Welcome to London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing for the week beginning 28 June 2021.
Gatwick Airport Confident BA Will Stay
Amid continued speculation about the future of BA at Gatwick, airport CEO Stewart Wingate is confident the airline will maintain a presence there.
This is at least as far as long haul flights are concerned. In yesterday’s Sunday Times, Stewart was quoted as saying:
It’s very clear to us that BA’s full intention is to continue flying long-haul routes from Gatwick, probably with a fleet of 14 or 15 aircraft
Many years ago BA did in fact look at transferring all Gatwick long haul flights to Heathrow, but the airport refused to entertain any possibility of negotiating a special deal on landing fees. This is likely to be a factor in BA retaining a presence at Gatwick.
As far as short haul flights for BA and its fellow IAG subsidiaries are concerned, much will depend on what slot alleviations are granted for the winter season.
Last week, Airport Coordination Ltd proposed a gradual lifting of existing slot waivers to allow for new entrants, particularly at airports where airlines have effectively withdrawn all flights.
ACL proposes that the current 80 / 20 “use it or lose it” rule is changed to 70 / 30 to allow for short notice cancellations.
Airlines that plan to hand back slots for the entire winter season should do so by no later than 31 August 2021. This should also be capped at 50% of their slot portfolio to prevent airlines temporarily handing back all slots for the season by default. Any remaining slots must be handed back no later than 4 weeks before their planned operation to benefit from alleviation.
The final decision on continued slot alleviations rests with the Secretary of State for Transport.
BA IT Outage
One benefit of a vastly reduced schedule for an airline is you can take your IT systems offline for maintenance.
Over the past few months BA has periodically taken ba.com down overnight for maintenance. Whatever work has been done didn’t prevent problems with BA’s reservations system yesterday evening. ba.com was also taken down entirely for just over an hour. Systems appeared to return to normal at around 22:00 BST.
BA Route Network Updates
BA continues to gradually reinstate a number of short haul routes. The airline should add the following routes at London Heathrow this week:
Monday 28 June: Amman, Paphos, Prague, Sofia
Wednesday 30 June: Zagreb
Friday 2 July: Lyon, Pristina and Valencia
Saturday 3 July: Bologna, Catania, Milan Malpensa
BA’s new codeshare with Loganair on London Heathrow to Teesside also comes into effect from Thursday 1 July.
At London City, BA CityFlyer returns to Ibiza and Menorca on Friday.
BA has also reinstated limited weekly flights from London Heathrow to Kuwait City and Johannesburg. Tokyo Haneda restarts on Friday 2 July.
As ever, this is all indicative and subject to change at very short notice.
The Long View
This Tuesday at 09:00 BST “The Long View” on BBC Radio 4 takes the look at the parallels between a forced landing of BOAC aircraft 50 years ago and the recent diversion of a Ryanair aircraft to Belarus.
In July 1971 a BOAC VC10 aircraft en route from Rome to Khartoum and Dar Es Salaam with 108 passengers and 11 crew on board was forced to land in Benghazi, Libya after it entered Libyan air space. An attempt to turn back to Rome was met with a warning that this would put the aircraft in danger.
Once on the ground, Libyan security offers boarded the aircraft and two Sudanese leaders were ordered to leave the aircraft, which subsequently returned to London Heathrow safely. The incident prompted a complaint by the UK to the United Nations.
Jonathan Freedland speaks to Victor Mallet who was a passenger on the flight.
Also of note this week:
United Airlines is expected to announce this week an order for more than 150 Boeing 737 MAX and 50 Airbus A321neo aircraft to in what has been dubbed its largest order in history. (Bloomberg)
Late post publication updates:
[Reserved for updates throughout the day]
The Hong Kong government has banned passenger flights from the UK landing at Hong Kong with effect from 1 July 2021. BA passenger flights will operate on a one way only basis from Hong Kong from 30 June 2021. (Hong Kong government)
The prospect of a travel corridor between the UK & the US opening this summer is said to be increasingly unlikely according to officials who have briefed The Financial Times.
This is said to be due partly to the spread of the Delta variant in the UK, the number of US government departments that have oversight of travel rules, and that the Astra Zeneca vaccine does not have approval in the US.
“This is not going to happen soon. We thought July was the earliest we might be able to get something in place, but now it’s looking more like September.”
“The Biden administration is in no hurry . . . and the chances of anything happening before August now seem to be zilch”
London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing is published every Monday morning at 06:00 BST and updated throughout the day. If you have any tips or stories please contact us. You can also follow us on Twitter for breaking news throughout the week.