The Week In Travel: 27/7/20

Back after a week off!

I’ll be continuing my recently started series of taking a look at the travel related stories that have caught my eye. Initially it was a bit of a slow start, but things picked up as the week went on.

Anyway, without too much more waffle:


British Airways To Launch London Heathrow – Orlando

Following Virgin Atlantics withdrawal from London Gatwick, they announced that they would launch a London Heathrow – Orlando route. Almost hot on their heels, British Airways have announced this week that they would follow suit. However, unlike Virgin Atlantic, they will also continue to offer flights from London Gatwick.

At the moment, the new British Airways Heathrow – Orlando route is scheduled to start on 25th October. Although as Virgin Atlantic have found out the hard way, this date isn’t quite set in stone. As it stands, the USA can only accept arrivals from Europe to 13 airports in the US. And Orlando isn’t one of them.

My own opinion is that the USA won’t open up to European travellers before 2021. And even if it does, I suspect it will be unlikely that the USA will be on any European countries safe list. Although I guess 3 months is a long time.

British Airways 777-200ER at Orlando

Boeing Officially Ends 747 Production

It was strongly suspected a couple of weeks ago. This week it was confirmed. Boeing will indeed end production of the 747 Jumbo in 2022. Whilst the final passenger variant of the 747, delivered to Korean Air, was in 2017, the freighter version has remained in production.

© Boeing

As it stands, only 12 more 747’s will roll off the production line. By the end of production, just under 1600 747’s will have been produced.

In addition, Boeing has also confirmed that production rates of the 787 Dreamliner and the troubled 737MAX will be cut.

Finally, the newest aircraft to be launched by the US based manufacturer the 777X now wont enter service before 2022. Undertaking its first flight in January 2020, the first deliveries were initially expected in 2021. It should be noted that the 2022 date is merely a target. Its possible that things could slip further still depending on the situation around the world.

Airbus Cuts Production Too

It hasn’t exactly been plain sailing at Airbus either. This week it emerged that their latest aircraft, the A350, will have its production cut to 5 a month. Previously, Airbus were producing 10 of the type per month.

The manufacturer also mentioned that they currently have 166 aircraft aircraft in storage. Due to the pandemic, these aircraft are unable to be handed over to the airlines.

These include:

  • 11 A220
  • 112 A320 series
  • 14 A330
  • 25 A350
  • 4 A380

More Aircraft Retirements at British Airways

Following the announcement that British Airways would retire their Boeing 747 fleet, more cuts have been announced. The biggest being the Airbus A318 fleet will be retired. This aircraft (somewhat) replaced the Concorde flights between London and New York. Although there were obviously a couple of differences. The main one being that it took a little bit more than the 3 hours Concorde took. However due to the technical stop in Shannon along the way, you could arrive in New York as a domestic passenger, and therefore avoid any immigration issues.

The Airbus A318 wont be returning to the British Airways fleet IAG announced this week
British Airways Airbus A318 © Nick Morrish/British Airways

Also noted was that a third of the Airbus A380 fleet would remain grounded for the time being. Along side this, 6 Boeing 777’s would stay on the ground for an unspecified amount of time.

IAG also announced that there would be 13 narrow bodies taking early retirement. I had seen it mentioned a couple of weeks ago that the entire A321ceo fleet could be leaving. There are more than enough A321neo’s to take up the slack for the time being. And its somewhat telling that both the A319 and A320ceo fleet have returned to service in some capacity. Yet all of the older A321’s remain on the ground in Glasgow. Although if we discount the A321’s in mid haul configuration, there are 14 A321 CEO’s enabled for short haul operations.

What makes things far clearer is that IAG have noted that they will temporarily ground 18 narrow body aircraft. And how many A321ceo’s do BA have on their books? 18. Don’t expect to be flying on an A321ceo in BA colours any time soon.

Elsewhere in the IAG group

Aer Lingus will be disposing of the leased 757’s and RJ85’s. They will also be grounding 6 Airbus A320’s and 3 Airbus A330’s. Iberia will be disposing of their Airbus A340 fleet, as previously announced. Along side this, they will be grounding 2 long haul aircraft (presumably A330’s) and 17 short haul aircraft. At Level, 6 A320’s will be transferred to Vueling and their long haul fleet will be reduced to a pair of Airbus A330’s. Finally, Vueling will keep 48 aircraft grounded until 2021.

British Airways Double Avios Offer

This week saw British Airways roll out their annual double Avios offer. Although this year doesn’t seem quite as generous as previous years. Whilst the double Avios offer is still valid for 10 flights, the booking window is a lot less than usual. Previously I seem to recall there being a good few months where you could book flights to be eligible. This time around, you only have until the end of August to book those 10 flights. Seems a bit of a tall order! Although I guess they are a little more desperate this year compared to previously.

I very much doubt I will take advantage. My August trip is already booked, and it will be with Star Alliance…

TUI To Fly 787 Dreamliner On European Flights

Following the snap closure of Spain last weekend, the charter companies have cancelled upcoming trips to the country. Although rather than cancelling outright, Simon Calder at The Independent reported that many are switching to other destinations. Most notably Greece and Turkey. In order to cater for the increased demand, TUI will operate the long haul, wide body 787 Dreamliner on these routes. This is in place of the smaller narrow body Boeing 737 and 757 fleet that usually operate within Europe.

Using a wide body long haul aircraft within Europe isn’t a particularly new thing however. TUI themselves operated their very first 787 between London Gatwick and Menorca in 2013. Throughout the years, Monarch used to use the Airbus A300 and A330 wide bodies on popular European flights.

Elsewhere, British Airways, Iberia, Air Europa, among others send wide body aircraft on scheduled routes. Although this is generally due to the likes of cargo or positioning as opposed to demand.

United Airlines To Increase International Service In September

United Airlines have stated that they will increase their international operation from September:

Chicago

  • Amsterdam
  • Hong Kong
  • Puerto Vallarta
  • San Juan
  • Tel Aviv*

Denver

  • Cabo San Lucas
  • Puerto Vallarta

Houston

  • Aguascalientes
  • Amsterdam
  • Costa Rica**
  • Frankfurt
  • Tampico
  • Veracruz

Los Angeles

  • Puerto Vallarta
  • Sydney

Newark

  • Costa Rica**
  • St Thomas*

San Francisco

  • San Francisco – Munich

Washington

  • Washington – San Juan

In addition, United have also stated that they will add more than 40 flights domestically, including resuming a number of services between the US mainland and Hawaii.

* New Route
** Only Costa Rica was mentioned – nothing more specific.

Boeing officially announced the end of 747 production this week
United Airlines 777-200 at Chicago, April 2019

China Southern Becomes Latest Airline To Move Terminal At Heathrow

China Southern has become the latest airline to mover terminals at London Heathrow. From 5th August, they will move from their temporary home in Terminal 2 to Terminal 5.

They follow both Qatar Airways and JAL that have moved in over that past few days. The medium term plan is for terminal 5 at Heathrow to be the dedicated OneWorld terminal at the airport. Whilst China Southern isn’t a member of OneWorld, it has recently left the SkyTeam alliance and forged a number of relationships with OneWorld carriers.

A number of OneWorld management have stressed that there currently aren’t plans to include China Southern in the alliance. Although it could be feasible that they could join as a OneWorld connect partner.

And Finally This Week…

It would appear that Heathrow is back to dual runway operations.

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