London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing – 21 June 2021

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 21 June 2021.

Sunday Times Interview With Sean Doyle

Corporate PR is all about setting out a narrative and, where necessary, getting your side of the story out first before someone else.

Virgin Atlantic used to the master of this. When the airline was in the ascendancy everything was presented through the prism of “bringing much needed competition to British Airways”.

When a business loses control of the narrative, it is hard to regain it. A case in point was BA’s botched implementation of Buy On Board on short haul flights in 2017.

As soon as national newspapers picked up the story, relatively trivial details such as the removal of flowers in Club World washrooms suddenly became newsworthy. Alex Cruz became a lightning rod for criticism and BA had to fight a rearguard action to try and change the story about the airline.

It has to be said that Alex Cruz didn’t always help himself. Negative stories about a possible removal of free hot meals in long haul economy could easily have been avoided if he’d simply said “We have no plans to do that.” rather than “We might do it.” There’s a reason why company executives are not allowed anywhere near a microphone until they’ve had media training from a former journalist.

If you read the interview with current CEO Sean Doyle in yesterday’s Sunday Times Magazine you’d be forgiven for thinking the airline was on the cusp of entering a new era with a focus on excellence and a premium experience for all.

This is all perfectly laudable but almost every initiative mentioned (Club Suite, expanded premium economy cabins, new in flight entertainment systems, catering by Do& Co, resolution of customer queries on “first contact”) were already in train under Alex Cruz.

There is no escaping the fact that COVID-19 has had a significant impact on the airline’s financial health. Decisions will have to be made in the coming years that will determine the airline’s course for the rest of the decade.

This is not to play down Sean’s strengths – he is clearly very articulate and knows the airline extremely well.

But it is one thing for Sean to put a Concorde nose cone on a Terminal 5 lounge terrace. It will be a considerably harder feat to persuade a heavily indebted IAG to commit tens of millions of pounds to refurbish the Heathrow lounges, which they do need. Or to order Airbus A321LR & XLR aircraft to rebuild the long haul network.

Another big strategic decision will be the airline’s presence at Gatwick. Interest was reignited this weekend following a Sunday Telegraph report that BA may pull out of Gatwick entirely. Some six weeks ago, IAG CEO Luis Gallego said that group was reviewing its presence there. Quite way the Telegraph has picked up on this now, citing “industry sources” isn’t clear – unless it has been leaked to try and bounce somebody into action.

BA Route Network Updates

Staying with BA, the airline is due to launch its new routes from London City airport to Guernsey and Jersey this Friday 25 June.

At Heathrow, BA returns to Warsaw on Wednesday 23 June, Riyadh on Saturday 26 June and Newquay on Sunday 27 June.

The planned launch of new summer seasonal routes to Cluj-Napoca, Gdansk, Wroclaw and Riga has been pushed back to mid July and may well move again.

Over at Gatwick, BA has also recently restarted limited flights to Punta Cana.

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London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing – 14 June 2021

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 aircraft on the ground at London Heathrow Airport.
British Airways Aircraft At Sunset, London Heathrow

Welcome to London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing for the week beginning 14 June 2021.

A Second Lost Summer

Ahead of the G7 Summit in Cornwall last week, all airlines operating flights between the UK and the US issued a joint statement calling for transatlantic travel between the two to be reopened.

Curiously, it was only BA and Virgin Atlantic that really promoted the statement. The actions of their US counterparts were much more muted.

This is possibly because they have a buoyant and a substantially larger domestic market – typically five times the size of their international markets – to keep them in business. Or perhaps they knew it would fall on deaf ears. Which it did.

The government is expected to today confirm at a press conference that the planned lifting of all COVID-19 restrictions in England on 21 June 2021 will be delayed by up to four weeks. It is a safe assumption that the “green list” will not be extended during this time.

The UK travel industry appears to have few friends in government at present. There are growing calls for the furlough scheme to be extended to April next year, which would cover the entirety of the winter season.

British Airways has also called for the government to provide further sector specific support with subsidies to cover the cost of maintaining grounded aircraft.

Meanwhile in Europe, according to Politico, the European Council is expected to today formally adopt a streamlined set of travel rules for EU Member States.

In what won’t be the last airline casualty of COVID-19, last week Air Antwerp, which flew between London City and Antwerp, confirmed it will not resume flights in August as planned. Its website is still live but the airline has stopped taking bookings.

