Welcome to London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing for the week beginning 22 March 2021.
The Summer Timetable Begins
This Sunday, 28 March 2021, marks the official start of the summer timetable in the Northern Hemisphere.
Ordinarily at this time of year we should be able to present a long list of seasonal schedule changes.
Apart from BA transferring Bermuda to London Heathrow this Sunday and American Airlines launching Heathrow – Seattle on 1 April, there’s little else to confirm. There may be frequency increases to come for BA to Lahore and Tel Aviv, but these are not yet reflected in online timetables.
Airlines had been hoping that Monday 17 May would mark the reopening of international travel. Both BA and Virgin Atlantic currently plan to increase their schedules from this date.
Defence Minister Ben Wallace, who was tasked to do the Sunday political show broadcast round yesterday, said it was “potentially risky” and “premature” to book for Britons to book a summer holiday this year.
Speaking to Sophy Ridge on Sky News Ben Wallace said “We can’t be deaf and blind to what’s going on outside the United Kingdom. If we were to be reckless in any way, and import new variants that put up risk, what would people say about that?”
Members of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) have gone further and warned in today’s Guardian that the public should not consider summer holidays until next year because of the risk of vaccine resistant variants entering the UK.
This has prompted an immediate and furious response from airline industry bodies and trade unions who see such speculation as deeply unhelpful.
The Financial Times reports that the UK government’s global travel task force is looking at reinstating a traffic light system for countries, this time based on their respective levels of vaccination. Pilot schemes with countries with high vaccination rates such as Israel and the US are also consideration. The current mandatory hotel quarantine regime may also be replaced with self-isolation at home.
Also of note this week:
BA is considering selling its Waterside Headquarters near Heathrow, which is earmarked for demolition should a third runway ever go ahead. When Waterside opened in 1998 at a cost of £200m it was hailed as a revolution in the airline’s working practices. (London Air Travel)
After IAG launched a €1.2 billion bond issue last week, how the airline industry has amassed $300 billion of debt. A great visual analysis from the FT on the relative performance of airlines. (Financial Times)
Why Donald Trump’s Boeing 757-200 aircraft (pictured above at LaGuardia in 2015) sits idle at Stewart Airport, New York. (CNN)
Ever since Concorde retired, there have been plans to reinstate supersonic air travel. Monocle 24’s series “The Chiefs” continues its series of interviews with leaders of transportation with the CEO of Boom Supersonic Blake Scholl. There’s much on the grand vision and little on the detail of when and how it will launch. (Monocle 24)
Behind the scenes at The Pierre Hotel New York during COVID-19 (link corrected). (The New Yorker)
Late post publication updates:
[Reserved for updates throughout the day]
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