London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing – 14 June 2021

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British Airways aircraft on the ground at London Heathrow Airport.
British Airways Aircraft At Sunset, London Heathrow

Welcome to London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing for the week beginning 14 June 2021.

A Second Lost Summer

Ahead of the G7 Summit in Cornwall last week, all airlines operating flights between the UK and the US issued a joint statement calling for transatlantic travel between the two to be reopened.

Curiously, it was only BA and Virgin Atlantic that really promoted the statement. The actions of their US counterparts were much more muted.

This is possibly because they have a buoyant and a substantially larger domestic market – typically five times the size of their international markets – to keep them in business. Or perhaps they knew it would fall on deaf ears. Which it did.

The government is expected to today confirm at a press conference that the planned lifting of all COVID-19 restrictions in England on 21 June 2021 will be delayed by up to four weeks. It is a safe assumption that the “green list” will not be extended during this time.

The UK travel industry appears to have few friends in government at present. There are growing calls for the furlough scheme to be extended to April next year, which would cover the entirety of the winter season.

British Airways has also called for the government to provide further sector specific support with subsidies to cover the cost of maintaining grounded aircraft.

Meanwhile in Europe, according to Politico, the European Council is expected to today formally adopt a streamlined set of travel rules for EU Member States.

In what won’t be the last airline casualty of COVID-19, last week Air Antwerp, which flew between London City and Antwerp, confirmed it will not resume flights in August as planned. Its website is still live but the airline has stopped taking bookings.

As has been widely reported Aer Lingus Regional franchise operator Stobart Air suspended operations last week after a deal to sell the airline fell through. Full details of replacement flights covering its former routes are available from Aer Lingus.

South African Airways

The South African government confirmed last week it has selected The Takatso Consortium as the preferred Strategic Equity Partner for South African Airways.

The consortium will own 51% of the airline and the state will retain 49% ownership. The intention is to eventually list the relaunched airline.

The consortium comprises Harith General Partners, which invests in African infrastructure and owns Lanseria International Airport, and South African based aviation group Global Aviation which launched the local airline LIFT last year.

A due diligence exercise is now underway and once this is complete the consortium will outline plans for the airline’s route network, fleet, brand and global partnerships.

Staying with South Africa, Virgin Atlantic confirmed last week it plans to reinstate passenger flights from London Heathrow to Johannesburg on 24 June.

The End Of “The American Way”

During the COVID-19 pandemic a large number of airlines have suspended the printing of in flight magazines.

American Airlines confirmed last week that its own magazine “The American Way”, which could reach up to 16.7 million passengers a month, will cease publication this month.

Whilst passengers do have an ever increasing of options to browse digital media in flight, these are not always failsafe. As cabins becomes ever more standardised, the in flight magazine was one of the few remaining points of brand differentiation between airlines.

Also, with travel magazines such as Lonely Planet and The Sunday Times Travel Magazine having suspended publication, printed travel publications are dwindling rapidly.

Back issues of “The American Way” to 2007 are available from its publisher Ink Publishing.

Also of note this week:

The Secretary of State for Transport has upheld the decision of the CAA to revoke the operating licence of FBE Realisations 2021 Ltd (formerly Flybe Ltd). This appeal was, what would be described in legal circles as, “a bit of a punt”. This does not affect the “new” Flybe which last week secured 86 weekly slots at Heathrow from BA for the winter season. (CAA)

Virgin Atlantic Senior First Officer Lauren Wigglesworth on being a pilot and becoming a parent during COVID-19. (Virgin Atlantic)

The Art of Innovation, which explores how art and science have inspired each other, on transport artist Roy Nockholds’ abstract painting “Supersonic”. (BBC Radio 4)

Late post publication updates:

[Reserved for updates throughout the day]

WestJet has advised it plans to reinstate flights from Gatwick in July with twice weekly flights to Calgary and three times weekly flights to Toronto. The airline will also launch a new twice weekly route between Amsterdam & Calgary on 5 August 2021.

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