London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing – 23 November 2020

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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Collinson COVID-19 Testing Facility, London Heathrow
Collinson COVID-19 Testing Facility, London Heathrow (Image Credit: British Airways)

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

UK Government To Relax 14 Day Quarantine?

As airlines trial their own COVID-19 testing regimes on transatlantic flights, there are now hopes for at least a partial relaxation of the UK’s mandatory 14 day quarantine regime.

Airline CEOs remain deeply frustrated at the lack of clarity on government policy on quarantine and testing. Though, many are still keen to talk up their individual prospects.

United Airlines is in the second week of its trial to test all passengers flying on flight UA14 from Newark to London Heathrow on Monday, Wednesdays and Fridays.

You can see a report from the first flight by Richard Quest from CNN International’s “Quest Means Business”. The pre-flight testing process is clearly aided by very light passenger numbers.

Also speaking to Richard Quest last week, Virgin Atlantic CEO Shai Weiss was optimistic about the prospects for recovery, pointing to a less than expected impact from England’s second lockdown. Bookings for 2021 are also said to be improving, possibly due to positive news on a number of vaccines against COVID-19.

Delta, which owns 49% of Virgin Atlantic, is less optimistic about the prospects of a London – New York travel corridor. CEO Ed Bastian told the Financial Times it would be easier to relaunch transatlantic flights to “just about any” other European capital.

Ed Bastian added “I think you will find on the continent several countries that are more open” and, due to the mandatory quarantine regime “I think New York – London is complicated.”

American Airlines and BA are starting their own testing trial on select inbound flights from Dallas / Fort Worth, Los Angeles and New York JFK from this Wednesday.

BA CEO Sean Doyle was quoted in The Times as saying “We’ve got an immediate crisis to deal with in the industry and we think testing in lieu of quarantine is a solution that’s staring us in the face. We just need clarity of policy.”

The Telegraph reports that the Transport Secretary Grant Shapps will today announce that England’s quarantine regime will be reformed from mid-December.

Passengers arriving from countries deemed to be a high risk will be able to stop self-isolating as soon as they receive a negative test result for COVID-19. However, this test must be taken from an approved supplier on arrival. In practice, this is expected to cut the mandatory quarantine period from 14 to around 5 days.

BA To Return To Dhaka?

The Daily Star Bangladesh reports that BA is in discussions with local authorities on a return to Dhaka after a hiatus of 11 years.

The route was previously suspended in 2009. Like the launch of Lahore and capacity increases to Islamabad, this points to a pivot by BA towards “Visiting Friends & Relatives” (VFR) traffic.

If you were to consult the Ministry for Speculation and Guesswork they might suggest that other VFR routes BA could reinstate include Kolkata.

It’s plausible that, if post COVID-19, passengers are less inclined to take indirect flights over direct flights, BA may also be able to return to destinations where it had lost traffic to Middle Eastern carriers. These could include routes in East Africa such as Dar Es Salaam, Entebbe and Lusaka.

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London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing – 16 November 2020

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 De Havilland DH50 Aircraft
Qantas De Havilland DH50 Aircraft (Image Credit: Qantas Airways)

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

Qantas Celebrates Its Centenary

Today, 16 November 2020, marks 100 years since the formation of Qantas, Queensland And North Territory Aerial Services Ltd, by Hudson Fysh, Paul McGinness and Fergus McMaster.

The Sydney Morning Herald has republished its original article from 16 October 1920 on the formation of Qantas:

An interesting experiment in the use of aircraft in the outback regions of Australia is to be made by the Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services Limited.

This is a company which is being formed to operate in the Cloncurry, Winton, Longreach, and Charleville districts of Queensland.

It is to begin operations early next month with two three-seater machines, and a large machine carrying four passengers with a comfortable cabin will be on service by the end of the year.

“We took up civil aviation not sure where it would lead us” said Hudson Fysh. Conscious of the need to encourage interest in flying and convince passengers that it was safe, Qantas initially offered joy flights. Early achievements included being first airline to carry a maternity patient in Australia by air and carry out an aerial photo shoot.

