London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing – 28 September 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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British Airways Long-Haul Network, London Gatwick & Heathrow, October 2020
British Airways Long-Haul Network, London Gatwick & Heathrow, October 2020

Welcome to London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing for the week beginning 28 September 2020.

Aviation Hopes For An October Surprise

As the US election approaches, journalists and pundits are waiting for what is known as the “October Surprise” – this being an event, planned or unplanned, that may change the course of the election.

Airlines must be hoping for something, anything, next month to break the current impasse on travel restrictions.

In the US, airlines are likely to begin very significant redundancies as federal support under the CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act comes to an end.

According to a report by York Aviation commissioned by Airlines UK, Heathrow, IAG and Collinson Group, the UK economy is losing £32m a day due to the lack of a transatlantic air bridge.

Sir Richard Branson has, according to The Telegraph, had what would be described in diplomatic circles as “a frank exchange of views” with Matt Hancock over the government’s failure to secure a transatlantic air bridge.

Speaking to the Sydney Morning Herald, Air New Zealand CEO Greg Forum said that eliminating COVID-19, something New Zealand had aimed to do until it experienced a second wave, was no longer realistic. Taking into account the likely efficacy of a vaccine and the time it will take to distribute globally to those that are prepared to receive it, countries must learn to live with the virus.

IATA has called for a global standard of systematic testing before and after departure as in interim solution to eliminate the need for quarantine measures.

Airline industry bodies are adamant the airline travel is safe. According to a briefing by the EASA reported by Reuters only seven of three million passengers in recent weeks have displayed symptoms of COVID-19 on board aircraft. (Of course, many with COVID-19 are asymptomatic.)

BA Publishes October Route Network

BA has, for the first time in six months, published a definitive list of the destinations it will be flying to in the coming weeks.

You can read a full summary and list here.

At Heathrow, BA restarts daily flights to Cape Town and Johannesburg on 1 October. Three times weekly flights to Bahrain, Riyadh and Tokyo Haneda also start on the same day. Three times weekly flights to Montreal and four times weekly flights to Kuala Lumpur start on 2 October. On the same day, BA returns to Barbados at London Gatwick.

All UK domestic routes benefit from at least daily flights with Edinburgh having 45 return flights a week.

Short-haul routes which benefit from the equivalent of more than three daily flights include Amsterdam, Athens, Barcelona, Berlin Tegel, Dusseldorf, Faro, Istanbul, Larnaca, Lisbon, Malaga, Munich, and Rome Fiumicino.

Virgin Atlantic Appoints New CFO

Virgin Atlantic has, according to filings at Companies House, appointed a new Chief Financial Officer.

Oliver Byers, formerly Senior Vice President (that’s Delta’s influence for you) of Data & Customer Loyalty was appointed to the role last week. Oliver replaces Thomas Mackay who has held the role for the past three years.

On a related note, Virgin has yet to file its annual accounts for last year. It does benefit from an extension to the filing deadline to the end of the year. Observers will be interested to see what comments are made about its ability to continue as a going concern.

Also of note this week:

The Australian Federal Government is to subsidise domestic flights until the end of January. (ABC News)

When airlines seek concessions from trade unions it’s not unusual for them to present a dire situation. Of course, this can sometimes be diametrically opposed to what they tell investors, or the media. easyJet has distanced itself from alleged comments made by its CFO that the company is “hanging by a thread”. (BBC News)

The Financial Times and its readers ponder whether COVID-19 means the end of the business trip. It won’t. (Financial Times)

Late post publication updates:

[Reserved for updates throughout the day]

The Belgian and US governments have reached an agreement on the establishment of US customs & immigration pre-clearance facility at Belgium airport. This would be the first such facility in mainland Europe. This is subject to ratification by the Belgian parliament and technical agreements with Brussels airport. No estimated start date has been given. (Belgium Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation)

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