Heathrow Airport has submitted new proposals for slightly lower charges at the UK’s busiest airport.

Due to its near monopoly position, the fees that Heathrow can charge airlines are capped by the CAA (Civil Aviation Authority) and set over 5 year periods. The currrent pricing regime ends in March 2014 and, earlier this year, Heathrow set out proposals that would have seen it raise its prices by RPI plus 5.9% over the 5 year period from 2014-2019.

A poll tax on flying


Not surprisingly, these proposals were met by howls of derision from airline groups, most vocally British Airways, who claim that Heathrow is already too expensive. Willie Walsh, CEO of British Airways parent company IAG, submitted a counter proposal that charges at Heathrow should actually grow by RPI minus 9.8%.

Although Heathrow could easily brush off such a stark proposal from British Airways, it was unable to hide its dismay when, in April of this year, the CAA published its initial findings which suggested a cap in charges of RPI minus 1.3%. Only now, some 3 months later, has the airport responded with a counter-offer, this time of RPI plus 4.6%.

British Airways Terminal 5 Check-InAnnouncing their new proposal, the airport published the results of a survey of some 1,178 Heathrow passengers. In this survey, it is claimed, passengers said that they would rather see improved services and investment than lower fares. At the same time, Colin Matthews, CEO of Heathrow Airport Holdings warned that global investors would no longer be prepared to invest in Heathrow, or other UK infrastructure projects, if they were unable to make a fair return on their capital.

On Monday, British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and other airlines operating to Heathrow again rejected Heathrow’s proposals for a rise in fees and reiterated their call for an overall reduction.

Ironically, this heated disagreement about airport charges, which net Heathrow some £1.3 billion a year, comes at the very same time that Heathrow and its major customers are in full agreement over the need for a 3rd runway at the airport.

The CAA will publish its next report in October.

Heathrow Terminal 5

Heathrow Terminal 5


















The first of British Airways A380s made its first official appearance at the weekend as it took part at the Royal International Air Tattoo.

The tattoo took place at RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire and involved the A380 flying in formation with the world-famous Red Arrows.

Captaining the aircraft was British Airways pilot Charles Everett although it was senior first officer Peter Nye who was at the controls. Earlier last week, the A380 and Red Arrows were seen practising for the show in the skies above Manston Airport in Kent where the aircraft is based for final training and trials.

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Commencing 28th October, British Airways will be adding additional flights from London City to both Madrid & Stockholm.

Both destinations are already served double daily from London City so both will be receiving a new, third service for the start of the winter season.

The new service to Madrid will depart London City at 12:50, arriving in Madrid at 16:10; the new flight to Stockholm will also depart and arrive at the same time.

These additional flights from subsidiary BA City Flyer are of course in addition to frequent services between Heathrow and Madrid / Stockholm.

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On Monday, the first of British Airways new A380s flew into Manston airport in Kent where it will be based for further trials and crew training.

British Airways has 12 A380s on order with the first aircraft set to enter into service between Heathrow & Los Angeles in September followed by flights between Heathrow & Hong Kong from October. Each aircraft carries some 469 passengers split between 4 cabins – World Traveller, World Traveller Plus, Club World & First.

Commenting on the arrival of the A380, Charles Buchanan, CEO of Manston Airport had this to say: “It’s exciting to think that Manston welcomed the first of our national flag carrier’s A380s, and that Kent saw the distinctive union flag tail-fin before Los Angeles and Hong Kong, the airline’s first routes for the new aircraft. We welcomed Prime Minister David Cameron recently when he officially opened the London Array wind farm and Manston’s potential did not go unnoticed. With the debate over the future provision of airport capacity in the south east currently raging, the decision by British Airways to use Manston for training graphically illustrates the capability, flexibility and capacity of the largest under-utilised runway in the region.”