Qantas opened its first regular service on 2 November 1922 between Charleville and Cloncurry – a 577 mile flight with an overnight stop in Longreach.

In 1924, Qantas received its first aircraft with a cabin, a De Hallivand DH50. Two years later, Qantas built its first own aircraft, a De Hallivand DH50A.

By 1928, Qantas had its own flying schools in Longreach and Brisbane. In the same year it started providing aircraft to the Australian Inland Mission Aerial Medical Service, now better known as The Royal Flying Doctor Service. It also began to operate flights between Brisbane and Toowoomba, Australia’s first daily air service.

Next year, Qantas founder Hudson Fysh flew the Brisbane – Darwin section of the first experimental mail service between Australia and England. After becoming interested in operating the Brisbane – Singapore section of the proposed Kangaroo route between Sydney and London, Hudson Fysh met with Imperial Airways and Qantas Empire Airways was formed between the two carriers. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Also from the archives of the Sydney Morning Herald you’ll find an archive report of Qantas’ first air mail flight designated for London and an obituary for former Qantas cabin crew Patricia St-Leon.

ABC News has published previously unseen film of Qantas Flying Boats operating between Australia and Singapore from the 1930s.

Over the past week, we’ve looked at Qantas’ first international flights, its first round-the-world flights by jet, the Boeing 747, and the future of its presence in the UK.

As well as that Qantas most memorable TV advertisements and the extraordinary story of how one man managed to extort AU$500,000 from the airline.

Qantas has released a short film to mark its centenary. Due to COVID-19, celebrations are understandably muted.

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London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing – 9 November 2020

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 Empire Airways Flying Boat Carpentaria VH-ABA
Qantas Empire Airways Flying Boat Carpentaria VH-ABA (Image Credit: Qantas Airways)

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

Qantas Prepares To Mark Its Centenary

Next Monday, 16 November, Qantas will mark 100 years since its incorporation as Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services Ltd.

With the aviation industry in a state of crisis, there is little cause or scope for celebration. At least Qantas can say this wasn’t of its own making.

It was rather fitting that in one of the earliest advertisements for the airline in November 1920, its name was printed incorrectly (this time as Northern Territory and Queensland Aerial Services Ltd), something that has continued for decades.

Queensland And Northern Territory Aerial Services Ltd Advertisement, New South Wales Aerial Derby Programme, November 1920
Queensland And Northern Territory Aerial Services Ltd Advertisement, New South Wales Aerial Derby Programme, November 1920

It was in the 1930s that Qantas began international services, forming Qantas Empire Airways with one of BA’s predecessor airlines, Imperial Airways.

The two airlines jointly operated the first regular air mail service between the UK and Australia in December 1934, with Qantas Empire Airways operating the route between Singapore and Australia.

Regular scheduled passenger service between the UK and Australia would begin in April 1935. The first trips took no less than 12 and a half days.

Qantas Empire Airways Poster
Qantas Empire Airways Poster (Image Credit: Qantas Airways)

When commercial aviation resumed after the Second World War, Qantas began operating services to London in its own right using the Lockheed Constellation aircraft

Qantas Empire Airways BOAC Kangaroo Route Advertisement, 1949
Qantas Empire Airways BOAC Kangaroo Route Advertisement, 1949

In 1954, Qantas operated the “Southern Cross” route to Sydney via New York, San Francisco, Honolulu and Fiji. This would later be operated as a single around the world route with Super Constellation aircraft.

In the 1960s, aided by the Boeing 707, Qantas would introduce a second eastbound service to Australia via Hong Kong and another westbound service to Australia via Bermuda, Mexico and Tahiti, known as the “Fiesta route”.

The Boeing 747 introduced in 1971 transformed services between the UK and Australia, eventually enabling Australia to be reached with just one stop in Asia.

By the end of the 20th century Qantas remained the dominant international airline carrying passengers to Australia. Its status as the global airline for Australians was illustrated in its most famous TV advertising campaigns featuring children’s choirs performing Peter Allen’s “I Still Call Australia Home”.