As has been widely reported Aer Lingus Regional franchise operator Stobart Air suspended operations last week after a deal to sell the airline fell through. Full details of replacement flights covering its former routes are available from Aer Lingus.

South African Airways

The South African government confirmed last week it has selected The Takatso Consortium as the preferred Strategic Equity Partner for South African Airways.

The consortium will own 51% of the airline and the state will retain 49% ownership. The intention is to eventually list the relaunched airline.

The consortium comprises Harith General Partners, which invests in African infrastructure and owns Lanseria International Airport, and South African based aviation group Global Aviation which launched the local airline LIFT last year.

A due diligence exercise is now underway and once this is complete the consortium will outline plans for the airline’s route network, fleet, brand and global partnerships.

Staying with South Africa, Virgin Atlantic confirmed last week it plans to reinstate passenger flights from London Heathrow to Johannesburg on 24 June.

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London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing – 7 June 2021

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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Singapore Airlines Airbus A380 London Heathrow
Singapore Airlines Airbus A380 London Heathrow (Image Credit: Heathrow)

Welcome to London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing for the week beginning 7 June 2021.

Travel Industry Reels From UK Government’s Volte Face

The UK travel industry is understandably reeling from the UK government’s decision last week to remove Portugal from the “green list” and not add any further countries.

Airline CEOs had made it clear months ago that they needed certainty and there are very substantial costs involved in preparing aircraft and crews for a return to service.

In terms of route network development this week, at London City BA CityFlyer is due to return to Palma de Mallorca and launch Gibraltar this Friday. At Heathrow, BA will return to Split this Friday.

Qantas Organised Crime Allegations

The Sydney Morning Herald and 60 Minutes (Nine Network Australia) have reported that an Australian federal intelligence operation code named “Project Brunello” has identified that up 150 staff at Qantas may have links to organised crime.

These employees are said to have used their “trusted insider” status at the airline to facilitate criminal activity. Qantas departments most vulnerable to infiltration are said to be its air freight division, and ground crew and baggage handling divisions.

One person who occupies a mid manager role at Qantas’ airport operations in Sydney is claimed to have links to criminal gangs and may have recruited criminals at the airline to facilitate the importation of narcotics into Australia.

Around 60 staff are said to have links to “serious drug offences” or “organised crime groups”.

Yesterday, Qantas issued a statement denying any knowledge of current investigations into organised crime at the airline.

Singapore Airlines Marks 50 Years’ Flying From London

Last week, Singapore Airlines marked 50 years of flying from London to Singapore.

It was on 3 June 1971 that Singapore Airlines’ predecessor Malaysia Singapore Airlines launched flights from London Heathrow to Singapore.

Flights initially operated three times weekly on Monday, Thursday and Saturday, departing at 13:10. These were operated with Boeing 707 aircraft, stopping en route at Rome, Bahrain and Mumbai. These were increased to daily from 1 April 1973, departing Heathrow at 14:10.

For a very brief period from December 1977, British Airways and Singapore Airlines operated a joint Concorde service from London Heathrow to Singapore via Bahrain. This cut the journey time from 15 hours and 25 minutes to 9 hours and 15 minutes.

Flights to Singapore had to use Indonesian airspace as Malaysia refused to allow the use of its airspace on environmental grounds. Flights were temporarily suspended after just seven days’ operation for over a year until Malaysia allowed use of its airspace in December 1978.

On 25 November 1983, Singapore Airlines upgraded its own route to a Boeing 747-300 aircraft four times a week. This aircraft featured an expanded Upper Deck, unique to Singapore Airlines and twice the size of other 747 aircraft, dubbed “BIG TOP”. This was used to accommodate the business class cabin with First Class and economy on the main deck. These flights were increased to daily from early 1984.

On 29 October 1984, Singapore operated the first non-stop flight from London to Singapore. Non-stop flights operated initially three times weekly, and increased to daily in 1985.

The 747 enabled Singapore to become a major hub for travel between Europe and Australia though it has faced increased competition from hubs in the Middle East.

Singapore Airlines has always prided itself on industry firsts and in March 2008 it was the first airline to operate scheduled passenger Airbus A380 flights from London Heathrow.

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London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing – 31 May 2021

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 Collage
London Heathrow Collage (Image Credit: Heathrow)

Welcome to London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing for the week beginning 31 May 2021.

