London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing – 27 January 2020

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South African Airways Airbus A340 Aircraft
South African Airways Airbus A340 Aircraft (Image Credit: South African Airways)

Hello and welcome to the London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing for the week beginning 27 January 2020.

News over the past week has of course been dominated by the Coronavirus outbreak in China. As of Sunday 26 January 2020, BA has updated its guidance for passengers. Any passenger due to fly with BA to any destination in mainland China or Hong Kong up to Sunday 23 February 2020 can change to an alternative date or obtain a refund.

Update: Virgin Atlantic has announced that passengers due to fly with the airline and its codeshare partners to mainland China and Hong Kong up to Saturday 29 February 2020 can rebook up to Tuesday 31 March 2020, or seek a refund.

Cathay Pacific has also announced that Cathay Dragon has suspended all flights from Hong Kong to Wuhan until Tuesday 31 March 2020. Cathay Pacific also has a flexible rebooking policy in place for all passengers due to travel to any of its destinations in mainland China.

The latest guidance from the UK Government is available here. The World Heath Organization also has guidance for international travellers.

South African Airways

Last week South African Airways was forced to deny speculation that it was on the cusp of suspending operations.

The airline has however undertaken tactical cancellations of selected domestic flights from its Johannesburg hub to Cape Town and Durban, as well as Johannesburg – Munich, to conserve cash.

The South African Broadcasting Corporation reports that the airline has sufficient cash to pay its January salaries to staff. The running of the airline is being overseen by a Business Rescue practitioner and it is awaiting funding of R 2 billion. There has been no update from either the National Treasury or Department Of Public Enterprises in South Africa.

Flybe

The Financial Times reported on Friday evening that Flybe is seeking a Government loan of £100m which would be on “commercial terms”.

As a condition of this, Flybe’s owners have promised to inject a further £20m into the airline, in addition to £30m it has already promised. The Sunday Telegraph also reports that Flybe is in negotiations with UK regional airports over unpaid landing fees, many of whom are effectively dependent on Flybe for survival.

Update: Sky News reports that the UK Government has appointed Alvarez & Marsal to advise on the loan to Flybe. The Financial Times also reports that a potential loan is complicated by the fact that Flybe has no unencumbered assets to provide as collateral.

Separately, Flybe’s franchise partner Eastern Airways has announced a tranche of new routes from Teeside International airport. This includes a new route to London City airport from Tuesday 27 April 2020. However, the exact schedule has not yet been confirmed and flights are not yet on sale.

Flybe will also transfer its route from London Heathrow to Guernsey to London Southend airport from Sunday 29 March 2020.

Also of note this week:

Finnair is to lease a former Jet Airways slot at London Heathrow from Etihad for the summer 2020 season. Finnair’s current timetables also indicate that it will add a 7th daily return flight from London Heathrow to Helsinki from Sunday 29 March 2020. The additional flight AY1348 departs London Heathrow at 20:30.

Norwegian has amended its hand baggage policy. Passengers who have booked its “LowFare” from Friday 24 January 2020 will only be able to bring a small item of hand baggage to go under the seat in front, unless they upgrade their fare or pay for additional hand baggage. Norwegian has framed this as a means to improve punctuality, but it is clearly a measure to increase ancillary revenues. Full details are available from Norwegian.

Retiring Captain Mike Abu-Nayla reflects on a 30 year career at Virgin Atlantic. (Virgin Atlantic)

Late post publication updates:

[Reserved for updates throughout the day]

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