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London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing – 2 November 2020

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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easyJet aircraft landing at Berlin Brandenburg Airport, Saturday 31 October 2020
easyJet aircraft landing at Berlin Brandenburg Airport, Saturday 31 October 2020 (Image Credit: Berlin Brandenburg Airport)

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

No Visibility

When IAG published its third quarter results on Friday, it was telling that the airline group gave nothing away about its plans for 2021.

Whatever plans there were for BA, these probably now lay in tatters. On Saturday evening, the UK government effectively banned all outbound international leisure travel.

When the guidance was first published, the only exception was for “work”. Yesterday, this was extended to include “education and other legally permitted reasons.”

This officially applies until 2 December. Few expect the government, which has proven extremely reticent at managing expectations and giving bad news, to lift restrictions in four weeks.

There is the question of how this will be enforced. If the experience of existing rules on face masks is anything to go by, airlines will only enforce the rule if mandated to do by the government.

It has however clearly shaken confidence in the sector. Based on broadcast interviews given by Michael Gove yesterday, there are no indications that the government is contemplating sector specific support for aviation.

Virgin Atlantic yesterday alluded to the fact it is likely to cancel flights. easyJet and IAG may well release updates to the stock exchange today. Michael O’Leary will appear on Ian King Live on Sky News at 10.30 this morning, and will no doubt have plenty to say.

The summer 2021 season is not that far away. A lack of confidence in flying will put off many passengers from booking trips for next summer in the New Year, which provides a vital source of cash flow to airlines in the winter months.

BA Merges Heathrow Cabin Crew Fleets

BA’s combined Heathrow cabin crew fleet officially came into effect on Sunday.

The three fleets, Euro Fleet, Mixed Fleet and Worldwide have combined into one who work across BA’s Heathrow short-haul and long-haul networks.

BA first introduced “mixed” flying on a permanent basis at Gatwick, often a test bed for changes at the airline, in 2006.

The main aim is that due to the annual legal maximum of flight time hours (which long-haul cabin crew can easily reach) and duty hours (which short-haul cabin crew can easily reach), combined short-haul and long-haul flying is intended to smooth these limits. The annual savings for Gatwick were quoted as £16m per annum, so across Heathrow these will be substantial.

Euro Fleet and Worldwide previously operated exclusively short and long-haul routes respectively. Mixed Fleet, who operated both short and long-haul routes, was introduced as a separate fleet in 2010.

Mixed Fleet also had radically different working practices, particularly around rostering, disruption and the responsibilities of senior crew members.

Although BA frequent flyers are familiar with the different fleets, one of the much lesser commented aspects was that, unlike on Euro Fleet and Worldwide, the senior cabin crew grade on Mixed Fleet was a BA manager grade. This was intended to encourage senior crew members to move on to other roles in the airline. This was much less the case with Euro Fleet and Worldwide.

It was inevitable that the three Heathrow fleets would merge at some point and this has been accelerated by COVID-19. Whilst this is less so when the in-flight service is limited, it will take crews doing either short or long-haul flights for the first time to get used to working with different aircraft and service routines.

Berlin Brandenburg Airport Opens

Berlin Brandenburg Airport finally opened to scheduled passenger flights on Saturday.

This follows no less than nine years of delays and countless defects. easyJet positioned an aircraft from Berlin Tegel to Brandenburg on Saturday and operated its first flight to London Gatwick on Sunday morning.

Assuming BA is still flying to Berlin this weekend, it will transfer flights from Berlin Tegel to Brandenburg this Sunday, 8 November.

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London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing – 26 October 2020

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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Luis Gallego, Chief Executive Designate, International Airlines Group
Luis Gallego, Chief Executive, International Airlines Group (Image Credit: Iberia)

Welcome to London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing for the week beginning 26 October 2020.

Luis Gallego Unveils His First Results As IAG CEO

This Friday, 30 October 2020, Luis Gallego will present his first set of quarterly results as CEO of IAG.

Sean Doyle will also address investors for the first time in his capacity as CEO of BA.

We have a preview of what to expect. Last week, IAG announced a preliminary operating loss of €1.3 billion for the quarter to 30 September.

