Qantas Plans To Resume London Flights On 31 October

Qantas plans to resume flights between London Heathrow and Australia from 31 October 2021.

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Qantas Boeing 787-9 Aircraft VH-OJA Pre Departure, London Heathrow Terminal 3, Thursday 14 November 2019
Qantas Boeing 787-9 Aircraft VH-OJA Pre Departure, London Heathrow Terminal 3, Thursday 14 November 2019 (Image Credit: Qantas Airways)

Qantas has delayed the planned restart of scheduled international passenger flights from London Heathrow to Australia.

The airline has postponed the start of scheduled international flights by four months to 31 October 2020.

At this time Qantas plans to restart all of its pre COVID-19 international destinations, except for New York JFK, Osaka and Santiago. However, capacity will remain significantly reduced through frequency reductions and aircraft changes. The airline had also suspended the planned launch of a number of new international routes such as Brisbane to Chicago O’Hare and San Francisco.

Timetables currently indicated that Qantas will fly from London Heathrow non-stop to Perth and to Sydney via Singapore with the first flights departing London on Monday 1 November 2021. Both of these routes will be operated with Boeing 787-9 aircraft.

All 12 of Qantas Airbus A380 aircraft have been placed into long term storage. Qantas does not expect these aircraft to return to service until after 30 June 2023.

As for the long awaited order for Airbus A350-1000 aircraft capable of flying from London to Sydney non-stop, this remains deferred.

Whilst scheduled flights have been suspended, Qantas has operated occasional flights from Australia to London on behalf of the Australian government to allow passengers to return to the UK, and these will continue in the interim.

As ever in the current climate, schedules remain subject to change. Passengers must comply with all pre-departure requirements and entry restrictions which can also change at short notice.

© Copyright London Air Travel 2021.

London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing – 22 February 2021

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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International Airlines Group Tailfins
International Airlines Group Tailfins

Welcome to London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing for the week beginning 22 February 2021.

IAG’s Annual Results

12 months ago former IAG CEO Willie Walsh confidently asserted “To be honest we’ve gone through all of this before. We’ve all seen it before.” “We know what to do in a time like this. We know how to respond.”

Six months later, the group embarked on a €2.7 billion rights issue and the immediate retirement of Airbus A340 and Boeing 747 aircraft. A plan to be cash flow neutral by the end of last year is now a distant memory.

On Friday it will fall to Luis Gallego to announce a walloping annual loss and the group’s plans to recover from COVID-19.

Investors are likely to focus on debt and cash flow and whether IAG’s airlines will need further state support.

Other points to watch out for include changes to new aircraft delivery plans and how IAG plans to rationalise its brands in Spain after the acquisition of Air Europa.

Update: IAG has confirmed this morning that BA has agreed terms of a £2 billion loan partially guaranteed by UK Export Finance. This will be drawn down before the end of this month. BA has also agreed with the trustees of the New Airways Pension Scheme to defer £450 million of pension deficit contributions.

Restarting Aviation

As Prime Minister Boris Johnson today announces widely trailed plans to progressively move the UK out of lockdown, The Sunday Times speaks to cabin crew, management and pilots of Tui and Virgin Atlantic on the complexities of restarting aviation.

On a similar theme, Virgin Atlantic CEO Shai Weiss has penned an editorial for The Telegraph calling on Boris Johnson to set out a timetable for the restart of aviation.

Shai Weiss cites the fact that airlines need two to three months notice to stand up pilots and cabin crew, reappoint ground handling agents at airports and prepare aircraft for return to service.

LBC Correspondent Ben Kentish reported yesterday that former Prime Minister Tony Blair is leading lobbying efforts on behalf of airlines for the UK government to introduce vaccine passports.

V&A Online Collections

Whilst the doors of the Victoria & Albert Museum remain closed to the public, it has introduced a new online catalogue of its collections.

This is currently in beta format but there’s plenty of aviation material to see including:

The original “Speedbird” logo by Theyre Lee-Elliott.

Imperial Airways “Move With The Times” Poster from 1926.

“As The Crow Flies. Only Faster!” poster for the original British Airways, circa 1937.

“It’s time you flew KLM” poster from 1948.

American Airlines Boeing 747 poster produced in 1969.

“Veni. Vidi. Venice. Come to Gatwick. See Venice” poster for British Airways 1985.

“Virgin Atlantic To And From Los Angeles” poster circa 1990.

Continue reading “London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing – 22 February 2021”

London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing – 15 February 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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Novotel London Heathrow Airport
Novotel London Heathrow Airport (Image Credit: Accor Hotels)

Welcome to London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing for the week beginning 15 February 2021.