Manston airport is located in south east Kent, close to the seaside towns of Ramsgate, Margate & Broadstairs, and was originally an RAF base. The long runway and relative lack of any other flights (KLM fly twice daiy to Amsterdam), together with its relative proximity to London, convinced British Airways that Manston was the ideal destination to base the aircraft for final testing and crew training.

Anyone at Manston yesterday would also have been lucky enough to also witness the arrival of 2 Red Arrows aircraft which briefly flew in formation with the A380 as a practise run for the Royal International Air Tattoo at RAF Fairford on Saturday.

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Following the emergency landing of British Airways flight 762 at Heathrow in May, a number of passengers are now taking the matter to court.

The flight between London & Oslo had 75 passengers onboard and had to return to Heathrow after engine failure. An interim report from AAIB (Air Accidents Investigation Branch) found that the cowels which cover the engines had not been securely fastened and had come off shortly after take-off.

Although the AAIB has not published its full report, all the evidence thus far points to faulty maintenance by a British Airways engineer as having been the root cause of the problem. This being the case, it is somewhat surprising to hear that the 9 litigants are preparing a legal case against Airbus, manufacturer of the affected aircraft, together with International Aero Engines whose engines were involved.

Law firm Stewarts Law LLP, who are representing the passengers, claim that there have been more than 30 similar cases and that the problem is therefore integral to the aircraft / engine.

There were no injuries resulting from the emergency landing so the claims being made are for psychological trauma.

british airways side of plane



Willie Walsh, CEO of British Airways parent company IAG, has publicly stated that he doesn’t believe a 3rd runway will be built at Heathrow.

The combative Irishman was speaking at a public evidence session, part of the Davies Commission into UK airport capacity.

A poll tax on flying


Commenting on the issue Mr Walsh stated: “I suspect the recommendations by the committee won’t be acted on by politicians… I’m critical of the politics behind their decisions. This government gave no credible alternative to a third runway so BA will continue planning for the future on the basis of a two runway Heathrow.”

After the last Labour government gave the go-ahead for a 3rd runway at the UK’s busiest airport, the Conservative / LibDem coalition came to power with an agreement that no further runways should be built at Heathrow (which Labour too now agree with). Of course easy promises made in opposition (promises made largely because of the number of marginal, west London constituencies that lie under Heathrow’s flight-path) become more of a problem once in power. With Heathrow already operating at 99% capacity, and airlines, business groups and unions all calling for additional airport capacity, the government has done what all governments do……side-step the issue.

The Davies Commission, led by Howard Davies, one time Chairman of the Financial Services Authority (remember what a great job they did?) has been asked by the government to look into UK airport capacity and to report back in full in 2015, after the next general election. What was it Mr Cameron said about no more ‘dithering’?

The political situation takes on an added level of complexity because, in addition to Mr Cameron & Mr Clegg’s national political interests, on a purely London-level the Mayor, Boris Johnson, is one of the biggest opponents of further expansion at Heathrow. Could he too be mindful of his power-base in west London? Instead, he and his advisors have called for the buiding of a brand new, 4 runway, 24 hour airport to the east of London. Such an airport would clearly solve the capacity problem but would require Heathrow to close entirely, which in turn would devastate the local west London economy, requiring massive new investment, all at the same time that even more investment was required (probably £80 billion plus) to build the airport to the east of London and all the associated infrastructure – transport, housing, schools, hospitals etc. Thus far Mr Johnson has failed to explain who will be paying for this.

As far as British Airways are concerned, of course they would like additional airport capacity at Heathrow. Of course? With their 2012 takeover of bmi, British Airways now control almost 50% of the slots at the world’s single, most finacially lucrative airport. With no new runways, British Airways dominant position can never really be challenged, either by domestic airlines such as Virgin Atlantic, or large, foreign carriers such as those from the Gulf or USA. IAG might very decide that a secure, profitable, mid-sized British Airways will do very nicely thank you.

And the future for Heathrow? 2 runways, higher fares, more delays and less direct flights.

