London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing – 16 July 2018

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Iberia Airbus A350-900 (Image Credit: Airbus)
Iberia Airbus A350-900 (Image Credit: Airbus)

Hello and welcome to our Monday Briefing for the week beginning 16 July 2018, summarising the main developments in air travel over the past week, and a look to the week ahead.

Farnborough Air Show

The Biennial Farnborough Air Show gets under way this week.

Historically, this been the stage for muscular displays of headline grabbing aircraft orders, notably from Middle Eastern airlines. With Emirates parking aircraft and Etihad downsizing its route network, some of the blockbuster orders of the past are unlikely to be repeated.

Judging by news coverage over the past few days, the UK press has clearly been briefed in advance about possible Government announcements to reinforce its commitment to aviation and space technology after the UK leaves the European Union. It has already announced on Sunday funding for horizontal and vertical spaceports around the UK. However, this will not make the very real issues surrounding the UK’s departure from the EU, such as pan-European supply chains, regulation and traffic rights, go away.

As far as aircraft orders are concerned, commentators will tally up the relative numbers of orders for Airbus and Boeing. Last week Airbus officially launched the Airbus A220, which is effectively the Bombardier C-Series rebranded, and it will no doubt be keen to announce more orders in addition to JetBlue’s order last week.

BA has never been one to announce orders at aircraft shows. That said, it is known that its parent company IAG is in discussions with Airbus and Boeing on an aircraft order, so you never know.

Iberia’s A350-900 comes to London Heathrow this Friday

Iberia’s first A350-900 aircraft will be operating selected flights on the London Heathrow – Madrid route from this Friday 20 July 2018 until Friday 3 August 2018:

Flight BA7058 / IB3166 Depart Madrid 15:55 – Arrive London Heathrow 17:20
Flight BA522 / IB3167 Depart London Heathrow 18:50 – Arrive Madrid 22:15

It will then resume from Monday 23 August to Tuesday 31 August 2018. This is to allow pilots and cabin crew to become familiar with the aircraft before it begins long-haul operations. Note this may be subject to change at short notice.

Iberia has yet to unveil images of the A350 cabin interior. When Iberia does so, it should provide some clues to what to expect when BA takes delivery of the Airbus A350-1000 next year. This is at least as far as economy, premium economy and in-flight entertainment are concerned. However, BA is expected to have a different business class cabin.

Virgin Atlantic teases its Airbus A350-1000

Staying with the Airbus A350, Virgin Atlantic’s first Airbus A350-1000 is under construction.

Virgin has ordered 12 of the aircraft. The first aircraft will be delivered in early 2019 and all 12 will be delivered by 2021. They will be based at both Gatwick and Heathrow, with different configurations. Gatwick based aircraft will have 410 seats. Heathrow based aircraft will have 360 seats. It will first operate to the US from London Heathrow, most likely on shorter routes to the East Coast initially. The Airbus A350-1000 will ultimately replace the Boeing 747 which should be retired by 2022.

BA begins to retire its Boeing 767 short-haul fleet

Pity the poor Boeing 767.

It’s an aircraft that, unlike Concorde or the Airbus A380, has never really captured the hearts of the travelling public. Unlike, say Boeing 777, it’s never been loved by airlines for its efficiency either.

BA begins to retire the first of its seven remaining Boeing 767 aircraft this week. G-BNWA is expected to go the great aircraft graveyard in the sky on Wednesday, just short its 30th Birthday.

BA’s Boeing 767s (just about!) soldier on, operating selected short-haul flights to Athens, Edinburgh, Frankfurt, Larnaca, Nice, Rome, Stockholm and Zurich.

Unless there are any last minute changes of plan, BA will have retired all of the Boeing 767 by the end of the year. These will be replaced by Airbus A230 neo and Airbus A321 neo aircraft. This means that, bar occasional long-haul aircraft, BA’s short-haul operation at Heathrow will be operated exclusively with Airbus aircraft.

However, the Boeing 767 will still have a presence at Heathrow through Delta and United.

easyJet receives its first Airbus A321 Neo

easyJet also received its first Airbus A321 Neo last week (registration G-UZMA).

easyJet has 30 of the aircraft on order. This will be, by some margin, easyJet’s biggest aircraft by seat capacity.

With 235 seats compared to 186 seats on most Airbus A320 aircraft, it is expected to operate on “trunk” routes at Gatwick.

Norwegian Q2 results

Norwegian released its Q2 results last week.

Norwegian was keen to emphasise an overall net profit of NKr 370 million. However, that was not quite the whole story. Whilst Norwegian did report an underlying operating profit, its results were also flattered by a one off gains of NKr 444.8 million.

Of more interest was what left unsaid. There’s no further news about any bidders for the airline. What can be said with confidence is that the era of rapid growth for Norwegian is coming to an end. Norwegian has already made network adjustments at Gatwick, notably suspending relatively new routes to Austin and Seattle over the winter season and adjusting frequencies on other routes.

Late Post Publication Updates:

[Reserved for updates during the day.]

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