Welcome to London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing for the week beginning 27 June 2022.
The Summer Of Discontent
It was not long that ago summers at London Heathrow were known for strike action.
Back in 2003, the start of the school holiday summer getaway was thrown into chaos when BA ground staff staged wildcat industrial action. This was ostensibly over plans to introduce electronic swipe cards to clock on & off duty.
A year later, the airline had to issue a grovelling apology for short notice cancellations ahead of the August bank holiday weekend due to unexpectedly high levels of staff sickness.
And then in August 2005, BA ground staff walked out in support of workers sacked by its catering supplier Gate Gourmet.
After a period of relative stability, the prospect of summer strike action has reared its head again. Both GMB & Unite have secured strike mandates from BA ground staff over pay.
Welcome to London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing for the week beginning 20 June 2022.
Heathrow Capacity Restrictions
Things are not getting any easier for passengers at London airports.
Following well publicised baggage system failures at the weekend at Terminals 2 & 3, Heathrow has imposed capacity restrictions on airlines at these terminals today.
Virgin Atlantic advised on Sunday evening it has cancelled these flights today:
VS7 London Heathrow – Los Angeles VS45 London Heathrow – New York JFK VS4 New York JFK – London Heathrow
On Sunday evening, Brussels Airport advised that no flights will depart the airport today due to a strike by security staff. Brussels Airlines had already cancelled 50% of its flights and now virtually all are cancelled.
Ahead of IATA’s Annual General Meeting, Director General Willie Walsh was keen to emphasise in media interviews that the vast majority of airports and flights are operating normally. But aviation is going to remain unpredictable for some time yet.
Welcome to London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing for the week beginning 6 June 2022.
The Blame Game
Who is to blame for the crisis affecting UK airlines & airports?
The afternoon before the start of the four day Platinum Jubilee weekend, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps – a master of politics – summoned various airlines, airports and ground handling agents to an urgent meeting.
How this helped anyone due to travel in the coming days is anyone’s guess. Quick to get out its side of the story the Department for Transport issued a press release admonishing airlines for their failures. They are threatened with enhanced consumer protection measures, such as automatic refunds for cancelled flights, akin to the “Delay Repay” scheme on the railways.
Over the weekend as short notice flight cancellations continued, a war of words has broken between all sides. And who is at fault?
Welcome to London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing for the week beginning 30 May 2022.
The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee
Her Majesty The Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee will be marked in the UK this week with an extended four day weekend of celebrations.
Although The Queen has stopped travelling overseas, during her 70 year reign the monarch has carried out a large number of state visits and international tours, and seen many airlines and aircraft in the process.
On 8 October 1951, then Princess Elizabeth and the Duke Of Edinburgh were the first members of the Royal Family to cross the Atlantic ocean by air. They flew on a BOAC Stratocruiser aircraft “Canopus” G-AKGK from London airport to Montreal. This was also the first royal tour to start at the airport.
A little over three months later, on 31 January 1952, Princess Elizabeth bid farewell to King George VI, Queen Elizabeth and Princess Margaret at London airport.
With Prince Philip, Princess Elizabeth boarded a BOAC Argonaut “Atalanta” G-ALHK aircraft for a world tour of Africa, Australia and New Zealand.
The aircraft routed via RAF El Adem (Libya) for refuelling and a change of crew. The trip was cut short following the death of King George VI.
Princess Elizabeth returned a week later at 16:30 on 7 February 1952 from Entebbe via El Adem on the same BOAC aircraft as Queen Elizabeth II.
The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh departed London airport, again on a BOAC Stratocruiser aircraft “Canopus”, on 23 November 1953 for the first leg of their Commonwealth Tour. The Queen is pictured below arriving the next day in Bermuda.
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.