British Airways is the largest airline at London City and London Heathrow airports. It also has a substantial presence at London Gatwick.
It is a subsidiary of International Airlines Group which also owns Aer Lingus, Iberia and Vueling who all have a presence in London.
BA is also a member of the Oneworld alliance and many of its fellow members such as American Airlines and Cathay Pacific have a substantial presence in London. BA therefore features very heavily on this site.
British Airways’ franchise partner SUN-AIR of Scandinavia A/S has decided to suspend all scheduled flights until August 2021.
SUN-AIR, which operated routes from London City and Manchester to Billund, had been progressively delaying the resumption of scheduled flights.
It has now decided to suspend all scheduled flights until August 2021. These may restart earlier, but this will depend on a significant improvement on market conditions. This is likely to be only achieved by an easing of travel restrictions in Europe which in turn requires a widely available vaccine against COVID-19.
BA has recently reinstated scheduled flights from London Heathrow to Billund. Its schedules are of course subject to change in the coming weeks as countries in Europe reintroduce lockdowns and travel restrictions.
SUN-AIR also operates a shuttle between Manchester, Cambridge and Gothenburg on behalf of AstraZeneca which it will reinstate at its request.
British Airways has introduced a modified First Class cabin on its latest Boeing 777-300ER aircraft.
BA was due to take delivery of four new Boeing 777-300ER aircraft this year. It has recently received the first of these aircraft, which bears the registration G-STBM.
As expected, this aircraft features a smaller eight seat First Class cabin. The First Class seat is largely based on the First Class cabin on Boeing 787-9 aircraft, but with the addition of sliding door for complete privacy. This follows the decision to add a door to BA’s new Club Suite on all aircraft.
The new Boeing 777-300ER aircraft is currently operating selected flights between London Heathrow and New York JFK (BA113 & BA114).
In total, the aircraft has 8 seats in First Class, 76 seats in Club World, 40 in World Traveller Plus and 136 in World Traveller.
Clearly, passengers will have their own views on the benefit of complete privacy versus being able to keep an eye on movements in the cabin, and not being out of sight of cabin crew.
BA had planned to refurbish its 12 other Boeing 777-300ER aircraft this year which were delivered to the airline between 2010 and 2014. This is to not only reduce the size of the First Class cabin from 14 to 8 seats, but also retrofit the Club Suite and “densify” World Traveller from 9 seats to 10 seats abreast.
More broadly, given the retirement of the entire Boeing 747 fleet and possible conversion of some four class Boeing 777-200 aircraft to three class, it is inevitable that First Class will be withdrawn from many routes in the medium term. The seating configuration of future deliveries of Airbus A350-1000 and Boeing 777-9 aircraft is also likely to be reviewed.
Sean Doyle has replaced Alex Cruz as Chief Executive of British Airways with immediate effect.
Sean was Chief Executive of BA’s fellow IAG subsidiary Aer Lingus. He knows BA very well, having previously held a number of senior management roles at the airline, including director, network, fleet and alliances.
Alex will remain non-Executive Chairman of BA for an interim period. These changes were announced today, Monday 12 October 2020, by new IAG CEO Luis Gallego who recently replaced founding IAG CEO Willie Walsh.
Alex has held the role of Chief Executive and Chairman of BA since April 2016, having previously been CEO of fellow IAG subsidiary Vueling.
There have been turbulent times during Alex’s tenure (though you could say that of almost every BA Chief Executive), notably the high profile IT power failure of 2017, the theft of customer data from ba.com in 2018 and an an industrial dispute with BA pilots which overshadowed the airline’s centenary celebrations in 2019 and public criticism over the planned restructuring of the airline post COVID-19.
On a more positive note, Alex oversaw the introduction of BA’s new “Club Suite” long-haul business class cabin, pre COVID-19 improvements to catering in premium cabins and the roll-out of a new lounge concept around the world. There is often a misguided view that when BA CEOs make unpopular decisions, any other CEO would act differently.
