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After running through the major developments for London’s two main long-haul airlines British Airways and Virgin Atlantic, here’s what you can expect from other airlines and airports around the world in 2020.
Air New Zealand
Air New Zealand will, sadly, leave London in 2020.
Its last remaining route from London Heathrow to Auckland, via Los Angeles, will be suspended from Sunday 25 October 2020. Air New Zealand will continue to serve London indirectly via codeshare partners.
Alliances & Joint-Ventures
The three major airline alliances continue to prove to be fragile constructs with limited allegiances.
LATAM will leave the Oneworld alliance in 2020 following Delta’s acquisition of a 20% stake in the airline, and it has no plans to join SkyTeam. Air Europa should also leave SkyTeam should IAG’s purchase of the airline go ahead. Again, there are no plans for the airline to join Oneworld.
On a more positive note, Royal Air Maroc will join Oneworld this year. Interestingly, following the launch of a new tier of membership known as “Oneworld Connect” with Fiji Airways as the inaugural member, no further airlines have been announced as members.
Aer Lingus should also finally receive regulatory approval to join the AA/BA transatlantic joint-business this year.
Berlin Brandenburg Airport
After a delay of no less than 9 years, Berlin Brandenburg airport will finally open on Saturday 31 October 2020.
Neither, BA, easyJet nor Lufthansa have yet to announce when they will move to the new airport. However, the latest update from Berlin Brandenburg says that Berlin Tegel will close for scheduled passenger operations on Sunday 8 November 2020.
As history has shown, new airport operations can be very difficult. Given the extensive delays and many design flaws identified at Berlin Brandenburg, there will be considerable scrutiny of its operational performance in the opening weeks.
One to file under “should have been announced in 2019.”
easyJet was due to relaunch its frequent flyer programmes in 2019. This was one of two major initiatives, alongside the launch of easyJet Holidays which went ahead as planned. However, easyJet has gone very quiet on the relaunch of its loyalty programmes.
Finnair continues its strategy of exploiting its geographic location to attract connecting traffic between Europe and Asia.
Its twice weekly service to Sapporo which launched on 15 December 2019 has now been extended to a year round service. Finnair will also launch a new summer seasonal service to Busan, South Korea from Monday 30 March 2020 and a new year-round daily service to Tokyo Haneda from Sunday 29 March 2020, in addition to its existing service to Tokyo Narita.
Flybe will be officially rebranded as Virgin Connect in Spring 2020.
The airline has already substantially cut its UK regional network with a large number of routes suspended as the airline prepares to reduce its fleet. However, due to the time it will take to repaint aircraft, it will be some time before the Flybe name disappears for good.
Heathrow’s Third Runway
The Civil Aviation Authority is currently consulting on Heathrow Airport’s costings for a third runway, specifically the expenditure it will incur in advance of seeking final approval by means of a Development Consent Order to construct the runway.
The consultation closes on Saturday 28 February 2020 and the CAA’s decision should be known in the Spring. The outcome of this could have an impact on when the third runway will enter into operation. Initial estimates of 2026 now seem “optimistic”.
In 2020, we should learn of the London airport from which JetBlue will launch services to Boston and New York JFK.
Of course, by giving its competitors so much advance notice of its plans to launch transatlantic services from London, some have already made pre-emptive moves with Delta and Virgin Atlantic launching Boston and New York JFK respectively at Gatwick.
2019 was a year of retreat for Norwegian.
The era of seemingly exponential and rapacious growth has come to an end. Whilst Norwegian’s network at Gatwick has largely remained in tact, many long-haul routes elsewhere have been cut.
Throughout this, Norwegian has been able to raise additional capital from its shareholders and defer the redemption of bonds. There is still a considerable amount of work to be done, and Norwegian will be watched closely throughout 2020 and beyond.
After much hype, Qantas is expected to place an order for Airbus A350-1000 aircraft capable of flying non-stop from London to Sydney by March 2020.
The only remaining barrier is negotiating an agreement with Qantas trade unions. Should the order go ahead, non-stop flights from London to Sydney could begin in 2023.
Qantas will also celebrate its centenary this year.
South African Airways
South African Airways is currently in an administration process known as “Business Rescue”.
A practitioner has been appointed to oversee the formation of a rescue plan which will require approval from the airline’s creditors. The deadline for the publication of this plan has been extended from Monday 13 January to Friday 28 February 2020.
It is likely that any rescue plan will involve substantial changes to South African Airways’ long-haul network. The airline has in recent years cut back its presence in London to a single daily flight to Johannesburg.