Welcome to London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing for the week beginning 11 April 2022.
Travel To London’s Airports This Easter
“Why is air travel such a nightmare right now?” asked yesterday’s Sunday Times.
Passengers continue to contend with short notice cancellations, security queues and long waits for baggage at airports.
The situation will no doubt abate, but not in the short term. If you are heading to an airport this coming Easter weekend, there is also disruption to rail services.
No Gatwick Express services will run over the four day weekend. Nor any Southern rail services from London Victoria to Gatwick. Southern and Thameslink trains will continue to run between Gatwick and London Bridge.
On London Underground, no trains will run between Acton Town and Heathrow stations. If you’re heading to Paddington, the Hammersmith & City line is closed all weekend. Heathrow Express and TfL Rail services to Heathrow should operate normally.
There are also no direct trains between London and Stansted. Full guidance is available from National Rail.
Welcome to London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing for the week beginning 4 April 2022.
The Easter Getaway Begins
Today, the first week of April, marks the official start of the Easter Holidays for schools in the UK.
It also marks the start of the second quarter of the year. This is supposed to be the time when airlines leave COVID-19 losses behind, return to profitability and take advantage of pent up demand for summer travel.
The signs are this will be, at best, a bumpy ride.
Both BA and easyJet made a large number of short notice flight cancellations over the weekend. This follows repeated disruption at BA, due to both staffing issues and IT failures, in previous weeks.
In an ominous warning BA is only selling fully flexible short haul economy fares at Heathrow for travel over the next two weeks. This is historically only done when the airline is expecting mass cancellations.
The long Easter weekend is next week. If airlines do not have the resources to meet their current Easter schedules, they would be well advised to take the pain of cancellations now. Otherwise, the EASTER TRAVEL CHAOS newspaper front pages will write themselves.
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.
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.
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.
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.