British Airways aircraft parked in front of Heathrow Terminal 5

Heathrow Terminal 5



British Airways parent company, IAG, has reported a significant increase in capacity and passengers carried compared to June 2012 although this increase is entirely down to the takeover of Spanish low cost carrier Vueling.

Stripping out the effects of the takeover, the pattern of trade remains the same at IAG – a small growth in passenger numbers at British Airways but steep declines at Iberia.


Group Performance1 Month of June Year to Date
2013 2012 Change 2013 2012 Change
Passengers Carried (’000s) 6,531 5,048 29.4%  28,858 25,721 12.2%
Domestic (UK & Spain) 1,695 1,160 46.1%  6,482 5,534 17.1%
Europe 3,094 2,142 44.4%  13,082 10,798 21.2%
North America 845 802 5.4%  4,127 4,057 1.7%
Latin America & Caribbean 341 388 -12.1%  2,064 2,317 -10.9%
Africa, Middle East & S.Asia 410 421 -2.6%  2,319 2,270 2.2%
Asia Pacific 146 135 8.1%  784 745 5.2%

After years of waiting, the first of British Airways 12 A380s on order finally arrived at Heathrow airport this morning.

British Airways first A380 on tarmacTo celebrate the arrival, British Airways took industry observers and frequent flyers somewhat by surprise by announcing that scheduled flights would begin earlier than previously indicated. Flights to Los Angeles, which were scheduled to commence on 15th October now start on 24th September, while flights to Hong Kong, which were meant to commence on 15th November, now start on 22nd October. Whether passengers who had booked for the original dates will be allowed to change their bookings is unclear.

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Until the aircraft go into full operational service, they will first undergo further testing and trials at both Heathrow and Manston airport in Kent. They will then be used for crew familiarisation training on short-haul flights to Europe before finally being let loose on their scheduled long-haul flights.

So far, British Airways haven’t announced any further, future destinations for the A380 although the next 2 aircraft may simply be used on the same routes, thereby allowing the airline to offer daily services.

The airline’s fleet of A380s will join 12 existing flights a day at Heathrow – 2 from Qantas, 2 from Malaysia Airlines, 3 from Singapore Airlines and 5 from Emirates. Thai Airways had recently announced that it would be commencing A380 services this December but then, within a matter of weeks, announced a ‘delay’ until October 2014 at the earliest.

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British Airways today welcomed the first of its 42 Boeing 787 Dreamliners to its home base at Heathrow.

K65936The 787-8 series aircraft departed Paine Field in USA last night and arrived at Heathrow this morning where it was met, amongst others, by Willie Walsh, CEO of British Airways parent company IAG. Commenting on the new arrival Mr Walsh stated: “The 787 is a tremendous, innovative aircraft which sets new standards for environmental performance and operating efficiency and I’m sure British Airways’ customers will love it. The 787 will become a mainstay of the British Airways fleet over the next few years.”

As we reported yesterday, the first two destinations to receive the new aircraft will be Toronto (from 1st September) and Newark (from 1st October). Flights onboard the new aircraft are now on general sale to both destinations.

The seating layout on a British Airways 787

British Airways has a total of 8 787-8 series aircraft on order, all of which will be configured in a 3 class cabin. The new aircraft is set to replace the airline’s ageing fleet of 767s, a mainstay of flights to the east coast of the USA and Canada.

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With British Airways soon to take delivery of both its brand new 787s and A380s, we look at the ‘forgotten’ addition to the airline’s fleet, the 777-300.

british airways 747For the last decade plus, British Airways long-haul fleet has been split between the 747-400 (just over 50 still in operational service), the 777-200 (just under 50 still in service) and 767-300 (21 in service). The 747s & 767s operate exclusively out of Heathrow while the 777-200 flies from both Heathrow & Gatwick and is split between 3 & 4 class configurations.

Many of these long-haul aircraft, but especially the 747 & 767, have been showing their age for some time now and are in need of replacement. British Airways placed orders for 24 Dreamliner 787s and 12 A380s in the mid noughties but delays to the introduction of both new models left the airline (like many others) having to alter their plans. Step forward the 777-300.

