British Airways is to continue to operate an extremely limited schedule until June 2020 at the earliest.
BA’s parent company International Airlines Group has confirmed today, Thursday 2 April 2020, that its airlines will reduce capacity by 90% in April and May compared to 2019.
Here are the main changes to date:
All flights at London City airport are suspended until the end of April at the earliest.
This is due to the closure of the airport. BA has also suspended London City – New York JFK until 1 September 2020.
No BA flights will operate at London Gatwick airport until the end of April at the earliest.
Runway operations for scheduled flights are also limited to eight hours a day, between 14:00 and 22:00.
At London Heathrow, all flights are operating from Terminal 5.
BA is operating a very limited schedule at London Heathrow. Long-haul routes still operating, but with significantly reduced frequencies, include Boston, Chicago O’Hare, Los Angeles, New York JFK, Seattle, Seoul, Singapore, Tokyo Haneda and Washington Dulles.
Flights are being operated with Airbus A350-1000, Boeing 787, Boeing 777-200 and Boeing 777-300 aircraft.
Short-haul flights are limited to a very small number of flights to major UK & European cities.
Note this does not include any cargo only flights or flights chartered by the UK Government to bring Britons back home.
At the time of publication, BA has not processed schedule changes for May. However, a very large number of cancellations should be processed in the next two weeks.
Passengers can check the status of their bookings using the Manage My Booking tool on ba.com
Other Airport Changes
All BA lounges worldwide are closed.
At Manchester, flights are operating at Terminal 1 due to the consolidation of flights at the airport.
At New York JFK, flights have temporarily transferred from Terminal 7 to Terminal 8.
Alliance & Codeshare Partners
BA’s main alliance and codeshare partners continue to operate skeleton schedules at London Heathrow.
American Airlines is currently flying once a day from London Heathrow to Dallas / Fort Worth and Miami.
AA plans to resume flights to London Heathrow from Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia and Raleigh-Durham on 4 June. Charlotte will resume on 7 July. Phoenix will resume on 7 October. The inaugural flight from Boston is delayed until 25 October.
Finnair is flying from London Heathrow to Helsinki twice daily.
Iberia continues to fly from London Heathrow and Madrid.
Japan Airlines continues to fly from London Heathrow and Tokyo Haneda.
Qatar Airways continues to fly from London Heathrow to Doha.
“Furlough” Of Staff
One consequence of the outbreak of COVID-19 is that the American term “furlough” has entered the UK’s lexicon.
BA has reached an agreement with its three trade unions, BALPA, GMB and Unite on salary reductions for “furloughed” employees.
It has been agreed with BALPA that BA pilots will take four weeks’ unpaid leave in April and May.
BA also agreed with GMB and Unite that up to 30,000 cabin crew and ground based staff will be furloughed during April and May.
BA is participating in the UK Government’s employment protection programme and affected employees will be paid up to 80% of their base pay and certain allowances. However, unlike the Government’s employment protection scheme, there will be no cap on salary payments, with the difference presumably funded by BA. There will also be no compulsory redundancies, which is always a “red line” for BA’s trade unions. This is subject to ratification by union members.
How Will BA Recover From Coronavirus?
There is no doubt the outbreak of Coronavirus is the biggest crisis BA has faced in its history.
A return to near-normal schedules is likely to be very gradual. BA has the ability to cancel flights up to the end of October 2020, without risk of forfeiting airport slots.
The recovery of schedules is dependent on a number of factors. This includes countries lifting travel restrictions, businesses allowing employees to travel again, large scale events returning, and the impact of Coronavirus in BA’s biggest markets (notably India and North America) and on household incomes and discretionary spending.
It does also depend on how the fall in demand for travel is compensated by the withdrawal of competitors from the market. Norwegian’s plan to resume flights at Gatwick in May seems “optimistic” at best.
At BA, it is inevitable that the retirement of the Boeing 747 fleet will be accelerated. There are also questions over the future of the Airbus A380 fleet. Capital expenditure, particularly on new aircraft, will also be cut in the coming years.
Should Coronavirus ultimately prove to create a permanent fall in demand for travel, then nothing should be ruled out.
When the time is right expect a considerable effort on the part of airlines to encourage passengers to fly again.
The next major update from BA’s parent company is expected at its first quarter results on Thursday 7 May.