Revenue declined 83% to €1.2 billion, with revenue passenger kilometres falling by 88%. Average load factors fell by 38.8 percentage points to 48.9%. None of these numbers were broken down by airline.

Capacity for the 4th quarter will be no less than 30% of last year’s levels. BA has pulled at short notice some long-haul routes that were due to resume next month including Denver, Las Vegas and Seoul. IAG has also abandoned any hope of breaking even on a cash flow basis by the end of this year.

On a more positive note, IAG’s cash balance remains strong with €6.6 billion of cash at the end of September, plus €2.74 billion from its recent rights issue.

However, some debt has to be repaid in the first half of next year. With IAG’s three European markets, Ireland, Spain and the UK, facing tighter restrictions, traffic is likely to be severely depressed well into 2021.

Air France-KLM and Lufthansa will also announce their third quarter results on 30 October and 5 November respectively. Ordinarily at this time of year, IAG also holds its annual Capital Markets Day, but no event has been scheduled yet.

Back to Sean Doyle, he will be a panellist at a Royal Aeronautical Society event on climate change next month.

Heathrow’s £17 Billion Debt Mountain

Heathrow is also due to report its third quarter results this week, on Wednesday 28 October at 15:00.

Yesterday’s Sunday Telegraph reported Heathrow has warned its shareholders they may have to provide financial support to the heavily indebted airport. Heathrow owes, through a horrifically complicated structure, a large number of banks and bondholders no less than £17 billion with an annual interest bill of £500m.

Airlines and regulators have understandably balked at the suggestion that Heathrow’s lost income should be compensated for through higher passenger charges.

Heathrow clearly expects to benefit from airlines consolidating London operations at the airport and available slots being filled by new entrants, but it will be expected to take its share of the pain of COVID-19.

Quarantine To Be Waived For The “Jet Set”?

Somebody briefed yesterday’s Sunday Times, possibly not with the intention of encouraging support for the government, that the mandatory quarantine regime may be waived for the “jet set”.

This is said to include those most loved professionals “senior bankers, hedge fund managers and executives involved in high-value deals” who “come in private jets and have a chauffeur-driven car”.

Given the way the UK government has been harangued in recent days for its inability to “read the room” this could well have been leaked to torpedo these plans.

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London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing – 19 October 2020

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

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Sean Doyle, Chief Executive, British Airways
Sean Doyle, Chief Executive, British Airways (Image Credit: Aer Lingus)

Welcome to London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing for the week beginning 19 October 2020.

Sean Doyle Replaces Alex Cruz

When Keith Williams was promoted from Chief Financial Officer to become BA’s first CEO after the formation of IAG in 2011, Willie Walsh left BA with a not particularly subtle message about who was really in charge.

He was reported to have quipped to reporters that Keith had been promoted from the 2nd most important job in BA to the 2nd most important job in BA.

Last week, Sean Doyle was promoted to the 2nd most important job in BA after Alex Cruz departed the airline. This was the first major management reshuffle by IAG CEO Luis Gallego. For a group that likes to make much of the fact that it can move executives around the group, no alternative role in IAG was found for Alex.

Although Sean has a relatively low profile, his appointment has been welcomed. Colleagues praise his attention to detail and knowledge of the industry. This is clearly not seen as the time to bring in an outsider. One former colleague told the Financial Times:

“He will make the decisions that will need to be made, but will be able to bring people with him. There really are not that many people with the depth and breadth of experience of the company,”

Before becoming CEO of Aer Lingus, Sean was responsible for fleet and network planning at BA, as well as its joint-business with American Airlines. All of these will be a focus in the coming years.

As for Alex Cruz, there’s been no shortage of comment on his departure. The most balanced comes from John Strickland for Forbes who rightly points out that some of things BA has been criticised for during Alex’s leadership were not of his making.

It was, after all, Willie Walsh’s insistence a few years ago that BA did not need to change the layout of its Club World cabin. Decisions on aircraft density, as well as many other matters like new aircraft orders and capital expenditure, sit with IAG not BA.

