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Welcome to London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing for the week beginning 12 April 2021.
“Summer Route Roulette”
When the UK government announced its proposed traffic light system to reopen international travel this summer, airlines made their views known very quickly.
BA extended the cancellation of short haul flights at Gatwick until 31 October. The only clue as to its summer schedule at London City, traditionally packed with flights to Ibiza and Mykonos, are two new routes to Jersey and Gibraltar.
In yesterday’s Sunday Times the challenge facing airlines was cited as analogous to a game of Russian roulette. Spend huge sums of money preparing to return aircraft and crews to service to no avail, or miss out on significant pent up demand. “We’re gambling — will we meet demand? Is there a chance we’ll lose capital?” said Shai Weiss CEO of Virgin Atlantic. Another airline CEO, speaking off the record, put it more bluntly “You might as well use the dartboard to do your strategic planning”.
Border restrictions are not the only concern of airlines. In his first media briefing as IATA Director General Willie Walsh made it clear that airlines should not have to manually process passenger documentation at airports, nor should pre flight testing become a permanent feature of international travel.
Following recent events, this week is expected to be a light week for official news in the UK. Government announcements will be limited to essential news only and most UK businesses will hold back PR activity. That said, on Wednesday the Transport Select Committee will take evidence on the Global Travel Taskforce from representatives of ABTA, BALPA, Heathrow and IATA.
easyJet will also give a half year trading update on Wednesday.
Also of note this week:
Delegates in the lower house of the French parliament, the National Assembly, have voted to abolish domestic flights on routes that can be covered by train in less than two and a half hours. This is subject to further votes. (Reuters)
Air France has launched a new route from London Heathrow to Nice from 28 June 2021, as part of a series of summer seasonal leisure routes. (Air France)
In a stock exchange filing, Norse Atlantic Airways confirms its first London routes are expected to be New York and Los Angeles. (Norse Atlantic Airways)
It’s alright for some. US corporate executives enjoy enhanced private jet perks during COVID-19. (Financial Times)
Late post publication updates:
[Reserved for updates throughout the day]
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