London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing – 27 August 2018

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

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British Airways 99th Birthday Montage
British Airways 99th Birthday Montage (Image Credits: British Airways)

Hello and welcome to our Monday Briefing for the week beginning 27 August 2018, summarising the main developments in air travel over the past week, and a look to the week ahead.

BA prepares for its centenary year

If you were flying through Heathrow Terminal 5 on Saturday you may have noticed celebrations for BA’s 99th birthday.

The airline’s official birthday is 25 August when, in 1919, a De Havilland DH4A aircraft flew from Hounslow Heath to Paris. This marked the world’s first scheduled international transportation service.

Although the celebrations were relatively low key, this really should be seen as a small taster of what is to come next year. It will celebrate its centenary. No doubt preparations are well underway and the airline will need to be putting its best foot forward. Next year we will of course see a new Club World seat as BA takes delivery of the first of 16 Airbus A350-1000 aircraft.

On a related note, here are some archive images of one of the most defining aircraft of the airline’s history, Concorde.

Qantas reiterates commitment to non-stop London – Sydney flights

Qantas released its annual results last week.

Its CEO Alan Joyce described the new direct London Heathrow – Perth service as the “highest rating” service for customer advocacy on the Qantas network.

Only Qantas knows the exact financial performance of the route, and is never going to divulge anything beyond vague comments. However, the route has at least proven successful operationally, with little by way of known teething problems or technical issues.

Qantas has reiterated that it is actively in discussions with Airbus and Boeing for aircraft for non-stop flights from London to Sydney from 2022. A final decision should be made next year.

In its investor presentation, Qantas did refer to the UK as one of its slowest growing markets that is suffering from overcapacity. With that in mind, it is likely that any direct service would replace Qantas’ existing Airbus A380 service from London to Sydney via Singapore. This is in the same way that that the non-stop Perth flight replaced the Airbus A380 service from London to Melbourne via Dubai. It is also highly unlikely that Qantas will go back to four daily services from London of ten years ago.

Boeing 787 Dreamliner issues continue

Time for a mea culpa.

Last week we said that BA’s schedules should be returning to normal after wet-leases from Qatar Airways to cover some flights had ended. This is now evidently not the case. BA has, once again, grounded some of its Boeing 787 fleet and instituted blanket cancellations to Doha, Los Angles and Mumbai.

Air New Zealand also confirmed last week it is continuing to lease in aircraft (one Boeing 777-300 and two Boeing 777-200) to cover grounded aircraft. It has also changed schedules to release aircraft capacity.

Singapore Airlines Brand Review

A little over six months ago, Channel 4 (UK) broadcast an hour long documentary “The World’s Most Luxurious Airline”.

It followed the design and launch of Singapore Airlines’ latest Airbus A380 First Class seats. There were the predictable production devices of the juxtaposition of the worlds of First Class and the everyday and Alan Partridge moments from carefully cast and edited contributors.

The Twittering classes duly followed the prescribed hashtag and engaged in the typical gentle mocking of the programme. However, a cloud darkened and the mood took an abrupt turn when the programme turned to Singapore Airlines’ stringent cabin crew recruitment processes for “Singapore Girl”.

Apropos of nothing, Singapore Airlines has invited marketing agencies to pitch to the airline for, inter alia, “fresh perspective on how the Singapore Airlines brand should be modernised”.

Airlines around the world from easyJet to Qantas are actively seeking to increase recruitment of female pilots. TUI was admonished in the UK press last week because some cabin crew handed out “Future Pilot” and “Future Cabin Crew” children’s stickers along gender lines.

There’s nothing inherently wrong in promoting highly trained and attentive front line staff. However, Singapore Girl is literally a product of the 1970s and Singapore Airlines is likely to face a backlash at some point unless it changes direction.

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