That said, a lot of unnecessary negative publicity could have been avoided with a little foresight. Saying BA might withdraw free meals in long-haul economy when there was nothing close to a plan to do so, caused a lot of unnecessary negative headlines. Many negative headlines about the introduction of buy-on-board in short-haul economy could have been avoided if it was properly tested on a smaller scale at Gatwick first, before being rolled out at Heathrow.

Few who have followed BA’s approach to industrial relations over decades would have believed it would have ever gone ahead with a threat, no doubt the work of lawyers, to “fire and rehire” staff. But it was clearly wrong-footed by how this was seized upon by staff and trade unions. Hence what felt like an overly rehearsed performance by Alex before the Transport Select Committee last month.

Back to Sean Doyle, he is due to speak at the Airlines 2050 virtual conference at 10:15 BST today. Luis Gallego will also present his first IAG quarterly results next Friday, 30 October.

Winter Timetable

The clocks go back one hour in the UK on Sunday 25 October. This also marks the start of the winter timetable.

Ordinarily, we should be able to present a long list of schedule changes for the winter season. Not this year.

At London Heathrow, BA will resume short-haul flights to Basel, Billund, Gran Canaria, Malta, Vienna and Zagreb. Flights also resume to Amman which, along with Moscow Domodedovo, switches to short-haul configured aircraft.

Next month, BA will also resume scheduled long-haul flights from London Heathrow to Bangkok, Denver, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Santiago and Seoul. Many other routes benefit from frequency increases, including Boston which switches to twice daily. BA will also return to Orlando and Mauritius at Gatwick.

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London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing – 12 October 2020

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

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Coolum Beach, Queensland, Australia, Qantas Sightseeing Flight Saturday 10 October 2020
Coolum Beach, Queensland, Australia, Qantas Sightseeing Flight Saturday 10 October 2020 (Image Credit: Qantas Airways)

Welcome to London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing for the week beginning 12 October.

The Qantas Flight To Nowhere

When it comes to inventive ways to raise cash during COVID-19, Qantas has been leading the pack.

Having sold off amenity kits and fully stocked storage carts to frequent flyers, on Saturday Qantas operated a “flight to nowhere” from Sydney to Sydney. Passengers on board the Boeing 787-9 aircraft for the 8 hour plus time were afforded views of New South Wales, Queensland and Uluru in the Northern Territory.

Qantas has released B-Roll footage of Saturday’s flight, a clip of which you watch here.

Whatever the interest may be for similar flights in Europe, airlines will have to resist pressure over environmental concerns. There would have been huge demand for final BA Boeing 747 flights from Heathrow before their withdrawal from the airport, which the airline did not offer.

Australia: Come Fly With Me

Staying with Qantas, next month the airline will celebrate its centenary which also marks the birth of civil aviation in Australia.

A new three part series “Australia Come Fly With Me” begins this week on SBS Australia charting the course of civil aviation in Australia and how it has reflected cultural and societal change. Judging by the trailer above, there’s no shortage of archive footage. Sadly, there’s no sign yet of this series being shown in the UK.

BA Long Haul Route Updates

A familiar pattern of some steps forward and some steps backward, as far as BA’s long-haul route network is concerned.

At Heathrow, BA restarted flights to The Seychelles on Saturday. BA launches a new route to Lahore today. BA will also transfer its route to Male from Gatwick to Heathrow on Friday. The restart of Riyadh, originally planned for early October, is postponed again.

Meanwhile at Gatwick, BA returns to Grenada, via St Lucia, on Wednesday. The return of a number of other routes including Cancun and Mauritius is postponed again.

BA has also postponed the planned launch of its new route from Gatwick to Montego Bay from 13 October to provisionally 12 December.

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London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing – 5 October 2020

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

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British Airways Long-Haul Network, London Gatwick & Heathrow, October 2020 (1 October 2020 version)
British Airways Long-Haul Network, London Gatwick & Heathrow, October 2020 (1 October 2020 version) (Image Credit: British Airways)

Welcome to London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing for the week beginning 5 October 2020.

COVID-19 Airport Testing

There was a course for optimism for last week as Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye indicated that a trial of government supported, but privately funded, COVID-19 airport testing could begin “within weeks”.