Heathrow Airport Marks 75 Years

Heathrow Airport marks 75 years of civil aviation operations today.

Although the airport, then known as London Airport, traces its history much further, it was on 31 May 1946 it officially started passenger flights.

Like many aviation anniversaries of late, there is little cause for celebration.

It’s no exaggeration to say Heathrow’s fortunes have changed dramatically in the past 12 months. Two of its four terminals remain closed to passenger flights. There are scores of destinations on its route network that have not been served for over a year, and many may not be touched for another 12 months. It will be some time before we see 7 Airbus A380s a day flying to Dubai, or nearly 30 flights a day to New York.

In its early years, Heathrow replaced Croydon and Northolt as hubs for BA’s predecessor airlines British European Airways and British Overseas Airways Corporation.

The experience of its first passengers was radically different to now. Passengers would be bussed from the Imperial Airways Terminal and West London Air Terminal. These were rendered redundant by the opening of the now demolished Terminal 1 in April 1969 and the extension of the Piccadilly Line to Heathrow in December 1977.

The oldest terminal at the airport today is Terminal 3 which opened in November 1961 when it was then known as the Oceanic Terminal. This is eventually earmarked for demolition in favour of an expanded Terminal 2.

In its time Heathrow has witnessed many aviation milestones including the first passenger jet flight across the Atlantic, the arrival of Concorde and the Boeing 747, the launch of “Shuttle” services to UK regional airports, and Qantas operating non stop flights to Australia.

1991 saw significant change with the arrival of Virgin Atlantic. This was marked with Sir Richard Branson dressing as a pirate and covering a model BA Concorde with Virgin livery and declaring the airport “Virgin Territory”. It prompted a rapid deterioration in its relationship with BA.

American Airlines and United also replaced Pan American World Airways and Trans World Airlines as the two US airlines permitted to fly to the USA. The EU-US Open Skies treaty allowed what was then Continental, Delta, Northwest Airlines and US Airways transfer operations from Gatwick to Heathrow.

Some airlines have come and gone, notably the “friendly independent” bmi British Midland.

Whilst Heathrow remains highly sought after – every season new airlines seek to gain access – relations between the airport and airlines can be poor. The chaotic opening of Terminal 5 in 2008 exposed a dysfunctional relationship with BA. The airport has rightly criticised for its disastrous response to heavy snowfall in Christmas 2010, which prompted a radical overhaul of its image.

Whilst the airport and airlines are presenting a united front in campaigning for the lifting of travel restrictions, tensions will continue as Heathrow seeks to recover its financial losses due to COVID-19 and fund a third runway.

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London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing – 24 May 2021

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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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 Monday Briefing for the week beginning 24 May 2021.

BA Short Haul Additions

The relaunch of international travel last week was, in spite of a co-ordinated PR effort between BA and Heathrow, a fairly muted affair.

This was not helped by mixed messages from government ministers on the relative status of amber and green list countries. At the weekend Transport Secretary Grant Shapps confirmed that people should not be taking holidays to amber list countries, but is confident that the green list will be extended throughout the summer.

This weekend BA is due to restart short haul flights from London Heathrow to a number of destinations in Greece including Chania, Kalamata, Kefalonia, Preveza, Rhodes and Zakynthos.

BA also launches flights from Manchester and Newcastle to Faro. BA CityFlyer also starts services to Faro from Edinburgh and Southampton. BA will also operate a large number of flights this weekend from Heathrow and Manchester to Porto.

Breeze Airways

A new airline takes to the skies in the US this week. Breeze Airways will launch its inaugural route from Tampa to Charleston this Thursday, 27 May.

Founded by serial airline entrepreneur David Neeleman it aims to operate unserved city pairs across the US. Additional markets will be progressively added throughout June and July with the aim of operating 39 routes between 16 cities.

Flights will be operated by Embraer E190 & E195 aircraft. The airline also has 60 Airbus A220 aircraft on order which will be delivered from later this year.

Breeze has styled itself as “seriously nice” airline with fare classes branded “nice” and “nicer”. It will also introduce a dedicated premium cabin “nicest” on Airbus A220 aircraft.