Mandatory Hotel Quarantine Comes Into Force

12 months and many missteps into the COVID-19 pandemic, the UK government likes to think it has learned the art of expectations management.

That didn’t stop it briefing compliant Westminster lobby journalists last week its plans for lifting lockdown measures. Schools in England are expected to reopen in early March when rules on socialising outdoors will also be relaxed. Pubs and restaurants may be able to serve outdoors from the end of March. Some outdoor sports will be allowed in April.

Whilst this is officially described as speculation it has not stopped further enthusiastic claims on many of today’s newspaper front pages.

One relaxation was conspicuous in its absence: international travel restrictions. Yesterday’s Sunday Telegraph featured a letter from BA CEO to Sean Doyle to Prime Minister Boris Johnson calling for an end to the “mixed messaging” and an end to the uncertainty over travel restrictions:

“Caution right now is correct. But with the success of your vaccination programme, the steady reduction in serious cases and good news around the effectiveness of the vaccines on variants, we should be confident to prepare for summer travel.”

“We know that so many people are longing to travel from the sheer fact that bookings jump every time restrictions have been lifted.”

“We urgently need the Government to create agreements with other countries, as we’ve seen Israel and Greece do this week, so that UK citizens can travel.”

“With our experience of operating around the world and the UK’s national technology capability, we should be leading the way and setting the international standards.”

“As you lead the country out of the crisis, so many different sectors of our economy that rely on aviation will also be looking for an indication that they can fly again.”

“If you cannot include aviation in your roadmap, then the industry urgently needs your commitment to a package of support which extends past April, to ensure it is able to survive this most difficult period.”

A projected date for the lifting of international travel restrictions would at least allow airlines to target marketing activity and generate cash flow from forward bookings. In all likelihood, this has fallen on deaf ears. The chances of restrictions being lifted before the autumn is very remote.

Those scientists who advocate a “zero COVID” approach to handling the pandemic argue that international travel restrictions are a price worth paying for reopening all of the domestic economy with adequate test and trace measures in place.

The mandatory hotel quarantine for passengers arriving from “red list” countries was introduced at 04:00 this morning. One of the hotels is the Novotel Heathrow which, according to its website booking engine, is closed for public bookings until April 2021.

According to reports on Channel 4 News and in today’s Telegraph Heathrow airport still has concerns that the UK is not sufficiently prepared, specifically when it comes to adequate border staffing and securely transporting passengers to designated hotels.

Continue reading “London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing – 15 February 2020”

London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing – 8 February 2021

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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Sofitel London Heathrow Terminal 5
Sofitel London Heathrow Terminal 5 (Image Credit: Accor Hotels)

Welcome to London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing for the week beginning 8 February 2021.

UK Prepares For Mandatory Quarantine

Next week the UK government is to introduce a mandatory ten day quarantine regime for all passengers arriving from 30 “red list” countries.

The government is reported to be seeking 1,425 hotel rooms per night in what are dubbed “Managed Quarantine Facilities”, with up to a maximum of 28,000 rooms.

Specifications were only issued to hotel groups last Thursday evening. Details of how passengers can book into the quarantine facilities at their own expense are expected this week.

The quarantine regime is expected to last until 31 March 2021 at the earliest. As to what happens next, nobody knows.

There is widespread divergence amongst airlines, governments and industry bodies on how to securely reopen borders and international travel. easyJet CEO John Lundgren was dismissive of the concept of vaccine passports, at least for short haul travel, in yesterday’s Sunday Times.

The New York Times has a good analysis of the problems involved in developing vaccine passports. The most obvious answer is some form of digital vaccination certificate. This does require the acceptance of a common standard by airlines and governments. At the moment there are number of concurrent initiatives.

There is also the question of how individual governments will be able to access and store personal medical data. Also, not everyone in the world has access to the internet or owns a smartphone. Some point to the fact that paper evidence of vaccination has been accepted in the past.

As many countries are not expected to achieve widespread vaccination in 2023, the requirement for evidence of a negative COVID-19 test is likely to continue. Politico reports on how this may be exploited criminal gangs, leaving airlines exposed to penalties for failures to properly check passenger documentation.

Airlines have for decades developed self-service processes so that passengers arrive at airports “ready to fly”. When air travel starts to return to normal, airlines are likely to require substantially more staff to process passengers at check-in and departure gates.

Japan Airlines Amenity Kits

Following COVID-19 most airlines have suspended all non-essential expenditure so it’s relatively rare to hear about new inflight amenities.

Japanese design firm Nendo has designed a portfolio of new amenity kits, menu cards and tableware across all cabins for Japan Airlines. Deploying the maxim less is more, the designs are based around a red folded paper version of the airline’s famous flying crane logo.

