London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing – 23 November 2020

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

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Collinson COVID-19 Testing Facility, London Heathrow
Collinson COVID-19 Testing Facility, London Heathrow (Image Credit: British Airways)

Welcome to London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing for the week beginning 23 November 2020.

UK Government To Relax 14 Day Quarantine?

As airlines trial their own COVID-19 testing regimes on transatlantic flights, there are now hopes for at least a partial relaxation of the UK’s mandatory 14 day quarantine regime.

Airline CEOs remain deeply frustrated at the lack of clarity on government policy on quarantine and testing. Though, many are still keen to talk up their individual prospects.

United Airlines is in the second week of its trial to test all passengers flying on flight UA14 from Newark to London Heathrow on Monday, Wednesdays and Fridays.

You can see a report from the first flight by Richard Quest from CNN International’s “Quest Means Business”. The pre-flight testing process is clearly aided by very light passenger numbers.

Also speaking to Richard Quest last week, Virgin Atlantic CEO Shai Weiss was optimistic about the prospects for recovery, pointing to a less than expected impact from England’s second lockdown. Bookings for 2021 are also said to be improving, possibly due to positive news on a number of vaccines against COVID-19.

Delta, which owns 49% of Virgin Atlantic, is less optimistic about the prospects of a London – New York travel corridor. CEO Ed Bastian told the Financial Times it would be easier to relaunch transatlantic flights to “just about any” other European capital.

Ed Bastian added “I think you will find on the continent several countries that are more open” and, due to the mandatory quarantine regime “I think New York – London is complicated.”

American Airlines and BA are starting their own testing trial on select inbound flights from Dallas / Fort Worth, Los Angeles and New York JFK from this Wednesday.

BA CEO Sean Doyle was quoted in The Times as saying “We’ve got an immediate crisis to deal with in the industry and we think testing in lieu of quarantine is a solution that’s staring us in the face. We just need clarity of policy.”

The Telegraph reports that the Transport Secretary Grant Shapps will today announce that England’s quarantine regime will be reformed from mid-December.

Passengers arriving from countries deemed to be a high risk will be able to stop self-isolating as soon as they receive a negative test result for COVID-19. However, this test must be taken from an approved supplier on arrival. In practice, this is expected to cut the mandatory quarantine period from 14 to around 5 days.

BA To Return To Dhaka?

The Daily Star Bangladesh reports that BA is in discussions with local authorities on a return to Dhaka after a hiatus of 11 years.

The route was previously suspended in 2009. Like the launch of Lahore and capacity increases to Islamabad, this points to a pivot by BA towards “Visiting Friends & Relatives” (VFR) traffic.

If you were to consult the Ministry for Speculation and Guesswork they might suggest that other VFR routes BA could reinstate include Kolkata.

It’s plausible that, if post COVID-19, passengers are less inclined to take indirect flights over direct flights, BA may also be able to return to destinations where it had lost traffic to Middle Eastern carriers. These could include routes in East Africa such as Dar Es Salaam, Entebbe and Lusaka.

Loganair Launches Heathrow – Isle of Man

Loganair is to transfer is route from London City to the Isle of Man to London Heathrow from Tuesday 1 December.

Flights will initially operate daily, except on Saturdays and are on sale now at Loganair:

Flight LM0678 Depart London Heathrow 08:50 – Arrive Isle of Man 10:05 (Monday – Thursday)
Flight LM0678 Depart London Heathrow 17:35 – Arrive Isle of Man 18:50 (Friday & Sunday)

Flight LM0677 Depart Isle of Man 06:50 – Arrive London Heathrow 08:05 (Monday – Thursday)
Flight LM0677 Depart Isle of Man 15:30 – Arrive London Heathrow 16:45 (Friday & Sunday)

With thanks to SeanM1997.

In case you missed it:

Aer Lingus secures provisional approval to join AA & BA’s transatlantic joint-business. (London Air Travel)

easyJet and JetBlue both bid to secure slots at London Heathrow, but without success. (London Air Travel)

Also of note this week:

A cross-party group of MPs is to lobby for specific support for areas such as Hounslow and Crawley which have been impacted by reduced activity at airports. (The Guardian)

On a similar theme, the New York Times reports on how the collapse in passenger traffic at Virgin Atlantic has impacted its suppliers. (New York Times)

The Sunday Times profiles the hedge fund managers seeking to resurrect Flybe. (The Sunday Times)

Late post publication updates:

[Reserved for updates throughout the day]

Flights within Southern Africa operated by Comair as a British Airways franchise are now on sale at ba.com for travel from Wednesday 9 December onwards.

Willie Walsh is to be appointed the next Director General of the International Air Transport Association (IATA). Willie will replace current Director General Alexandre de Juniac from 1 April 2021. (IATA)

London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing is published every Monday at 06:00 GMT. If you have any comments, suggestions or tips then please drop us a line at mail [@] londonairtravel.com You can follow us on Twitter for breaking news throughout the day.

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