Virgin Atlantic Gains Heathrow Slots For Tampa, Florida

Virgin Atlantic has secured slots at London Heathrow for a new route to Tampa this winter.

London Air Travel » Airports

Tampa Cityscape
Tampa Cityscape (Image Credit: Visit Tampa Bay)

Airport Coordination Ltd, the body responsible for allocating slots at London airports, has published its first reports for the coming winter season.

Before going any further, these come with a number of health warnings:

  • They are not final, but do indicate which airlines want slots at Heathrow and for which routes.
  • Airlines may be allocated slots, but do not take them up. This can be for commercial reasons, or the slot timings are not suitable.
  • Airlines will make a number of route changes that do not feature in these reports.

All that said, here are some headlines:

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London Heathrow Terminal 4 Reopens 14 June 2022

London Heathrow Terminal 4 will reopen to passenger flights on 14 June 2022.

London Air Travel » Airports

Terminal 4, London Heathrow Airport (Image Credit: Terminal 4)

Terminal 4 at London Heathrow airport will reopen to passenger flights on Tuesday 14 June 2022.

The Terminal closed to departing flights in 2020 as Heathrow consolidated all flights in Terminals 2 & 5 in response to COVID-19.

There were doubts as to whether Terminal 4 would reopen. Before closing, the terminal hosted a relatively small number of flights.

Terminal 4 is not the easiest location to operate at as it is south of Heathrow’s two runways. That said, its reopening will relieve congestion at other terminals.

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Aeroflot’s Heathrow Airport Slots Forfeited

Airlines will be able to apply for Aeroflot’s former Heathrow slots from the winter 2022 season onwards.

London Air Travel » Airports

Airfield, London Heathrow Airport (Image Credit: Heathrow)

On 19 May 2022, the UK government announced sanctions against three Russian airlines in respect of their airport slots.

Aeroflot, Rossiya Airlines and Ural Airlines are all subject to asset freezes in the UK. They are prohibited from selling or leasing their UK airport slots. This follows previous measures prohibiting Russian aircraft from entering UK airspace.

Airport Coordination Ltd, the body responsible for allocating slots at Heathrow has today, 26 May 2022, published guidance on how this will work in practice.

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Heathrow Terminal 4 To Reopen By July 2022

Heathrow Airport plans to reopen Terminal 4 to passenger flights by July 2022.

London Air Travel » Airports

Terminal 4, London Heathrow Airport (Image Credit: Terminal 4)

Heathrow Airport plans to reopen Terminal 4 to passenger flights by July 2022.

Terminals 3 & 4 were originally closed in 2020 as the airport consolidated flights in Terminals 2 & 5 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

There were doubts as to whether Terminal 4 would ever reopen. Before COVID-19, it hosted a relatively small number of daily flights.

Terminal 4 is also not an easy location for airlines to operate from as it’s situated south of Heathrow’s two runways.

Whilst the UK government’s “Red List” was in place, Terminal 4 did act as an arrivals terminal for passengers arriving from red list countries.

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Gatwick South Terminal To Reopen

The South Terminal at London Gatwick Airport will reopen from Sunday 27 March 2022.

London Air Travel » Airports

British Airways Lounge - London Gatwick South Terminal
British Airways Lounge – London Gatwick South Terminal (Credit: British Airways)

The South Terminal at London Gatwick Airport is to reopen.

The South Terminal will reopen for passenger flights from the start of the summer 2022 season on Sunday 27 March 2022. The South Terminal closed in June 2020 with all flights consolidated in the North Terminal.

Airlines expected to operate from the South Terminal this summer include Aer Lingus, Air Baltic, BA, Eastern Airways, Norwegian and Vueling.

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London Heathrow Airport Adds £5 Drop Off Charge

From Monday 1 November 2021, a £5 charge will apply to vehicles dropping off passengers at the forecourts of London Heathrow Airport terminals.

London Air Travel » Airports

Terminal 3 Forecourt, London Heathrow Airport (Image Credit: Heathrow)

On Monday 1 November 2021 London Heathrow Airport will introduce a £5 charge for all vehicles dropping off departing passengers at its terminal forecourts.

This will apply to all vehicles, including private hire cars. There are limited exemptions and discounts for Blue Badge holders, emergency vehicles, motorbikes, coaches and staff buses.

Black cab taxis registered with London Taxi and Private Hire will benefit from a 100% discount until 1 April 2022 to allow Transport for London to consult on changes to meter charges. Private Hire Vehicles do not benefit from this discount.

The charge will apply 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. There are no given times or circumstances where it will be waived for all passengers.

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London Heathrow Terminal 3 To Reopen On 1 June 2021

Heathrow Terminal 3 will reopen on 1 June 2021 with a dedicated arrivals facility for passengers arriving from countries the UK government has placed on its “red list”.