The Boeing 777-300 is a whole 10 metres longer than the 777-200 (longer even than the 747-400) and British Airways already has 6 aircraft operational with a further 6 on order. The existing 6 operational aircraft are set up in a 4 class configuration with 14 seats in First, 56 in Club World, 44 in World Traveller Plus and 185 in World Traveller; a total of 299 seats, the same as the airline’s low density 747-400. To the best of our knowledge, the next 6 aircraft will also have the same configuration.

Sating in Britsh Airways new World Traveller cabinThe 777-300 operates exclusively out of Heathrow and tends to be used on the airline’s most important routes (ie routes which can support First class) such as to Singapore, Sydney, Dubai, Hong Kong and selected US destinations. All 777-300s are equipped with the airline’s most up to date product across all 4 cabins. Passengers travelling in World Traveller & World Traveller Plus in particular will notice a significant difference between the seating and in-flight entertainment in the airline’s older aircraft with that provided on the 777-300. This new product will also be fitted on all British Airways new 787s and A380s as well as being retro-fitted to some of the airline’s 777-200s (but not those operating out of Gatwick).

British Airways A350 on order for 2017So will British Airways order any further 777-300s to add to its planned fleet of 12? The airline has some 120 747s, 767s and 777-200s to replace in the coming years and, so far, has ‘only’ placed orders for 78 replacement aircraft to be delivered by 2023 (42 787 Dreamliners, 6 777-300s, 18 Airbus A350s and 12 A380s). Even the largest Dreamliner, the 787-10 series, which British Airways ordered last week in Paris, doesn’t have the capacity of a 777-300; nor does the Airbus A350. British Airways could order additional A380s but we don’t feel that they will. With the failure of its extended 747-800 to win-over airlines, we feel that Boeing will soon proceed with a new, even larger version of the 777-300 (already known as the 777-x) and that British Airways will come-a-knocking.




British Airways is to launch flights between London City airport and Dusseldorf in Germany from 1st September.

Although British Airways have increasingly been promoting leisure flights out of London City (such as their new service to Granada in Spain), the airport is primarily used for business and Dusseldorf is one of Germany’s most important business centres.

Flights will operate up to 3 times a day (less at the weekend) using a Saab 2000.

Commenting on the new route, Luke Hayhoe, British Airways general manager at London City stated: “We have launched a number of new leisure routes from London City in the past couple of years. Now we are very excited to be going to a great business city like Dusseldorf which offers significant trade links with the city of London.”

British Airways A318 London City Airport

With British Airways taking initial delivery of its 787 Dreamliners in the next few days, it appears that Newark &  Toronto will be the first destinations to benefit.

To promote the new aircraft, passengers who book the introductory 787 fares on between 27th & 30th June will be entered into a free draw – the lucky winner earning 78,787 Avios points!

British Airways new 787-8 series aircraft have been fitted in a 3 cabin configuration split between World Traveller, World Traveller Plus & Club World, with a total seating capacity of 214 passengers.

The seating layout on a British Airways 787

New seating in British Airways New World Traveller cabinPassengers in World Traveller and World Traveller Plus will enjoy the airline’s brand new seating and improved in-flight entertainment featuring larger screens and a much greater selection of on-demand audio and visual programmes. Passengers in Club World will benefit from the most up to date Club World product with the only recognisable difference being the 3 seats in the middle as  opposed to the usual 4.

British Airways has ordered 42 Dreamliners in total, split between all 3 models – the 787-8, 787-9 & 787-10 – with at least 24 of the first 2 models set to be delivered to the airline before the end of 2017. Initially, the 787 will be used to replace the airline’s ageing fleet of 767s on existing routes (mainly medium haul routes) although, in the future, they may well be used to open up new destinations in Asia and South America.

On 4th July, British Airways will also take delivery of the first of its 12 A380s on order; this will make the airline the first in Europe (and second in the world) to operate both the 787 and A380.

