London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing – 30 March 2020

Welcome to London Air Travel’s weekly briefing on air travel around the world, as published every Monday at 06:00 BST.

London Air Travel » Monday Briefing

Air Bridge Cargo Freighters
Air Bridge Cargo Freighters (Image Credit: Heathrow)

Welcome to London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing for the week beginning 30 March 2020.

Cash Is King

With airlines now facing a minimum of six months’ disruption, their overwhelming priority is the preservation and raising of additional cash.

Some airlines have already taken steps to raise additional capital:

Norwegian has completed the first step to meet the criteria to obtain a loan guarantee of NOK300 million (~£23 million) from the Norwegian Government by securing a contribution of 10% from financial institutions. Up to NOK3 billion (~£230 million) is available to Norwegian in loan guarantees. However, the criterion for these is considerably more stringent.

Qantas has raised AU$1.05 billion (~£507 million) in additional liquidity, secured against 7 Boeing 787-9 aircraft.

Qatar Airways has warned that it only has enough cash to sustain operations for a “very short period” and “We will surely go to our government eventually.” (Reuters)

Singapore Airlines plans to raise S$5.3 billion (~£3 billion) in new equity from its shareholders and up to S$9.7 billion (~£9.7 billion) through Mandatory Convertible Bonds, which will be progressively raised in the coming months.

Tui has secured an €1.8 billion loan from the German Government.

Virgin Atlantic is reported to be close to formally asking the UK Government for a package of loans and guarantees in the sum of hundreds of millions pounds.

Last week in a letter to airlines, no doubt written in the knowledge it would enter the public domain, the Government said it would not introduce sector specific measures to support the aviation industry. This does not preclude Government support. However, airlines are expected to pursue all available means from lenders and shareholders first.

In the case of Virgin Atlantic, this inevitably places focus on Sir Richard Branson. Additional support from Delta, a 49% shareholder is unlikely, given it has reached its maximum shareholding and it and other US airlines are receiving direct financial support from the US Government.

Operational Updates

Airport Coordination Ltd, which oversees the allocation of slots at London airports, has granted an extended waiver of “use it lose it” rules until the end of October 2020. It had, just two weeks ago, granted a waiver until 30 June 2020. This was originally due to be reviewed in May.

The Civil Aviation Authority has published traffic data for domestic and international routes for February 2020. Unsurprisingly, traffic on routes between Heathrow and mainland China fell by 70-100%. Traffic between Heathrow and Hong Kong fell by 40%.

Gatwick Airport is to close the North Terminal from Wednesday 1 April 2020. All remaining flights will operate from the South Terminal. The airport’s sole runway will also only be operational for scheduled flights between 14:00 and 22:00. Virgin Atlantic has already transferred what few flights remain operating to London Heathrow.

London City Airport has closed for scheduled flights until the end of April earliest. BA has temporarily transferred its route to the Isle of Man (operated by Loganair) to London Heathrow.

Finnair has confirmed it will continue to operate a skeleton schedule until 30 June at the earliest. This will include two flights a day between London Heathrow and Helsinki, operated with an Airbus 319 aircraft. Finnair’s sole intercontinental route will be Tokyo Haneda. Full details are available from Finnair.

KLM will, until 3 May, serve 25 intercontinental destinations and 32 destinations in Europe with 69 return flights a week. This represents a capacity cut of around 90%. Most intercontinental destinations will have 2-3 flights a week, with only New York JFK being served with a daily flight.

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London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing – 23 March 2020

Welcome to London Air Travel’s weekly briefing on air travel around the world, as published every Monday at 06:00 GMT.

London Air Travel » Monday Briefing

Arrivals, London Heathrow Airport
Arrivals, London Heathrow Airport (Image Credit: Heathrow)

Welcome to London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing for the week beginning 23 March 2020.

“We have no incoming bookings any more, hardly any.”

Carsten Sphor, Chief Executive, Lufthansa

At the time of a global crisis, it’s easy to catastrophise. Many in the immediate aftermath of 11 September 2001 thought aviation would never recover. However, the situation with Coronavirus is moving so quickly that the plans of airlines just seven days ago now seem hopelessly optimistic.