In case you missed it:

JetBlue finally confirms its plans to launch flights to New York JFK at Heathrow from 12 August and Gatwick from 30 September. Time will tell whether it’s really worth the effort splitting such a small operation between two London airports. (London Air Travel)

Heathrow Airport is to open a dedicated arrivals facility at Terminal 3 for passengers arriving direct on flights from “red list” countries from 1 June 2021. This will eventually transfer to Terminal 4. (London Air Travel)

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London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing – 17 May 2021

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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Aer Lingus London Heathrow
London Heathrow Terminal 2 (Image Credit: Heathrow)

Welcome to London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing for the week beginning 17 May 2021.

Travel Restrictions From England Lifted

Today, Monday 17 May, marks the lifting of restrictions on outbound international travel from England. Passengers no longer need a legally permitted reason to travel.

Many will still find the prospect of a holiday a long way off and, to the frustration of airlines, the UK government continues to dampen expectations.

At BA, there is a modest increase in short haul flights from London Heathrow.

Reinstated routes from this week – assuming no last minute cancellations! – include Ibiza, Lanzarote, Madeira, Malta, Marseille, Mykonos, Naples, Palma de Mallorca, Pisa, Santorini, Tenerife and Toulouse. BA also returns to Chicago O’Hare this week.

At London City airport, BA CityFlyer returns to Glasgow from today and Faro later this week.

Virgin Atlantic is due to return to Montego Bay from this Wednesday.

Full details on the new rules and the traffic light system for arrivals in England are available on gov.uk

Dedicated Heathrow Terminal For “Red List” Flights?

There has been considerable controversy over the past week on the UK government being slow to impose mandatory quarantine on flights from countries with relatively high rates of COVID-19 infection.

It has been suggested in the past that Terminal 4 could be designated as a terminal for “red list” flights so arriving passengers do not mix with those arriving from amber and green countries.

Yesterday’s Sunday Times reported that Ministers are proposing that Terminal 2 could be designated as an arrivals terminal for “red list” flights.

This will introduce considerable complications. It would require Terminal 3 to reopen first. Airlines such as BA and Virgin will not relish having to split operations between terminals. A large number of other airlines currently operating from Terminal 2 would have to relocate to Terminals 3 and 5. Given the pressure a heavily indebted Heathrow is under to contain operating costs, it will not want to reopen additional terminals unless it has to.

Wide Body Short Haul Flights

Back to short haul travel in Europe, one of its few reliable pleasures is a flight on a wide body aircraft.

Due to limited scheduled passenger flights, airlines are operating selected flights with wide body aircraft for their cargo capacity.

Yesterday, BA started operating flights BA559 & BA560 between Heathrow and Rome Fiumicino on Sundays with Boeing 777-200 aircraft.

Other BA wide body short haul flights at Heathrow this month include:

BA430 & BA431 to / from Amsterdam on Wednesday & Thursday;
BA636 & BA637 to / from Athens on Friday & BA626 & BA627 on Sunday;
BA621 & BA622 to / from Larnaca on Monday & BA664 & BA665 on Thursday;
BA776 & BA777 to / from Stockholm on Friday; and
BA712 & BA713 to / from Zurich on Wednesday.

As ever, these are indicative and subject to change at very short noice.

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London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing – 10 May 2021

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, London Gatwick
British Airways, London Gatwick

Welcome to London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing for the week beginning 10 May 2021.

BA launched its first major advertising campaign in two years last Thursday, one day before the UK government announced its “green list”. If you’ve not already seen it there’s a dedicated landing page on ba.com

These campaigns are planned well in advance and it is likely the airline thought it would be offering a more substantial schedule in late May than several flights a day to Faro. Speculation that the US was about to reopen to UK travellers was clearly wide of the mark.

IAG Keeps Its Options Open On Gatwick

When IAG’s management team were asked at its quarterly results presentation about BA’s plans to return to Gatwick airport, CEO Luis Gallego gave some rather cryptic comments.

Gatwick airport was described as having “strategic value” but IAG needed “to be flexible and competitive there” with the demand profile said to have changed post COVID-19 – BA is no longer competing against Norwegian and Virgin Atlantic at Gatwick. Luis added that the group is analysing the different options available to it.

When flights restart will depend on whether there is a further dispensation on “use it or lose it” slot rules for the winter season where the UK can now set its own rules.

If not, then IAG, and it’s clear that these decisions are being made above BA, will have to decide on its future at Gatwick as preserving slots at Heathrow will have to take priority for BA.

