British Airways Winter Long-Haul Route Suspensions

British Airways has suspended a number of long-haul routes from London Gatwick and Heathrow for the winter 2020 season.

London Air Travel » British Airways

BA Boeing 787 at British Airways Maintenance Cardiff
BA Boeing 787 at British Airways Maintenance Cardiff (Image Credit: British Airways)

British Airways has suspended a number of long-haul routes at both London Gatwick and Heathrow for the winter season as the airline expects to face significantly reduced demand well into 2021.

London Gatwick Suspensions

At London Gatwick, flights to Las Vegas and New York JFK have been suspended until Sunday 28 March 2021.

Passengers can seek a refund or rebook on to alternative services from London Heathrow. Any consequential costs such as ground transportation will be at passengers’ expense.

Winter seasonal flights from London Gatwick to Cape Town are still currently showing in BA’s online timetables but have been taken off sale.

London Heathrow Suspensions

Turning to London Heathrow, Abu Dhabi has been suspended for the winter season from Sunday 25 October 2020. Flights are currently showing as operating in October, but this is subject to change.

Other BA routes to the Middle East such as Bahrain, Doha and Muscat currently show as operating throughout the winter.

On transatlantic routes, Pittsburgh is suspended for the winter. Flights are showing as operating in October but as the airport is not one of the 15 US airports designated by the United States Department of Homeland Security for eligible international passengers to arrive into the US, these are unlikely to operate.

Many of BA’s “thin” transatlantic routes such as Nashville, New Orleans and San Jose California are currently showing as operating in the winter but these will depend on travel restrictions being lifted. This seems highly unlikely before the US election on 3 November 2020. BA has already cancelled plans to launch London Heathrow – Portland.

Elsewhere, routes from London Heathrow to Durban and Osaka have been taken off sale for the winter, whilst still showing in BA’s online timetables, which is a likely precursor to their suspension.

Passengers whose flights have been cancelled are entitled to a full refund or to be rebook onto alternative BA flights nearby with connections on its codeshare and franchise partners such as American Airlines, Comair South Africa, and Japan Airlines.

Passengers can check the status of your booking using the Manage My Booking tool on ba.com and should contact BA if necessary

As ever in the current environment, everything is subject to change at short notice.

British Airways Suspends London City – New York JFK

British Airways has permanently suspended its all business class service to London City airport to New York JFK.

London Air Travel » British Airways

British Airways Airbus A318 Aircraft, G-EUNA
British Airways Airbus A318 Aircraft, G-EUNA (Image Credit: British Airways)

British Airways has permanently suspended its all business class service from London City to New York JFK.

This was expected following the announcement by BA’s parent company International Airlines Group that it plans to withdraw its Airbus A318 fleet.

The route was suspended in March 2020 and was due to return from late October 2020. It has now been withdrawn from BA’s timetables entirely.

Passengers whose flights have been cancelled are entitled to a full refund. Alternatively, passengers can be rebooked on alternative American Airlines and BA services to New York from London Heathrow.

BA has suspended flights from London Gatwick to New York JFK and these are provisionally due to return from late October 2020.

In light of market conditions and IAG’s decision to take into account environmental considerations when planning new routes it is unlikely that BA will launch a similar service again.

New York JFK was the only long-haul route from London City airport. Start-ups such as Odyssey Airlines have expressed a desire to launch all business class routes from London City. These are unlikely to succeed without guaranteed support from corporate customers and business travellers who can be lured away from frequent flyer programmes of rival airlines.

What happens to BA’s fleet of two Airbus A318 aircraft isn’t clear. One is leased to Titan Airways. Both aircraft have been provided as security for a $750 million loan which means BA can’t sell or scrap them until the loan is repaid in May 2021.

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British Airways Pilots Vote To Accept Pay Cuts

British Airways pilots have voted to accept a package of measures to mitigate against compulsory redundancies at the airline.

London Air Travel » British Airways

British Airways Pilots pictured with the Red Arrows
British Airways Pilots (Image Credit: British Airways)

British Airways pilots have voted to accept a package of measures to mitigate against compulsory redundancies at the airline.

BA had proposed make up to 1,255 of its 4,300 pilots based at London Gatwick and Heathrow redundant with a threat in the formal Section 188 notice to “fire and rehire” pilots if an agreement could not be met.