On both sides of the Atlantic, Governments are contemplating state support for airlines.

In the US, airlines have acted in concert and issued a plea for support of up to $60 billion. This includes payroll grants and loan guarantees. At the time of “going to press” a bill is unsurprisingly caught up in political wrangling between Democrat & Republican politicians.

In the UK, there is no consensus amongst the industry on what the Government should do.

The Government has appointed Rothschild to look at measures to support the industry. Some measures reportedly include a moratorium on EC261 compensation, waiving Air Traffic Control charges and temporarily suspending Air Passenger Duty.

Some reports have suggested that measures such as loan guarantees will not be enough and the Government will have to take an equity stake in UK airlines.

Last week, Virgin Atlantic issued an outright request for Government credit facilities of up to £7.5 billion for the industry. Virgin is clearly nervous that credit card providers will hold back funds as they have done to Flybe and Norwegian.

Yesterday, Sir Richard Branson also committed $250m of funds to his Virgin businesses which have all been impacted by Coronavirus (Virgin).

IAG has been keen to emphasise its resilience with cash of €7.35 billion and undrawn facilities of €1.9 billion. This may sound like a lot of money but UBS estimated last week that IAG could burn through €1.15 billion of cash a month.

A “senior IAG source” also briefed BBC News last week that there are better uses of taxpayer funds than a bailout for Virgin Atlantic.

(It’s also worth recalling there is a lot of history between Sir Richard Branson and Willie Walsh from the last financial crisis. When BA was reeling from the collapse of Lehman Brothers, in very public fashion due its status as a listed company, Sir Richard raised the question of the need for state support of BA. This triggered a fall in BA’s share price, and Sir Richard said of BA that “we should wait for its demise.”)

There are of course inherent conflicts in the Government taking equity stakes in different UK airlines where it would effectively have competing financial investments.

IAG has long been against Government investment in airlines and is likely to only accept an equity stake as an absolute last resort. The UK Government would only have interest in investing in BA. Ditto for the Spanish Government and Iberia. IAG has always wanted full control of all its airlines and is unlikely to be willing to cede minority interests in any of its subsidiaries, not least when there’s the potential for political interference.

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London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing – 16 March 2020

Welcome to London Air Travel’s weekly briefing on air travel around the world, as published every Monday at 06:00 GMT.

London Air Travel » Monday Briefing

Coronavirus
Coronavirus (Image Credit: Alissa Eckert, MS; Dan Higgins, MAM / Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

Welcome to London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing for the week beginning 16 March 2020.

“To be honest we’ve gone through all of this before. We’ve all seen it before.”

“We know what to do in a time like this. We know how to respond.”

The comments of IAG CEO Wille Walsh a little over two weeks ago.

Last Friday, British Airways CEO Alex Cruz sent a video message, ostensibly to employees only, which referred to BA as being in “a fight for survival”.

There is a kernel of truth that many airlines have been at pains to emphasise they have learned the lessons of 11 September 2001 and the 2008 financial crisis. Some airlines have claimed they could now be profitable in perpetuity, no matter what.

Arguably, no-one could have anticipated that many airlines could now be close to shutting down all international operations for a minimum of two months.

This is the most unprecedented situation for civil aviation since the Second World War.

Some of the tools airlines such as BA have used to get through downturns in the past, such as aggressive marketing activity in certain geographic markets or passenger segments, are simply not available now.

The “known unknown” is whether this is a period of significantly reduced demand for a few months which will soon rebound, or a fundamental reordering of global aviation.

The scale of capacity cuts and route suspensions is unprecedented:

airBaltic is to suspend all scheduled flights from 17 March to 14 April 2020, save for potential repatriation flights.

Air New Zealand is to cut long-haul capacity by 85%. London Heathrow – Los Angeles is suspended from 21 March to 30 June. Other suspended long-haul routes are Chicago O’Hare, San Francisco, Houston, Buenos Aires, Vancouver, Tokyo Narita, Honolulu, Denpasar and Taipei 

Alitalia has asked all passengers to wear masks on board its aircraft in case passengers cannot be kept one metre apart.

