British Airways Begins To Reopen Airport Lounges

British Airways has reopened the First Wing, Galleries Club South, First and Arrivals lounges at London Heathrow Terminal 5.

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British Airways Heathrow Lounge Reopening July 2020
British Airways Heathrow Lounge Reopening July 2020 (Image Credit: British Airways)

British Airways has started what is likely to be a long and gradual process of reopening its airport lounges around the world.

On Saturday 4 July 2020, BA has reopened the Galleries Club South and Galleries First lounges on the South concourse of London Heathrow Terminal 5. Due to BA still operating a significantly reduced schedule, the lounges close at the earlier time of 20:00. The First Wing has also reopened.

BA has also reopened the arrivals lounge for passengers arriving from long-haul flights.

The Concorde Room, Galleries Club North and Galleries Terminal 5B lounges and Elemis Travel spas remain closed.

British Airways, Galleries First Lounge Terrace, London Heathrow Terminal 5
British Airways, Galleries First Lounge Terrace, London Heathrow Terminal 5 (Image Credit: British Airways)

Passengers travelling in First Class and Concorde Room cardholders who are ordinarily entitled to access the Concorde Room have access to a dedicated terrace in the Galleries First lounge.

As expected, the service in the lounge is different. Plastic entry screens have been introduced at the entrance to the Galleries Club South lounge.

Passengers will be provided with a Welcome Card, with blue and red sides, on entry to the lounge.

When in the lounge, passengers are asked to to occupy seats that do not have a card placed on them and to maintain social distancing in the lounge and not move between seats.

British Airways Heathrow Lounge Reopening July 2020
British Airways Heathrow Lounge Reopening July 2020 (Image Credit: British Airways)

The card should be left red side up on your seat when temporarily leaving your seat, and blue side up when you leave the lounge so the area can be cleaned.

British Airways Heathrow Lounge Reopening July 2020
British Airways Heathrow Lounge Reopening July 2020 (Image Credit: British Airways)

Food and drinks are available to order by accessing a dedicated website on your personal device, details of which are provided on entry to the lounge.

British Airways Heathrow Lounge Reopening July 2020
British Airways Heathrow Lounge Reopening July 2020 (Image Credit: British Airways)

Passengers are asked not to order any drinks directly from the bar area. Pre-packaged snacks are also available to take away. Catering on BA flights remains significantly reduced.

As expected, all newspapers and magazines have been removed from the lounges. These can be downloaded electronically using the PressReader app. This is best done at home.

Shower facilities continue to be available in the arrivals lounge.

Full guidance is available on ba.com

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BA Transfers Gatwick Short-Haul Flights To Heathrow

British Airways will not operate any short-haul flights from Gatwick until early November 2020 at the earliest.

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British Airways, London Gatwick
British Airways, London Gatwick

British Airways short-haul flights at London Gatwick airport will remain suspended until early November 2020 at the earliest.

All BA flights at Gatwick have been suspended since April 2020. BA has transferred many short-haul routes from Gatwick. These include:

Alicante
Algiers (TBC)
Bari (from 1 August)
Bilbao
Bordeaux (from 1 August)
Cagliari
Catania (from 1 August)
Dubrovnik
Funchal 
Genoa (from 1 August)
Jersey
Kos 
Lanzarote (from 1 August)
Mahon, Menorca
Malta (from 3 August)
Naples
Paphos (from 1 August)
Porto
Salzburg (from 1 August)
Seville
Tenerife
Thessaloniki
Turin
Verona

Flights on overlapping routes such as Faro, Ibiza, Palma, Rhodes and Tenerife have also been transferred to Heathrow.

Some short-haul routes have not transferred to Heathrow. Flights to Gran Canaria and Milan Bergamo have been suspended until late October 2020. Flights from Gatwick to Antalya will not resume until summer 2021. Almeria has been permanently suspended.

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BA Takes Delivery Of Its First Boeing 787-10 Aircraft

British Airways has taken delivery of its first Boeing 787-10 aircraft.

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British Airways Boeing 787-9 First Class (Image Credit: British Airways)
British Airways Boeing 787-9 First Class (Image Credit: British Airways)

When an airline receives its first delivery of a new aircraft type there is normally a degree of fanfare, or at least a welcoming party.

These are of course not normal times. Today, Sunday 28 June 2020, BA took delivery of the first of twelve Boeing 787-10 aircraft.

