Welcome to London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing for the week beginning 23 May 2022.
The Elizabeth Line Opens Tomorrow
A new era begins in London this week.
Short of any last minute delays, or a surprise early launch, the Elizabeth line officially opens tomorrow.
The Elizabeth line comprises an entirely new railway between Paddington and Abbey Wood and rebranded TfL Rail services between Reading / Heathrow & Paddington and Liverpool Street & Shenfield.
These will initially operate as three separate lines. Trains will operate every five minutes between Paddington and Abbey Wood between 06:30 and 23:00 Monday to Saturday. Services will not stop at Bond Street, which is yet to open.
Welcome to London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing for the week beginning 16 May 2022.
Heathrow Passenger Charges Row
It was a year ago this week the UK government reopened international travel, albeit to a limited list of countries that did not require quarantine on return.
To mark the occasion the CEOs of BA and Heathrow Airport stood, as far as social distancing guidelines would allow, side by side before the cameras at Terminal 5 to herald the return of international travel.
12 months on, relations between Heathrow and its airlines are very different.
The Civil Aviation Authority is due to rule shortly on Heathrow’s passenger charges for its next five year control period, H7. The last control period expired on 31 December 2021. Before Christmas last year, the CAA allowed an interim increase from £19.36 to £30.19.
As Lufthansa was keen to point out in its annual results presentation this increase is, by some considerable margin, substantially higher than any other major European hub.
Welcome to London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing for the week beginning 9 May 2022.
American Airlines Marks 40 Years In London
American Airlines will shortly mark 40 years in London.
It was 40 years ago this week, on 13 May, that Braniff International filed for bankruptcy protection after suspending all flights the day before.
Founded in 1928, the heavily indebted airline expanded rapidly following the deregulation of the US aviation market in 1978. Braniff launched a daily service from Gatwick to Dallas / Fort Worth with its self styled “Big Orange” Boeing 747.
Welcome to London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing for the week beginning 2 May 2022.
Qantas Project Sunrise Airbus Order
Non-stop flights to Sydney are coming to London Heathrow from 2025 onwards.
Qantas has finally placed an order for 12 Ultra Long Range Airbus A350-1000 aircraft.
These will be delivered between mid-2025 and 2028. You can read full details of the Airbus A350-1000 order and its proposed layout and First Suite here.
Also announced today by Qantas is an order for 20 Airbus A220-300 aircraft and 20 Airbus A321 XLR aircraft. These will be delivered from late 2023 and 2024 respectively and will replace Boeing 717 and 737 aircraft.
A lot can happen in three years, but for Qantas CEO Alan Joyce this should cement his legacy of breaking one of the final frontiers of civil aviation and helping Qantas reassert itself after a decades of retraction on international routes.
Welcome to London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing for the week beginning 25 April 2022.
Another bank holiday weekend is approaching in the UK. Attention will once again be focused on how well airports and airlines are equipped to handle passenger volumes.
In response to reports BA is setting up a cabin crew base in Madrid to staff some short haul flights this summer, the airline has told The Telegraph it is “looking at a range of temporary options to ensure we can support our customers this summer as we ramp our operation back up.”
BA has in the past actively recruited cabin crew in mainland Europe for its London cabin crew fleets. It also has overseas crew bases to provide local language speakers on certain long haul routes, but has more recently generally preferred to recruit crews with specific language skills in the UK.
This would be the first time the airline has set up an overseas crew base to operate short haul flights. What is planned as temporary can often become permanent. Much like the establishment of BA EuroFlyer at Gatwick this in the past would have been seen as unpalatable to trade unions.
Welcome to London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing for the week beginning 11 April 2022.
Travel To London’s Airports This Easter
“Why is air travel such a nightmare right now?” asked yesterday’s Sunday Times.
Passengers continue to contend with short notice cancellations, security queues and long waits for baggage at airports.
The situation will no doubt abate, but not in the short term. If you are heading to an airport this coming Easter weekend, there is also disruption to rail services.
No Gatwick Express services will run over the four day weekend. Nor any Southern rail services from London Victoria to Gatwick. Southern and Thameslink trains will continue to run between Gatwick and London Bridge.
On London Underground, no trains will run between Acton Town and Heathrow stations. If you’re heading to Paddington, the Hammersmith & City line is closed all weekend. Heathrow Express and TfL Rail services to Heathrow should operate normally.
There are also no direct trains between London and Stansted. Full guidance is available from National Rail.
Welcome to London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing for the week beginning 4 April 2022.
The Easter Getaway Begins
Today, the first week of April, marks the official start of the Easter Holidays for schools in the UK.
It also marks the start of the second quarter of the year. This is supposed to be the time when airlines leave COVID-19 losses behind, return to profitability and take advantage of pent up demand for summer travel.
The signs are this will be, at best, a bumpy ride.
Both BA and easyJet made a large number of short notice flight cancellations over the weekend. This follows repeated disruption at BA, due to both staffing issues and IT failures, in previous weeks.
In an ominous warning BA is only selling fully flexible short haul economy fares at Heathrow for travel over the next two weeks. This is historically only done when the airline is expecting mass cancellations.
The long Easter weekend is next week. If airlines do not have the resources to meet their current Easter schedules, they would be well advised to take the pain of cancellations now. Otherwise, the EASTER TRAVEL CHAOS newspaper front pages will write themselves.