American Airlines is to suspend virtually all long-haul flights outside of Central & North America. The airline will operate a skeleton service of one flight a day from London Heathrow to Dallas / Fort Worth and Miami and three flights a week between Dallas / Fort Worth and Tokyo Narita.

Delta is to suspend virtually all transatlantic flights. This is save for one daily flight to Atlanta from London Heathrow, Amsterdam and Paris Charles de Gaulle; one flight from Amsterdam to Detroit; and flight from London Heathrow to New York JFK.

Lufthansa now expects its group airlines to reduce capacity by up to 70%. The airline has drawn additional credit facilities of €600m. The group is also looking to secure financing against its aircraft which it claims have a book value of €10 billion.

Norwegian has issued an outright plea for state support and has admitted it will not be able to raise funds through conventional means. Even before the extension of the US travel ban to the UK & Ireland, the airline had announced it was to ground 40% of its long-haul fleet and cancel 4,000 flights to the end of May.

Qantas has made substantial cuts to its international network, including the grounding of all part two Airbus A380 aircraft until September.

SAS Scandinavian Airlines is to suspend almost all operations from today.

Singapore Airlines has suspended services from Barcelona, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, Milan, Munich, Paris and Rome to Singapore until the end of May.

Shai Weiz, CEO of Virgin Atlantic and Peter Norris, Chairman of Virgin Group, a 51% shareholder in Virgin Atlantic, are reported to be writing to UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson this week to ask for liquidity support of up to £7.5bn for the entire industry.

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London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing – 9 March 2020

Welcome to London Air Travel’s weekly briefing on air travel around the world, as published every Monday at 06:00 GMT.

London Air Travel » Monday Briefing

Flybe De Havilland Canada Dash 8-400 Aircraft, London City Airport
Flybe De Havilland Canada Dash 8-400 Aircraft, London City Airport (Image Credit: London City Airport)

Welcome to London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing for the week beginning 9 March 2020.

It’s easy when reporting on aviation to descend into hyperbole.

However, it is no exaggeration to say that the industry is now facing what is arguably its biggest ever crisis.

In a very short space of time demand for air travel has simply collapsed. There is very little airlines can do about it. And it is not know whether the current situation will continue for weeks or months.

It was reported last week that Virgin Atlantic’s forward bookings have fallen by 50%. Lufthansa plans to cut capacity by 50% and may also temporarily ground its fleet of 14 Airbus A380 aircraft.

Norwegian’s share price has fallen to 12.24 NOK, compared to a high of 221.24 NOK at little under five years ago. City analysts widely expect the airline to have to raise new funds (again) to avoid breaching banking covenants.

IATA has made a request that regulators grant an alleviation on airport slot rules so airlines have much more flexibility to cancel flights.

Airport Co-ordination Ltd (“ACL”) which oversees slot allocation at Gatwick and Heathrow advised last week that it has granted an alleviation over slots used for mainland China and Hong Kong flights up until the end of May 2020.

However, ACL has advised that it cannot grant a broader alleviation for UK and EU airports unless the European Commission proposes a specific regulation. It has previously done so after industry crises such as 11 September 2001 and the 2008 financial crisis.

Should such an alleviation be granted then it is likely we will see BA and Virgin Atlantic implement substantial capacity cuts for the coming weeks.

Update: The European Airport Coordinators Association has today published a paper urging the European Commission to immediately relax EU Slot Regulations which would allow slot coordinators to waive “use it or lose it” airport slot rules until the end of June at the earliest. The full paper can be read here.

Flybe

So farewell then Flybe.

Once again the closure of a UK airline was the undignified sight of its last flights being cancelled at short notice and aircraft being impounded by airports over unpaid fees before entering into administration in the middle of the night.

Flybe’s ultimately unsuccessful case for state support was that 88 of its 120 routes were not flown by any other airline and would not be replaced after its failure.

That is true, up to a point. However, in the immediate aftermath of its collapse its franchise partners Blue Islands and Eastern Airways, as well as Aurigny and Loganair have wasted little time in announcing around 20 new routes to replace Flybe.

