Welcome to London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing for the week beginning 14 March 2022.
BA Franchise Comair Suspends Flights
In the 1990s, a time when BA had ambitions to be what it regarded as the first global airline, franchising was seen as means to extend its brand around the world.
At its peak, there were more than 10 franchises, carrying nearly 6 million passengers a year to around 100 destinations.
Over time, these have whittled down to just two airlines. In the UK, BA chose to allow British Mediterranean Airways and GB Airways to be sold to bmi and easyJet.
BA terminated its last UK franchise agreement with Loganair, with a terse statement from then CEO Willie Walsh that franchises had outlived their purpose.
Internationally, an attempt to set up a franchise airline in India never came to pass.
Whilst franchise agreements no doubt contain many protections for BA, allowing your brand on aircraft you don’t actually operate does carry risk.
Over the weekend the South African Civil Aviation Authority suspended Comair’s operating licence following a number of safety related incidents. Comair had expected the matter to be resolved swiftly, but that proved not to be the case. You can read extracts of their respective statements here.
South Africa is obviously an important market for BA and Comair helps provide connecting traffic, but these incidents will be reviewed by BA and its parent company IAG.
Staying with another franchise, there appears to be no immediate prospect of SUN-AIR resuming flights to Billund. These have been off sale for some time.
War In Ukraine
The war in Ukraine continues to affect commercial aviation.
According to analysis by Bloomberg, there are more than 500 commercial aircraft with a market value of more than $10 billion owned by lessors in Russia.
Following sanctions imposed by Western governments, all aircraft leases are cancelled by final effect by 28 March.
Just a small fraction of these aircraft have been recovered. It is feared that many of these may never be recovered by lessors. The Russian Federal Air Transport Agency has instructed airlines to stop flying internationally, limiting options to repossess aircraft.
John Dizard writes for the Financial Times that under the Cape Town Convention, to which Russia is a signatory, lessors should have the legal means to take back their aircraft in the event of a lease default.
There are also concerns amongst lessors that even if aircraft can be recovered, the documentation on the entire history of the aircraft and its parts may not be complete.
Also of interest this week:
Leeds Bradford Airport, currently without a direct link to London Heathrow, has abandoned plans for a new terminal, citing planning delays. (Leeds Bradford Airport)
Trail operations involving members of the public have been underway on the Elizabeth Line. Ahead of its planned opening in the next couple of months, architecture critic Rowan Moore looks at its new stations. (The Observer)
News from London Air Travel you may have missed:
American Airlines moves more routes to Heathrow Terminal 5. (London Air Travel)
BA moves to Manchester Terminal 3 from 27 March 2022. (London Air Travel)
BA returns to Sydney from 27 March 2022. (London Air Travel)
BA extends the suspension of Tokyo Haneda flights. (London Air Travel)
Loganair relaunches flights from London City & Heathrow to the Isle of Man. (London Air Travel)
Late post publication updates:
[Reserved for updates throughout the day]
Qantas plans to reinstate its full First Class ground service at Sydney and Melbourne airports from 27 March. The airline will reopen the International Business lounges. Its International First lounges, which have been open for all premium passengers, will revert to First Class only lounges. The International First lounges at Los Angeles and Singapore airports are yet to reopen.
BA has confirmed it is offering long haul passengers whose connecting flights on Comair are cancelled a rebooking onto AirLink or South African Airways.
Heathrow will no longer require passengers to wear a face mask from Wednesday 16 March, but they are still encouraged. BA and Virgin Atlantic are also expected to relax rules on flights to destinations where masks are not required
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