Continue reading “London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing – 8 February 2021”

London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing – 1 February 2021

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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Route map of LH2574 Hamburg - Mount Pleasant, 31 January 2021
Route map of LH2574 Hamburg – Mount Pleasant, 31 January 2021 (Image Credit: Lufthansa)

Welcome to London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing for the week beginning 1 February 2021.

February Flight Schedules

It’s the first day of February and airline schedules and passenger route networks continue to shrink further.

At London Heathrow, BA’s long haul route network is largely limited to North America with flights operating to Barbados, Boston, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York JFK, San Francisco, Seattle, Toronto and Washington Dulles.

In Central & South America, just Mexico City is served by BA. Similarly, Bahrain is the only destination in the Middle East.

In Africa & the Indian Ocean, BA is flying to Abuja, Accra, Lagos, Nairobi and The Maldives.

Limited flights are operating to Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Mumbai and New Delhi in India. BA also continues to fly to Islamabad and Lahore in Pakistan.

BA short haul flights at Heathrow are limited to UK regional airports and a small number of cities in mainland Europe such as Paris Charles de Gaulle and Stockholm.

At Gatwick, limited BA long haul flights are scheduled to operate to Antigua, Bermuda, Cancun, Kingston and Saint Lucia.

Meanwhile at London City, there are just two BA return flights a week to Belfast City and Frankfurt respectively.

Back to Heathrow, Virgin Atlantic is operating limited flights to Atlanta, Barbados, Delhi, Islamabad, Lagos, Lahore, Los Angeles, Miami, Mumbai and New York JFK.

Where Did Passengers Fly In December?

There continues to be much attention in the UK media on Instagram Influencers who flew to Dubai in December.

According to traffic data for international routes for December 2020 Dubai was, by some margin, the busiest route at Heathrow with 130,110 passengers travelling in either direction. This is a decline of “only” 43% year on year.

The next busiest international route was Doha with 36,105 passengers, a decline of 72% year on year.

Measured year on year, the strongest performing routes were Abuja, Accra, Islamabad, Lagos and Lahore with declines in the range of 20% – 30%.

Madrid was the busiest international short haul route with 34,448 passengers, but still a decline of 71% year on year.

Continue reading “London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing – 1 February 2021”

“Use It Or Lose It” Slot Rules Waived For Summer 2021

“Use it or lose it” slot rules are waived once again at UK airports for the summer 2021 season.

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

Airlines at UK airports will be free to cancel flights over the summer of 2021 without losing their slots.

Airport Coordination Ltd, the body responsible for allocating slots at UK airports, has confirmed that the 80/20 “use it lose it” rule on airport slots will be waived at UK airports for the summer 2021 season.

This waiver has been in place since the start of the summer 2020 season. There had been complaints from some airlines that this waiver was benefiting incumbent airlines and inhibiting competition.

Continue reading ““Use It Or Lose It” Slot Rules Waived For Summer 2021″

British Airways Extends Use of eVouchers To 30 April 2023

British Airways has extended the use of evouchers to pay for flights for travel up to 30 April 2023.

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British Airways Airbus A350-1000 Wing Tip
British Airways Airbus A350-1000 Wing Tip (Image Credit: British Airways)

British Airways has extended the use of “eVouchers” for travel up to and including 30 April 2023.

Passengers who had booked to fly with BA and did not wish to travel have been issued with “eVouchers” which can be used online to pay for future flight bookings.

Until today, 28 January 2021, eVouchers could only be used for flight bookings that had been fully completed by 30 April 2022.

In a sign that there is limited prospect of international travel returning to normal until well into 2022, this deadline has been extended to 30 April 2023. This applies to all eVouchers. Any existing eVouchers issued with a previous deadline of 30 April 2022 are automatically extended.

It should be emphasised that this is the deadline for travel to be completed, not for bookings to be made.

The deadline for the use “Future Travel Vouchers” which were issued in the early stages of the pandemic has also been extended to 30 April 2023.

This follows a decision by the airline to remove the expiry date of its “Book With Confidence” policy, whereby change fees are waived for all new flight bookings with also the option to convert the value of their ticket into an eVoucher.

Detailed guidance on the use of eVouchers is available on ba.com

© Copyright London Air Travel 2021.

BA Extends Gatwick Short Haul Cancellations To June 2021

BA will not operate any short haul flights at Gatwick, except for Glasgow, until 30 June 2021 at the earliest.

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British Airways, London Gatwick
British Airways, London Gatwick

British Airways has extended the transfer of most Gatwick short haul flights to London Heathrow until Wednesday 30 June 2021 at the earliest.