Following negotiations between BA and its pilot union BALPA, a number of measures have been agreed to reduce the need for compulsory redundancies. However, it is expected there will be around 270 compulsory redundancies.

These have been accepted by BA pilots in a ballot by BALPA which closed today, Friday 31 July. The vote was 85% in favour based on an 87% turnout.

These measures include:

– Voluntary part time working, voluntary redundancy and voluntary secondments.

– A holding pool of the equivalent of 300 pilots who will continue to be employed on reduced pay and will resume flying as demand returns.

– These measures are funded by cuts to pilot pay which start at 20% and then reduce to 8% over the next two years. These cuts will further reduce towards zero over the longer term.

Whilst this situation is not what anyone would have wanted to see, it does seem like a reasonably pragmatic deal which softens the blow to BA pilots at risk of redundancy whilst giving BA some immediate relief to its staff costs.

It goes without saying that it hoped that compulsory redundancies will be minimised and those pilots not currently flying will be able to return to the skies very soon.

In terms of other BA workgroups, IAG confirmed this morning that up to 1,400 BA employees have left the company by way of voluntary redundancy.

Whilst BA and Unite remain some distance apart on negotiations to merge its three Heathrow cabin crew fleets into one, there has at least been movement by both sides and negotiations are underway.

BALPA issued the following statement on Friday evening:

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British Airways Sells Art Works For £2.2m

Selected works from British Airways’ art collection have sold for £2.2 million at Sotheby’s.

London Air Travel » British Airways

BA London Heathrow Terminal 5 Arrivals Lounge Concorde Breakfast Room
“Colour Down The Side” by Sir Terry Frost, R.A BA London Heathrow Terminal 5 Arrivals Lounge (Image Credit: London Air Travel)

Selected works from British Airways art collection have sold for a total of £2.2 million by Sotheby’s.

The standout sale from the collection was “Cool Edge” by Bridget Riley. This was estimated to sell for up to £1.2m. It ultimately sold for £1,875,000.

The other 16 items from the collection sold for considerably less at £326,875 in total. However, most works did sell for well in excess of their estimates in brackets below.

Whilst £2.2m (before Sotheby’s commission and other costs) is a drop in the ocean compared to IAG’s weekly cash burn, the sale is symbolic as BA and its parent company does everything it can to conserve cash. With no prospect of air travel returning to normal until well into 2021, it is going to need it.

Here is a breakdown of the remaining sales:

“Grasshopper Portfolio” by Peter Doig £56,250 (£10,000 – £15,000)

“Colour Down The Side” by Sir Terry Frost, R.A. (pictured above) £47,500 (£20,000 – £30,000) 

“Sunglow” by Sir Terry Frost, R.A. £30,000 (£10,000 – £15,000)

“Scarlet and Bordeaux in Cobalt” by Patrick Heron £32,500 (£10,000 – £15,000)

“Valium” by Damien Hirst £27,500 (£5,000 – £7,000)

Eight Landscapes by Julian Opie £13,750 (£10,000 – £15,000)

“Garden 2” by Marc Quinn £7,500 (£5,000 – £6,000)

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British Airways & American Express Partnership Extended

British Airways’ partnership with American Express has been extended in a new multi-year deal announced by its parent company IAG.

London Air Travel » British Airways

British Airways First Class Cabin (Image Credit: British Airways)
British Airways First Class Cabin (Image Credit: British Airways)

British Airways’ partnership with American Express has been extended in a new multi-year deal announced by its parent company International Airlines Group.

American Express issues BA branded credit cards through which members can earn Avios points.

BA’s parent company, IAG, has announced that it has signed a new multiyear deal with American Express.

This operated through a separate division of IAG known as IAG Loyalty. As part of this, American Express will pay IAG £750m which is primarily a pre-payment for Avios points it will issue to members.

IAG CEO Willie Walsh did state during its full year results announcement that he had met with Mastercard a few times and they were “mad keen” to do business with IAG. This was no doubt a signal to American Express.

The advance sale of frequent flyer points to third parties is a device airlines use to raise funds. In 2009, American Airlines pre-sold $1 billion of AAdvantage miles to Citigroup. This comes at a time when airlines seek more ways to raise cash by using intangible assets. Yesterday, American Airlines announced it had taken out a $1.2 billion loan that was secured against its trademark and the internet domain name aa.com

IAG is due to announce its half-year results on Friday 31 July and will provide a further update on its finance raising plans then.

