British Airways’ franchise partner in South Africa, Comair, has suspended all flights and ticket sales with immediate effect.
This will continue until the airline secures new funding.
Comair suspended all flights and entered into a Business Rescue Process in 2020 following the COVID-19 pandemic. The company had secured new investment and restarted flights with a smaller fleet of aircraft.
A number of factors have affected its planned recovery. This includes rising oil prices and countries including the UK putting South Africa on the “red list” in December 2021 due to the Omicron COVID-19 variant. This alone was said to have resulted in a working capital shortfall of ZAR 100 million / £5 million.
British Airways is expanding its codeshare partnership with Loganair.
BA and Loganair have a long history. Loganair, which celebrates its 60th anniversary this month, was a former BA franchise partner from 1994 until 2008. The airline was BA’s last remaining franchise partner in the UK.
Loganair subsequently became a franchise partner of Flybe and then operated as an independent airline from September 2017.
BA and Loganair already have new codeshare partnership covering routes to the Highlands and Islands from Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Inverness airports. It also includes Loganair’s route from London Heathrow to Teesside.
New Codeshare Routes
The expanded relationship now includes an additional 18 routes from the week beginning Monday 7 February 2022.
The one additional route from London is Loganair’s Public Service Obligation route from London Stansted to the City of Derry.
Loganair’s PSO route from London City to Dundee is not included.
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.
The UK’s Competition & Markets Authority has opened a consultation on proposals by American Airlines and British Airways to address competition concerns about their transatlantic joint business.
If accepted American and BA would have to make slots available to rival airlines on routes from London to Boston, Dallas and Miami.
American Airlines & BA’s Transatlantic Joint Business
Since 2010, American Airlines and British Airways have operated a transatlantic joint business on routes between Europe and North America.
This allows the two airlines to effectively operate as one airline and co-ordinate schedules and fares on transatlantic routes.
The joint business is seen as advantageous because it allows American and BA to offer high frequencies on major routes, which is particularly attractive to business travellers. More marginal routes can be supported by access to each other’s corporate and frequent flyers.
Finnair and Iberia are also part of the joint business. Aer Lingus is a signatory to the business and is due to join at some point in the future.
Regulatory approval was granted by the European Commission and US Department of Transportation on American and BA’s third attempt. This was in spite of fierce opposition from Virgin Atlantic, which has subsequently joined its own joint business with Delta and Air France-KLM. The European Commission’s original decision can be viewed here.
As a condition of regulatory approval, American and BA had to make slots available to new entrants on five routes from London to Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Miami and New York. These “commitments” were for a period ten years.
These slots have been taken up by Delta, Norwegian and Virgin Atlantic. One slot acquired by Delta, initially for London Heathrow to Philadelphia, is subject to litigation by American Airlines.
The Competition & Markets Authority Review
In 2018, the Competition & Markets Authority opened up a review of the joint-business.
This was in light of the expiry of the above commitments and the UK’s then planned departure from the European Union.
The review has taken considerably longer than expected. This, given with the fact that the CMA has adopted a very interventionist approach in cases outside of aviation, has caused speculation that the CMA would take a very tough line.
It is also a given that there will have been intense lobbying from rival airlines against the joint business, particularly from JetBlue which had planned to launch flights from London to Boston and New York JFK.
The CMA has published its full findings. It has identified competition concerns on five routes from London to Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Miami and Philadelphia.
American and BA have a monopoly on non-stop routes from London to Dallas and Philadelphia and a high frequency advantage on Boston and Miami.
British Airways and Qatar Airways have received final approval from the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (“ACCC”) to operate a joint-business in respect of flights between certain cities in Europe and Australia.
You could be forgiven for thinking the two airlines already had such a joint business for Australia, but that is not the case.
Whilst BA and Qatar have operated a joint business for some years, this only currently covers flights from the UK to Doha, and many destinations beyond Doha in Africa and Asia.
BA and Qatar have operated a codeshare for many UK – Australia routings such as Manchester – Doha – Melbourne or Cardiff – Doha – Perth which can be booked through BA as a codeshare.
The approval from the ACCC will allow BA and Qatar to take this beyond a codeshare and co-ordinate schedules and fares on a number of routes from Western Europe via Doha to certain cities in Australia which are Adelaide, Canberra, Melbourne and Perth.
London – Sydney is not included in the joint business as BA serves this with its own aircraft, at least for now. Approval was sought before the outbreak of COVID-19, which is likely to have a significant impact on BA’s route network and timetable in the medium term.
Regulatory approval will take effect from 29 May 2020 and will last until 29 May 2025.
Whilst in theory regulatory approval allows BA and Qatar to co-ordinate schedules on these routes, it is unlikely we would see BA flying to Australia via Doha. The main driver behind this is for BA to take advantage of Qatar’s network to Australia from Europe and for Qatar to take advantage of BA’s distribution network.
The new joint business does not seem to disturb BA’s existing codeshares to Australia via Asia with Cathay Pacific, Malaysia Airlines and Qantas.
British Airways and China Southern Airlines have announced plans to launch a joint business in respect of flights between the UK and mainland China.
Currently, BA and China Southern Airlines have a limited codeshare relationship with BA placing its code on China Southern Airlines operated flights from Shanghai when connecting to/from BA operated flights between London and Shanghai. China Southern Airlines also places its code on a number of BA short-haul flights from London Heathrow.
Under the joint-business the two airlines will offer full codesharing on each other’s routes between London and mainland China. They will also offer reciprocal benefits to each other’s frequent flyers.
Currently, BA flies from London Heathrow to Beijing Daxing and Shanghai airports. China Southern Airlines flies from London Heathrow Terminal 4 to Guangzhou, Sanya, Zhengzhou, and Wuhan.
The expanded codeshare relationship will take effect from Thursday 2 January 2020 and flights are on sale from today, Tuesday 17 December 2019. The two airlines are expected to explore further co-operation in 2020.
For BA, this does substantially improve its coverage of mainland China where it has been relatively weak compared to other European network airlines, partly due to the lack of a local alliance partner.
BA does also have a local codeshare relationship with China Eastern Airlines which does not appear to be disturbed by this news.