Note that Blue Islands and Eastern Airways have different advice for passengers who have made bookings through Flybe. Blue Islands is unable to honour bookings for travel from Tuesday 10 March due to the funds being withheld by Flybe’s card acquirers.

Update: Flybe’s Heathrow slots, equivalent to 12 daily return flights, have been returned to British Airways for the summer 2020 season.

Whilst BA will welcome the return of the slots this could not be more ill-timed.  BA will have to seek a dispensation to avoid forfeiting them.

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London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing – 2 March 2020

Welcome to London Air Travel’s weekly briefing on air travel around the world, as published every Monday at 06:00 GMT.

London Air Travel » Monday Briefing

Coronavirus
Coronavirus (Image Credit: Alissa Eckert, MS; Dan Higgins, MAM / Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

Welcome to London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing for the week beginning 2 March 2020.

To borrow a well-worn political phrase, a week is a long time in aviation. This time last week, most airlines thought the impact of Coronavirus was contained to operations in Asia.

It is now clear that the impact of the virus on aviation is very uncertain. Airlines are facing weeks, if not months, of reduced demand. “No show” rates are up. Forward bookings are down. Many events, including the travel trade show ITB Berlin, have also been cancelled.

Airlines are seeking a dispensation from the “80/20” rule on slots at airports such as London Heathrow which would result in significantly higher tactical cancellations.

Whilst airlines are now not giving any guidance on the financial impact of Coronavirus, some such as IAG which announced its annual results last week are keen to emphasise their resilience.

Should this evolve in to a crisis for the industry close to the scale of 11 September 2001 or the 2008 financial crash, here are some indications based on precedent, as to what might happen.

If there’s one positive that may come from this is that aviation won’t be seen as an expendable luxury as it has been in climate change debate.

Flybe Pleads For State Support

The Chancellor Of The Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, is due to give his first budget next week, Wednesday 11 March 2020.

This will no doubt be selectively leaked to the papers this coming Sunday. There has been a conspicuous silence from the Treasury about Flybe’s attempts to secure a reduction in Air Passenger Duty and a Government backed “commercial” loan.

The latter appears to have stalled over how the Government should rank above other Flybe creditors should the airline collapse.

Sky News has obtained a “leaked” letter from Flybe to the business secretary Alok Sharma in which Flybe pleads for reform to APD with a new lower band of the duty for domestic flights. Flybe also calls for more UK domestic routes to be designated Public Service Obligation routes with public subsidy.

Willie Walsh, in characteristically blunt fashion, said of Flybe last week that its business model “does not work” and its shareholders “have copped on to the fact they’ve bought a dog”.

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London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing – 24 February 2020

Welcome to London Air Travel’s weekly briefing on air travel around the world, as published every Monday at 06:00 GMT.

London Air Travel » Monday Briefing

Coronavirus
Coronavirus (Image Credit: Alissa Eckert, MS; Dan Higgins, MAM / Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

Welcome to London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing for the week beginning 24 February 2020.

Coronavirus

Two months into the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, we are beginning to see its impact on airlines outside of regions immediately affected by the virus.

Last week, Singapore Airlines announced network wide tactical cancellations up to 31 May 2020. This includes 23 return trips from London Heathrow to Singapore.

Air France-KLM estimates the outbreak will cost the group €150m -€200m up to April 2020. Approximately 5% of the group’s capacity is to mainland China. Long-haul forward bookings load factors for March 2020 are down 5 percentage points year-on year.

Air New Zealand estimates a cost of NZ$35m – NZ$75m with weaker forward bookings on domestic and Tasman routes. It is also temporarily suspending its route to Seoul from 7 March 2020 to the end of June 2020

Qantas estimates a cost of AUD$100m – AUD$150m due to Coronavirus in the first half this year. Whilst UK and US markets are considered to be largely unaffected, in addition to weakening demand from Asia, corporate and leisure domestic demand in Australia is also softening.

Closer to home, British Airways currently plans to tentatively resume flights to mainland China from mid-April 2020. However, London Heathrow – Hong Kong will remain at one flight a day until June 2020. BA has also taken the Airbus A380 off its terminating service from London Heathrow to Singapore during April and May. More details here.