Aircraft G-ZBLA landed at London Heathrow at 11:49 BST after being dispatched from Charleston, South Carolina at 23:37 EDT on Saturday.

A second Boeing 787-10 aircraft, G-ZBLB, may arrive shortly as there are reported movements of it in Charleston on Flightradar.

The arrival of the Boeing 787-10 aircraft is some six months later than intended. BA originally planned to take delivery of six Boeing 787-10 aircraft this year, with the first originally due in January and all twelve aircraft delivered by 2023. The first route was due to be Atlanta, but this may change.

IAG has confirmed that, since COVID-19, it plans to defer the delivery of eleven new long-haul aircraft between now and 2022 – some of these include planned deliveries at Iberia.

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British Airways’ Post COVID-19 In-Flight Service

British Airways has introduced a modified in-flight service at London Heathrow from Tuesday 16 June 2020.

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British Airways Airbus A350-1000 G-XWBA Aircraft, London Heathrow
British Airways Airbus A350-1000 G-XWBA Aircraft, London Heathrow (Image Credit: British Airways)

British Airways has introduced a modified in-flight service as the airline prepares to rebuild its schedules.

In late March 2020, BA significantly reduced the quantity of catering on board flights.

BA has, from Tuesday 16 June 2020, introduced an interim flight service with dedicated meals for all short and long-haul cabins. The quantity of catering remains reduced, but there is at least some differentiation between cabins.

This is likely to continue to some months. There are other changes to in-flight amenities and procedures. A full list of Frequently Asked Questions is available on ba.com

Details of BA’s current route network across London airports are available here.

BA has also reopened some of its Heathrow lounges from Saturday 4 July.

Flight Procedures

Priority boarding will not be available and passengers will board the aircraft by seat row from the rear of the aircraft.

Passengers are asked to wear a face mask or covering during the flight.

Where possible, passengers are asked to put their hand luggage under the seat in front of them. Where this cannot be done, eg for passengers seated in exit row seats or in Club World, passengers are asked to retrieve the items they need from their hand luggage at the start of the flight.

At the end of the flight, passengers will be asked to disembark the aircraft in small groups.

In-Flight Amenities

BA will provide a “personal protection pack” on flights comprising an antibacterial wipe and hand sanitiser gel.

In-flight amenity kits and bedding will continue to be provided on long-haul flights.

Magazines and newspapers will continue to be unavailable. However, passengers can download electronic magazines through PressReader. This is best done before your flight.

Food & Beverage

The meal service remains truncated to reduce interaction with cabin crew and to avoid the need to prepare dishes on board the aircraft.

Hot meals will only be available in First Class.

Special meals, including children’s meals, are not available. However, a vegetarian choice should be available. Meals cannot be pre-ordered in any cabin.

Alcoholic drinks are now available, except in Euro Traveller. These will be served in miniatures or quarter bottles.

Printed menus will not be provided in any cabin. Where appropriate, cabin crew will explain choices and any allergen information.

BA has released images of sample meal boxes prepared by DO & CO who, since May 2020, provide catering for all BA long-haul flights at London Heathrow. (DO & CO has also won a tender to cater for BA flights at airports in North America). When flights resume at London City and London Gatwick, the meal service should be broadly similar.

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BA CEO Alex Cruz Criticises Transport Select Committee

BA CEO Alex Cruz has described a Transport Select Committee report that singles out the airline for criticism as based on rumours and speculation.

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Alex Cruz, British Airways CEO & Chairman
Alex Cruz, British Airways CEO & Chairman (Image Credit: British Airways)

British Airways CEO Alex Cruz has strongly criticised the Transport Select Committee for singling out the airline in its report on the impact of COVID-19 on the airline industry.

The Transport Select Committee had branded the airline a “national disgrace” and accused it of using the COVID-19 pandemic as a cover for making wholesale changes to employee terms and conditions.

In a video intended for BA staff and obtained by ITV News, Alex Cruz describes the report as “not based on fact” and “based on rumours and emotions” that “fails to grasp the economics of our airline industry”. He also criticises a “misinformation campaign” by “outsiders” which has caused alarm amongst BA staff.

Alex Crux also confirms in the video that the airline is burning through £20m of cash a day.

As reported, BA has taken on new debt and mortgaged aircraft. Alex also confirmed that, as reported by the London Evening Standard, it is selling art from its lounges.

