London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing – 20 August 2018

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BA Boeing 787 at British Airways Maintenance Cardiff
BA Boeing 787 at British Airways Maintenance Cardiff (Image Credit: British Airways)

Hello and welcome to our Monday Briefing for the week beginning 20 August 2018, summarising the main developments in air travel over the past week, and a look to the week ahead.

BA Boeing 787 Operations Return To Normal

BA’s Boeing 787 Dreamliner operations appear to be returning to normal after it was required to carry out additional maintenance checks on their Rolls-Royce engines.

The wet lease of Qatar Airways A330 aircraft comes to end this week, with wet leases on London Heathrow – Dehli (flights BA143/BA142) and London Heathrow – Muscat (flights BA79/80) routes ending today.

At present, just 1 Boeing 787-8 aircraft out of 28 Boeing 787 aircraft is grounded. Aircraft G-ZBJE last flew in March. This compares to 7 grounded aircraft in early June.

There’s less good news for the London Heathrow – Doha route. In what must be a record for the most cancellations without suspending a route, its period of cancellation has been extended yet further from the end of August to Friday 7/Saturday 8 September 2018.

Update: As has been pointed out on Twitter, there are still some tactical cancellations with some frequencies to Los Angeles cancelled. In addition, G-ZBJA has also not flown since 6 August, G-ZBJD has not flown since 16 August and G-ZBJI has not flown since 15 August.

Air France-KLM’s New CEO

Air France-KLM roused the ire of Air France’s trade unions when it announced that Benjamin Smith as its new CEO.

The source of their irritation? Monsieur Smith is not French.

It is a sign of how far Air France-KLM lags its peers that the nationality of its parent company CEO is considered an issue. Over the past 20 years BA has had Australian, Irish and Spanish CEOs. Alan Joyce, CEO of Qantas, is Irish. Sir Tim Clark, President of Emirates, is British.

Benjamin Smith joins Air France-KLM from Air Canada where is was President, Airlines and Chief Operating Officer. Air France-KLM is keen to emphasise two particular developments during his tenure at Air Canada. The growth of its low cost brand Air Canada Rouge and securing long-term collective bargaining agreements with trade unions. Like many legacy airlines, Air Canada has had fractious industrial relations in the past. It also has to navigate delicate regional tensions. Under the Air Canada Public Participation Act and Canada’s Official Languages Act, Air Canada is required to demonstrably provide bilingual services across Canada.

Benjamin Smith will have a very full in-tray when he takes up his position in September.

Air France KLM’s previous CEO, Jean-Marc Janaillac, resigned two years into his post after Air France trade unions rejected a pay offer in a consultative ballot. His predecessor Alexandre de Juniac also resigned after three years having been unable to achieve meaningful reform at Air France. A little under three years ago a meeting between senior Air France managers and trade unions resulted in a physical assault and one senior manager fleeing with his shirt ripped off.

Air France-KLM’s financial performance is sharply behind its peers. It reported a first half operating profit of €228m compared to €1,115m for IAG and €967m for Lufthansa.

It also has a somewhat confused approach to low cost travel. It has a low cost brand Transavia. It has also launched Joon which is progressively taking over some Air France short and long-haul routes. Ostensibly aimed at millennials, Joon has its own livery and separate in-flight service standards and cabin crew, but is operated by Air France pilots.

Given industrial relations tensions have claimed two Air France-KLM CEOs, it is implausible that Air France will not reform itself without at the very least the French Government disposing of its stake in Air France-KLM (its owns 14% of the group and 23% of voting rights).

It should also be noted this is not the first time European airlines have tapped Air Canada for talent. BA also recruited its Chief Operating Officer Klaus Goersch from Air Canada.

Qantas – “Stand up for the Spirit of Australia”

Qantas has released a 60 second film featuring Qantas ambassador Hugh Jackman and a number of Australian athletes, sports teams and people from arts & culture to highlight its support for equality, diversity and inclusion in Australia.

August Bank Holiday Travel

The late August Bank Holiday in England, Wales & Northern Ireland next Monday 27 August marks the end of summer.

It’s not been a good summer for short-haul travel in Europe. However, there are no known Air Traffic Control issues at present for the long weekend.

In terms of travel to London airports, all rail services to London airports are due to operate normally. The one exception is TfL Rail (formerly Heathrow Connect) services from London Paddington to Heathrow Terminal 4 will not stop at Acton Main Line on Saturday 25 August.

The vast majority of Tube lines are due to operate normally, with some closures on the District and Bakerloo lines. There are also closures on some London Overground lines. Tube services in West London are likely to be exceptionally busy due to the Notting Hill carnival on Sunday 26 August and Monday 27 August. Northern line services to/from Clapham Common will also be busy due to the SW4 festival on Saturday 25 and Sunday 26 August.

There will also be significant disruption to National Rail services with London Euston closed entirely for the second consecutive weekend. Other nearby stations such as London St Pancras are likely to be very busy as a result.

Also of note this week:

The New Yorker profiles, in a very extensive feature, Virgin Galactic’s “Rocket Man”, Mark Stucky, the lead test pilot for its SpaceShipTwo. (The New Yorker)

The Irish Independent reflects on three years of Aer Lingus under IAG. (Irish Independent)

Late Post Publication Updates:

[Reserved for updates during the day.]

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2 thoughts on “London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing – 20 August 2018”

    1. Thanks. I don’t know why they don’t just suspend the route as you can’t expect people to book when it is constantly cancelled and it only creates more work for rebooking passengers. I’ll put up a post tonight with the latest information.

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