Monday Briefing – 20 May 2019

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Thomas Cook aircraft
Thomas Cook aircraft

Welcome to our Monday Briefing for the week beginning 20 May 2019.

Thomas Cook

There was more bad news for Thomas Cook over the weekend after it announced its half-year results with a loss of nearly £1.5bn on Thursday.

The bulk of the loss was a goodwill writedown in respect of its acquisition of MyTravel in 2007. However, the loss prompted Citigroup to claim Thomas Cook’s shares are worthless.

Sky News reported on Saturday that one credit card acquirer company that works with Thomas Cook in the Nordic region is reported to be seeking to hold on to customer payments for longer.

Key for Thomas Cook is the sale of its group airline. Whilst this has attracted interest, given it is known that Thomas Cook must complete the sale, and quickly, in the cold hard world of commercial negotiations, it is going to face demanding terms from potential purchasers.

Qantas Flight 72

More than ten years have passed since Qantas flight 72 was involved in an incident en route from Singapore to Perth on 7 October 2008.

The A330-300 aircraft, carrying 303 passengers and 12 crew, experienced two uncontrolled nosedives following a computer failure. It made an emergency landing at Learmonth Airport in Exmouth, Western Australia. A large number of passengers and crew were injured, and some experienced life changing physical and psychological injuries.

The Captain of the aircraft, Kevin Sullivan, has written a book “No Man’s Land: The Untold Story Of Automation On QF72” which will be published in the UK by HarperCollins on 27 June 2019.

In advance of publication, Kevin Sullivan has given an interview the Sydney Morning Herald.

Virgin Australia contemplates frequent flyer programme sale

Staying in Australia, Virgin Australia issued a profit warning last week, citing weaking demand.

The airline which has a complex history and ownership structure, with multiple shareholders with competing interests (Singapore Airlines, Etihad Airways, HNA Group, Nanshan Group and Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group), expected profits to be AUD$100m lower than last years profit of AUD$64.4m.

Its entire strategy is under review by its recently appointed CEO Paul Scurrah, which may explain the desire to get bad news out early, and some route network changes have already been made.

It is also contemplating a sale of a stake in its Velocity frequent flyer programme, of which it currently owns 65%. Like an airline selling off Heathrow slots, this is an easy means to raise cash in the short-term, but is of little benefit in the long term.

Heathrow “Britain’s Busiest Airport” Returns

Heathrow “Britain’s Busiest Airport” returns for a fifth series at 20:30 on ITV (UK) tomorrow.

Across no less than 12 twelve parts, it uses the all too common production devices of familiar recurring characters, this series covers the fall out of the Gatwick drone closures last Christmas.

In case you missed it:

American Airlines opens Dallas Fort Worth Flagship lounge. (London Air Travel)

BA flight number changes at Gatwick and Heathrow. (London Air Travel)

BA suspends London Heathrow – Kiev & St Petersburg. (London Air Travel)

BA Johannesburg lounges to close for refurbishment. (London Air Travel)

Also of note this week:

Fuel supply problems cause disruption at Manchester airport on Sunday evening. (Sky News)

The Civil Aviation Authority is to require airlines to make passenger terms and conditions more transparent. (Sunday Times)

Meet the mother and daughter working as cabin crew for BA. (Sunday Times)

Mark Vanhoenacker, who has evidently survived BA’s spat with the FT, on the sounds you hear inside an aircraft. (Financial Times)

Monocle continues its audio series on the “golden age” of aviation with a look a musical campaign for Cathay Pacific from the 1970s and poster designs with author of “Airline Visual Identity 1945-1975”, Matthias Hühne. (Monocle)

Late post publication updates:

[Reserved for updates during the day.]

Ryanair reports a fall in annual profits of nearly 30%. It has also confirmed that it has delayed the delivery of Boeing 737 MAX aircraft. (Ryanair)

BA refreshes its Elemis travel spas at London Heathrow. (London Air Travel)

BA has announced a couple more winter schedule updates today:

Gatwick – Punta Cana increases to 4 flights a week between 21 December 2019 & 28 March 2020.

Heathrow – Cairo will be operated by a Boeing 787-8 aircraft from 27 October 2019, instead of an Airbus A321 as per last winter.

Disruption is expected in Italy on Tuesday 21 May 2019 due to a national strike and at Inverness airport due to a strike by Air Traffic Controllers on Thursday 23 May 2019. Airlines have implemented flexible rebooking policies for passengers at risk of disruption.

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