Whilst BA does have a relatively small exposure to Asia compared to Air France-KLM and Lufthansa, with a much higher long-haul premium seat capacity, it is very exposed to marginal falls in premium demand.

History has shown one of the earliest indications of softening long-haul premium demand is BA turning on the taps of Club World reward seat availability, which now seems to be happening.

Many global events have also been cancelled. Due to the cancellation of Mobile World Conference in Barcelona, which was due to start today, you can buy an economy return from Heathrow to Barcelona on BA this week for less than £100. A similar fare next week will cost in excess of £300.

International Airlines Group Full Year Results

Staying with BA, its parent company IAG announces its annual financial results this coming Friday, 28 February 2020.

IAG has made much of its resilience and its preparedness to deal with any industry crisis. We should at least learn of the impact of Coronavirus on its plans for capacity growth for this year. At its Capital Markets Day last year, IAG had already cut its annual growth plans to 3.2% for 2020, with 3% growth at BA.

It is also Willie Walsh’s last results announcement as CEO. Never short of an opinion, Willie may well have a few things to get off his chest, particularly regarding Flybe and possible state support. We will report any announcements of note on Friday morning.

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London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing – 17 February 2020

Welcome to London Air Travel’s weekly briefing on air travel around the world, as published every Monday at 06:00 GMT.

London Air Travel » Monday Briefing

Qantas Airbus A350-1000 Aircraft CGI Image
Qantas Airbus A350-1000 Aircraft CGI Image (Image Credit: Airbus / Qantas)

Welcome to London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing for the week beginning 17 February 2020.

Another weekend. Another UK winter storm. There are some continued delays and cancellations at London Heathrow this morning due to Storm Dennis and yesterday’s IT failure at the airport.

British Airways has extended its flexible rebooking policy. Passengers due to fly on short-haul flights to / from Heathrow today can rebook up to Thursday 20 February 2020. The latest guidance on the Heathrow IT issue is available from BA.

Qantas Project Sunrise

Qantas’ self-imposed deadline of 31 March 2020 to place an order for Airbus A350-1000 aircraft capable of flying from London to Sydney non-stop is not far away.

Two hurdles remain.

The first is regulatory approval from the Civil Aviation Safety Authority in Australia.

The second is negotiating an agreement with the Australian & International Pilots Association.

Negotiations appear to hinge on securing productivity and efficiency gains to make these ultra long-haul flights economically viable. These are now at an impasse.

In an e-mail to Qantas pilots from CEO of Qantas International Tino La Spina, which has been widely circulated, Qantas has threatened to create a separate pool of pilots to operate ultra long-haul flights:

“We will be left with no viable alternative but to have Sunrise flying performed by a new employment entity that can provide the cost base we need for this important business opportunity

“To be absolutely clear, this is not our preferred option. And we know that flagging this will not be well received by many of you. But we want to make sure you have all relevant information when you are weighing a decision.”

This would be a highly contentious move. It will be seen by pilots as a Trojan Horse to undermine the entire principle of collective bargaining.

Qantas does of course have form on playing hardball with its unions. CEO Alan Joyce famously shut down the airline at no notice to secure an end to a long running industrial dispute.

PriestmanGoode Rebrands Aegean Airlines

London is often seen as lagging behind other major cities in aviation.

Other hub airports have more runways and their growth is not impeded by public policy.

However, one area where London does lead is the number of agencies it plays host to who design the cabins and brand identities for many airlines around the world.

These include Factory Design, Tangerine, and PriestmanGoode. The latter’s latest project is a new brand identity and cabin interior for Aegean Airlines which was unveiled last week:

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London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing – 10 February 2020

Welcome to London Air Travel’s weekly briefing on air travel around the world, as published every Monday at 06:00 GMT.

London Air Travel » Monday Briefing

London Heathrow Terminal 5A
London Heathrow Terminal 5A (Image Credit: Heathrow)

Welcome to London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing for the week beginning 3 February 2020.

