London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing – 30 September 2019

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Thomas Cook Montage
Thomas Cook Montage (Image Credit: Thomas Cook)

Welcome to our Monday Briefing for the week beginning 30 September 2019.

Thomas Cook

The Civil Aviation Authority’s “Operation Matterhorn” to bring Thomas Cook customers back to the UK is expected to continue until this Sunday, 6 October 2019.

Yesterday, 70 flights were scheduled to operate to bring 15,000 people back to the UK, taking the total number of passengers returned to nearly 110,000.

Whilst the Civil Aviation Authority’s exercise is expected to conclude this week, the recriminations over the company’s collapse will continue for considerably longer.

Thomas Cook’s CEO Peter Fankhauser gave an interview to the Mail On Sunday yesterday effectively pointing the finger of blame at the level of debit he inherited from his predecessors and the cost of serving it.

The closure of Thomas Cook is expected to have a significant impact in Spain with the company having been responsible for carrying 3.6 million passengers to the country and a substantial minority of visitors to the Balearic and Canary Islands. (El Pais In English)

In Germany, Thomas Cook subsidiary Condor has received a bridging loan from the German Government to enable it to continue to trade. (Condor)

Following the precedent set in a court case following the collapse of Monarch the liquidators will be entitled to sell off Thomas Cook’s Gatwick and Manchester slots. IAG, Virgin Atlantic and Wizz Air have expressed an interest in Thomas Cook’s slots at Gatwick.

Thomas Cook’s auditors will also face scrutiny. The Financial Reporting Council, which is responsible for regulating the audit profession, has said: “In light of recent developments at Thomas Cook we are considering whether there is any case for investigation and enforcement action as a matter of urgency and in cooperation with the Insolvency Service.”

Finally, the Business Archives Council is seeking to preserve Thomas Cook’s historical archives. (Organizational History Network)

Delta Swoops LATAM from Oneworld

Airline alliances are fragile constructs. They are loose gatherings of airlines who are often intense rivals and are also distracted by local priorities.

Delta stunned Oneworld last week by prizing LATAM away from the alliance. Whilst American Airlines, the Oneworld member with the most to lose, and Oneworld, initially put a brave face on the news, there are already signs that LATAM’s departure may become acrimonious.

Whilst LATAM is contractually bound to meet all of the obligations of its membership (such as reciprocal recognition of frequent flyers) until it leaves the alliance, it appears that codeshares between American Airlines and LATAM have already been withdrawn from sale.

It’s not immediately clear which airline was responsible for instigating this move, but American Airlines had to issue a statement on Saturday confirm that those passengers with existing bookings should have their itineraries honoured.

Delta’s move does also have an impact on IAG with BA and Iberia both having codeshares with LATAM. IAG is not an organisation to leave others to control events and its plans will no doubt be known in due course.

Also of note this week:

Eurostar and Thalys have announced plans to combine into a single high speed European train operator under the banner of the “Green Speed” project. (Eurostar)

KLM trials a fully automated double jet Bridget at Amsterdam Schiphol airport. (KLM)

Behind the scenes of “air to air” photography with Virgin Atlantic’s brand new Airbus A350-1000 aircraft. (Virgin Atlantic)

Late post publication updates:

[Reserved for updates throughout the day]

American Airlines has announced it will add a daily flight from London Heathrow to Boston from Sunday 29 March 2020. This will be operated with a Boeing 777-200 aircraft and will complement BA’s exiting four times daily services.

London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing is published every Monday at 06:00 BST. If you have any tips or stories please contact us. You can also follow us on Twitter for breaking news throughout the week.

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