London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing – 18 February 2019

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Flybmi aircraft
Flybmi aircraft (Image Credit: Fly bmi)

Welcome to our Monday Briefing of the year for the week beginning 18 February 2019.


The shakedown in European aviation continues with the closure of Flybmi.

It’s hard not to envisage European airlines inexorably set on a path to anything other than consolidation into Air France-KLM, International Airlines Group and Lufthansa, with easyJet and Ryanair as the dominant low cost airlines.

For bmi, this means that nothing remains of the brand when it was sold by Lufthansa to IAG in 2012. The low cost unit bmibaby was shut down. At Heathrow, BA wasted little time in suspending a large number of former bmi routes such as Addis Ababa and Damascus. Just a very small number of former bmi routes such as Amman, Beirut, Belfast and Hanover remain part of the BA route network.

Attention will inevitably be focused on Flybe in the coming months. The sale of Flybe’s operating companies to the Connect Airways consortium has a long stop date of this coming Thursday 22 February.

2 Engines 4 Long-Haul

20 years or so ago when the main preoccupation of Virgin Atlantic was hurling brickbats at its larger rival, it daubed “4 Engines 4 Long-Haul” on the side of its aircraft.

The jibe was made in response to BA’s decision to not order any further Boeing 747 aircraft and to turn to the twin-engined Boeing 777-200 for its long-haul fleet.

History has proved otherwise with the formal closure of the A380 programme last week.

Before the Airbus A380 and Boeing 787 came into service, there were two competing visions. Larger aircraft to carry ever increasing numbers of passengers between major hubs and smaller “hub-busting” aircraft to open up new non-stop routes.

It was the later vision that won. For major trunk routes like London – New York for BA, and London – Hong Kong for Cathay Pacific, airlines prioritise offering higher frequencies for competitive advantage. Airlines also covet being the sole operator of new routes to achieve pricing power, which BA has done extensively to North America with the Boeing 787 and Qantas wants to do with non-stop flights between London and Australia.

It’s worth recalling just how ludicrous some of the claims made about the Airbus A380, dubbed a “flying hotel” before launch, were. Virgin Atlantic, which ordered 6 of the aircraft with great fanfare – even taking potshots at BA for not having yet ordered it – promised children’s play areas, games arcades, gyms, meeting rooms, and shops.

IAG is due to announce its annual results next Thursday 28 February. IAG CEO Willie Walsh will inevitably be asked about the impact of the closure of the A380 programme on BA’s fleet renewal plans.

New Istanbul Airport

BA has confirmed it will begin flying from London Heathrow to New Istanbul Airport from Sunday 3 March 2019.

The last flights to Istanbul Ataturak will operate on Thursday 28 February. No BA flights will operate between Heathrow and Istanbul on Friday 1 & Saturday 2 March. Passengers whose flights have been cancelled are entitled to a refund or re-accommodation on alternative dates.

BA’s Retro BOAC Livery Unveiled Today

BA officially unveils the first of its retro liveries for its centenary year today.

One of its Boeing 747s, aircraft registration G-BYGC, has been reprinted in Dublin over the past ten days or so. Here’s what it looked like on arrival in Dublin:

British Airways Boeing 747 G-BYGC arrives at a paint bay at Dublin Airport before being resprayed with a BOAC livery.
British Airways Boeing 747 G-BYGC arrives at a paint bay at Dublin Airport before being resprayed with a BOAC livery. (Image Credit: British Airways)

Official press shots are being taken in Dublin before the aircraft heads to Heathrow this morning and these should be available shortly.

In case you missed it:

American Airlines London Heathrow – Dallas reviewed. (London Air Travel)

Also of note this week:

Air France-KLM publishes its annual results this coming Wednesday 20 February. Recently appointed CEO Benjamin Smith is expected to announce plans for greater integration between Air France and KLM, which has prompted press speculation about the future of KLM CEO Pieter Elbers.

Mark Vanhoenacker: How flying offers new perspectives on the planet. (Financial Times)

Late Post Publication Updates

[Reserved for updates during the day.]

The accountancy firm BDO has been appointed administrators of Flybmi. Passengers should continue to follow guidance on the Flybmi website. Creditors and employees should follow guidance from BDO.

It has emerged that the co-founders of Norwegian Bjorn Halvor Kise and Bjorn Kos have sold their rights to receive new shares in the forthcoming rights issue to third parties at a discount. (The Times)

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