London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing – 14 March 2022

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

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

Welcome to London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing for the week beginning 14 March 2022.

BA Franchise Comair Suspends Flights

In the 1990s, a time when BA had ambitions to be what it regarded as the first global airline, franchising was seen as means to extend its brand around the world.

At its peak, there were more than 10 franchises, carrying nearly 6 million passengers a year to around 100 destinations.

Over time, these have whittled down to just two airlines. In the UK, BA chose to allow British Mediterranean Airways and GB Airways to be sold to bmi and easyJet.

BA terminated its last UK franchise agreement with Loganair, with a terse statement from then CEO Willie Walsh that franchises had outlived their purpose.

Internationally, an attempt to set up a franchise airline in India never came to pass.

Whilst franchise agreements no doubt contain many protections for BA, allowing your brand on aircraft you don’t actually operate does carry risk.

Over the weekend the South African Civil Aviation Authority suspended Comair’s operating licence following a number of safety related incidents. Comair had expected the matter to be resolved swiftly, but that proved not to be the case. You can read extracts of their respective statements here.

South Africa is obviously an important market for BA and Comair helps provide connecting traffic, but these incidents will be reviewed by BA and its parent company IAG.

Staying with another franchise, there appears to be no immediate prospect of SUN-AIR resuming flights to Billund. These have been off sale for some time.

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London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing – 7 March 2022

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

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Finnair Airbus A350-900 Aircraft Side View (Image Credit: Finnair)

Welcome to London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing for the week beginning 7 March 2022.

The Return Of The Polar Route To Japan

Shortly after maintaining it was safe to continue to use Russian airspace and cancelling its codeshare with BA to protect itself, Japan Airlines has decided to reroute flights from London Heathrow to Tokyo.

Flights will now pass over Greenland and Alaska, rather than Russia. Readers may remember from the late 1960s BOAC and Japan Airlines launched “Polar flights” from London to Japan, with a stop in Anchorage, before they could secure access to Russian airspace.

You can see footage from the first BOAC Polar flight to Osaka in the Pathe film below.

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London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing – 28 February 2022

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

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Iberia Airbus A350-900 Aircraft “Paco De Lucia” (Image Credit: Iberia)

Welcome to London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing for the week beginning 28 February 2022.

The attention of the world is of course focused on the very fast moving situation in Ukraine.

As has been extensively reported, a growing number of flight bans on Russian registered and controlled aircraft are in place. Many airlines are avoiding Russian airspace, regardless of whether they are allowed to use it.

Some airlines such as Finnair have been forced to temporarily suspend long haul routes. Others, such as Emirates, are looking at operating routes between Dubai and the US via Europe.

IAG Annual Results & Fleet Plans

IAG published its annual results last Friday. You can read our full write up here.

IAG confirmed its airlines will take delivery of 15 long haul and 10 short haul aircraft this year. It did not give a breakdown by airline.

Yesterday, Iberia confirmed it will receive 3 Airbus A350-900 and 6 Airbus A320neo aircraft this year. This leaves 12 long haul and 4 short haul aircraft for other airlines in the group.

Iberia will have another 8 Airbus A350-900 to be delivered by the end of 2024. These will feature new cabins in all travel classes.

Iberia also confirmed it will take delivery of its first Airbus A321XLR aircraft, ordered before the COVID-19 pandemic, from late 2023.

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London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing – 21 February 2022

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

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International Airlines Group Tailfins
International Airlines Group Tailfins

Welcome to London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing for the week beginning 21 February 2022.

Today’s the day Australia reopens its borders to international travel. Meanwhile in another sign of travel returning to its pre COVID-19 state, flights in the UK remain subject to disruption due to severe weather, with short haul flights bearing the brunt of cancellations.

IAG Prepares To Announce Its Annual Results

It’s results season.

Last week Air France-KLM and Finnair announced their annual results for 2021. This Friday it’s the turn of IAG. Lufthansa will follow next week.

For IAG, we can expect another heavy annual loss. Analysts will be keen to understand the group’s capacity plans for the coming year – and whether they can be fulfilled – as well as plans for aircraft deliveries in the coming years.

BA has tried to make much of planned investments in customer service but, apart from the roll out of its Club Suite, there is little by way of hard capital spend.

