The Atlantic Update – Wednesday 2 October 2019

A weekly bulletin on transatlantic travel, published every Wednesday at 06:00 BST.

London Air Travel » Page 2

British Airways Airbus A350-1000 Aircraft, Toronto Pearson International Airport
British Airways Airbus A350-1000 Aircraft, Toronto Pearson International Airport (Image Credit: British Airways)

Hello and welcome to the The Atlantic Update providing a weekly bulletin on developments on transatlantic travel between Europe and North America. The Atlantic Update is published every Wednesday morning at 06:00 BST.

American Airlines Launches Heathrow – Boston

London – Boston is going to become a highly competitive market from 2020 and beyond.

Delta will launch Gatwick – Boston from May 2020. American Airlines is to also reinstate a daily flight from London Heathrow to Boston from Sunday 29 March 2020. Flights will be operated with Boeing 777-200 aircraft. The exact schedule is yet to be confirmed. This additional flight will complement BA’s existing four times daily service between London Heathrow and Boston.

American has also announced extended operating seasons for summer seasonal routes between New York JFK and Rome; Dallas-Fort Worth and Dublin; and Chicago and Barcelona.

BA Begins Airbus A350 Flights To Toronto

British Airways has started its first scheduled transatlantic flights with the Airbus A350-1000 aircraft.

As of yesterday, Tuesday 1 October 2019, flights BA93 and BA92 between London Heathrow and Toronto Pearson International are operated with the Airbus A350-1000, which now number two in BA’s long-haul fleet. This replaces a Boeing 777-200 aircraft.

If you are in Toronto this weekend, then do check out Toronto’s annual “Nuit Blanche” public art festival.

Also note of this week:

The winners of The Miami Foundation’s annual Miami Public Space Challenge are announced. (Miami Herald)

United introduces the first in a series of “Her Art Here” liveried aircraft. (United)

In the UK, a new series “The Americas with Simon Reeve” premieres on BBC2 this coming Sunday at 21:00 BST. (BBC)

Late post publication updates:

[Reserved for updates throughout the day]

The Atlantic Update is published every Wednesday at 06:00 BST. If you have any comments, suggestions or tips then please drop us a line at mail [@] londonairtravel.com

Monday Briefing – 30 September 2019

Welcome to our weekly briefing on air travel in London and around the world, as published every Monday at 06:00 BST.

London Air Travel » Page 2

Thomas Cook Montage
Thomas Cook Montage (Image Credit: Thomas Cook)

Welcome to our Monday Briefing for the week beginning 30 September 2019.

Thomas Cook

The Civil Aviation Authority’s “Operation Matterhorn” to bring Thomas Cook customers back to the UK is expected to continue until this Sunday, 6 October 2019.

Yesterday, 70 flights were scheduled to operate to bring 15,000 people back to the UK, taking the total number of passengers returned to nearly 110,000.

Whilst the Civil Aviation Authority’s exercise is expected to conclude this week, the recriminations over the company’s collapse will continue for considerably longer.

Thomas Cook’s CEO Peter Fankhauser gave an interview to the Mail On Sunday yesterday effectively pointing the finger of blame at the level of debit he inherited from his predecessors and the cost of serving it.

The closure of Thomas Cook is expected to have a significant impact in Spain with the company having been responsible for carrying 3.6 million passengers to the country and a substantial minority of visitors to the Balearic and Canary Islands. (El Pais In English)

In Germany, Thomas Cook subsidiary Condor has received a bridging loan from the German Government to enable it to continue to trade. (Condor)

Following the precedent set in a court case following the collapse of Monarch the liquidators will be entitled to sell off Thomas Cook’s Gatwick and Manchester slots. IAG, Virgin Atlantic and Wizz Air have expressed an interest in Thomas Cook’s slots at Gatwick.

Thomas Cook’s auditors will also face scrutiny. The Financial Reporting Council, which is responsible for regulating the audit profession, has said: “In light of recent developments at Thomas Cook we are considering whether there is any case for investigation and enforcement action as a matter of urgency and in cooperation with the Insolvency Service.”