It is hard to see IAG replacing BA at Gatwick with another brand in the group. Vueling, which has had a somewhat scattergun approach to launching routes in the UK, and has not really gained any traction. LEVEL is also an unknown quantity and has retreated from short haul markets in Amsterdam and Vienna. There would also be much less synergy with the BA Executive Club and BA Holidays.

History has shown that when slots are ceded to rivals at slot constrained airports it is very hard to regain a presence. 20 years ago easyJet had next to no presence at Gatwick. By downsizing at the turn of the century and allowing easyJet to acquire its former franchise partner GB Airways and Flybe’s slot portfolio, BA played a large part in enabling it to become the dominant airline. Only until relatively recently did BA seek to regain momentum by buying Monarch’s former slots.

There were already some signs of a change in approach. The planned transfer of routes to Accra, Doha and Islamabad from Heathrow to Gatwick do not fit with BA’s historic approach of focusing on point to point leisure traffic.

BA May Restart Airbus A380 Flights Later This Year

It has been known for some time that BA has no plans to follow many other airlines and retire the Airbus A380 aircraft early.

IAG did indicate last year that up to 4 of its 12 strong fleet could be put in to storage for the medium term. At last week’s results announcement, BA CEO Sean Doyle said the aircraft could return to service later this year when demand recovers.

Whilst we won’t be seeing BA’s A380s flying to Hong Kong or Singapore anytime soon, with a high premium seating configuration, it clearly sees the aircraft as a necessary part of its fleet now the Boeing 747 has been retired.

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London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing – 3 May 2021

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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Virgin Atlantic Airbus A330neo Aircraft
Virgin Atlantic Airbus A330neo Aircraft (Image Credit: Virgin Atlantic)

Welcome to London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing for the week beginning 3 May 2021.

UK Travel Restrictions

More than six months have passed since the UK government announced restrictions on international travel.

It is a near certainty that these will be lifted two weeks from today on Monday 17 May.

According to yesterday’s Mail On Sunday the government could announce as soon as this Friday the first “green list” of countries that UK citizens can visit without the need for quarantine on return. This will be under the slogan “Travel Safely; Plan Ahead”. It is reported this will be updated very three weeks. This does not provide for that many updates during the peak summer season.

The Sunday Times reported that the final list of countries is yet to be decided. Though there is speculation that Gibraltar, Iceland, Malta and Portugal will be on the green list. France, Greece and Spain are likely to on the amber list.

BA seems confident in travel restarting. It has refreshed its YouTube videos from last year on travel post COVID-19 and is running promoted social media posts.

Tourism Ministers of G20 members will also meet virtually this Thursday to discuss the restart of the travel and tourism industry.

Virgin Atlantic Results

Virgin Atlantic is often coy about publishing its financial results. True to form, it quietly slipped out its results for last year on a Friday before a bank holiday weekend.

The airline reported a loss of £659 million before tax and exceptional items for the year to 31 December 2020. Unrestricted cash fell from £353 million to £115 million.

Like all airlines at the moment, the accounts do include a going concern warning. Virgin considers that the actions taken earlier this year such as the sale and leaseback of Boeing 787 aircraft and securing further support from Virgin group will support the airline during a very gradual easing of travel restrictions in the third quarter of this year. Virgin does aim to be profitable in 2022.

IAG will also announce its first quarter results for 2021 this Friday.

South African Airways Exits Business Rescue

South African Airways has formally exited its business rescue process after nearly 18 months.

The Business Rescue Practitioners filed on Friday a notice of “substantial implementation” of a business rescue plan with the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission in South Africa.

The airline is now claimed to be solvent and has been handed over to an interim board. The Department of Public Enterprises issued a statement that the government is in negotiations with a preferred equity partner and a sale and purchase agreement should be agreed within the next few weeks.

There is currently no timetable for the airline to resume flights.

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London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing – 26 April 2021

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 Fleet Montage
British Airways Fleet Montage (Image Credits: British Airways / Heathrow)

Welcome to London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing for the week beginning 26 April 2021.

How Has BA’s Fleet Changed Post COVID-19?

BA published its annual accounts last week. We read these things so you don’t have to. This was the first time the airline has published its own updated aircraft fleet plan post COVID-19.

It is well known that COVID-19 prompted the immediate retirement of the Boeing 747 fleet, almost five years ahead of schedule. The Airbus A380 fleet also remains grounded.

