London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing – 8 February 2021

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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Sofitel London Heathrow Terminal 5
Sofitel London Heathrow Terminal 5 (Image Credit: Accor Hotels)

Welcome to London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing for the week beginning 8 February 2021.

UK Prepares For Mandatory Quarantine

Next week the UK government is to introduce a mandatory ten day quarantine regime for all passengers arriving from 30 “red list” countries.

The government is reported to be seeking 1,425 hotel rooms per night in what are dubbed “Managed Quarantine Facilities”, with up to a maximum of 28,000 rooms.

Specifications were only issued to hotel groups last Thursday evening. Details of how passengers can book into the quarantine facilities at their own expense are expected this week.

The quarantine regime is expected to last until 31 March 2021 at the earliest. As to what happens next, nobody knows.

There is widespread divergence amongst airlines, governments and industry bodies on how to securely reopen borders and international travel. easyJet CEO John Lundgren was dismissive of the concept of vaccine passports, at least for short haul travel, in yesterday’s Sunday Times.

The New York Times has a good analysis of the problems involved in developing vaccine passports. The most obvious answer is some form of digital vaccination certificate. This does require the acceptance of a common standard by airlines and governments. At the moment there are number of concurrent initiatives.

There is also the question of how individual governments will be able to access and store personal medical data. Also, not everyone in the world has access to the internet or owns a smartphone. Some point to the fact that paper evidence of vaccination has been accepted in the past.

As many countries are not expected to achieve widespread vaccination in 2023, the requirement for evidence of a negative COVID-19 test is likely to continue. Politico reports on how this may be exploited criminal gangs, leaving airlines exposed to penalties for failures to properly check passenger documentation.

Airlines have for decades developed self-service processes so that passengers arrive at airports “ready to fly”. When air travel starts to return to normal, airlines are likely to require substantially more staff to process passengers at check-in and departure gates.

Japan Airlines Amenity Kits

Following COVID-19 most airlines have suspended all non-essential expenditure so it’s relatively rare to hear about new inflight amenities.

Japanese design firm Nendo has designed a portfolio of new amenity kits, menu cards and tableware across all cabins for Japan Airlines. Deploying the maxim less is more, the designs are based around a red folded paper version of the airline’s famous flying crane logo.

Also of note this week:

The Chief Executives of Gatwick, Heathrow and Manchester airports pleaded for more industry specific state support. (Mail On Sunday)

Air France and KLM may be required to give up airport slots in return for more state support from their respective governments. Lufthansa had to make available slots in exchange for its bailout last year, though the conditions attached were so restrictive to render the exercise worthless. (Bloomberg)

Cathay Pacific is expected to make significant schedule changes following a decision that all Hong Kong based pilots and cabin crew must self isolate for 14 days and undergo a further 7 days of medical surveillance each time they return to Hong Kong from duty. (Cathay Pacific)

Virgin Atlantic has recently launched twice weekly cargo only flights between London Heathrow and Harstad-Narvik Airport, Evenes in Norway. (Virgin Atlantic)

A frankly rather underwhelming auction of the contents of the now closed Berlin Tegel airport. Lots of flat screen monitors and hard seating and little aviation memorabilia. (Troostwijk)

Late post publication updates:

[Reserved for updates throughout the day]

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