London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing – 6 December 2021

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Flybe De Havilland Canada Dash 8-400 Aircraft, London City Airport
Flybe De Havilland Canada Dash 8-400 Aircraft, London City Airport (Image Credit: London City Airport)

Welcome to London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing for the week beginning 6 December 2021.

Flybe To Be Sold Again?

Today’s Telegraph has an interesting story – not online at the time of “going to press” – that Cyrus Capital is looking to sell Flybe.

Cyrus Capital was a member of the Connect Airways consortium that bought Flybe along with Virgin Atlantic and Stobart Air. It was described at the time by then IAG CEO Willie Walsh as “a business model that doesn’t work with shareholders that have suddenly cottoned on that they’ve bought a dog”.

Cyrus bought the assets of Flybe, using a vehicle known as Thyme Opco Ltd – now renamed Flybe Ltd, after it went into administration in March 2020.

Last month, Flybe announced with great fanfare that it is to start operations from a base in Birmingham in early 2022. It also plans to have a fleet of up to 32 De Havilland Canada Dash 8-400 turboprop aircraft.

The Telegraph reports that the owners of Flybe are looking for a new investor to operate Flybe in partnership for around a year before the airline is sold. Airlines such as Aurigny and Blue Islands are said to have been sounded out.

It is claimed that a sale of the airline would come with the London Heathrow bmi remedy slots that that the “old” Flybe acquired from BA. These 186 weekly slots, equivalent to 12 return flights a day, were taken back by BA in June 2020 after Flybe entered into administration. They were readvertised to potential bidders, but with a warning they were subject to a legal dispute.

However, a filing with Airport Coordination Ltd from earlier this year shows that 86 weekly slots for the winter 2021 season were transferred back from BA to Flybe.

This latest development will fuel speculation that the motives behind the purchase of Flybe’s assets out of administration were primarily to realise the value of its Heathrow remedy slots.

This is particularly so when the wisdom of launching a new regional airline is questionable after many rival airlines have moved to replace the routes formerly operated by Flybe and business travel is likely to remain depressed well into 2022.

BA Restores Day Flights From New York JFK

One of the more reliable pleasures of long haul flying are transatlantic day flights from the US East Coast to London.

There’s a much more relaxed atmosphere on board than “Red Eye” flights, particularly in Club World. There’s no rush to get to sleep over the short flight across the pond. Nor is there the sometimes visible tension between passengers who want to enjoy the full in flight service and those who wants lights out and complete silence in the cabin from take off to landing.

This Friday 10 December, a familiar and much missed flight number to transatlantic flyers returns: BA178 from New York JFK.

Day flights from Boston were due to also restart on this day but have now been pushed back.

Also of note this week:

The inside story of flights KL598 and KL592 which departed Cape Town and Johannesburg for Amsterdam Schiphol on 25 November as the world learned of the Omicron variant and governments imposed travel bans. (Wired)

The Financial Times interviews easyJet CEO Johan Lundgren. The airline has adopted a more cautious approach to reinstating capacity compared to the more bullish Ryanair and Wizzair. “In times of uncertainty, there will always be a space for big mouths who fill the vacuum with endless expectations of growth in the long term.” Last week easyJet confirmed it has acquired some Gatwick slots from BA for this summer. (Financial Times)

Where do we fly within the UK? A survey of domestic flights by statistician Carl Baker. (House of Commons Library)

What did a year without flying do to the world? The Guardian looks at the impact of the grounding of flights on the world from families, pilots to climate scientists. (The Guardian)

What does it take to change an engine on a Finnair Airbus A350? (Finnair)

It’s 30 years this month since Pan American World Airways suspended operations. The airline was at the time of its collapse a shadow of its former self having sold many route authorities, including transatlantic routes to Heathrow and Europe. An attempt to reinvent itself as a smaller airline focused on Latin America and the Caribbean failed. CNN Travel takes a look back at, and this is not something you can say often, one of America’s most enduring and iconic aviation brands. (CNN)

A number of airlines have announced deals to add programming from streaming service HBO Max to their in flight entertainment systems. Virgin Atlantic is the latest adding shows such as “Friends: The Reunion” from this month. (Virgin Atlantic)

Late post publication updates:

[Reserved for updates throughout the day]

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