BA does not expect a return to normal schedules during the summer due to the the UK’s mandatory 14 day quarantine regime.

A number of routes worldwide will be suspended. It is also reviewing its fleet plans which may result in whole aircraft types (most likely the Boeing 747, and possibly the Airbus A380) earlier than planned.

To date, Unite and the GMB have refused to meet with the BA unless it withdraws the Section 188 notices it issued to notify its trade unions of potential redundancies. Unite had argued it should explore other options such as voluntary redundancies before issuing these notices.

BA has always maintained that it has to issue these notices to comply with its legal obligations. The proposals it has set out are intended to cover all possible scenarios, including the absolute worst case, for consultation. A suggestion that it intends to “fire and rehire” employees on new terms and conditions had caused considerable alarm and lobbying of MPs.

The minimum 45 day consultation period under the Section 188 notices issued on 30 April has expired today, Monday 15 June. According to the video, BA does not yet plan to make staff redundant. However, Alex confirms that it will continue to issue administrative notices required by law as it plans to continue to restructure parts of its business.

Alex Cruz Video Transcript

The full transcript of the video obtained by ITV News is below:

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British Airways Prepares For The Return Of Air Travel

BA has outlined some of the measures passengers are required to follow as air travel is expected to resume this summer.

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British Airways Airbus A350-1000 Aircraft
British Airways Airbus A350-1000 Aircraft (Image Credit: British Airways)

British Airways has outlined some of the measures passengers are required to follow as air travel is expected to gradually return this summer.

The airline has set up a dedicated microsite and list of answers to frequently asked questions.

There are also summary PDFs on the measures adopted and a pre-travel checklist.

These have been announced against a background of uncertainty as to when travel restrictions will be lifted. There is also doubt as to the effectiveness and impact of the quarantine regime on passengers arriving in the UK from Monday 8 June 2020.

Here are some of the main changes as well as the current status of BA’s operations.

London Airports

All BA flights at Heathrow are operating at Terminal 5. This will continue for the foreseeable future.

Flights at London City are currently scheduled to resume from mid July 2020.

Many flights at London Gatwick are currently scheduled to resume from August 2020.

The First Wing and Fast Track security at Heathrow are closed. All retail outlets at Heathrow except Boots and WH Smith are closed. All BA lounges and travel spas worldwide remain closed.

Route Changes

BA has permanently suspended all flights from London Heathrow to Beirut, Leeds-Bradford and Moscow Sheremetyevo.

BA’s franchise partner in Africa Comair has suspended all flights until 1 November 2020 as it is in a business rescue process.

Schedules remain under constant review. Summer seasonal routes from London Heathrow to Calgary, Charleston, Montpellier and Podgorica will not operate this year. Many seasonal short-haul routes will launch later in July and August than planned. The launch of London Heathrow – Portland is postponed until Wednesday 2 September 2020.

Passengers can check the status of their booking using the Manage My Booking tool on ba.com

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British Airways’ Africa Franchise Grounded Until November

BA’s franchise partner in Africa is expected to resume flights in November, with a much smaller fleet.

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Comair Boeing 737 Aircraft
Comair Boeing 737 Aircraft (Image Credit: Comair)

British Airways’ franchise partner in Africa, Comair, will remain grounded until November 2020 at the earliest.

Comair is currently in a process known as “business rescue” whereby it seeks to restructure itself whilst protected from creditors.

In addition to operating a BA franchise in Africa, Comair also operates the Kulula airline brand and SLOW lounges in Africa.

Business rescue practitioners have been appointed to oversee the process. They have today, Tuesday 2 June 2020, published an outline plan for the company.

Comair’s airlines will remain grounded until November 2020 at the earliest as the company requires a substantial cash injection to resume trading.

The business rescue practitioners have approached 30 potential investors to secure new funding and 6 are in active discussions.

Whilst Comair intends to focus on its airline business, it is expected that Comair’s fleet will be substantially downsized from 27 aircraft to 13 Boeing 737-800 aircraft and three spare Boeing 737-400 aircraft.

With such a significant reduction in fleet it seems implausible that it will continue to operate under both the BA and Kulula names.

Neither BA nor its parent company IAG have made any official comment on the business rescue process. BA owns a 11.49% stake in Comair. If neither BA nor IAG participate in a recapitalisation of the airline, its shareholding will be wiped out.