Storm Ciara has of course caused significant disruption over the weekend and there some residual cancellations this morning.

It is expected to cause disruption over Northern and Central Europe this week (where it’s called Storm Sabine!). Lufthansa has also given warning of very signifiant disruption at Munich airport this morning.

BA has also extended its flexible rebooking policy. Any short-haul passenger due to fly to / from London Gatwick and Heathrow today can rebook up to Thursday 13 February 2020.

South African Airways

South African Airways announced a significant restructuring of its route network last week.

Its route from London Heathrow to Johannesburg has been spared the axe. However, SAA’s restructuring is far from complete. The Business Rescue Practitioners are still to present a business plan for the airline for approval by its creditors.

The entire process is very political. Shortly after the route restructuring was announced the Department of Public Enterprises in South Africa issued a statement to the effect that it will be making representations to the Business Rescue Practitioners. As part of this, it will ask for the route network changes to be reviewed. Meanwhile, the Democratic Alliance has called for the airline to be shut down. (SABC News)

It’s noteworthy there appears to have been no comment from Comair who operate the BA franchise in Africa and in which BA currently owns an 11% stake.

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London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing – 3 February 2020

Welcome to London Air Travel’s weekly briefing on air travel around the world, as published every Monday at 06:00 GMT.

London Air Travel » Monday Briefing

Coronavirus
Coronavirus (Image Credit: Alissa Eckert, MS; Dan Higgins, MAM / Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

Welcome to London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing for the week beginning 3 February 2020.

Mainland China Flight Suspensions & Travel Restrictions

In the space of a week, the vast majority of the world’s airlines have either suspended entirely, or substantially reduced, scheduled services to mainland China.

Some territories have also banned flights to the broader region outright. Many countries, including Australia, Bahamas, India, Israel, Japan, Korea, Kuwait, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, Trinidad & Tobago, and United States, have imposed immigration restrictions on those that have recently visited China.

In the case of any flight departing for the United States after 22:00 GMT on Sunday 2 February 2020, non-US residents will be denied entry if they have visited mainland China in the past 14 days.

US citizens and residents returning to the US who have visited mainland China in the past 14 days must return via an approved US airport only. These are Atlanta, Chicago O’Hare, Dallas Fort Worth Detroit, Honolulu, Los Angeles, Newark, New York JFK, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington Dulles. All US bound passengers will be asked to confirm this when checking in and should allow extra time at the airport. Transatlantic airlines have put in place flexible rebooking policies to accommodate passengers who are affected by this measure.

These developments affect not only passengers, but also airlines in terms of rostering crews, which has prompted many to suspended services.

Here is the current status of cancellations at the time of “going to press”. These are all under constant review and can be amended at any time. In all likelihood, airlines that have only suspended services for a short period of time will extend the period of cancellation.

Air France has suspended Paris Charles de Gaulle – Beijing Capital and Shanghai Pudong until Sunday 9 February 2020 and Wuhan until Saturday 29 February 2020.

Air New Zealand has suspended Auckland – Shanghai Pudong until Sunday 29 March 2020.

American Airlines has suspended all flights to mainland China until Friday 27 March 2020.

British Airways has suspended all flights from London Heathrow to Beijing Daxing and Shanghai Pudong International airports until 29 February 2020. A flexible rebooking policy is also in place for passengers due to fly to Hong Kong until 29 February 2020.

Flexible rebooking policies are also in place for passengers who are due to travel to the US and will not meet entry requirements.

Cathay Pacific & Cathay Dragon have reduced the number flights from Hong Kong to mainland China by approximately 50%. Cathay Pacific has also modified the in-flight service on these routes with a reduced meal service and no amenities such as blankets and hot towels in all classes.

Cathay Pacific has also been required to cancel services from Hong Kong to Milan Malpensa and Rome Fiumicino airports until 9 February 2020 due to a ban imposed by Italian authorities on flights from the region.

China Southern Airlines has suspended all flights from London Heathrow to Wuhan following the closure of the airport. Services from London Heathrow to Guangzhou, Sanya, Zhengzhou have continued to operate.

Delta has suspended all flights to mainland China until Thursday 30 April 2020.