BA temporarily transferred all Gatwick short haul routes to London Heathrow in April last year.

This will continue until 30 June 2021, with the exception of flights to Glasgow which will start at Gatwick on Thursday 24 June 2021.

Another delay is not surprising given there is very little chance of travel restrictions in Europe being relaxed in the coming months. If restrictions continue throughout the summer and a waiver is issued which allows BA to cancel flights without forfeiting slots, it is likely to be extended.

At present, BA is operating a limited number of long haul flights at Gatwick to Antigua, Bermuda, Cancun and St Lucia.

Passengers can check the status of their bookings using the Manage My Booking tool on ba.com and should contact BA or their travel agent.

Update March 2021

BA has delayed the start of Manchester flights at Gatwick until Sunday 31 October 2021. Flights to Accra and Islamabad will also continue to operate at London Heathrow throughout the summer season.

© Copyright London Air Travel 2021.

London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing – 25 January 2021

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

Welcome to London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing for the week beginning 25 January 2021.

Is International Travel A Write Off Until 2022?

Twelve months into the COVID-19 pandemic, and after a number of false promises, the UK government appears to have learned the art of expectations management.

Ministers are refusing to commit to a date for the lifting of lockdown measures. A number have made it clear that the public should not plan for a summer holiday abroad this year.

According news reports, the Cabinet is likely this week to back plans to require all inbound passengers in the UK to quarantine at designated hotels. It has not yet been decided whether this will apply to all inbound passengers regardless of citizenship, and whether it will apply only to those arriving from countries designated as high risk.

The final decision is said to rest with Prime Minister Boris Johnson. According to Financial Times journalist Sebastian Payne on BBC Radio 4’s The Westminster Hour last night, he is minded to go for a blanket quarantine measure.

Those who have campaigned against mandatory quarantine point to the fact there is more to international travel than Instagram Influencers heading to Dubai. The effective closure of international borders will carry signifiant economic and social costs. As is the case with citizens of countries that have closed borders, many thousands of UK citizens will be left stranded overseas.

That said, there is widespread support amongst scientists for increased travel restrictions which, as painful as they are, are necessary to prevent the importation of new variants of COVID-19.

There are many unanswered questions, particularly whether there is the hotel capacity to handle all incoming passengers and how these properties can be made COVID-19 secure and do not themselves become hotspots for the virus.

Elsewhere border restrictions are increasing. A number of EU Member States are restricting travel from within the EU. Israel is to ban scheduled passenger flights from 22:00 GMT today. Australia’s Chief Medical Officer Professor Paul Kelly has said that international travel restrictions will be one of the last changes after its vaccination programme. (ABC News)

According to Reuters, the US will also reimpose a travel ban on citizens from the UK, EU and Brazil.

Continue reading “London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing – 25 January 2021”

London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing – 18 January 2021

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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Norwegian Boeing 787 Aircraft, Boston Logan International Airport
Norwegian Boeing 787 Aircraft, Boston Logan International Airport (Image Credit: London Air Travel)

Welcome to the return of London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing for 2021 with our first edition of the year.

The 24 Month Winter

In a little over two months’ time, airlines in the Northern Hemisphere are supposed to start their summer schedules.

It is safe to say that there is no prospect of a return to normal for airlines this summer travel season.

The UK has today closed its borders to international travel and will require all inbound passengers to present evidence of a negative PCR COVID-19 test and to also self-isolate on arrival.

Yesterday’s Sunday Times splashed with proposals for inbound travellers to the UK to self-isolate, at their expense, in dedicated hotels for two weeks. This was not denied by Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab when interviewed by Andrew Marr on the BBC yesterday.

As Tabby Kinger describes of her experience of Hong Kong’s strict quarantine regime in the Financial Times, whether staying in a soulless airport hotel or top-end luxury hotel suite at a cost of up to £65,000 “no amount of money makes it tolerable.” As experience in Australia has shown, quarantine hotels may themselves become a source of COVID-19 infection.

According to Politico, Greece and other EU Member States are pressing the European Commission to adopt a common standard (“vaccine passports”) to allow those who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 the freedom to travel. There are significant misgivings on the part of many Member States, both on privacy grounds and restricting freedom of movement – a core principle of the EU – based on health status.

Whilst BA and easyJet have secured additional state guaranteed loans, it seems clear that Virgin Atlantic will have to obtain new sources of cash. Last week it raised $230 million through the sale and leaseback of two Boeing 787-9 aircraft. This is unlikely to be sufficient to see it through continued travel restrictions in 2021.

Continue reading “London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing – 18 January 2021”