Here’s a breakdown of BA’s fleet as at 31 December 2020:

Aircraft TypeTotal December 2020Total December 2019ChangeFuture DeliveriesOptions
Airbus A31801-1
Airbus A3193539-4
Airbus A32080773910
Airbus A321282713
Airbus A33001-1
Airbus A3508351036
Airbus A38012120
Boeing 747-400032-32
Boeing 777-2004346-3
Boeing 777-30016124
Boeing 777-9000001824
Boeing 787-812120
Boeing 787-918180
Boeing 787-1020210
Embraer E17016-5
Embraer E19022184
SAAB 200001-1
Total277305-285070

In summary, COVID-19 has cut the size of BA’s fleet by more than 10% with aircraft reduced from 305 to 277.

Long haul aircraft decreased by 26 from 137 to 111 aircraft. This was primarily accounted for by the retirement of 32 Boeing 747 and some older Boeing 777-200 aircraft. This was offset by new deliveries of 5 Airbus A350-1000, 4 Boeing 777-300 and 2 Boeing 787-10 aircraft.

At 31 December 2020, BA still had 10 Airbus A350-1000 and Boeing 787-10 aircraft and 18 Boeing 777-900 aircraft to be delivered. In all likelihood these will be delayed. Options to acquire a further 36 Airbus A350-100 and 24 Boeing 777-900 are unlikely to exercised. The airline has previously allowed options to acquire a further 9 Boeing 787-9 aircraft to lapse.

The movement in short haul aircraft is more modest, with the fleet decreasing by just 2 to 166 aircraft. The airline continues to retire Airbus A319 aircraft and withdraw the Embraer E170 at London City.

At 31 December 2020, BA had just 9 Airbus A320neo and 3 Airbus A321neo aircraft left to be delivered. It still has options to acquire a further 10 Airbus A320neo aircraft, having allowed around 20 other options to lapse.

There are of course huge unknowns as to how many remaining aircraft will actually be brought back into service. In its base assessment on the planned return to service capacity in the first quarter of 2022 is expected to be 17% below the first quarter of 2019. A given plausible alternative scenario is a 61% reduction in capacity.

In the medium term, there is the question of whether the airline sees the Airbus A321 LR and XLR aircraft having a role. BA’s fellow IAG subsidiary Aer Lingus had ordered 8 A321 LR and 6 A321 XLR aircraft. Iberia had also ordered 6 A321 XLR aircraft.

Back to the numbers, to give an indication of how much the airline’s financial position has changed in 12 months, cash and cash equivalents fell from £2.6 billion to £1.3 billion. Meanwhile net debt increased from £3.7 billion to £7.5 billion. This includes a loan of €1.65 billion from its parent company. $750 million raised last year through the mortgaging of aircraft was repaid in December.

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London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing – 19 April 2021

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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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 19 April 2021.

Flybe Pilots Its Return

Shortly before it collapsed into administration, Willie Walsh delivered a withering verdict on Flybe: “That’s a business model that doesn’t work with shareholders that have suddenly cottoned on that they’ve bought a dog.”

That has not deterred its new owners, behind the company known as Thyme Opco Ltd, from buying the Flybe brand, intellectual property and its airport slots. Many assets such as aircraft parts and engines still rest with the administrators.

An appeal to the Secretary of State for Transport against a decision by the Civil Aviation Authority to revoke Flybe’s operating licence is underway.

It’s not clear whether the new Flybe intends to fly from Heathrow. When the former bmi remedy slots were re-advertised last year, there was a warning that the ownership of these slots is subject to a legal challenge. A subsequent report from the administrators of Flybe advised that they were challenging IAG’s appropriation of these slots after Flybe went into administration. There has been no update on this for some months.

At present, the only indicator of Flybe’s plans is fairly nondescript “Coming Soon” on the Flybe website. Whether it is operating marginal regional routes or providing feeder traffic to long haul airlines, neither have proven to be financial rewarding, let alone in the aftermath of a pandemic and aviation’s biggest crisis since the Second World War.

Archive Footage From KinoLibrary

The Kinolibrary archive hosts a vantage range of 20th century film footage.

It has in the past week uploaded to its YouTube channel, in three parts, very early 1920s films of a Handley Page G-EASN aircraft flying between London and Paris. You can see the passengers were certainly dressed for the occasion!

Also, the library has uploaded rare colour footage of Pan American World Airways from 1948 at what was formerly known as New York International Airport.

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