Ever since the decision by the UK to leave the European Union, there has been the question whether IAG’s ownership structure could be compliant with the UK’s future relationship with the EU.

Former IAG CEO Willie Walsh always confidently brushed aside any concerns. When IAG was formed it was structured to ensure that both BA and Iberia were majority UK & Spanish owned to comply with bilateral route authorities.

There have been reports of lobbying by France and Germany for the EU to demand IAG spin off BA to comply EU airline ownership laws. When asked about the need for airlines operating in the EU to comply with such laws, Air France KLM CEO Benjamin Smith was quoted in the Financial Times last week as saying the group would not be “holding back our efforts to make sure they are”.

IAG is unlikely to comment on litigation between its shareholder Qatar Airways and Airbus, nor ongoing pay negotiations at BA.

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London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing – 14 February 2022

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

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Gatwick Airport Runways
Gatwick Airport Runways (Image Credit: Gatwick Airport)

Welcome to London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing for the week beginning 14 February 2022.

Gatwick Hopes For A Busy Summer

Gatwick Airport was in upbeat mood last Friday.

The airport was hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic with BA and Virgin consolidating flights at Heathrow. Norwegian also suspended long haul operations entirely.

The airport confirmed that its South Terminal will reopen to passenger flights from the start of the summer season on Sunday 27 March.

easyJet and Vueling will operate increased schedules are they’re both leasing slots from BA. This is not the first time BA has indirectly assisted easyJet’s growth at Gatwick.

Iberia Express will also tentatively restart twice daily flights to Madrid from 27 March.

As far as BA is concerned, there are signs that it’s not quite ready to restart short haul flights. The start date of roughly a third of its planned routes was pushed back last week, including:

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London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing – 7 February 2022

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

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Her Majesty The Queen, BOAC
Her Majesty The Queen Elizabeth II returns to London Airport, 7 January 1952

Welcome to London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing for the week beginning 7 February 2022.

Finnair To Unveil Premium Economy Cabin

It’s more than 20 years since British Airways and Virgin Atlantic first introduced premium economy to long haul flights.

Premium economy proved to be a success for both airlines. It is claimed by analysts that, on per square foot basis, premium economy is BA’s most profitable cabin.

It took a long time for airlines around the world to follow suit. This was principally for fear that premium economy would cannibalise business class revenue if corporate customers traded down to the cabin.

BA’s Oneworld alliance partners American Airlines and Iberia only introduced premium economy a few years ago. This week another follows suit. Finnair is expected to unveil its first premium economy cabin this week, as well as refreshed economy and business class cabins.

Before COVID-19, Finnair regularly operated wide body Airbus A330-300 and A350-900 aircraft between London Heathrow and Helsinki. This will hopefully return soon, providing an opportunity to eventually see refurbished aircraft at Heathrow.

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London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing – 31 January 2022

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

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Sean Doyle, Chief Executive & Chairman, British Airways (Image Credit: British Airways)

Welcome to London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing for the week beginning 31 January 2022.

Sean Doyle Sets Out His Vision For BA

Did you receive an e-mail from BA CEO Sean Doyle yesterday morning?

With a sense of optimism that the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic is behind it, BA held an event for staff and journalists last Friday to set out a plan to rebuild the airline.

This follows a number of senior management changes, including a new Director of Business Recovery.

Speaking to the Financial Times on Friday Sean said:

“Putting the premium proposition into the heart of what we do is going to be key”

And with echoes of Colin Marshall and “Putting People First”:

“Any airline can go out and buy products off the shelf and put them on a plane. It’s actually the confidence and the style and the intimacy that we deliver in service that is going to be a differentiator” 

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London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing – 24 January 2022

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

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Qantas Boeing 787-9 Aircraft VH-OJA Pre Departure, London Heathrow Terminal 3, Thursday 14 November 2019
Qantas Boeing 787-9 Aircraft VH-OJA Pre Departure, London Heathrow Terminal 3, Thursday 14 November 2019 (Image Credit: Qantas Airways)

Welcome to London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing for the week beginning 24 January 2022.

How Ready Are Airlines For The Summer Season?

If you’ve browsed Instagram recently you may well have seen cabin crew recruitment campaigns for BA and Virgin Atlantic.

It’s now nearly two months until the start of the summer 2022 season. There are certainly signs airlines will be dealing with stretched resources.

