London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing – 8 July 2019

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Artist impression of new Singapore Airlines lounges, Terminal 3, Singapore Changi Airport
Artist impression of new Singapore Airlines lounges, Terminal 3, Singapore Changi Airport (Image Credit: Singapore Airlines)

Hello and welcome to our Monday Briefing for the week beginning 8 July 2019.

Connect Airways Bid For Flybe Approved

The Connect Airways bid for Flybe was approved by the European Commission on Friday.

Although the takeover completed some months ago, Flybe has been effectively “held separate” and remained operationally independent from the consortium until now.

As a condition of approval, the European Commission has required Connect Airways to make available five daily slot pairs at Amsterdam Schipol and three daily slot pairs at Paris Charles de Gaulle to any entrant wishing to fly from these airports to Birmingham International.

The airline will eventually operate under an as yet unspecified Virgin brand. It will be no surprise to anyone with a cursory knowledge of Flybe’s operation over the past few years that it is likely to be some time before a rebranding takes place.

On the subject of regional flying, it’s worth noting that in the slot allocation reports from Airport Coordination Ltd for the winter season that Loganair has, albeit unsuccessfully this time, put in a request for 42 weekly slots at London Heathrow.

Also unsuccessfully bidding for slots at Heathrow were China Airlines, Luxair, JetBlue and SpiceJet.

Singapore Airlines Lounge Revamp

Singapore Airlines is to spend £30 million revamping its lounges at Terminal 3, Singapore Changi Airport.

The airline has commissioned Hirsch Bedner Associates to redesign its SilverKris and KrisFlyer Gold lounges. The airline promises a 30% increase in capacity.

Singapore Airlines promises that passengers travelling in First Class and Suites will enjoy a new Private Room with a full service fine dining section and a new First Class lounge with a new Flagship Bar.

The Business Class lounge will be expanded with a cafe, dining hall and a full service bar.

The refurbishment will be carried out in four phases starting in August 2019 and is expected to complete by mid-2021. In spite of its reputation, Singapore Airlines has never been lauded for its lounges, so it will be interesting to see how these turn out.

Singapore Airlines’ lounges in Terminal 2 of Singapore Changi are not affected by these works.

In case you missed it:

American Airlines London Heathrow Arrivals Lounge review. (London Air Travel)

BA short-notice aircraft substitutions on London Heathrow – Cairo. (London Air Travel)

BA suspends London Gatwick – Friedrichshafen. (London Air Travel)

BA transfers Gran Canaria to London Gatwick. (London Air Travel)

Also of note this week:

BA pilot Mark Vanhoenacker on the TWA Hotel at New York JFK. (Financial Times)

Why it’s not a good idea to use hotel WiFi, at least without a Virtual Private Network. (Bloomberg Businessweek)

Some great shots of the Wales Airshow in Swansea from last weekend. (Wales Online)

Late post publication updates:

[Reserved for updates throughout the day]

Information Commissioner’s Office to fine British Airways

Following the theft of customer data from last year, International Airlines Group has advised that the Information Commissioner’s Office plans to issue a fine equivalent to 1.5% of BA’s worldwide turnover:

Further to the theft of customer data from British Airways’ website, disclosed on 6 September 2018 and 25 October 2018, British Airways has been notified by the UK Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) that it intends to issue the airline with a penalty notice under the UK Data Protection Act. The ICO has indicated that it proposes to impose a penalty of £183,390,000 (1.5 per cent of British Airways’ worldwide turnover for the financial year ended 31 December 2017).

Alex Cruz, British Airways chairman and chief executive, said:

“We are surprised and disappointed in this initial finding from the ICO. 

“British Airways responded quickly to a criminal act to steal customers’ data. We have found no evidence of fraud/fraudulent activity on accounts linked to the theft.

“We apologise to our customers for any inconvenience this event caused.”

Willie Walsh, International Airlines Group chief executive said:

“British Airways will be making representations to the ICO in relation to the proposed fine. We intend to take all appropriate steps to defend the airline’s position vigorously, including making any necessary appeals.” 

As there is an ongoing criminal investigation into the theft BA has not said much about how it happened, other than that it has been able to establish exactly what was done and how. The proposed penalty is far from the maximum the ICO could fine but, even if it is reduced further, BA is still looking at a substantial penalty.

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