London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing – 18 January 2021

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Norwegian Boeing 787 Aircraft, Boston Logan International Airport
Norwegian Boeing 787 Aircraft, Boston Logan International Airport (Image Credit: London Air Travel)

Welcome to the return of London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing for 2021 with our first edition of the year.

The 24 Month Winter

In a little over two months’ time, airlines in the Northern Hemisphere are supposed to start their summer schedules.

It is safe to say that there is no prospect of a return to normal for airlines this summer travel season.

The UK has today closed its borders to international travel and will require all inbound passengers to present evidence of a negative PCR COVID-19 test and to also self-isolate on arrival.

Yesterday’s Sunday Times splashed with proposals for inbound travellers to the UK to self-isolate, at their expense, in dedicated hotels for two weeks. This was not denied by Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab when interviewed by Andrew Marr on the BBC yesterday.

As Tabby Kinger describes of her experience of Hong Kong’s strict quarantine regime in the Financial Times, whether staying in a soulless airport hotel or top-end luxury hotel suite at a cost of up to £65,000 “no amount of money makes it tolerable.” As experience in Australia has shown, quarantine hotels may themselves become a source of COVID-19 infection.

According to Politico, Greece and other EU Member States are pressing the European Commission to adopt a common standard (“vaccine passports”) to allow those who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 the freedom to travel. There are significant misgivings on the part of many Member States, both on privacy grounds and restricting freedom of movement – a core principle of the EU – based on health status.

Whilst BA and easyJet have secured additional state guaranteed loans, it seems clear that Virgin Atlantic will have to obtain new sources of cash. Last week it raised $230 million through the sale and leaseback of two Boeing 787-9 aircraft. This is unlikely to be sufficient to see it through continued travel restrictions in 2021.

Eve Branson

Eve Branson, former stewardess for British South American Airways and founder of the Eve Branson Foundation passed away last week due to COVID-19.

Sir Richard Branson remembers his mother. The Times has also published an obituary.

Also of note this week:

CNN is to close its dedicated “Airport Network”, citing falling passenger numbers and increased consumption of news on personal devices. Even if you’ve travelled through a fair few US airports you’d be forgiven for not knowing it existed. Here’s a behind the scenes tour from 2016. (Airline Reporter)

Virgin Australia has announced a raft of executive appointments, most from outside the company. IAG’s Director of Strategy Alistair Hartley is to join the airline as Chief Transformation Officer. (Virgin Australia)

From the archives, the first trans Tasman flight in January 1931. (Sydney Morning Herald)

Late post publication updates:

[Reserved for updates throughout the day]

Loganair will fly from London Heathrow to Teesside from 8 March 2021. Flights will initially operate on Sundays and twice daily on weekdays. The airline has secured interline agreements with a number of long haul airlines.

British Airways will also codeshare on Loganair routes from Southampton to Glasgow, Edinburgh and Newcastle from 15 February 2021.

Heathrow Airport has urged Cornwall County Council to reinstate a Public Service Obligation route between the airport and Cornwall. Currently, BA is due to fly between Heathrow and Cornwall from July 2021. (Heathrow)

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