London Air Travel » Airports

Heathrow Airport At Night
Heathrow Airport At Night (Image Credit: Heathrow)

London Heathrow Terminal 3 will reopen on Tuesday 1 June 2021 with a dedicated arrivals facility for passengers arriving from countries the UK government has placed on its “red list”.

This follows criticism that passengers arriving from “amber” and “green” countries have faced long queues at the UK border and have consequently spent a long time in close proximity to passengers from “red” countries who are required to quarantine on arrival at a dedicated facility.

Terminal 3, along with Terminal 4, closed to passenger flights over a year ago as Heathrow Airport progressively consolidated all airlines at Terminals 2 and 5 in response to COVID-19.

It is planned that the dedicated arrivals facility will transfer to Terminal 4 as soon as practicable. This should then allow Terminal 3 to fully reopen to passenger flights so that airlines such as Delta and Virgin Atlantic can transfer all their flights back to Terminal 3.

At the time of publication there has been no comment from individual airlines as to how the new arrangement will work. It’s not clear whether aircraft will continue to arrive at Terminals 2 and 5, with passengers bussed to Terminal 3 to clear the UK border.

The dedicated arrivals facility will only apply to flights direct from “red list” countries, and not to passengers who have travelled indirectly via amber / green countries.

Passengers due to arrive from “red list” countries from 1 June 2021 are advised to check the latest guidance from Heathrow and the status of their bookings with their airline.

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“Use It Or Lose It” Slot Rules Waived For Summer 2021

“Use it or lose it” slot rules are waived once again at UK airports for the summer 2021 season.

London Air Travel » Airports

London Heathrow Terminal 5A, May 2020
London Heathrow Terminal 5 (Image Credit: Heathrow)

Airlines at UK airports will be free to cancel flights over the summer of 2021 without losing their slots.

Airport Coordination Ltd, the body responsible for allocating slots at UK airports, has confirmed that the 80/20 “use it lose it” rule on airport slots will be waived at UK airports for the summer 2021 season.

This waiver has been in place since the start of the summer 2020 season. There had been complaints from some airlines that this waiver was benefiting incumbent airlines and inhibiting competition.

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easyJet & JetBlue Fail To Acquire Heathrow Slots

easyJet & JetBlue have been unsuccessful in applying for slots at London Heathrow Airport for the summer 2021 season.

London Air Travel » Airports

JetBlue Airbus A321 Aircraft, Boston Logan International Airport
JetBlue Airbus A321 Aircraft, Boston Logan International Airport (Image Credit: London Air Travel)

easyJet and JetBlue have both been unsuccessful in applying for slots at London Heathrow for the summer 2021 season.

easyJet and JetBlue had applied for 98 and 42 weekly slots respectively from the pool at Heathrow and none were awarded.

They were far from alone. Each season a large number of airlines apply to Airport Coordination Ltd for slots from a pool of available slots. Almost all get nothing. Slots from the pool are very hard to come by as they only become available when forfeited or handed back by an airline, which most go to great lengths to avoid.

Other airlines that were unsuccessful in applying for slots include Air Baltic, Alitalia Cityliner, Blue Air, Brussels Airlines, Eastern Airways, Loganair, WestJet and Widereo. Unsurprisingly, Norwegian did not apply for any slots at London Heathrow this summer. Only Shenzhen Airlines managed to secure a mere 4 weekly slots.

That does not mean that any of these airlines won’t serve Heathrow this summer. Blue Air will fly from London Heathrow to Bucharest from 1 December 2020 and Cluj-Napoca from 1 March 2021.

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“Use It Or Lose It” Slot Rules Waived For Winter Season

Airlines will benefit from an extension of a waiver of “use it or lose it” slot rules until 27 March 2021.

London Air Travel » Airports

London Heathrow Terminal 5A, May 2020
London Heathrow Terminal 5 (Image Credit: Heathrow)

Airport Coordination Ltd, the body responsible for governing the allocation of slots at London airports, has granted an extension of the waiver of “use it or lose it” rules until the end of the winter season.

However, reform of the slot waiver process is proposed by the European Commission to address concerns that it restricts competition.

Ordinarily airlines are required to use their airport slots for 80% of a season to avoid forfeiting them. Following a ruling by the European Commission airlines are currently benefiting from a waiver of this rule. This means they can cancel as many flights as they like without risk of losing their slots.

There had been doubts as to whether the waiver would be extended into the winter season. Indeed, only three weeks ago, ACL advised airlines that they should plan for the waiver not to be extended into the winter.

European Commissioner for Transport Adina Valeăn has today, Monday 14 September, issued a statement announcing the Commission’s intention to extend the slot waiver.

The Commission has published a report for the European Parliament and Council identifying shortcomings with the current process, namely that incumbent airlines are not handing slots back to slot coordinators in sufficient time for others to use on a temporary basis.

Adina Valeăn has made it clear in her statement that as full slot waiver has been granted for the whole winter season, incumbent airlines are expected to follow the spirit of the waiver and hand back slots sufficiently early for other airlines to use them.

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