The Week In Travel: 6/7/20

The second instalment from this new series that I have started, following the news that has caught my eye over the previous week.

On a more personal side, there was still no travel from me. Although only a couple of weeks now until I’m back into the air!

Lets take a look at what’s caught my eye this week:

HiFly Converts Their A380 To CovidCargo Jet

Portuguese charter airline HiFly have become the first airline to convert an Airbus A380 to a freighter. Whilst many airlines, including British Airways, Finnair and Lufthansa amount others have removed the passenger seats from their aircraft, HiFly have gone one better and utilised their Airbus A380 in this way. The Airbus A380 is the worlds largest passenger jet, so the airline is likely hoping to tap into a niche market.

South African Airways Reduces Their Fleet

Oh dear, the downturn at South African Airways continues. After months of struggling (see here and here), they have started sending their aircraft off to permanent storage. In total, South African will be disposing of 28 aircraft over the coming weeks. Due to the airline having parked up many aircraft already due to the COVID19 outbreak, its a little difficult to get an accurate number of how many aircraft were in their fleet to begin with, but its safe to assume that there will only be a handful left by the time things are done with.

South African will dispose of:

  • 3x Airbus A319
  • 10x Airbus A320
  • 5x Airbus A330
  • 6x Airbus A340
  • 4x Airbus A350

It’s interesting to see that they will be disposing of the 4 Airbus A350 aircraft. They only entered the fleet at the end of 2020, albeit on lease from Air Mauritius and Hainan Airlines. Both of those airlines are having issues of their own, so it could prove a little difficult to dispose of them. With regards to the rest of the fleet, the Airbus A320’s are reasonably new and a couple that are down for disposal are owned so those aircraft should find new homes. It’s a similar story with the long haul Airbus A330’s. When it comes to the A340, the current trend with those is to run away from them as fast as you can if you’re an airline! Virgin Atlantic, Iberia and Lufthansa have all ditched their fleets of the type pretty quickly.

Still, it’s Plus Ultras gain…

This Week in Travel

British Airways Continues To Increase Network

As mentioned last week, British Airways have started ramping up their operation over the past couple of weeks. This week saw the airline re-start their operations from Heathrow to Gothenburg, Oslo, Split, Zagreb, Toulouse, Krakow, Warsaw and Zurich. Although it must be said that Gothenburg is a curious one – currently Sweden isn’t on the UK’s quarantine free list, which came into effect this week.

Also announced by the airline was that they would also be re-starting selected long haul destinations by the end of the month. By the end of July, they will offer passenger flights to:

  • Antigua
  • Barbados
  • Bermuda
  • Dallas
  • Kingston
  • Miami
  • Seattle
  • St Lucia
  • Tokyo
  • Toronto

Again, the number of services to the US is curious, for the same reasons as to why the flight to Gothenburg is. Still, I guess there must be some demand there for BA to justify it.

British Airways To Restart Gatwick Operation

Whilst were talking about British Airways….

They also announced this week that they would be re-starting their Gatwick operation. Despite the rumours that they would pull out of the airport, they will offer flights to the following destinations from 18th July.

  • Antigua
  • Barbados
  • Bermuda
  • Kingston
  • St Lucia

As of now, the short haul destinations previously served from Gatwick will be served from Heathrow instead. Currently there are no plans to return them to Gatwick for the time being, however I’m sure once things get going again they will return. With Virgin Atlantic abandoning Gatwick completely, and Norwegian unlikely to start long haul flights from the airport for a while yet, British Airways can use this opportunity to well and truly become the dominant carrier on long haul from the airport.

JetBlue Leave Long Beach

This week saw JetBlue announce that they would leave Long Beach airport on 6th October. This must come as a huge blow to the Californian airport. When I flew from there in 2018 (on JetBlue), it was apparent that JetBlue was by far the most dominant carrier at the airport. From what I could see, there was a single American Eagle flight (to Phoenix if I recall), maybe a Southwest flight but other than that, the airport was all Blue.

I found Long Beach airport to be quite pleasant – as most of it was outdoors. I suppose going forwards, it will be almost a ghost town too if you’re on one of the few other flights departing from the airport.

This Week in Travel
This Week in Travel

JetBlue currently serves Los Angeles, Long Beach, Burbank and Ontario – all of which serve the Los Angeles area. So consolidating their Long Beach operation into LAX seems like a sensible move in order to save some cash. During the trip I mentioned above, I flew into LAX and was staying in Long Beach – whilst the journey took around an hour, it was fairly straight forward using public transport. I know that Ontario airport is quite a way from LAX – nearer to San Bernadino in fact. Where as Burbank is North of the city, probably an equal distance from LAX that Long Beach is.

All of the existing routes from Long Beach, with the exception of Portland, which is being dropped completely, will move to LAX to compliment the handful of routes that are already served from the airport by the airline.

This Week in Travel

Qatar Airways To Move To Terminal 5 At Heathrow

Following American Airlines move to Terminal 5 at Heathrow, Qatar Airways will make a similar move from 21st July. Finnair and Royal Jordanian are expected to make a similar move imminently too. Although I’m yet to see anything about Cathay Pacific currently.

With the huge reduction in British Airways own schedule, there are no capacity concerns at present. Therefore these measures are likely to stay in place until at least the end of 2020.

Currently, Qatar Airways have been operating their flights from terminal 2 at Heathrow. This is due to their usual home at the airport, Terminal 4 being closed since May. Since British Airways use a completely different IT system at terminal 5 to the rest of the airport, things were a little more complex when looking to move other airlines into the terminal. Hence the move to terminal 2 for both American and Qatar before the shift over to T5. Presumably these issues are now sorted and it should be a more straightforward process for any future moves.

Bringing other airlines into terminal 5 at Heathrow also benefits British Airways. They no longer have to shoulder the terminals operating costs single handedly.

Qatar Airways will be handled by DNATA at terminal 5. British Airways currently have their own staff to handle their flights at there terminal. And as they have a close relationship with American Airlines, I suspect that they handle American too.

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