London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing – 22 November 2021

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Virgin Atlantic Airbus A330-300 G-VKSS, Boston Logan Airport
Virgin Atlantic Airbus A330-300 G-VKSS, Boston Logan Airport (Image Credit: London Air Travel)

Welcome to London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing for the week beginning 22 November 2021.

Virgin Atlantic Seeks To Raise £400 Million

Virgin Atlantic is reported to be seeking new funds of up to £400 million to see the airline through the winter.

On Saturday Mark Kleinman of Sky News broke the story that Virgin Atlantic was seeking new funds from its shareholders Virgin Group and Delta Air Lines, as well as other creditors.

This was expected. When Virgin Atlantic undertook a solvent recapitalisation last year it was said that continued travel restrictions into 2021 would require further fund raising by the airline.

Last week, Virgin Group sold a further stake in Virgin Galactic of $300 million to support Virgin businesses. Last year, Virgin Atlantic’s 49% shareholder Delta Air Lines said it could not provide any direct financial support due to the state support it had received from the US government under the The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Delta did, however, agree to defer certain payments owed to it.

In August of this year Sky News also reported that Virgin was seeking an Initial Public Offering to raise funds. For anyone who has followed Virgin Atlantic over the years, a public listing for the airline is hard to visualise. This is postponed indefinitely.

Airline Route Network Updates

Aer Lingus resumes flights from London Heathrow to Cork today following the closure of the airport runway.

Qantas also restarts scheduled flights from Heathrow to Melbourne via Darwin next Monday.

Next week will see BA restart a number of routes to South America. Flights from Heathrow to Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo and Santiago restart on Wednesday 1 December. Buenos Aires follows on Thursday 2 December. This was due to resume via Sao Paulo, but will initially operate non-stop.

Ad hoc cancellations across BA’s route network continue, including on transatlantic routes.

Also of note this week:

Last week, Penguin published “Flying Blind” by Bloomberg journalist Peter Robison. This documents the corporate malfeasance at Boeing, with a focus on financial engineering rather than technical excellence, that led to the Boeing 737 MAX failures. (The Times)

Last week Transport for London gave warning that Tube and bus services were at risk of significant cuts and “managed decline” if it does not secure a new emergency funding deal with the government. The current deal expires on Saturday 11 December. Capital projects such as signalling upgrades to the Piccadilly Line are also at risk. The Observer speaks to Commissioner of TfL Andy Byford who returned to the organisation at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. (The Observer)

Take a tour of the modernist history of Heathrow, courtesy of Modernism in Metroland’s Twitter account. (Twitter)

Late post publication updates:

[Reserved for updates throughout the day]

The Competition & Markets Authority is to review IAG’s planned acquisition of Air Europa. It will be focused on whether it results in a lessening of competition in the UK. The CMA is inviting submissions from interested parties and has until 19 January 2022 to decide whether to pursue this further. This is separate to an ongoing investigation by the European Commission. (CMA)

The UK government will provide £1.8 million of funding to Cornwall County Council for Eastern Airways to operate flights between London Gatwick and Newquay for 2 years as a Public Service Obligation route. Flights will launch on Thursday 9 December 2021. The government will also provide £2.5m to fund flights between London and Dundee, currently operated by Loganair from London City, for a further two years until 2023.

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