Finally, the Business Archives Council is seeking to preserve Thomas Cook’s historical archives. (Organizational History Network)

Delta Swoops LATAM from Oneworld

Airline alliances are fragile constructs. They are loose gatherings of airlines who are often intense rivals and are also distracted by local priorities.

Delta stunned Oneworld last week by prizing LATAM away from the alliance. Whilst American Airlines, the Oneworld member with the most to lose, and Oneworld, initially put a brave face on the news, there are already signs that LATAM’s departure may become acrimonious.

Whilst LATAM is contractually bound to meet all of the obligations of its membership (such as reciprocal recognition of frequent flyers) until it leaves the alliance, it appears that codeshares between American Airlines and LATAM have already been withdrawn from sale.

It’s not immediately clear which airline was responsible for instigating this move, but American Airlines had to issue a statement on Saturday confirm that those passengers with existing bookings should have their itineraries honoured.

Delta’s move does also have an impact on IAG with BA and Iberia both having codeshares with LATAM. IAG is not an organisation to leave others to control events and its plans will no doubt be known in due course.

Also of note this week:

Continue reading “Monday Briefing – 30 September 2019”

Delta To Acquire 20% of LATAM Airlines

Delta is to acquire a 20% stake in LATAM Airlines, which is to leave the Oneworld alliance.

London Air Travel » Page 2

LATAM New Business Class 2019
LATAM Business Class Cabin (Image Credit: PriestmanGoode for LATAM)

Delta Air Lines has just caused a major upset in the order of the three major global airline alliances.

Delta is to acquire a 20% stake in LATAM Airlines Group and form a new strategic partnership with the airline. LATAM is currently a member of the Oneworld alliance and LATAM is expected to leave Oneworld. However, there are no plans for LATAM to join Skyteam.

LATAM, which was formed from the merger of LAN and former Star Alliance member TAM Airlines, had been seeking to secure two immunised joint-ventures with American Airlines and British Airways and Iberia. However, these have stalled due to objections from regulators in Chile. These joint-ventures are now off the table.

Delta of course owns a 49% stake in Virgin Atlantic, which is to launch Heathrow – Sao Paulo next year. LATAM currently flies from London Heathrow to Sao Paulo, which is also codeshared with BA. It seems inevitable that this will be replaced with a new codeshare with Virgin Atlantic. It may also help Virgin launch more routes to Latin America.

As part of the transaction Delta will acquire four Airbus A350 aircraft from LATAM. Delta has also agreed to take on LATAM’s commitment to purchase 10 additional A350 aircraft to be delivered from 2020 to 2025. Full details of the transaction are available from Delta.

It is no exaggeration to say this is a significant blow for Oneworld, particularly American Airlines, Iberia and, to a lesser extent, BA. It was a coup for Oneworld to beat Star Alliance to secure membership of the combined airline five years ago, and this is a signifiant loss.

Continue reading “Delta To Acquire 20% of LATAM Airlines”

The Atlantic Update – Wednesday 25 September 2019

A weekly bulletin on transatlantic travel, published every Wednesday at 06:00 BST.

London Air Travel » Page 2

Virgin Hotels Miami Brickell District Render
Virgin Hotels Miami Brickell District Render (Image Credit: Virgin Hotels)

Hello and welcome to the The Atlantic Update providing a weekly bulletin on developments on transatlantic travel between Europe and North America. The Atlantic Update is published every Wednesday morning at 06:00 BST.

Delta & KLM Route Launches

Following the recent launch by Delta of London Gatwick – Boston from 22 May 2020, Delta is to also launch a new summer seasonal route from Rome to Boston from Friday 22 May to 8 September 2020.

Delta has also confirmed that its summer seasonal route from London Heathrow to Salt Lake City will operate year round from Sunday 19 December 2019.

KLM is to launch a three times weekly service from Amsterdam Schiphol to Austin from Monday 4 May 2020. Flights operate on Monday, Thursday and Saturdays and will be operated with Airbus A330-300 aircraft.

All of these routes will be codeshared with Virgin Atlantic.

Given the relatively significant presence of Thomas Cook in Manchester on North Atlantic routes, which is a “focus city” for Delta & Virgin Atlantic, it would be surprising if there isn’t a competitive response from them to the liquidation of Thomas Cook.

