokyo Narita until Tuesday 26 June 2018

Update: Rolls-Royce has this morning issued an update advising that a similar component issue to the one in “Package C” Trent 1000 engines has been found in some “Package B” engines. Therefore, precautionary checks will be carried out on these engines. This is likely to lead to further disruption.

IAG CEO Willie Walsh speaks at the IATA AGM

IATA held its Annual General Meeting together with the World Air Transport Summit in Sydney last week. It did of course generate a lot of headlines for the wrong reasons.

Although many airline CEOs were in attendance, as most of them lead public companies, they can’t actually say much beyond what they have already told their investors. IAG CEO Willie Walsh is always good value at a conference, expressing incredulity at Alitalia spending €7m on new uniforms whilst in administration.

The Centre For Aviation has published an interview with Willie Walsh as part of its daily publications during the event.

A couple of quotes of note on IAG’s bid for Norwegian and the Airbus A321 long range at Aer Lingus, which may ultimately be ordered by other IAG airlines such as BA:

IAG’s bid for Norwegian:

We’re very impressed by Norwegian and we have expressed that view very openly. I like Bjørn, I think he’s done a great job. We believe in long haul low cost, the reason we started Level was we could see a profitable business. Clearly, Norwegian has struggled to translate what is a great customer proposition into a financial success. We believe we can, given our ability to control costs.

I’ve been very open about this, I said we’re going to review all of our options, and we’re very calm, it’s not something that we have to do today. I’ve publicly stated that I don’t expect to have to say anything in relation to it in the weeks and months ahead, so we’re not doing anything. And all of our options include the option of selling the small stake that we have in the airline.

The Airbus A321 Long Range at Aer Lingus & interest from US airports:

It’s been fantastic actually, and it’s surprised us. A number of the airports that we hadn’t really thought of ourselves, and actually some of them won’t really be suitable for the A321, but we have options with the A330s and as you know, we’re looking at further widebody aircraft for Air Lingus as well. So we’ve had a very, very strong response, and it’s been stronger than we had anticipated, and we think there’s more opportunity there than we had identified.

[Timeframe for announcement of Aer Lingus expansion] Well it would be 2019, so we have a target for new destinations. We will be making those announcements in the months to come. Aer Lingus has started flying Dublin to Seattle, all of the new destinations that we’ve launched are performing very, very well. Advanced sales on Seattle have been very impressive. So we see a lot of opportunity for further expansion.

(Aer Lingus will take delivery of 4 Airbus A321 Long Range aircraft a year from 2019 to 2021.)

Qantas has also reiterated its interest in placing an order in 2019 for an extended range variant of the Airbus A350 or Boeing 777-8 which could operate non-stop flights from London to Sydney from 2023.

Unsurprisingly, BA has no interest in operating non-stop flights to Australia. What was of interest is that Willie Walsh did express a desire for BA to return to Melbourne. BA did fly to Melbourne via Singapore until March 2006. This did coincide with a significant expansion to India following a new bilateral treaty.

60 Years of London Gatwick

Gatwick celebrated the 60th anniversary of its official opening by Her Majesty The Queen this weekend.

The airport actually traces its history back to 6 June 1936 when it first started operations. Her Majesty The Queen officially opened what is now known as the South Terminal on 9 June 1958.

The 60 year story of Gatwick reads like a UK aviation history book. Gatwick was the birthplace of Freddie Lakers’ “SkyTrain” service from London to New York in 1977. Flights operated with no reservations on a first come first served basis. Gatwick was the launchpad for Virgin Atlantic’s inaugural flight to Newark in 1984. It was home to the airline in its formative years before it secured access to Heathrow in 1991. Gatwick has also seen easyJet grow from next to nothing at the airport operating a single solitary route to Geneva in 1999 to now operating nearly half of all flights at the airport.

Gatwick has also proved resilient. It saw a near complete exodus of North American routes to Heathrow after EU-US Open Skies in 2008, only for Norwegian to launch routes to key American gateways. It has seen BA slash capacity at the airport by almost half at the start of this century, and to rebound in recent years.

We take a look back at sixty years of aircraft, airlines, celebrates, dignitaries and routes at Gatwick here.

BA Gatwick & Heathrow Winter Schedule Changes

BA has published further changes to its winter schedule for Gatwick and Heathrow.

At Heathrow, Calgary is suspended for the winter. The winter seasonal route from Heathrow to Turin will not resume. Palma will also become a summer seasonal route. This will be compensated for by increased frequencies to Turin at Gatwick and Palma operating year round.

Also at Gatwick, Fuerteventura will not resume for the winter and Paphos is suspended during December and January.

Please see here for full details of BA’s winter schedule at Gatwick and here for Heathrow.

Also of note this week:

Air France trade unions have called for further industrial action for four days from Saturday 23 June 2018. Air France management is expected to table proposals to end the dispute this week. (Reuters)

Late Post Publication Updates:

[Reserved for updates during the day.]

Heathrow reports robust traffic numbers for May with strong growth to North America and Latin America. However, traffic to the Middle East falls. (Heathrow)

Ryanair agrees to recognise trade union Unite for its UK based cabin crew. (Ryanair)

Virgin Atlantic unveils cabin interiors for its leased Airbus A330-200 aircraft which will be retrofitted with its Premium [economy] cabin and new economy and Upper Class cabins from November 2018. (Virgin Atlantic)

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