London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing – 31 August 2020

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Comair Boeing 737 Aircraft
Comair Boeing 737 Aircraft (Image Credit: Comair)

Welcome to London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing for the week beginning 31 August 2020.

The September Issue

Today is of course a public holiday in the UK (except Scotland!) which ordinarily marks the end of the summer and what should be the restart of the business travel season.

Whilst summer certainly feels like it’s over, and even if government would like it so, few seem in the mood for a return to what was normality.

BA is due to at least add some long-haul routes at London Heathrow in September. Returning long-haul routes in September include:

Abuja (16 September)
Accra (4 September)
Bahrain (18 September)
Cairo (2 September)
Kuwait (2 September)
Lagos (5 September)
Riyadh (17 September)

These dates are approximate as there are some slight discrepancies between online timetable information and BA’s own booking engine.

BA will also fly from Chennai to Heathrow on a one-way only basis from 3 September.

Turning to BA’s fleet, the airline despatched one its early Boeing 777-200 aircraft, G-ZZZB, from London Heathrow to St Athan for retirement on Saturday. BA will also retire another Boeing 747 aircraft, G-CIVH, today.


This week we should, finally, learn of the fate of BA’s franchise partner Comair.

According to the Business Rescue Practitioners, they have now received a final binding offer for the airline from its preferred bidder.

The Business Rescue Practitioners are due to publish their business rescue plan this Wednesday.

Staying in South Africa, South African Airways is to due operate a one-off flight from Johannesburg to London Heathrow on 2 September on behalf of Guardian Assist. The return flight to Johannesburg will operate on 4 September. Passengers wishing to travel on these flights should e-mail

Dawson’s Field Hijacking

This week will mark the 50th anniversary of the events that led up to the Dawson’s Field Hijacking.

On 6 September 1970 members of Popular Front For The Liberation Of Palestine made an unsuccessful attempt to hijack an El Al Boeing 707 aircraft flying from Amsterdam. 

The hijackers were overpowered and the aircraft landed at Heathrow. One of the two hijackers was shot. Another hijacker, Leila Khaled, was held in custody in the UK. Members of the Popular Front For The Liberation Of Palestine sought to negotiate her release.

Three days later, on 9 September 1970, a BOAC Super VC-10 aircraft, having started its journey in Mumbai, departed Bahrain for Beirut.

The aircraft was hijacked. It landed in Beirut before being made to fly to Zerqa (also known as Dawson’s Field), a military airfield 20 miles north of Amman. Also at the airfield was a hijacked TWA Boeing 707 and a Swissair DC-8 aircraft. 

The 105 passengers and 10 crew on board the BOAC aircraft were held hostage for several days until British, German, Swiss, and Israeli authorities agreed to release Leila Khaled. 

All passengers and crew were released from the aircraft before all three aircraft were blown up on 12 September 1970. All passengers and crew from the BOAC flight subsequently returned to the UK. 

These incidents prompted a radical review of security measures for international flights and the implementation of greater screening of baggage, reviews of passenger lists and metal detectors at airports, which of course we are now all accustomed to.

In case you missed it:

Airport “use it lose it” slot rules are likely to come into force for the winter season on Sunday 25 October. (London Air Travel)

BA switches its medium-haul routes to Amman, Cairo and Moscow Domodedovo to short-haul configured aircraft. (London Air Travel)

Virgin Atlantic is to fly from London Heathrow to Islamabad and Lahore. (London Air Travel)

Late post publication updates:

[Reserved for updates throughout the day]

Aer Lingus may launch transatlantic services from UK regional airports in 2021 using aircraft redeployed from its base in Shannon. It’s worth recalling that Aer Lingus is not currently part of the AA-BA transatlantic joint business and any routes would struggle without codesharing and joint-marketing by AA and BA. Post the Brexit transition period, Aer Lingus would probably need a UK AOC to operate these services in its own right. (Irish Times)

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