Many will speculate as to the reasons for Alex’s departure. It’s not unusual for a new CEO to make management charges. IAG do also like to move executives around the group. The fact that Alex is leaving immediately and has not moved to an alternative role in IAG suggests it was not voluntary. It was clear from Alex’s very well rehearsed recent appearance before the Transport Select Committee that it had been stung by criticism by MPs over the airline’s restructuring.
Sean Doyle has a full in-tray. In the coming months he will make decisions around BA’s fleet plans, route network and airline partnerships that will shape the future of the airline for the rest of the decade as it seeks to recover from COVID-19. Like his predecessors, Sean will have to make unpopular decisions that will put him under considerable public scrutiny.
The next major update from IAG is likely when it presents its third quarter results on Friday 30 October 2020.
British Airways has officially confirmed its route network from London City, Gatwick and Heathrow airports for October 2020.
Note: This article has been updated throughout the month as further changes are confirmed.
The airline has issued maps of its short-haul and long-haul networks, with associated flight frequencies. Full details are below. You can also download PDF versions of BA’s long-haul and short-haul route networks.
At London Heathrow, BA has in recent months added flights to Bahrain, Barbados, Cape Town, Johannesburg, Kuala Lumpur, Lahore, Male, Newark, and Tokyo Haneda.
As far as short-haul is concerned, BA resumed flights in October to Brussels, Gothenburg, Luxembourg, Milan Linate, Stuttgart, Reykjavik and Valencia. Many summer seasonal routes come to an end.
Many Gatwick short-haul route continue to operate at Heathrow in October. These include Bilbao, Jersey, Kos, Lanzarote, Madeira, Naples, Porto, Seville and Tenerife.
At London City, BA will serve Edinburgh, Glasgow, Belfast City, Dublin, Amsterdam, Berlin Tegel, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, Zurich, Nice, Florence, Palma de Mallorca and Ibiza.
The UK government has introduced restrictions on international and domestic travel from 5 November until 2 December. A very substantial number of flight cancellations for November and December are highly likely. BA is expected to all flights at Gatwick until December and operate a skeleton schedule at London City and Heathrow. BA will also close all of its London Heathrow lounges and the First Wing from 5 November.
Passengers who are flying must also ensure they comply with pre-departure and entry requirements. Links to country-by-country guidance and relevant forms are on ba.com
All routes are from London Heathrow unless otherwise stated. Many routes, particularly at Gatwick, do not operate for the whole of October.
CANADA Toronto – 7x weekly Montreal – 3x weekly (suspended during November)
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA New York JFK – 14x weekly Chicago O’Hare – 12x weekly Boston – 7x weekly San Francisco – 7x weekly Los Angeles – 7x weekly Miami – 7x weekly Washington Dulles – 7x weekly Dallas / Fort Worth – 7x weekly Seattle – 3x weekly Houston – 3x weekly Atlanta – 7x weekly (frequencies reduced during November) Philadelphia – 2x weekly Newark – Daily from 25 October.
CENTRAL & SOUTH AMERICA Sao Paulo – 7x weekly Buenos Aires – 3x weekly Mexico City – 4x weekly Santiago – 1x weekly from 7 November
CARIBBEAN Barbados – 7x weekly (Gatwick from 2 October & Heathrow from 17 October – frequencies reduced during November) Bermuda – 4x weekly (Gatwick) St Lucia – 5x weekly (Gatwick) Antigua – 5x weekly (Gatwick) Kingston – 3x weekly (Gatwick) Cayman Islands – 0.5x weekly (Heathrow)
The planned launch of a new route to Montego Bay from Gatwick is postponed to 12 December.
AFRICA Accra – 7x weekly Abuja – 7x weekly Lagos – 7x weekly Nairobi – 5x weekly Cairo – 7x weekly (flight number changes from 25 October) Johannesburg – 7x weekly Cape Town – 7x weekly
BA’s franchise partner in Africa Comair has suspended flights until December 2020 at the earliest. For passengers with domestic connections from Cape Town and Johannesburg, BA has secured a rebooking agreement with Airlink.