According to a report in yesterday’s Sunday Telegraph, Stephen Barclay, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, said a decision would be made “in the coming days” and an announcement is expected from Grant Shapps and Matt Hancock.

The article goes on to say ministers are considering forming a “taskforce” to examine options for international travel. If so, this should have been established months ago and does not instil confidence. Not least given the UK government’s track record on over-promising and under-delivering.

Stephen Barclay appears to favour the approach of Germany where arriving passengers can receive a test result within hours to avoid quarantine. The government’s scientific advisory panel, SAGE, appears to favour “dual testing” where arriving passengers must test negative twice within five days to leave quarantine.

Last week American Airlines announced the start of pre-flight COVID-19 testing on select routes in the Americas. There is no doubt it wants to extend this to transatlantic flights with some urgency.

Dutch newspaper de Volksrant reports a trial has been underway at Helsinki airport where four sniffer dogs were trained to detect COVID-19. Whilst apparently successful in Finland, trials elsewhere have yielded less positive results.

Back to Heathrow, the airport will appear before the Supreme Court this Wednesday to appeal against the judgment of the Court of Appeal that the decision by the UK government to approve a third runway was unlawful.

BA October Schedule

A little over a week ago, we published BA’s planned route network for October.

This has been updated since publication as BA issued a revised route map, pictured above. The restart of flights from London Heathrow to Riyadh has been pushed back to 15 October.

Interestingly, BA has removed Cancun and Mauritius from its October route map even though they are currently showing as operating from 17 and 15 October. BA’s new route to Montego Bay, which is due to launch on 13 October is also absent.

Although some airlines are reported to have cancelled flights to South Africa, BA’s flights to Cape Town and Johannesburg appear to be operating as planned.

Alex Cruz To Speak At FlightGlobal Event

BA CEO Alex Cruz will speak as part of a virtual FlightGlobal event “Airlines 2050” next Monday, 12 October.

The event starts at 09:30 BST. A full agenda which includes a wide range of speaks from airlines and government is available at FlightGlobal and registration is free here.

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London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing – 28 September 2020

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

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British Airways Long-Haul Network, London Gatwick & Heathrow, October 2020
British Airways Long-Haul Network, London Gatwick & Heathrow, October 2020

Welcome to London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing for the week beginning 28 September 2020.

Aviation Hopes For An October Surprise

As the US election approaches, journalists and pundits are waiting for what is known as the “October Surprise” – this being an event, planned or unplanned, that may change the course of the election.

Airlines must be hoping for something, anything, next month to break the current impasse on travel restrictions.

In the US, airlines are likely to begin very significant redundancies as federal support under the CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act comes to an end.

According to a report by York Aviation commissioned by Airlines UK, Heathrow, IAG and Collinson Group, the UK economy is losing £32m a day due to the lack of a transatlantic air bridge.

Sir Richard Branson has, according to The Telegraph, had what would be described in diplomatic circles as “a frank exchange of views” with Matt Hancock over the government’s failure to secure a transatlantic air bridge.

Speaking to the Sydney Morning Herald, Air New Zealand CEO Greg Forum said that eliminating COVID-19, something New Zealand had aimed to do until it experienced a second wave, was no longer realistic. Taking into account the likely efficacy of a vaccine and the time it will take to distribute globally to those that are prepared to receive it, countries must learn to live with the virus.

IATA has called for a global standard of systematic testing before and after departure as in interim solution to eliminate the need for quarantine measures.

Airline industry bodies are adamant the airline travel is safe. According to a briefing by the EASA reported by Reuters only seven of three million passengers in recent weeks have displayed symptoms of COVID-19 on board aircraft. (Of course, many with COVID-19 are asymptomatic.)

BA Publishes October Route Network

BA has, for the first time in six months, published a definitive list of the destinations it will be flying to in the coming weeks.

You can read a full summary and list here.

At Heathrow, BA restarts daily flights to Cape Town and Johannesburg on 1 October. Three times weekly flights to Bahrain, Riyadh and Tokyo Haneda also start on the same day. Three times weekly flights to Montreal and four times weekly flights to Kuala Lumpur start on 2 October. On the same day, BA returns to Barbados at London Gatwick.