Finnair has suspended routes from Helsinki to Beijing Capital and Shanghai Pudong airports from Friday 6 February 2020 to 29 February 2020 and Helsinki to Beijing Daxing, Guangzhou and Nanjing airports from 6 February 2020 to Sunday 29 March 2020.

KLM has suspended routes from Amsterdam Schiphol to Chengdu, Hangzhou & Xiamen until 29 February 2020. Routes from Amsterdam Schiphol to Beijing Capital and Shanghai Pudong airports are suspended until Saturday 8 February 2020.

Lufthansa Group Airlines (Austrian, Lufthansa and SWISS) have suspended all flights to Beijing and Shanghai until 29 February 2020. Flights to Nanjing, Shenyang and Qingdao are suspended until 29 March 2020.

Qantas has brought forward the planned suspension of its service from Sydney to Beijing Capital to 9 February 2020. Its remaining route from Sydney to Shanghai Pudong is suspended from 9 February 2020 to 29 March 2020.

Qatar Airways has suspended all services to mainland China until further notice.

United Airlines has suspended all service to mainland China from 6 February 2020 to 28 March 2020.

Virgin Atlantic has suspended London Heathrow – Shanghai Pudong until Monday 17 February 2020. A flexible rebooking policy is also in place for passengers due to travel to Hong Kong and mainland China until 30 April 2020.

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London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing – 27 January 2020

Welcome to London Air Travel’s weekly briefing on air travel around the world, as published every Monday at 06:00 GMT.

London Air Travel » Monday Briefing

South African Airways Airbus A340 Aircraft
South African Airways Airbus A340 Aircraft (Image Credit: South African Airways)

Hello and welcome to the London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing for the week beginning 27 January 2020.

News over the past week has of course been dominated by the Coronavirus outbreak in China. As of Sunday 26 January 2020, BA has updated its guidance for passengers. Any passenger due to fly with BA to any destination in mainland China or Hong Kong up to Sunday 23 February 2020 can change to an alternative date or obtain a refund.

Update: Virgin Atlantic has announced that passengers due to fly with the airline and its codeshare partners to mainland China and Hong Kong up to Saturday 29 February 2020 can rebook up to Tuesday 31 March 2020, or seek a refund.

Cathay Pacific has also announced that Cathay Dragon has suspended all flights from Hong Kong to Wuhan until Tuesday 31 March 2020. Cathay Pacific also has a flexible rebooking policy in place for all passengers due to travel to any of its destinations in mainland China.

The latest guidance from the UK Government is available here. The World Heath Organization also has guidance for international travellers.

South African Airways

Last week South African Airways was forced to deny speculation that it was on the cusp of suspending operations.

The airline has however undertaken tactical cancellations of selected domestic flights from its Johannesburg hub to Cape Town and Durban, as well as Johannesburg – Munich, to conserve cash.

The South African Broadcasting Corporation reports that the airline has sufficient cash to pay its January salaries to staff. The running of the airline is being overseen by a Business Rescue practitioner and it is awaiting funding of R 2 billion. There has been no update from either the National Treasury or Department Of Public Enterprises in South Africa.

Flybe

The Financial Times reported on Friday evening that Flybe is seeking a Government loan of £100m which would be on “commercial terms”.

As a condition of this, Flybe’s owners have promised to inject a further £20m into the airline, in addition to £30m it has already promised. The Sunday Telegraph also reports that Flybe is in negotiations with UK regional airports over unpaid landing fees, many of whom are effectively dependent on Flybe for survival.

Update: Sky News reports that the UK Government has appointed Alvarez & Marsal to advise on the loan to Flybe. The Financial Times also reports that a potential loan is complicated by the fact that Flybe has no unencumbered assets to provide as collateral.

Separately, Flybe’s franchise partner Eastern Airways has announced a tranche of new routes from Teeside International airport. This includes a new route to London City airport from Tuesday 27 April 2020. However, the exact schedule has not yet been confirmed and flights are not yet on sale.

Flybe will also transfer its route from London Heathrow to Guernsey to London Southend airport from Sunday 29 March 2020.

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