MIDDLE EAST Tel Aviv – 7x weekly Dubai – 7x weekly Kuwait – 3x weekly Riyadh – 1x weekly (delayed to 2 November) Bahrain – 3x weekly Amman – 1x weekly (from 25 October with short-haul aircraft)
SOUTH & CENTRAL ASIA Mumbai – 5x weekly Delhi – 7x weekly Bangalore – 4x weekly Hyderabad – 4x weekly Chennai – 3x weekly Islamabad – 7x weekly Lahore – 4x weekly (new route from 12 October)
INDIAN OCEAN Seychelles – 2x weekly (from 10 October) Male – 3x weekly (transfers to Heathrow from 16 October)
FAR EAST Hong Kong – 7x weekly (flight numbers change from 25 October) Singapore – 4x weekly (flight numbers change from 25 October) Tokyo Haneda – 3x weekly Shanghai – 2x weekly Kuala Lumpur – 4x weekly
British Airways has confirmed that it has suspended all short-haul flights at London Gatwick until Sunday 28 March 2021 at the earliest.
BA will continue to operate many Gatwick short-haul flights at London Heathrow for the winter season.
This was expected as many Gatwick short-haul flights were showing as operating at Heathrow throughout the winter season. Following a relaxation of “use it or lose it” slot rules for the winter season, BA can cancel flights at Gatwick without forfeiting slots.
At present, there is little visibility on short-haul flight schedules. BA Gatwick routes expected to operate Heathrow throughout the winter include Alicante, Bordeaux, Gran Canaria, Grenoble, Jersey, Lanzarote, Malta, Naples, Porto, Salzburg, Tenerife, Turin and Verona.
These flights will retain their original Gatwick flight numbers which begin with a 2. This means they may show on some websites as having been diverted.
BA will continue to operate some long-haul flights at Gatwick. At present, BA is operating limited flights to Antigua, Barbados, Bermuda, Kingston and St Lucia. Many routes are expected to return in October, including Cancun, Providenciales and Punta Cana. BA will also launch a new route to Montego Bay in October.
Please see here for BA’s full route network from London City, Gatwick and Heathrow airports for October 2020.
British Airways will reinstate more long-haul routes in October as it gradually rebuilds its network at London Heathrow.
Routes that are confirmed as returning in October include:
Bahrain – 3 times weekly from 1 October Cape Town -Daily from 1 October Johannesburg – Daily from 1 October Kuala Lumpur – 4 times weekly from 2 October Montreal – 3 times weekly from 2 October Riyadh – 3 times weekly from 1 October The Seychelles – 2 times weekly from 10 October Tokyo Haneda – 3 times weekly from 1 October
BA will also operate one-off flights to Grand Cayman on 1 and 15 October.
Passengers must comply with entry restrictions and route specific procedures which can include:
Restrictions on entry based on citizenship and purpose of travel.
Evidence of a negative PCR COVID-19 test.
Completion and submission of a medical declaration before travel.
Advance registration with overseas authorities.
Some routes closing for sale up to 7 days before travel.
Restrictions on transit passengers.
Links to country-by-country guidance and relevant forms that must be completed before departure are on ba.com
Some countries require forms to be completed and submitted to relevant authorities 24-72 hours before travel. Passengers who do not comply may be denied boarding.
British Airways CEO & Chairman appeared before the House of Commons Transport Select Committee today, Wednesday 16 September.
Alex’s former boss Willie Walsh appeared before the Select Committee in May. IAG formally rejected the findings of the committee which criticised the airline for planning large scale redundancies and proposing changes to staff terms and conditions. Willie Walsh later branded their views “completely irrelevant” to The Sunday Times. Alex Cruz also criticised their report as based on rumours and emotions and not fact.
Alex was the sole witness in the hearing. Those who are familiar with Select Committee hearings will know that there can be a fair amount of grandstanding by MPs. Today was no exception.
Alex was clearly well prepared for the hearing. This was, perhaps, in the knowledge that not only MPs, but also his new boss Luis Gallego, would be watching. At times it seemed like he was venturing from answering MP’s questions into advocacy. At the start of the hearing he was clearly trying to get ahead of their questions and criticisms. Alex was also far more politically attuned, with references to the airline’s role in a post-Brexit UK.
