Hello and welcome to our Monday Briefing for the week beginning 22 January 2018, summarising the main developments in air travel over the past week, and a look the week ahead.
Emirates’ Airbus A380 Order: Will IAG follow suit for BA?
After a protracted and very public stand-off between Airbus and Emirates over an order for more Airbus A380s which included threats by Airbus to end production of the A380 altogether, one side finally blinked last week.
Airbus and Emirates have signed a Memorandum Of Understanding for Emirates to acquire a further 20 aircraft and options to acquire a further 16 aircraft.
Emirates currently has some 101 Airbus A380s in service, with a further 41 to be delivered before last week’s order. Some of the latest order will be used as replacements for existing A380 aircraft. (Emirates)
Following this announcement, someone has been briefing Bloomberg off the record that BA is interested in buying more Airbus A380s.
The headline in the Bloomberg article is wrong as this decision can only be made by its parent company, IAG. Willie Walsh, CEO of IAG, has long expressed an interest in buying more A380s to add to the 12 in BA’s fleet and has even mooted the possibility of A380s for Aer Lingus and Iberia (presumably on a seasonal basis).
However, Willie Walsh has insisted that the purchase price of new aircraft is too expensive. Expressions of interest in leasing second-hand A380s have not yet come to anything. There is clearly a case in adding more A380s to BA’s fleet. It’s clearly working well on many routes and given BA can send up to 3 Boeing 747s a day to Cape Town in the winter, there’s scope to add more A380 routes.
Airlines and aircraft manufacturers speak in private all the time and no-one gives comments to the press, either on or off the record, without reason, so there is probably something behind this.
Hello and welcome to our Monday Briefing for the week beginning 15 January 2018, summarising the main developments in air travel over the past week, and a look the week ahead.
BA Upgrades World Traveller Catering (again)
BA announced a series of changes its catering in World Traveller economy from Wednesday 17 January 2018.
More details here. This was heralded as a major upgrade. In truth, it was largely a reinstatement of items that had previously been cut. Indeed, some items have been cut, added back, cut and now added back again.
It’s hard not wonder how much management time is consumed by constantly discussing whether a packet of pretzels should be offered with a passenger’s first drink, reviewing budgets and renegotiating with suppliers, as well as the complex logistics of making any changes to its catering operation at more than 70 airports around the world.
That said, this does suggest that BA has realised there are limits on how far it can, to use its own words, “stretch the brand”. There was talk 12 months ago of BA launching an “unbundled” long-haul fare and this latest move suggests this may be put on the back burner for now.
Hello and welcome to our first Monday Briefing of 2018 summarising the main developments in air travel over the past week, and a look the week ahead.
US East Coast Weather
It has been utterly terrible few days on the East Coast of the United States with New York JFK bearing the brunt of delays and cancellations due to severe weather.
Both New York JFK and La Guardia airports were temporarily closed due to the severity of snow and ice. At New York JFK there have been very substantial delays to arrivals and departures due to frozen ground equipment and a lack of gates. (New York Times)Delta has cancelled in excess of 1,000 flights over the past week due to severe weather.
To top it all, on Sunday afternoon Eastern Time, a water main break at New York JFK Terminal 4 (home of Delta and Virgin Atlantic) caused the suspension of international flight arrivals (ABC7 New York) .
Two Delta and one British Airways flight from London Heathrow to Atlanta on Sunday were diverted. Flight DL285 diverted to Cincinnati. Flight DL31 diverted to New York JFK. BA227 diverted to Washington Dulles.
In other Delta news in a very busy week for the airline, the airline held its annual Investor Day last week. The slide deck is a mercifully short 56 slides. There are no specific London Heathrow announcements.
Hello and welcome to our weekly Monday Briefing for the week beginning 11 December 2017.
It was not a good day at London Heathrow yesterday.
It is of course something of a fixture in the British Christmas calendar that there will be at least one “Christmas Travel Chaos” story somewhere on the transport network. Heathrow has long had plenty of form in this regard. The airport has got better in recent years in being proactive at requiring airlines to reduce their schedules in advance. However, it seems to have been caught by surprise by Sunday’s snow. BA’s schedules took the brunt of the cancellations with a very high number of short-haul cancellations and delays and an unusually high number of long-haul cancellations. Cancellations have continued into Monday morning.
BA has been keen to emphasise improving operational performance at London Heathrow and the use of digital tools to assist passengers during disruption. However, yesterday is something that clearly requires attention from its Chief Operating Officer Klaus Goersch.
If you have experienced disruption you can submit a claim for consequential expenses at ba.com
Hello and welcome to our weekly aviation business briefing for the week beginning 4 December 2017.
