London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing – 14 December 2020

Welcome to London Air Travel’s final Monday Briefing of 2020.

London Air Travel » Monday Briefing » London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing – 14 December 2020

Concorde and Santa Claus, Rovaniemi, Finland, 1997
Concorde and Santa Claus, Rovaniemi, Finland, 1997. Photo by Eric Chretien/Gamma-Rapho published under license from Getty Images. Unauthorised distribution and reproduction prohibited.

Welcome to London Air Travel’s final Monday Briefing of 2020. Our next Monday Briefing will be published on 18 January 2021.

What A Difference A Year Makes

12 months ago the airline industry was certain of its trajectory.

Consolidation was the order of the day. State intervention was a thing of the past. The days of making money in the good times, only to lose it all in a downturn, would never be repeated. Airlines had the financial resilience to withstand whatever challenges came their way.

Both British Airways and Virgin Atlantic had plans for a busy year, most of which have been abandoned.

Delta had pulled off a major coup, swooping LATAM out of Oneworld. It acquired, for some $1.9 billion, a 20% stake in the airline. That, along with its stakes in AeroMexico and Virgin Atlantic, are worthless as LATAM has entered Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

Even as the COVID-19 outbreak was underway, former IAG CEO Willie Walsh confidently asserted:

“To be honest we’ve gone through all of this before. We’ve all seen it before.”

“We know what to do in a time like this. We know how to respond.”

A planned near normal return to service for BA by the end of the year did not happen. There is at least positive news on the approval of vaccines against COVID-19 and pre-flight testing regimes underway.

That said, the fact that BA is barred from operating passenger flights to Hong Kong for two weeks following COVID-19 compliance failures, suggests airlines and passengers are going to have get used to extremely stringent measures in many territories for months to come.

Virgin Atlantic & Bain

What’s going on with Virgin Atlantic and Bain Capital?

Last week Sky News reported that Virgin had sold and leasebacked two Boeing 787 aircraft. According to recent filings at Companies House, there are further transactions involving Bain in connection with one of Virgin’s Airbus A350 aircraft.

Bain does of course have a connection with another Virgin airline as it owns the majority of Virgin Australia.

Staying with Companies House filings, Virgin Atlantic has yet to submit its annual accounts for the year to 31 December 2019. These should have been ready months ago. A cynic might wonder whether Virgin is waiting for a good day to bury bad news.

On a more positive note, Virgin is due to return to Cape Town this Sunday.

Coming Soon: The BA 747 Story

Over Christmas we will run a special series on the history of the Boeing 747 and some of its most memorable flights at BOAC and BA.

This will run over seven days from Christmas Eve to 30 December.

In case you missed it:

BA CityFlyer launches weekend summer seasonal routes from Southampton. (London Air Travel)

Also of note this week:

Virgin Atlantic bids its final farewell to the Boeing 747. (Virgin Atlantic)

A profile of Virgin Australia CEO Jayne Hrdlicka. (Sydney Morning Herald)

Late post publication updates:

[Reserved for updates throughout the day]

London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing will return on Monday 18 January 2021. Thank you for reading in 2020. In the meantime you can follow us on Twitter for any breaking news over Christmas and New Year.

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