British Airways Extends Flexible Rebooking Policies

Passengers due to fly with British Airways up to 30 September 2020 can exchange the value of their ticket for a voucher for future travel.

London Air Travel » British Airways

British Airways Tail Fins, London Heathrow
British Airways Tail Fins, London Heathrow (Image Credit: Heathrow)

British Airways has once again extended its flexible rebooking policies for passengers due to fly with the airline in the coming weeks.

All passengers due to fly with the airline up to Wednesday 30 September 2020 have the option of exchanging the value of their ticket for a voucher. This applies regardless of when the booking was made.

The voucher will be valid for travel for completion in full by 30 April 2022. This policy until today, Wednesday 22 July 2020, applied only to passengers due to travel up to Monday 31 August 2020.

BA’s flexible change policy which allows passengers making bookings from 3 March 2020 to make changes to bookings without incurring fees has not changed. It currently only applies for bookings made up to 31 August 2020 for travel up to 30 April 2021.

Full details of this policy and guidance on how to claim a voucher are available on ba.com. Please read this page very carefully, including the terms and conditions for flight and holiday bookings, before taking any action. Once your original booking is cancelled it cannot be reinstated. These policies may be amended or withdrawn at any time.

BA is clearly not expecting any significant expansion in schedules before the end of September 2020. Please see here for details of where BA is currently flying.

If your flight is cancelled – these policy changes usually presage further flight cancellations – you are entitled to a full cash refund. However, you will need to call BA to do this.

Passengers can check the status of any existing bookings using the Manage My Booking tool on ba.com.

British Airways Launches London Gatwick – Montego Bay

British Airways is to launch a new winter seasonal route from London Gatwick to Montego Bay, Jamaica.

London Air Travel » British Airways

British Airways Lounge, South Terminal, London Gatwick (Image Credit: British Airways)
British Airways Lounge, South Terminal, London Gatwick (Image Credit: British Airways)

British Airways is to launch a new winter seasonal route from London Gatwick to Montego Bay, Jamaica.

Flights will operate twice weekly on Wednesdays and Saturdays from 13 October 2020 until Easter 2021.

The route will be operated with a three class Boeing 777-200 aircraft.

It may seem unusual for the airline to launch a new route at a time of significantly reduced demand. However, it’s worth recalling that after the 2008 financial crisis, BA pivoted towards long-haul leisure routes and added a number of destinations at Gatwick such as Male and Cancun. There may also be an element of subsidy for this route.

Virgin Atlantic previously flew to Montego Bay from Gatwick and is due to restart the route from London Heathrow on Friday 2 October 2020. This move by BA will obviously put competitive pressure on Virgin Atlantic.

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British Airways Suspends London Heathrow – Portland

British Airways has suspended plans to launch a new route from London Heathrow to Portland, Oregon.

London Air Travel » British Airways

Portland International Airport
Portland International Airport

British Airways has suspended plans to launch a new route from London Heathrow to Portland, Oregon.

BA was due to launch the route on 1 June 2020 with the Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner aircraft. This had been postponed until Wednesday 2 September 2020.

The route has today, Tuesday 21 July 2020, been taken off sale and removed from BA’s timetables entirely.

With no prospect of an imminent relaxation of travel restrictions to the US and reduced demand well into 2021, it is not surprising to see the launch of a new long-haul route postponed as they typically take a couple of years to establish themselves.

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BA Retires The Queen Of The Skies, The Boeing 747

British Airways plans to retire the Boeing 747 nearly five years earlier than planned, due to COVID-19.

London Air Travel » British Airways

British Airways Boeing 747, Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport
British Airways Boeing 747, Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (Image Credit: British Airways)

British Airways is to retire the Boeing 747 with immediate effect.

At this stage it is officially a proposal, subject to consultation with trade unions. However, this appears to be a fait accompli as BA says the aircraft are likely to have flown their last scheduled commercial services.

This follows decisions by Qantas and Virgin Atlantic to immediately retire the aircraft due to COVID-19.

It is hard to overstate the impact the Boeing 747 had on civil aviation, BA, and what its early retirement will have on BA’s route network and profile of passenger traffic.

The Early Days Of The Boeing 747

Pan American World Airways, for whom the Boeing 747 aircraft was designed, was the first airline to operate passenger flights, from New York to London on 21 January 1970. 