It will be for Comair’s new shareholders to decide on its business model and whether the BA franchise should continue. Currently, BA is still selling flights on Comair from 1 November 2020.

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BA Suspends London Heathrow – Moscow Sheremetyevo

British Airways has permanently suspended all flights between London Heathrow and Moscow Sheremetyevo airport.

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Moscow (Image Credit: London Air Travel)
Moscow (Image Credit: London Air Travel)

British Airways has permanently suspended all flights between London Heathrow and Moscow Sheremetyevo airport.

BA has not flown to Moscow Sheremetyevo since late March 2020 and the route is now permanently suspended.

This comes one day after BA suspended flights between London Heathrow and Leeds Bradford airport.

The airline is clearly in the process of reviewing its route network, with nothing off the table, and further changes are likely in the coming weeks.

BA launched fights to Moscow Sheremetyevo in October 2018, to complement existing flights to Moscow Domodedovo airport.

Passengers whose flights have been cancelled can rebook on to alternative service to Moscow Domodedovo. Any consequential costs such as ground transportation will be at passengers’ expense. BA is currently due to resume flights to Moscow Domodedovo from Wednesday 1 July 2020. This is of course subject to change.

Passengers are also entitled to a full refund. Affected passengers can check the status of their booking using the Manage My Booking tool and should contact BA or their travel agent.

BA Seeks To Prevent Executive Club Class Action Suits

British Airways has changed the terms and conditions of the Executive Club to prevent members in North America joining class action suits.

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

The US is well known for being a litigious society, which often takes the form of class action suits brought against businesses by consumers.

To give an example, I recently received an e-mail out of the blue from a law firm that had brought a class action suit against a restaurant I visited in Los Angeles years ago over the treatment of staff tips. Still waiting for the settlement of tens of dollars, after the deduction of the lawyers fees!

BA has itself faced class action suits. In 2018, BA settled a suit, in the form of Avios, brought by members of the Executive Club in respect of cash fuel surcharges which were added to reward flights. Members argued that the fuel surcharges were inflated and had no correlation to the cost of fuel.

Executive Club Class Action Waiver

BA has today, Thursday 28 May 2020, updated the terms and conditions of the Executive Club to include a class action waiver for residents of the US and Canada.

Of the 9 million active members of Avios frequent flyer programmes, there are about 1 million registered in the Americas. This includes members of other IAG frequent flyer programmes such as Iberia Plus.

Where a dispute arises between BA and a member of the Executive Club in the US and Canada, these changes effectively seek to prevent the member from joining a class action suit or taking the airline to court.

Instead, BA aims to resolve the issue on an individual basis only through binding arbitration.

There is also a time limit of two years on members based in the US bringing a claim from when they “knew or should have known” about the issue that caused the dispute. This alone could easily result in litigation. How do you prove what somebody “knew or should have known”!?

We’re not qualified to comment on how enforceable these changes are. It will no doubt be tested at some point in the future.

Full details of these new clauses are reproduced below.

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British Airways Suspends Heathrow – Leeds Bradford

British Airways has permanently suspended all flights between London Heathrow and Leeds-Bradford airport.

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British Airways Airbus A319 aircraft in BEA livery, London Heathrow
British Airways Airbus A319 aircraft in BEA livery, London Heathrow (Image Credit: British Airways)

British Airways has suspended its route from London Heathrow to Leeds-Bradford.

The route launched in December 2012 and was one of the first new short-haul routes BA started at London Heathrow after its acquisition of bmi British Midland.

The route is officially suspended from 1 July 2020. Though, it has not operated since the end of March due to COVID-19.

It has evidently not been one of BA’s strongest performing domestic routes. Frequencies had been cut to around 10 return flights a week, operated only with Airbus A319 aircraft. This, combined with the fact that aircraft do not “night-stop” at Leeds-Bradford, makes it difficult for business travellers to use it for day trips to London.

When there is a demand shock to aviation, it is inevitable that weaker routes are subject to suspension.

If your flight is cancelled you are entitled to a full refund. Though, you will need to call BA to secure a refund instead of a voucher. It is possible to change to a BA flight between London Heathrow and Manchester. Though, any consequential costs will be at your expense.

BA has an interline agreement with London North Eastern Railway so you should also be able to change your journey between London and Leeds-Bradford to the train.

Affected passengers can check the status of their booking using the Manage My Booking tool on ba.com