Also of note this week:

Last week we reported of some tactical BA transatlantic cancellations in early October. Presumably due to the cancellation of the planned BA pilot strike, these have since been reinstated.

Amtrak launches non-stop rail services between New York and Washington DC. (CNBC)

The Central Park Conservancy has unveiled a $110 million plan to renovate the northern end of Central Park, New York. (New York Times)

Virgin Hotels is to open a new hotel in the Brickell district of Miami. The hotel will feature a three storey rooftop space and pool. Construction of the property by a third party developer, which will also include residential apartments, is expected to start next year and the property will open in 2023. Other Virgin branded hotels are due to open in Dallas, Nashville, New Orleans and New York. (Virgin)

Late post publication updates:

[Reserved for updates throughout the day.]

The Atlantic Update is published every Wednesday at 06:00 BST. If you have any comments, suggestions or tips then please drop us a line at mail [@] londonairtravel.com

Monday Briefing – 23 September 2019

Welcome to our weekly briefing on air travel in London and around the world, as published every Monday at 06:00 BST.

London Air Travel » Page 2

The first personally escorted air tour, from New York to a world heavyweight boxing contest in Chicago, organised by Thomas Cook in 1927.
The first personally escorted air tour, from New York to a world heavyweight boxing contest in Chicago, organised by Thomas Cook in 1927. (Image Credit: Thomas Cook)

Welcome to our Monday Briefing for the week beginning 23 September 2019.

Thomas Cook

Thomas Cook Montage
Thomas Cook Montage (Image Credit: Thomas Cook)

Attention this week is of course focused on Thomas Cook.

At the time of “going to press” there has been no announcement as to whether the group has been able to secure new funding to enable it to continue to trade. Though, this may come in the early hours of Monday morning or at 07:00 BST before the stock exchange opens.

Update: Following the compulsory liquidation of Thomas Cook the latest news and guidance is available from the Civil Aviation Authority.

BALPA Calls Off BA & Ryanair Pilot Strikes

Airline industrial disputes are supposed to follow a familiar pattern.

A trade union secures a strong mandate for industrial action, a strike is called, a deal is done at the 11th hour and the strike is called off.

Neither pilot disputes at BA and Ryanair have followed this pattern. BALPA has unilaterally called off strikes at both BA and Ryanair even though there is no prospect of a settlement with either airlines. Ostensibly, this has been made in good faith but ordinarily this is only done when both sides are close to agreement. A combination of longer 14 day notice periods for strike action and EU compensation rules means that the financial impact of the BA strikes was felt as soon as the strike was called.

It’s hard to see where BALPA goes from here in either dispute as neither airline seems minded to reach a settlement. Though, in the case of BA the dispute is obviously holding back a lot of announcements.

Virgin’s Heathrow Ambitions

Anyone who has followed Virgin Atlantic over its 35 year history is more than familiar with the airline announcing things that don’t come to fruition.

There was the order for 6 Airbus A380 aircraft with childrens’ play areas, gyms, showers and games arcades, the plan for private bedrooms on Airbus A340 aircraft, and all business class flights to New York.

It’s tempting therefore to dismiss out of hand its plan for a significantly enlarged route network at London Heathrow should a 3rd runway go ahead.

Virgin’s complaint is that IAG is too dominant at Heathrow, citing 77 “monopoly routes”. Virgin asks for Government intervention in the way new slots are allocated (which would otherwise leave IAG and Virgin to be treated the same as incumbent airlines) to create a “second force” hub airline. Readers may recall the Government tried to do this with British Caledonian, which was ultimately acquired by BA in the 1980s.

Arguably, Virgin lost any basis for complaint about IAG when it passed on at least three separate opportunities to acquire bmi. Even before IAG acquired bmi it had disposed of tranches of slots to BA, and Virgin had shown no interest.

Many of the proposed routes are cities that have previously been suspended by Virgin such as Accra, Cape Town, Chicago, Nairobi, Sydney, Tokyo and Vancouver. It is hard to see Virgin returning to Chicago when it has tried unsuccessfully to launch the route twice. It is also hard to argue that the travelling public is somehow worse off for having new direct links to cities such as Nashville and Pittsburgh, which BA has added in recent years.