If you were to sum up the differences between the performances of Willie Walsh and Alex Cruz, Willie sounded like he had been briefed by IAG’s lawyers whereas Alex sounded like he had been briefed by BA’s PR team.
In terms of some of the main points:
Alex criticised the decision by the GMB and Unite trade unions to wait some 73 days before engaging with the airline on negotiations on redundancies and changes to terms and conditions.
Alex was keen to emphasise the airline has gone far beyond the minimum statutory consultation in order to secure an agreement with the unions.
As of last Friday, 7,200 staff have already left the airline. The total number of redundancies is expected to be approximately 10,000. Unsurprisingly, the threat to “fire and rehire” has been lifted, which Alex maintained was there as a legal technicality to cover all possible outcomes.
Quarantine and COVID-19 Testing
Lack of passenger confidence in flying is considered a serious impediment to the recovery of flying.
Last week, BA flew 187,000 passengers compared to nearly a million in the same week of 2019. The airline is currently burning through £20 million of cash a day.
Alex criticised the government’s approach to imposing mandatory 14 day quarantine on arriving passengers from high risk countries at short notice without taking into account regional considerations. This is not only disrupting passengers’ plans but also its own operations.
BA has called for a trial of different COVID-19 testing regimes on the London – New York corridor to reduce the mandatory quarantine period to the minimum possible.
British Airways is to reinstate a number of long-haul routes at London Heathrow in the coming days.
The airline will also launch a new four times weekly service from London Heathrow to Lahore from Monday 12 October 2020, complementing its existing service to Islamabad which has also increased in frequency.
The following routes will also return from mid-September onwards:
Africa Abuja – Daily from Wednesday 16 September
Central & South America Buenos Aires – Initially only on Friday 25 September Mexico City – Twice weekly on Thursday 24 September
North America Atlanta – Daily from Saturday 19 September Grand Cayman – Only on 17 September, 1 October, 15 October Houston – Three times weekly from Sunday 20 September Philadelphia – Twice weekly from Sunday 20 September
Flights to Chicago O’Hare will also benefit from twice daily passenger flights on some days in late September.
Please see here for a full list of where BA will fly to in September.
Passengers are of course subject to entry restrictions. BA has provided a list of links to country-by-country guidance and relevant forms that must be completed before departure on its website.
Like other long-haul routes that have been reinstated at Heathrow, these have already been served by cargo-only flights. With airlines adopting a laser like approach to cash conservation, BA is likely to reinstate scheduled passenger flights where there is sufficient underlying cargo demand. There are few long-haul routes left where at Heathrow BA is operating only cargo flights such as Bangkok, Johannesburg and Kuala Lumpur.
You could be forgiven for thinking you had heard the last about the bmi remedy slots at London Heathrow.
For the uninitiated, when IAG acquired bmi British Midland in 2012, the European Commission approved the takeover subject to British Airways making slots available on certain overlapping routes where it considered that competition would be lessened. These were London Heathrow to Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Nice, Cairo, Moscow and Riyadh.
Virgin Atlantic was first to snap up the slots, launching with great fanfare “Virgin Atlantic Little Red”. It flew, using aircraft leased from Aer Lingus, to Aberdeen and Edinburgh, as well as Manchester.
In spite of considerable speculation that Virgin Atlantic was going to pull off a clever ruse to convert the remedy slots to long-haul use, which was prohibited under the slot release procedure, it closed Little Red in 2015.
The slots have now been re-advertised by Mazars, which acts as a trustee, for the summer 2021 season. 41 weekly slot pairs are available, comprising 5 daily slot pairs, 4 additional slot pairs on Saturday and 2 additional slot pairs on Sunday. Interestingly, the advert comes with the following warning:
However, potential applicants showing interest are advised of the fact that the rights to these slots on offer are subject to an ongoing dispute and therefore may ultimately not be available for applicants or be subject to return by any successful applicant.