London Gatwick: The hub without hubbub.
IAG confirmed that it is to acquire Monarch’s portfolio of slots at London Gatwick from the start of the summer 2018 season.
This is equivalent to approximately 20 daily slot pairs, and a very significant expansion. IAG has long had an ambition to expand at Gatwick. It bid for Flybe’s slots two years ago, but lost out to easyJet.
IAG has previously indicated that all of its group airlines would bid for Monarch’s slots. Currently, Aer Lingus, BA, Iberia and Vueling have a presence at the airport. In the case of Aer Lingus and Iberia this is very limited and unlikely to expand further. BA is likely to be the biggest beneficiary. However, it does not appear to have much by way of spare aircraft. London Heathrow – Doha and London Gatwick – New York JFK are regularly cancelled due to aircraft issues.
Whatever happens it is highly unlikely BA will return to its dual London hub “the hub without the hubbub” of the 1990s.
Pity the pour soul at BA’s Waterside Headquarters who drafted the now widely publicised internal memo on planned changes to its boarding procedures that its frequent flyers had been pleading for in focus groups for years.
Presumably he or she was under the blissful ignorance that it would become one of the most read (and poorly drafted) stories on BBC News Online last week.
Heathrow’s Christmas TV ad
What more can be said about this year’s Christmas TV ad from Heathrow Airport?
A perfect blend of concept, technical excellence and emotional appeal. Perhaps the greatest signficance is simply how much the airport’s reputation has improved that it can run such an ad in the first place. It was seven years ago this Christmas that a hapless PR officer appeared before TV cameras claiming everything at the airport was operating normally, just as the airport seized up for days due to snow. The airport was subsequently castigated for its lack of preparedness and care for passengers.
Hello and welcome to our weekly aviation business briefing for the week beginning Monday 20 November 2017.
Is BA going to order more Airbus A380s?
Interest in the future of the Airbus A380 was piqued this week following a claim in FlightGlobal that BA, as well as other airlines, were in talks about acquiring Airbus A380s that Singapore Airlines has returned to its lessor.
IAG CEO Willie Walsh is a fan of the Airbus A380: “It’s a great aircraft when you can fill it.” It clearly serves BA well on trunk routes such as Johannesburg and major US gateways such as Los Angeles and Miami. BA currently has 12 Airbus A380s in service, with options to acquire a further 7 from Airbus. However, Willie Walsh has declared the cost buying new aircraft as too expensive. Willie has expressed an interest in leasing second-hand Airbus A380s so the story, whatever the intentions of the source, is at least plausible. However, technical differences between BA and Singapore Airlines aircraft may prohibit a deal, unless it is at a very good price.
BA and IAG (which ultimately controls the purse strings) is clearly looking for a solution that gives flexibility to adjust capacity in a downturn. BA does not want to have to park 20+ A380s in the desert during the next recession.
The airline most closely associated with the Airbus A380 is of course Emirates which currently has some 100 of them in service. The airline was expected to announce a deal to acquire more at the Dubai Air Show, but it failed to materialise. Bloomberg has the story. Continue reading “Monday Briefing: 20 November 2017”
Hello and welcome to our Monday Briefing for the week beginning Monday 13 November 2017.
BA CEO Alex Cruz addresses the World Travel Market London
BA CEO Alex Cruz addressed the World Travel Market last week. Alex gave a 20 minute speech, followed by a 40 minute interview with aviation consultant John Strickland.
As BA is part of a publicly listed company (IAG) it is bound by Stock Exchange rules on the release of market sensitive information. This means that CEOs cannot give away too much in media interviews. This is why the vast majority of what was said was announced at IAG’s Capital Markets Day in early November.
One thing of note in Alex’s speech is the reference to BA as the UK’s national carrier. This is of course how many in the UK see it. But not its parent company which is, in its own words, “brand agnostic”. And herein lies the rub. Media commentators and large swathes of the travelling public see BA as having a special status, whereas as far as its parent company is concerned, it must compete with other airlines in the group all over Europe for investment, based on profitability alone.
Taking the opportunity to review again the presentations and compare notes to previous year what emerges is often these events are more interesting for what wasn’t said.
For BA, there was an underlying degree of contrition. Last year, there were plenty of suggestions that BA would trial an unbundled World Traveller fare as Aer Lingus has implemented and Alez Cruz has intimated BA would consider introducing a fare without free meals. However, there is now a promise of improved long-haul economy catering from next year and BA being “premium for everyone”. By IAG’s own admission, pitching a brand with four different classes of travel on long-haul isn’t easy, and introducing effectively a fifth class of travel is perhaps a step too far.