Welcome to London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing for the week beginning 23 May 2022.
The Elizabeth Line Opens Tomorrow
A new era begins in London this week.
Short of any last minute delays, or a surprise early launch, the Elizabeth line officially opens tomorrow.
The Elizabeth line comprises an entirely new railway between Paddington and Abbey Wood and rebranded TfL Rail services between Reading / Heathrow & Paddington and Liverpool Street & Shenfield.
These will initially operate as three separate lines. Trains will operate every five minutes between Paddington and Abbey Wood between 06:30 and 23:00 Monday to Saturday. Services will not stop at Bond Street, which is yet to open.
In terms of journeys to Heathrow, the immediate difference will be improved access to Paddington from the West End and Canary Wharf.
Subject to bringing together different signalling systems, passengers should be able to travel from Heathrow to Abbey Wood from the autumn. The entire line should be fully integrated from May next year.
The Elizabeth Line has, from its original concept, been decades in the making. With construction delays and budget overruns it has been mired in controversy.
That said, the railway and its new stations should impress. It should prove that, whilst new infrastructure projects are difficult, they are ultimately worth it and “build it and they come”.
London Post Elizabeth Line
The Elizabeth line launches at a difficult time for Transport for London.
Being heavily dependent on fare revenue for income, it has been hit hard by COVID-19. TfL’s relationship with central government is, at best, lukewarm.
The prospects for future projects in London are not good. Many in government view the concept of “levelling up” through the prism of a zero sum game between London and the regions.
Whilst Prime Minister Boris Johnson has expressed enthusiasm for Crossrail 2 it is officially paused as a condition of TfL receiving financial support from the government.
Other projects facing an uncertain future include an extension of the Bakerloo line and remodelling Holborn station.
Meanwhile Paris is pressing ahead with Grand Paris Express which involves 4 new metro lines, 200km of new track and 68 new stations.
Back to Heathrow, according to online journey planners rail services to Terminal 4 should restart from Tuesday 14 June. Terminal 4 Underground station will also reopen in June.
NB. Things could be worse. If you want an example of how ludicrous some agencies can be with costs, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority in New York managed to spend $30 million on a set of stairs.
BA Route Network Updates
A large number of BA summer seasonal short haul routes return at Heathrow this week from today:
23 May: Dalaman, Mykonos, Olbia, Rhodes, Split
24 May: Brindisi, Heraklion, Kefalonia, Ljubljana
25 May: Aktion
26 May: Kalamata, Perugia
27 May: Kos
28 May: Bastia, Bodrum, Figari Sud-Corse, Pula, Zakynthos
At Gatwick all planned short haul routes, bar Jersey, have now launched for the summer.
Seasonal routes to Bergerac, Faro and Mykonos are now operating at London City.
Turning to long haul, services to Orlando from Gatwick increase to twice weekly from today. New York JFK returns at Gatwick from 28 May.
Back to Heathrow, Mumbai increases to twice weekly from 30 May.
Houston, Johannesburg and Miami reduce to once daily from 30 May, 1 June and 4 June respectively.
Airbus A380 services return to Chicago O’Hare (BA295 / BA294) and Vancouver from 1 June.
Pittsburgh and Portland restart on 3 June. San Jose (California) follows on 13 June.
Many other routes are subject to ad hoc weekly frequency reductions throughout the summer.
Also of interest this week:
Why are wheelchair users left behind on aircraft? (BBC News)
Why more airlines are registering aircraft in Malta. (Financial Times)
News from London Air Travel you may have missed:
IAG orders 25 Boeing 737-8200 & 737-10 aircraft for delivery between 2023 and 2027. (London Air Travel)
BA extends use of Gold Upgrade Vouchers to American Airlines. (London Air Travel)
Late post publication updates:
[Reserved for updates throughout the day]
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