To give Virgin credit it is launching/relaunching many non North American routes such as Mumbai, Sao Paulo and Tel Aviv. However, the route network it proposes would require a huge capital investment from its shareholders, and there’s little evidence of this being forthcoming.

Continue reading “Monday Briefing – 23 September 2019”

British Airways Strike Cancellation

British Airways is offering passengers affected by the now cancelled strike on Friday 27 September 2019 to revert back to their original travel plans.

London Air Travel » Page 2

BA Airbus A319 aircraft at London Heathrow (Image Credit: British Airways)
BA Airbus A319 aircraft at London Heathrow (Image Credit: British Airways)

Following the decision by BALPA to cancel planned industrial action on Friday 27 October 2019, BA has now updated its policy on accommodating passengers who have been affected by the planned strike.

BA had cancelled the vast majority of its flights at Gatwick and Heathrow on the day of strike action. BA has advised that it is reinstating much of its schedule. However, at the time of publication, BA does not appear to have reinstated any flights but this may change imminently. Edit: A large number of flights have been reinstated on Friday.

If were due to fly BA between Thursday 26 September and Saturday 28 September, and you wish to revert back to your original travel plans, you can now do so. This can be done by calling BA on 0800 727 800 from within the UK or +44 (0)203 250 0145 from outside the UK, or by contacting your travel agent.

However, if your flight was cancelled and you have requested a refund, you will need to buy a new ticket.

If you were due to fly between Thursday 26 and Saturday 28 September 2019 and have already changed your plans you do not need to change them again if you do not wish to do so.

The latest strike guidance is available on ba.com Please note this is subject to constant review and may be amended at any time.

In terms of where this latest move by BALPA leaves the prospect of a settlement, currently there are no talks underway between BALPA and BA. BALPA is required by law to give 14 days’ notice of any further industrial action.

The Atlantic Update – Wednesday 18 September 2019

A weekly bulletin on transatlantic travel, published every Wednesday at 06:00 BST.

London Air Travel » Page 2

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

Hello and welcome to the The Atlantic Update providing a weekly bulletin on developments on transatlantic travel between Europe and North America. The Atlantic Update is published every Wednesday morning at 06:00 BST.

Norwegian Gains Breathing Space

On Monday Norwegian’s bondholders agreed to the extension of two bonds from 11 December 2019 and 7 August 2020 to November 2021 and February 2022 respectively.

This does give Norwegian significantly more financial headroom to get through the winter season. However, its financial health still faces considerable scrutiny, not least given the current volatility of Brent crude which increased by 19.5% on Monday following a drone strike on Saudi Arabia’s largest oil processing centre.

BA Transatlantic Cancellations

BA has cancelled a number of transatlantic return flights in early October for “operational reasons”.

Tuesday 1 October 2019

Flights BA227/226 London Heathrow – Atlanta
Flights BA103/102 London Heathrow – Calgary
Flights BA207/206 London Heathrow – Miami
Flights BA223/222 London Heathrow – Nashville

Wednesday 2 October 2019

Flights BA193/192 London Heathrow – Dallas Fort Worth
Flights BA281/280 London Heathrow – Los Angeles
Flights BA225/224 London Heathrow – New Orleans
Flights BA289/288 London Heathrow – Phoenix

This appears to be unrelated to the current dispute between BA and BALPA and the rebooking guidelines for strike affected passengers are not available for these cancellations. Affected passengers will be re-acommodated on alternative American Airlines and BA flights. As these were announced on successive days just before 14 days, more cancellations may be forthcoming.

Metropolitan Transportation Authority Unveils Capital Plan

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority has unveiled its Capital Plan for 2020 to 2024 which includes a substantial investment for the New York Subway.

The Subway has long been subject to political wrangling between New York City which owns the Subway, and the State of New York which controls the MTA. Whilst there have been improvements to the Subway’s performance, there is still a long list of outstanding repairs.

The $51.5bn Capital Plan includes a $37.3bn for the New York Subway and Staten Island Railway. The proposals include upgrades to signalling, new subway cars, track modernisation, station improvements including improved accessibility.

Whilst the plan has been given a cautious welcome, the difficult part is securing city, state and federal funding for it.

