London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing – 5 October 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 (1 October 2020 version)
British Airways Long-Haul Network, London Gatwick & Heathrow, October 2020 (1 October 2020 version) (Image Credit: British Airways)

Welcome to London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing for the week beginning 5 October 2020.

COVID-19 Airport Testing

There was a course for optimism for last week as Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye indicated that a trial of government supported, but privately funded, COVID-19 airport testing could begin “within weeks”.

According to a report in yesterday’s Sunday Telegraph, Stephen Barclay, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, said a decision would be made “in the coming days” and an announcement is expected from Grant Shapps and Matt Hancock.

The article goes on to say ministers are considering forming a “taskforce” to examine options for international travel. If so, this should have been established months ago and does not instil confidence. Not least given the UK government’s track record on over-promising and under-delivering.

Stephen Barclay appears to favour the approach of Germany where arriving passengers can receive a test result within hours to avoid quarantine. The government’s scientific advisory panel, SAGE, appears to favour “dual testing” where arriving passengers must test negative twice within five days to leave quarantine.

Last week American Airlines announced the start of pre-flight COVID-19 testing on select routes in the Americas. There is no doubt it wants to extend this to transatlantic flights with some urgency.

Dutch newspaper de Volksrant reports a trial has been underway at Helsinki airport where four sniffer dogs were trained to detect COVID-19. Whilst apparently successful in Finland, trials elsewhere have yielded less positive results.

Back to Heathrow, the airport will appear before the Supreme Court this Wednesday to appeal against the judgment of the Court of Appeal that the decision by the UK government to approve a third runway was unlawful.

BA October Schedule

A little over a week ago, we published BA’s planned route network for October.

This has been updated since publication as BA issued a revised route map, pictured above. The restart of flights from London Heathrow to Riyadh has been pushed back to 15 October.

Interestingly, BA has removed Cancun and Mauritius from its October route map even though they are currently showing as operating from 17 and 15 October. BA’s new route to Montego Bay, which is due to launch on 13 October is also absent.

Although some airlines are reported to have cancelled flights to South Africa, BA’s flights to Cape Town and Johannesburg appear to be operating as planned.

Alex Cruz To Speak At FlightGlobal Event

BA CEO Alex Cruz will speak as part of a virtual FlightGlobal event “Airlines 2050” next Monday, 12 October.

The event starts at 09:30 BST. A full agenda which includes a wide range of speaks from airlines and government is available at FlightGlobal and registration is free here.

Also of note this week:

Australia and New Zealand have agreed on the implementation of a “travel bubble”. It is one-way only for now from New Zealand to a limited number of states in Australia. (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

As you may have seen BA is transferring its service to Bermuda from Gatwick to Heathrow in late March 2021. News reports refer to a “collaborative” and “strategic” approach by local authorities, which suggest BA was offered incentives to transfer the route. (Bernews)

Malaysia Airlines’ parent company has warned investors it may run out of ash without state support. (Reuters)

JP Morgan is working with Affinity Capital Exchange to turn airline loyalty points into a tradeable commodity. (Bloomberg)

The local businesses grounded by Gatwick. (The Sunday Times)

Transport for London is likely to prioritise an extension to the Docklands Light Railway over Crossrail 2 and an extension to the Bakerloo line as it reassess its capital expenditure plans. (Ian Visits)

Late post publication updates:

[Reserved for updates throughout the day]

A dispute is reported to have emerged between the new owners of Virgin Australia, Bain Capital, and Sir Richard Branson over how much Virgin Group should own of the restructured airline. (Sydney Morning Herald)

Gatwick Airport intends to introduce a £5 charge for vehicles dropping off passengers on forecourts directly in front of its terminals, from an as yet unspecified date next year.  The airport is not disguising the fact that this is a necessary revenue raising move in line with many UK regional airports, as well as to encourage passengers to use public transport.

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