There are unconfirmed reports that BA will wet lease aircraft from its fellow IAG airline Iberia Express to cover some Gatwick short haul flights. Last week, another IAG airline, Vueling, announced a string of new routes from Gatwick to Spain, at relatively short notice.

Airlines also do not yet know what airport slot usage rules will be in place as the UK government is yet to publish any guidance.

Edit: The Department for Transport has confirmed the threshold will be set at 70%, with a broader scope to claim dispensation for non-use of slots.

Hopes that next summer may be a return to “normal” may be a little premature.

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London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing – 17 January 2022

Welcome to London Air Travel’s first Monday Briefing of 2022.

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BA Airbus A319 aircraft at London Heathrow (Image Credit: British Airways)
BA Airbus A319 aircraft at London Heathrow (Image Credit: British Airways)

Welcome to London Air Travel’s first Monday Briefing of 2022.

BA Cuts Short Haul Schedules

Yesterday’s Sunday Times reported that the government is likely to remove the need for passengers returning to England to take a lateral flow COVID-19 test after arrival.

Airlines will welcome a reduction in the cost and complexity associated with travel. Testing requirements are one of many issues airlines are now dealing with, including staff shortages.

From the airlines’ part, restoring confidence in travel has to also come from them getting to a point where there is stability to their schedules and passengers can book flights without fear of repeated cancellations.

On that theme, a number of BA short haul routes are suspended from today until February. These include:

Basel – Until Thursday 10 February
Brussels – Until Monday 7 February
Inverness – Until Monday 28 February
Luxembourg – Until Monday 28 February
Marseille – Until Wednesday 9 February
Seville – Until Thursday 10 February
Verona – Until Friday 11 February

The airline has also extended the suspension of some routes including:

Bilbao – Until Sunday 20 February
Bordeaux – Until Saturday 26 March
Marrakech – Until Thursday 10 February
Pisa – Until Friday 4 March
Porto – Until Thursday 10 February
Rotterdam – Until Monday 28 February
Stuttgart – Until Monday 28 February
Zagreb – Until Monday 28 February

On long haul, twice daily services to Cape Town restart today. As do Airbus A380 flights to Johannesburg (BA57 & BA54).

This week, BA also suspends flights to Baltimore, Nashville and New Orleans until late April / early May.

Readers can keep up to date with the latest network changes with our dedicated guides to BA’s long haul and short haul networks.

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London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing – 13 December 2021

Welcome to London Air Travel’s weekly briefing on air travel around the world, which returns on Monday 17 January 2022.

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Concorde and Santa Claus, Rovaniemi, Finland, 1997
Concorde and Santa Claus, Rovaniemi, Finland, 1997. Photo by Eric Chretien/Gamma-Rapho published under license from Getty Images. Unauthorised distribution and reproduction prohibited.

Welcome to London Air Travel’s final Monday Briefing for 2021.

This is our last bulletin before a break over Christmas and New Year. Thank you for reading in what has been another challenging and uncertain year. Our next bulletin will be on Monday 17 January 2022.

BA Prepares Summer 2022 Schedules

It’s normally at this time of year airlines have finalised their schedules for the summer season ahead of Christmas & New Year sales campaigns.

Whilst many Oneworld alliance airlines have confirmed new routes for next year, there’s a conspicuous silence so from BA. So far we only know of two new routes to The Azores for summer 2022. We don’t know of any new long haul routes, nor a firm start date for short haul flights at Gatwick.

It was only a few weeks ago that the airline was expected to operate the same level of capacity to North America in 2022 as 2019.

There are signs that these plans are being scaled back. Last week, BA processed a lot of long haul schedule updates for the summer season. Whilst the the Airbus A380 aircraft will return to Boston and Chicago O’Hare next summer, this will not be further into the season – 15 May & 1 June 2022 respectively.

The return of the A380 to San Francisco has also been pushed back to 1 May 2022. Double daily flights to Houston and Seattle have also been pushed back to 8 May 2022.

There is anecdotal evidence of passengers cancelling flights due to the uncertainty caused by increased testing and self-isolation requirements. Readers have no doubt heard of friends cancelling plans for Christmas overseas. Data provided by ForwardKeys to the Financial Times shows that transatlantic bookings between the UK and US have fallen back sharply since the Omicron variant was reported to the World Health Organisation.

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