Continue reading “The Atlantic Update – Wednesday 18 September 2019”

Monday Briefing – 16 September 2019

Welcome to our weekly briefing on air travel in London and around the world, as published every Monday at 06:00 BST.

London Air Travel » Page 2

Norwegian Aircraft
Norwegian Aircraft (Image Credit: Norwegian)

Welcome to our Monday Briefing for the week beginning 16 September 2019.

Norwegian & Thomas Cook

This week could be a very significant one for both Norwegian and Thomas Cook.

Today is the deadline for Norwegian’s bondholders to agree to an extension for the redemption of two outstanding bonds valued at $380 million from 11 December 2019 and 7 August 2020 to November 2021 and February 2022 respectively. This would be backed by a security package that includes Norwegian’s slots at London Gatwick.

Thomas Cook is also in final negotiations with its shareholder Fosun, lenders and bondholders to complete a £900m rescue deal. This is expected to give Fosun and Thomas Cook’s lenders control of the business, with remaining shareholders seeing their investments virtually wiped out. The Financial Times has reported that a planned meeting of bondholders this Wednesday may be postponed.

Update: Norwegian’s bondholders have agreed to the extension.

Cathay Pacific August 2019 Traffic

Cathay Pacific has revealed the impact of disruption in Hong Kong on its traffic performance.

The number of passengers carried fell 11.3% year on year. Its load factor was also down 7.2 percentage points to 79.9%. Inbound traffic to Hong Kong fell 38% and outbound traffic from Hong Kong fell 12%. The falls in traffic were particularly pronounced in premium cabins and mainland China and North East Asia markets.

Europe was the best performing market and traffic has held up relatively well. Cathay has indicated that as there is no sign of an imminent improvement it will be making short-term capacity adjustments.

PriestmanGoode at The Design Museum

London Design Week is currently underway. As part of this the acclaimed design agency PriestmanGoode has an exhibition “Get Onboard: Reduce.Reuse.Rethink” at The Design Museum.

The exhibition looks at the typical amount of waste generated by a single passenger on a long-haul economy flight. This is estimated to be 1.43kg per passenger, of which 500g is single use plastic.

PriestmanGoode Display, The Design Museum, London
PriestmanGoode Display, The Design Museum, London (Image Credit: London Air Travel)

This is primarily from the food and beverage service. Plastic serves a useful purpose for airlines. It is cheap, durable and lightweight. The exhibition looks at what alternative sustainable materials could be used, such as bamboo and wheat bran.

PriestmanGoode Display, The Design Museum, London
PriestmanGoode Display, The Design Museum, London (Image Credit: London Air Travel)

A number of airlines have committed to reduce the use of single use plastics. Earlier year, Qantas operated a “zero waste” test flight in Australia from Sydney to Adelaide.

To implement this in practice airlines require supply chains that can meet the scale of their operations around the globe, whilst also meeting strict hygiene standards on the disposal of organic waste. Of course, there is a lot – as touched on by the exhibition – that passengers can do to reduce single use plastic. And that includes all passengers, wherever they are seated on the aircraft, being prepared to rethink what they really need from a long-haul flight.

“Get Onboard: Reduce.Reuse.Rethink” is on display at The Design Museum until Sunday 9 February 2020.

On a related note, BBC Radio 4’s “In Business” this coming Thursday looks at changing attitudes towards the environmental impact of aviation.

Continue reading “Monday Briefing – 16 September 2019”

British Airways Pilot Strike 27 September 2019 Update

British Airways has now changed its schedules in advance of planned industrial action by BA pilots at Gatwick and Heathrow on Friday 27 September 2019.

London Air Travel » Page 2

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

British Airways has now updated its schedules in advance of a planned second phase of industrial action by British Airways pilots on Friday 27 September 2019.

Once again, there are very extensive cancellations to BA’s schedules at Gatwick and Heathrow. There is also residual disruption before and after the strike.

Flights operated by BA CityFlyer Ltd at London City are not affected. BA has advised that extra capacity has been added from London City to Amsterdam, Berlin Tegel and Munich on the day of the strike.

Flights operated by franchise partners SUN-AIR A/S of Scandinavia and Comair are not affected. Nor are flights operated by codeshare partners under BA flight numbers.