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British Airways have released their latest video taken from this month’s Innovation Lab in the Sky.

The overnight flight from San Francisco to London on 12th June included 100 of the tech world’s leading innovators. Where will the next one take place – London & Africa?

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Following Delta’s purchase of 49% of Virgin Atlantic, the two airlines are determined to challenge the long held dominance of British Airways & American Airlines on flights between Heathrow & New York.

AMERICAN AIRLINES NEW LOOKAs with British Airways & American Airlines, the new Delta / Virgin Atlantic pairing is set to be granted anti-trust immunity which will allow the two airlines to co-ordinate slots and schedules as well as sharing revenue. The new joint venture is set to come into being in early 2014 and will be the first serious challenge to the British Airways / American Airlines partnership which accounts for around 50% of traffic between London & New York, the world’s single most important airline route.

Code sharing between Delta & Virgin commences on 3rd July with Virgin Atlantic placing its code on 91 Delta flights and the US carrier placing its flight number on 17 Virgin flights, including the new short-haul routes between Heathrow and both Edinburgh & Manchester.

Between them, the 2 airlines operate 23 daily flights between Heathrow & the US including 9 daily flights between Heathrow and New York JFK.

Delta’s President, Ed Bastian, has also indicated that they are seriously looking into new, direct flights between Heathrow & Seattle, a service that British Airways currently holds a monopoly on, although there was no indication of whether these flights would be operated by Delta or Virgin (we would assume the latter).

Virgin Atlantic




Effective from 1st July, all passengers arriving on a British Airways flight will be able to use their mobile devices as soon as the aircraft has landed.

British Airways appAt the moment, passengers are used to the pilot asking them to refrain from switching on mobiles etc until the aircraft has come to a complete stop at the gate. The change in policy comes after British Airways proved to the CAA (Civil Aviation Authority) that there were no risks to safety.

The new policy applies to British Airways flights anywhere in the world although the policy on departures remains the same; passengers must turn off their mobile devices before the aircraft pushes back from the gate.

Commenting on the news, Ian Pringle from British Airways had this to say: “Customers will no longer have the frustration of having to wait until their plane has arrived at the terminal building before being able to use their mobile phones and other handheld electronic devices. Now they’ll have that extra time to phone ahead for that important business meeting, check their emails, or make sure someone is there to meet them at the airport.”

Previously, British Airways had also become the first UK airline to run its in-flight entertainment program from the moment passengers board, till the moment they left the aircraft.


first class at sunset

British Airways faces a seven figure repair bill after one of its own Heathrow employees allowed a scanning gun to get sucked into an aircraft engine.

British Airways aircraft parked in front of Heathrow Terminal 5

Heathrow Terminal 5

The incident took place earlier in June at Heathrow’s Terminal 5, the aircraft involved an A320 that was being powered up before push-back. It would seem that an engineer left a tool on the outer engine cover which was then sucked inside as the engines were turned on.

The aircraft had been scheduled to fly to Bucharest, Romania and led to some 150 passengers being delayed for 3 hours before a replacement aircraft could be arranged.

A spokesman for British Airways said: ‘We are sorry that customers on our flight to Bucharest were delayed. We arranged for a replacement aircraft as quickly as possible to keep the delay to a minimum.’






In the last month British Airways has announced increased capacity to both Libya, Sierra Leone & Liberia.

In the case of Libya, as of 2nd September the airline will be adding a fourth weekly flight from Heathrow to Tripoli; the new Monday service is in addition to existing flights on Tuesday, Thursday & Saturday. Flights depart Terminal 5 at 08:50, arriving in Tripoli at 13:25. Return flights depart Tripoli at 15:30, getting back into London at 18:15.

After the civil war in Libya, British Airways only re-instated flights to the capital in May 2012 and this additional service suggests that life in Libya is returning to normal. Previously, British Airways had faced domestic competition on the route from bmi; British Airways takeover of bmi ended that problem abruptly.