All UK domestic routes benefit from at least daily flights with Edinburgh having 45 return flights a week.

Short-haul routes which benefit from the equivalent of more than three daily flights include Amsterdam, Athens, Barcelona, Berlin Tegel, Dusseldorf, Faro, Istanbul, Larnaca, Lisbon, Malaga, Munich, and Rome Fiumicino.

Virgin Atlantic Appoints New CFO

Virgin Atlantic has, according to filings at Companies House, appointed a new Chief Financial Officer.

Oliver Byers, formerly Senior Vice President (that’s Delta’s influence for you) of Data & Customer Loyalty was appointed to the role last week. Oliver replaces Thomas Mackay who has held the role for the past three years.

On a related note, Virgin has yet to file its annual accounts for last year. It does benefit from an extension to the filing deadline to the end of the year. Observers will be interested to see what comments are made about its ability to continue as a going concern.

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London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing – 21 September 2020

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

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London Heathrow Terminal 5A, May 2020
London Heathrow Terminal 5 (Image Credit: Heathrow)

Welcome to London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing for the week beginning 21 September 2020.

How Did We Fly In August?

Every month the Civil Aviation Authority publishes a breakdown of passenger numbers by route.

Whilst not broken down by airline, where an airline is the sole operator of a route you can deduce how it is performing.

Here are the UK domestic and international numbers for August.

As far as domestic routes are concerned, Belfast City and Inverness are performing relatively well at Heathrow with year-on-year declines of “only” 60% and 67%. A respectable 4,510 passengers flew between Heathrow and Newquay, which indicates around 90 passengers per flight.

At London City, domestic routes have been very slow to recover with Edinburgh and Glasgow down 94% year-on-year.

A mere 100 passengers flew between London City and Teesside, indicating single digit passenger numbers per flight. The route has since transferred to London Heathrow and will clearly need codeshare partners to support it.

Turning to short-haul in Europe, some routes benefited from BA switching all Gatwick short-haul flights to Heathrow. Heathrow routes to Greece registering increases in scheduled passenger traffic included Chania (100%), Corfu (11%), Mykonos (15%) and Zakinthos (10%). Heathrow routes to Italy also performing well include Brindisi (81%) and Palermo (28%).

Many other routes from Heathrow to Spain also registered relatively softer decreases with Ibiza down only 15% and Malaga down only 13%.

More business heavy routes still registered substantial falls including Brussels down 93% and Frankfurt down 80%.

On transatlantic routes, unsurprisingly almost all routes actually operating registered falls in excess of 90%. Just 1,192 passengers flew across 13 return flights between Heathrow and Seattle in August.

Alex Cruz Appears Before Transport Select Committee

Alex Cruz appeared before the Transport Select Committee last week.

You can read the full transcript on the committee’s website, as well as our summary here.

In his evidence Alex advised BA has processed 2.1 million refunds and issued 1.6 million vouchers to passengers. BBC Radio 4’s “You and Yours” has picked up that some passengers have received vouchers thinking they were entitled to a refund. Given the complexity of the voucher scheme, this could run. The airline may have to settle claims from passengers who believe they were misled.

Comair Business Rescue Plan Approved

Comair’s business rescue plan was approved by creditors on Friday.

Whilst Comair still has some way to go yet – it still needs to secure new debt of R600 million – the airline expects to restart flights in December.

Subject to last minute changes, BA is due to resume scheduled passenger services from London Heathrow to Cape Town and Johannesburg on Thursday 1 October. Durban is suspended until late March 2021.

Virgin Atlantic has a provisional start date for Johannesburg on 18 October and Cape Town on 10 December.

Staying in South Africa, there are doubts as to whether the government will be able to secure funds to recapitalise South African Airways after a deadline of last Thursday was missed. The Department of Public Enterprises and National Treasury issued a statement on Friday seeking to assure trade unions that it will provide funding of R10.5 billion and that the airline will not be liquidated.

In case you missed it:

The European Commission grants a waiver of the “use it or lose it” slot rule for the winter season. (London Air Travel)

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