If your flight is cancelled you should have now received an e-mail from BA. The best way to monitor the status of your booking is to use the Manage My Booking tool on ba.com

If your flight is cancelled you are entitled to a full refund. BA is offering rebooking on what is now a wide range of Oneworld alliance and non-alliance partner airlines.

BA Executive Club Avios and Tier Points

BA has today, Friday 13 September 2019, updated its guidance on ba.com to clarify its position on the awarding of Avios and tier points to members of the BA Executive Club whose flights have been cancelled.

BA now advises that if you are rebooked on a BA or Oneworld partner airline flight you will be awarded Avios and tier points automatically after you have taken the flight. (In actuality, it can take time for these to credit, so it’s worth keeping a close eye on your account).

If you are rebooked on a non-Oneworld alliance partner airline, you will need to submit a claim directly to BA in order to earn Avios and tier points. These will be awarded on the basis of your original booking with BA.

If you believe you have missed out on retaining your existing Executive Club tier or reaching the next tier as a consequence of industrial action, you should contact BA and they will look at your account on a case-by-case basis.

This is the guidance, as published this evening on ba.com, which may be amended at any time:

If your flight was cancelled as a result of the industrial action, and you were rebooked onto an alternative service operated by British Airways or a oneworld partner airline, you will automatically be credited with the applicable Avios and Tier Points once you have flown the rebooked flight.

If your flight was cancelled as a result of the industrial action, and you were rebooked by British Airways onto an alternative service operated by a non-partner airline, we will award you the Avios and Tier Points for your original cancelled British Airways flight. Please raise a claim online by logging into your Executive Club account and click the option “claim missing Avios on BA” and submit your original British Airways flight details.

In all other cases where you believe you would have upgraded or retained your Tier status had your flight not been affected by the industrial action, please contact your local Executive Club Service Centre who will review cases on an individual basis.

Continue reading “British Airways Pilot Strike 27 September 2019 Update”

The Atlantic Update – Wednesday 11 September 2019

A weekly bulletin on transatlantic travel, published every Wednesday at 06:00 BST.

London Air Travel » Page 2

Virgin Atlantic Airbus A350-1000 Upper Class Cabin
Virgin Atlantic Airbus A350-1000 Upper Class Cabin (Image Credit: Virgin Atlantic)

Hello and welcome to the The Atlantic Update providing a weekly bulletin on developments on transatlantic travel between Europe and North America. The Atlantic Update is published every Wednesday morning at 06:00 BST.

San Francisco Runway Works

One of San Francisco International Airport’s four runways, Runway 28L, is closed for works until 27 September 2019.

This has resulted in substantial delays at the airport. Some airlines including Air Canada, Delta and United have implemented flexible rebooking policies as a consequence.

Canada Lounge & Route Developments

A number of developments have been announced in the Canadian market have been announced in the past week or so:

Air Canada has announced that it will operate its service from London Heathrow to Ottawa with the Boeing 787 Dreamliner from Sunday 29 March 2020. This will replace a Boeing 767 aircraft. (Air Canada)

Air Canada has also announced that it will suspend its summer seasonal route from Frankfurt to Ottawa from 24 October 2019. Lufthansa will operate this route five times weekly from 16 May 2020. (Lufthansa)

Air Canada is to also introduce a year-round service from Brussels to Toronto from May 2020. (Air Canada)

Air Canada has opened what it hails as an innovative lounge concept for premium domestic customers at Toronto Pearson International Airport.

The Air Canada Cafe is located at Gate D20 and offers seating for 120 passengers with complimentary hot beverages and soft drinks and breakfast foods and sandwiches and salads later in the day.

Also of note this week:

American Airlines bids adieu to its last McDonnell Douglas MD-80 aircraft. (American Airlines)

Miami-Dade County invites bids for a new transit link between Miami Beach and downtown Miami. (Miami Herald)

Why reports of “soiled cars” on the New York Subway are increasing. (The City)

Virgin Atlantic has started Airbus A350-1000 operations from London to New York JFK with the inaugural flight departing under flight number VS153 yesterday.

Continue reading “The Atlantic Update – Wednesday 11 September 2019”