London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing – 7 June 2021

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Singapore Airlines Airbus A380 London Heathrow
Singapore Airlines Airbus A380 London Heathrow (Image Credit: Heathrow)

Welcome to London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing for the week beginning 7 June 2021.

Travel Industry Reels From UK Government’s Volte Face

The UK travel industry is understandably reeling from the UK government’s decision last week to remove Portugal from the “green list” and not add any further countries.

Airline CEOs had made it clear months ago that they needed certainty and there are very substantial costs involved in preparing aircraft and crews for a return to service.

In terms of route network development this week, at London City BA CityFlyer is due to return to Palma de Mallorca and launch Gibraltar this Friday. At Heathrow, BA will return to Split this Friday.

Qantas Organised Crime Allegations

The Sydney Morning Herald and 60 Minutes (Nine Network Australia) have reported that an Australian federal intelligence operation code named “Project Brunello” has identified that up 150 staff at Qantas may have links to organised crime.

These employees are said to have used their “trusted insider” status at the airline to facilitate criminal activity. Qantas departments most vulnerable to infiltration are said to be its air freight division, and ground crew and baggage handling divisions.

One person who occupies a mid manager role at Qantas’ airport operations in Sydney is claimed to have links to criminal gangs and may have recruited criminals at the airline to facilitate the importation of narcotics into Australia.

Around 60 staff are said to have links to “serious drug offences” or “organised crime groups”.

Yesterday, Qantas issued a statement denying any knowledge of current investigations into organised crime at the airline.

Singapore Airlines Marks 50 Years’ Flying From London

Last week, Singapore Airlines marked 50 years of flying from London to Singapore.

It was on 3 June 1971 that Singapore Airlines’ predecessor Malaysia Singapore Airlines launched flights from London Heathrow to Singapore.

Flights initially operated three times weekly on Monday, Thursday and Saturday, departing at 13:10. These were operated with Boeing 707 aircraft, stopping en route at Rome, Bahrain and Mumbai. These were increased to daily from 1 April 1973, departing Heathrow at 14:10.

For a very brief period from December 1977, British Airways and Singapore Airlines operated a joint Concorde service from London Heathrow to Singapore via Bahrain. This cut the journey time from 15 hours and 25 minutes to 9 hours and 15 minutes.

Flights to Singapore had to use Indonesian airspace as Malaysia refused to allow the use of its airspace on environmental grounds. Flights were temporarily suspended after just seven days’ operation for over a year until Malaysia allowed use of its airspace in December 1978.

On 25 November 1983, Singapore Airlines upgraded its own route to a Boeing 747-300 aircraft four times a week. This aircraft featured an expanded Upper Deck, unique to Singapore Airlines and twice the size of other 747 aircraft, dubbed “BIG TOP”. This was used to accommodate the business class cabin with First Class and economy on the main deck. These flights were increased to daily from early 1984.

On 29 October 1984, Singapore operated the first non-stop flight from London to Singapore. Non-stop flights operated initially three times weekly, and increased to daily in 1985.

The 747 enabled Singapore to become a major hub for travel between Europe and Australia though it has faced increased competition from hubs in the Middle East.

Singapore Airlines has always prided itself on industry firsts and in March 2008 it was the first airline to operate scheduled passenger Airbus A380 flights from London Heathrow.

Also of note this week:

Airlines are invited to bid for remedy slots in connection with the AA / BA transatlantic joint business on routes from London airports to Boston, Dallas / Fort Worth and Miami from the summer 2022 season. This would be an ideal way for JetBlue to launch London Heathrow – Boston, though Delta and United are likely to bid for slots. (Mazars)

Qantas takes its Airbus A380s in storage in the Mojave desert for a quick spin. (Qantas)

Late post publication updates:

[Reserved for updates throughout the day]

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