Welcome to London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing for the week beginning 11 October 2021.
Singapore Airlines Adds “Vaccinated Travel Lanes” Flight At Heathrow
Singapore Airlines has added a dedicated “Vaccinated Travel Lanes” flight (SQ317) from London Heathrow with effect from Tuesday 19 October.
This means that fully vaccinated passengers, subject to pre-departure application & testing requirements, do not need to quarantine on arrival in Singapore.
They were first introduced in September for travel on designated flights from Brunei and Germany to Singapore.
On Saturday 9 October the Singapore government announced VTLs would be extended to the UK with effect from Tuesday 19 October. Canada, Denmark, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and the United States were also added to the VTL programme.
The principal prerequisite is that vaccinated passengers must fly to Singapore on a designated VTL flight.
Passengers must still take a PCR test within 48 hours before departure to Singapore and another PCR test on arrival. No further PCR tests will be required in Singapore. Passengers must also have not visited a non-VTL country within 14 days of their flight to Singapore.
Passengers must also apply for a Vaccinated Travel Pass through a dedicated portal.
It is likely that BA will follow suit an introduce dedicated VTL flights. It should be added that BA does not have permission from the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore to accept passengers flying on from Singapore to third countries, except for those connecting onto JetStar.
Willie Walsh Takes Aim At Heathrow
When Willie Walsh was CEO of BA and IAG, he was no fan of many airport operators.
Airlines do all the work in attracting passengers, whilst airports sit back and collect hefty passenger charges, was the refrain.
Heathrow was particularly criticised for its lack of commerciality and poor cost management.
Many airports have sought to increase charges to recover losses from COVID-19. Heathrow was described at last week’s IATA AGM as being “off the chart” for increasing charges by 90%:
Let me remind you what Heathrow said only a few months ago; “We continue to work closely with airlines on the impact of COVID 19, listening and responding to their needs and priorities for the months and years ahead.” Are you kidding me? Do they honestly expect us to believe that a 90% increase in charges will help airlines?
We all want to put COVID-19 behind us. But placing the financial burden of a crises of apocalyptic proportions on the back of your customers, just because you can, is a commercial strategy that only a monopoly supplier could dream up. Reducing costs—not increasing charges—must be at top of everyone’s agenda.
Expect this one to run and run.
BA Route Network Changes
There remains uncertainty as to exactly when in November restrictions on travel to the US will be lifted.
Industry figures such as JetBlue’s Robin Hayes expects the US to lift restrictions closer to the Thanksgiving holiday than 1 November. That said, BA adds three routes to the US this week. Philadelphia, pictured above, restarts tomorrow, 12 October. Austin and San Diego also return this Wednesday 13 October.
Also at Heathrow, BA returns to Dalaman this Saturday 16 October. Antalya and Bodrum follow next Thursday 21 & Saturday 23 October. Marrakesh also restarts on 21 October.
Cancun is also confirmed to return at Gatwick from Friday 22 October. Whilst BA confirmed last week the return of Cape Town in early November, many suspended routes to the Caribbean and South America are not expected to return until December.
In case you missed it:
BA reintroduces the Airbus A380 on flights to Dubai, Los Angeles and Miami. (London Air Travel)
BA pilots vote in favour of a new subsidiary airline company at London Gatwick. (London Air Travel)
Also of note this week:
Bamboo Airways has teased a new route launch from London, expected to be Heathrow, on its Instagram feed.
Qantas expects to order Ultra Long Range aircraft capable of flying from London to Sydney non-stop in early 2022. (Executive Traveller)
A history of Aeroflot in pictures. (The Guardian)
Late post publication updates:
[Reserved for updates throughout the day]
KLM will operate two Vaccinated Departure Lanes flights from Amsterdam to Singapore a week from 1 November 2021. These will operate on Monday & Saturday under flight number KL833.
“Bonza” is a new airline due to launch in Australia in 2022. Backed by the private equity firm 777 Partners it aims to fly on domestic routes not served by Qantas or Virgin Australia using Boeing 737-8 aircraft. (Sydney Morning Herald)
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