British Airways will also be increasing the frequency of its joint service to Sierra Leone & Liberia from 31st October with a fourth weekly service. As with Libya, flights depart Heathrow’s Terminal 5 early in the morning, getting back into London at 16:00, just in time to catch the all important final flights to the USA.

Unlike Libya, British Airways did not previously fly to either Sierra Leone or Liberia but ‘inherited’ the route from bmi after its takeover in 2012. News that it is now expanding its services will be welcomed by both countries, neither of which have a national airline capable of offering flights to the UK or USA.


Flights to Sierra Leone & Liberia will be operated by 767s offering World Traveller, World Traveller Plus & Club World. Hopefully it won’t be too long before the route receives a shiny new Dreamliner 787.

British Airways aircraft parked in front of Heathrow Terminal 5

Heathrow Terminal 5







Willie Walsh, CEO of British Airways parent company IAG, has warned that its Spanish unit, Iberia, is in a critical condition.

iberia a319Speaking at IAG’s annual meeting in Madrid, Walsh stated that Iberia was losing 1 million euros a day and was now loss making across all its sectors, ie both short haul and long haul. In the past, the emphasis has very much been on Iberia’s short haul division, and the need to make significant structural changes to combat low cost carriers. The revelation that even the long-haul division, once one of the most profitable in Europe, is now loss making will be of great concern to all the relevant stakeholders.

British Airways Willie Walsh“None of us want to see Iberia disappear” stated Walsh,  ”however, that still remains a risk unless all parts of the airline work together to transform Iberia.” He then one again used the experience of Iberia Express, established in 2012, to showcase just what could be achieved if everyone agreed to managements proposals for change: “The airline was profitable within three months, is flying to the highest industry standards and achieving excellent customer feedback. It has also created 500 new Spanish jobs.”

His comments were backed up by the Chairman of IAG, Antonio Vazquez: “I repeat that there is only one path that can be taken to reach this goal: to restructure in order to adapt to the new environment and be able to compete under similar conditions to those of our direct rivals.”

So is there a chance that Iberia could be closed down? Possibly but not probably. Although its losses are undoubtedly hurting IAG, profits at British Airways mean the situation isn’t quite as critical as it would have been had Iberia been a stand alone business. In addition, expectations are that Mr Walsh will succeed in driving down costs at Iberia, just as he did at British Airways, allowing the airline to profit from an eventual upturn in the market.

British Airways daily 777 service to Accra






Boeing officially launched their new 787-10 series today with orders for 102 aircraft, including 12 from British Airways.

The orders for the new, stretched version of the Dreamliner, worth nearly $30 billion at list prices, came from Air Lease (30), GE Capital Services (10), Singapore Airlines (30), United (20) and British Airways (12). British Airways had already confirmed an option for a further 18 Dreamliners earlier this year so it is now apparent that 12 of those are for the 10 series; what is not clear is how the remaining 6 will be split between the 8 & 9 series.

The 10 series isn’t expected to be ready until 2018 so Boeing were busy showing off the existing 8 series in Paris with an Air India plane, showing of its paces. It does have a certain grace we must say.

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British Airways new A380 took to the skies over France yesterday as part of the Paris Air Show.

British Airways has orders for 12 A380s with the first aircraft set to be delivered to the airline in the first week of July. It will then be briefly based at Manston Airport in Kent for further tests and training before being introduced on short-haul routes within Europe as part of the airline’s crew familiarisation programme. Although the airline hasn’t advised which routes will be served as part of this process, most industry observers expect Paris, Frankfurt & Madrid to be the most likely destinations.

The first scheduled A380 service will be on 15th October between Heathrow & Los Angeles followed a month later on 15th November between Heathrow & Hong Kong. Future routes might include Sao Paulo, New York, Johannesburg, Lagos, Singapore, Tokyo & Beijing. British Airways will be one of the only airlines to offer a 4 cabin service with World Traveller, World Traveller Plus, Club World & First.

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