London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing – 1 June 2020

Welcome to London Air Travel’s weekly briefing on air travel around the world, as published every Monday at 06:00 BST.

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London Heathrow Terminal 5A, May 2020
London Heathrow Terminal 5A, May 2020 (Image Credit: Heathrow)

Welcome to London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing for the week beginning 1 June 2020.

Aviation’s June Return

As many countries in Europe are due to lift travel restrictions this month, the UK is determined to remain an outlier.

Its mandatory quarantine regime on passengers arriving in the UK is due to come in to force next Monday, 8 June 2020.

As per the front page lead of today’s Times, it has been widely condemned by the aviation industry as destructive, ill-judged and unenforceable. If the UK government’s “test and trace” contact tracing system is anything to go by, it will not instil confidence.

The Sunday Telegraph reports that the government has recruited the professional services firm KPMG to advise on what mandatory measures should be put in place on passengers departing from the UK. These are reportedly due to be agreed this week.

The Department for Transport is also working on plans for “air bridges” to countries deemed to have a low risk of COVID-19 transmission. These are due to be finalised by 15 June.

Other options under consideration include 20 minute COVID-19 tests on arriving passengers.

Elsewhere, there are small signs that aviation is starting to rebuild.

Austrian Airlines will resume flight operations from Monday 15 June. This will include a daily flight to London Heathrow.

Brussels Airlines will also flight operations from Monday 15 June, with flights to London Heathrow resuming on Monday 22 June.

Further afield, Hong Kong International Airport will begin accepting transit passengers from today.

Virgin Australia Whittles Down Final Bidders

Deloitte, the administrators of Virgin Australia, may announce the two final round bidders for the airline as soon as today.

Bain Capital, BGH Capital, Cyrus Capital and Indigo Partners submitted second round bids last week. Canadian asset manager Brookfield is reported to have entered the bidding process at the 11th hour.

Visions for the airline appear to vary widely with some bidders planing a return to its low cost short-haul roots and others seeking the maintain its ambition to be a full service rival to Qantas.

There appears to be a risk that the airline may fall into liquidation before the bidding process has completed with Deloitte reported to have made an unsuccesful plea to the Australian federal government for emergency funding. (Sydney Morning Herald).

Things have been relatively quiet as far as Virgin Atlantic is concerned. That’s not necessarily a bad sign. A lack of leaks to the press often indicates progress behind the scenes.

Also of note this week:

The demise of the in-flight magazine has been talked about for some time. It was thought that rising fuel prices would seal their fate. Most airlines have suspended publication of their magazines – which certainly appear well-thumbed towards the end of their monthly cycle – for hygiene reasons. It’s not clear they will return. (The Times)

In case you missed it:

BA suspends London Heathrow – Leeds-Bradford. (London Air Travel)

BA also suspends Heathrow – Moscow Sheremetyevo. (London Air Travel)

BA mortgages 48 aircraft to raise $750m. (London Air Travel)

JetBlue confirms it still plans to launch flights to London from late 2021. (London Air Travel)

Late post publication updates:

[Reserved for updates throughout the day]

London City airport expects to resume passenger flights “shortly” with domestic flights returning this month. The latest indication from BA CityFlyer is that BA will resume flights at London City from 1 July at the earliest. Though this date is regularly pushed back.

Singapore Airlines plans to maintain 13 return flights between London Heathrow and Singapore until the end of July. In addition to existing services from Frankfurt and Zurich, it will reinstate flights from Amsterdam, Barcelona and Copenhagen to Singapore in June. It will also reinstate flights to Adelaide, Auckland, Brisbane, Cebu, Christchurch, Hong Kong, Medan, Melbourne and Osaka. (Singapore Airlines)

The South African government is prepared to inject new funds of R4.6 billion (~£211,957,459) to create a new state-owned airline out of South African Airways. This is according to a leak of a draft business rescue plan which is due to be published next Monday 8 June. (Financial Times)

Traffic to and from UK airports was almost non-existent in April according to official data from the Civil Aviation Authority. Data for domestic routes shows extremely limited traffic. Data for international routes shows that for some countries such as Austria and Belgium there was no traffic at all. For most routes, including charter flights, traffic fell by in excess of 95%.

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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