It may seem strange to think now, but there were doubts as to whether airlines could fill the aircraft with passengers. There were concerns about the ability of airports to handle the aircraft, at the time the biggest passenger jet in service. Both London Heathrow and New York JFK had to implement makeshift arrangements to handle the aircraft. 

“All The 747 Needed Was BOAC Service.”

BOAC began passenger flights from London to New York on 14 April 1971 with the bold claim “All the 747 needed was BOAC service”.

BOAC Boeing 747-136 aircraft
BOAC Boeing 747-136 aircraft (Image Credit: British Airways)

It had been delayed by a year, partly due to an industrial dispute with its pilots. Prior to the launch of 747 services, BOAC opened its own dedicated terminal at New York JFK, today known as Terminal 7.

The 747 would be progressively added to many North American routes such as Chicago, Miami, Montreal, Toronto and Washington, as well as South Africa.

BOAC Boeing 747 Cabin Interior
BOAC Boeing 747 Cabin Interior (Image Credit: British Airways)
BOAC Boeing 747 Cabin Interior
BOAC Boeing 747 Cabin Interior (Image Credit: British Airways)
BOAC First Class Cabin, Boeing 747
BOAC First Class Cabin, Boeing 747 (Image Credit: British Airways)
Continue reading “BA Retires The Queen Of The Skies, The Boeing 747”

Sotheby’s Auctions British Airways’ Lounge Art Collection

Sotheby’s is to auction selected works of art from British Airways lounges around the world.

London Air Travel » British Airways

British Airways Coat Of Arms
British Airways Coat Of Arms (Image Credit: British Airways)

Sotheby’s is to auction selected works of art from British Airways’ lounges around the world as the airline seeks to raise funds to survive the impact of COVID-19.

Standout works include “Cool Edge” by Bridget Riley which is valued up to £1.2m and will be auctioned amongst works from other collectors at a “Rembrandt to Richter” auction on Tuesday 28 July 2020.

Other items from the BA collection to be auctioned by Sotheby’s at future auctions this month include works by Damien Hirst, Peter Doig, Julian Opie and George Shaw.

In total, 17 pieces will be auctioned from BA’s collection of 1,500 works of art: (No, you can’t earn Avios at Sotheby’s!). These are:

“Grasshopper Portfolio” by Peter Doig (£10,000 – £15,000)
“Colour Down The Side” by Sir Terry Frost, R.A. (pictured above) (£20,000 – £30,000) 
“Sunglow” by Sir Terry Frost, R.A. (£10,000 – £15,000)
“Scarlet and Bordeaux in Cobalt” by Patrick Heron (£10,000 – £15,000)
“Valium” by Damien Hirst (£5,000 – £7,000)
Eight Landscapes by Julian Opie (£10,000 – £15,000)
“Garden 2” by Marc Quinn (£5,000 – £6,000)
“Untitled” (Bronze) by Bridget Riley (£5,000 – £7,000)
“Untitled” (Rose) by Bridget Riley (£5,000 – £7,000)
“Untitled” (Elongated Triangles 1) by Bridget Riley (£4,000 – £6,000)
“Untitled” (Elongated Triangles 2) by Bridget Riley (£4,000 – £6,000)
“Untitled” (Elongated Triangles 6) by Bridget Riley (£4,000 – £6,000)
“Untitled” (Elongated Triangles 4) by Bridget Riley (£4,000 – £6,000)
“Untitled” (Elongated Triangles 5) by Bridget Riley (£4,000 – £6,000)
“Scenes From The Passion: (Ash Wednesday) by George Shaw (£10,000 – £15,000)
“Scenes From The Passion: The Path In) by George Shaw (£10,000 – £15,000)

BA’s lounge complex at Heathrow is of course based around a “Galleries” concept and features many bespoke art installations and works. You may recognise “Colour Down The Side” by Sir Terry Frost, R.A. from the BA Arrivals Lounge. Though, there’s been a conspicuous lack of interest in the horse lamps from Terminal 5.

Speaking to the Sunday Times last month IAG CEO Willie Walsh, who famously sold off Aer Lingus’ art collection after the events of 11 September 2001, claims to have had nothing to do with the proposed sale and said of the auction:

“I didn’t realise we had an art collection. They said they had been hiding it from me for years because they thought if I knew it was there, I would probably sell it, and they were right.”

“I won’t be bidding for any of them, I can assure you.”