London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing – 21 October 2019

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Qantas Boeing 787-9 Aircraft VH-ZNI landing in Sydney having completed a non-stop flight from New York JFK.
Qantas Boeing 787-9 Aircraft VH-ZNI landing in Sydney having completed a non-stop flight from New York JFK. (Image Credit: David Gray /Getty Images for Qantas)

Welcome to our Monday Briefing for the week beginning 21 October 2019.

Winter 2019 Timetable

This coming Sunday, 27 October 2019, marks the beginning of the winter timetable, as well of course, the clocks going back one hour.

Here are the main changes for BA at Gatwick and Heathrow. There are some Heathrow terminal switches. BA flights to Billund, Hanover, San Diego and Zagreb move from Terminal 5 to Terminal 3. Luxembourg, Lyon and Phoenix move from Terminal 3 to Terminal 5.

In terms of other airlines at Heathrow, Eurowings suspends London Heathrow – Berlin Tegel from Sunday. SAS launches a new Saturday seasonal service to Scandinavian Mountains Airport from Saturday 28 December 2019. Virgin Atlantic also returns to Mumbai from Sunday.

Over at London City, Flybe suspends Dusseldorf, and TAP Air Portugal suspends Lisbon and Porto.

A large number of airlines will resume flights to Milan Linate as the airport reopens this weekend following runway works.

Just How Big Are Frequent Flyer Programmes?

There has been much commentary in recent weeks suggesting that airlines should ban frequent flyer programmes to combat unnecessary flying.

There are shades of anti-elitism in this from those who would prefer air travel to be more egalitarian, with no special privileges for frequent flyers.

That belies what frequent flyer programmes have become – frequent flyer miles are simply now a currency in their own right.

As in indication, in 2018 over 115 billion Avios were issued to 8.7 million active users of Avios based frequent flyer programmes. Of these, 54.5 billion were actually issued though means other than flying. Withdrawing these, which would take a long time to unravel, would be deeply unpopular.

It’s also worth recalling that although the BA Executive Club was first introduced in 1982 (shortly after US airlines introduced frequent flyer programmes which had a dramatic impact on passenger behaviour), it did not become a true mileage accrual programme until the mid 1990s. Even if the accrual of frequent miles was banned, airlines would still find a way to incentivise and reward high value flyers.

Also of note this week:

Connect Airways confirms that Flybe will rebrand as Virgin Connect in 2020.

A number of London boroughs, the Mayor of London and Greenpeace are to take their case against the decision to add a third runway at Heathrow to the Court of Appeal this week. (Financial Times)

On board the 19 hour Qantas “Project Sunrise” test flight from New York JFK to Sydney. (Sydney Morning Herald).

The luxury airship bound for the North Pole. (Financial Times)

Late post publication updates:

[Reserved for updates throughout the day]

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