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Airlines

Can a FlyBe rebirth work?

It has been a year since the failure of flyBe, the first casualty of the pandemic, although a carrier which had got caught in a cycle of bad decision making which had manifested over a long time. It’s planned ‘rebirth’ under the Virgin Connect banner lay in tatters, as the industry headed into hibernation.

One of the investors of the ‘Virgin Connect’ project stayed around, Cyrus Capital and have stayed around, with a purchase of the assets confirmed by the administrators EY. The new owners planning to be up and running in the summer, although there are still question marks at their motives.

As has rightly been reported, many of their former domestic services have been replaced. In some cases by easyJet (which is the largest domestic airline based on the number of seats flown), or regional carriers Loganair, Eastern or Blueislands.

So, it looks difficult on the domestic front at the moment. However, this will be a debtless airline, essentially starting from scratch – a big advantage over those who have struggled financially through the crisis and have been weakened as a result. It could in effect undercut on price and potentially value, and knock others out of the market as a result.

While correctly reported that many of the domestic routes had been replaced, flyBe wasn’t just a domestic carrier and carried the reputation as being ‘Europe’s biggest regional carrier’. They particularly had a close connection to nearby France, with many connections which came and went over the years.

None more so than at Southampton, which has seen its fair share of French connections over the years, including to airports which don’t currently have an air service. Airports included Cherbourg, Angers, Avignon, Rennes, Bordeaux, Brest, La Rochelle, Perpignan, Toulon and Chambery in the winter. Some haven’t be replaced yet, and neither has the 10th busiest route in 2019 – Paris, ad the 14th in Dusseldorf.

Other airports in a similar situation include Norwich. That lost its Paris connection, but flyBe had previously flown to Bordeaux which is also unserved. Exeter, again lost Paris and they also served Bergerac.

You can see many of the cities which could be possible within the range of a Dash-8, those French regional connections – maybe adding Pau or Biarritz, along with places like Berne or Lucerne in Switzerland during the winter. More business orientated services could include Hannover or Stuttgart, Milan, Strasbourg, Luxembourg and regional services to Ireland (possible even reopening services from Waterford).

Still, much is theoretical, although once you look beyond a ‘domestic’ carrier, there are many more opportunities available.

Categories
Aviation Archive

Aviation Archive: Go – 2002

In the early 2000’s, low cost airlines didn’t have the scale of what we see today. More often or not they would only have a handful of bases, and therefore smaller fleets and a much smaller route portfolio. At the the height of its success in 2002, GO was already operating from three UK bases – the main base at London Stansted, Bristol and East Midlands (all of which were later taken over by easyJet).

At London Stansted, Go operated to:
Belfast International
Edinburgh
Glasgow
Newcastle
Alicante
Barcelona
Bilbao
Bologna
Copenhagen
Faro
Ibiza
Lyon
Malaga
Milan Linate
Munich
Naples
Nice
Palma
Prague
Rome Ciampino
Venice (Marco Polo)

In the smaller base at Bristol, they offered similar destinations:

Belfast International
Edinburgh
Glasgow
Alicante
Barcelona
Faro
Malaga
Nice
Palma
Prague

The same could be said at East Midlands, a base easyJet later closed down:

Edinburgh
Glasgow
Alicante
Faro
Malaga
Prague

There were also flights from Belfast International to both Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Categories
Aviation Archive

Aviation Archive: Summer 2006 – Norwich

Although similar to other regional airports in the UK, with a mix of city and leisure routes, Norwich had the benefit of flyBe and their attempt at becoming a ‘low cost airline’, with their fleet of 737-300’s and Avro/146’s.

It meant that it had a diverse, and intriguing network spanning across Europe, especially to the popular beach destinations.

flyBe’s network included:
Edinburgh
Manchester
Murcia
Malaga
Alicante
Jersey
Exeter
Glasgow
Guernsey
Bordeaux
Paris CdG
Faro
Dubrovnik
Split
Dublin

In addition, Eastern had three routes to Groningen, Aberdeen and Manchester, with bmi (British Midland) also flying to Aberdeen.

Other airlines included:
Air Southwest – Bristol
KLM – Amsterdam
First Choice – Mahon
TUI/Thomson – Corfu, Palma, Ibiza
Pegasus – Dalaman
Air Malta – Malta
LTE International – Lanzarote
Eurocypria – Paphos, Heraklion
Air Europa – Tenerife South, Gran Canaria, Palma

Categories
Aviation Archive

Aviation Archive: easyJet Luton – Summer 2006

easyJet’s home is at Luton Airport, it was its first base and is where their HQ is to this day. However, 15 years ago their route network was rather different to today, with the furthest services being Athens and Istanbul, neither of which are offered today.

There are a few notable words to say. Firstly, a notable lack of flying to the major cities of Italy (Venice, Rome and Milan), no Canaries or Ibiza, and a lot more flying to Eastern Europe.

Routes included:
Faro
Palma
Malaga
Basel
Inverness
Barcelona
Alicante
Berlin Schoenefeld
Amsterdam
Bratislava
Madrid
Budapest
Warsaw
Istanbul SAW
Paris CdG
Lisbon
Aberdeen
Glasgow
Geneva
Dortmund
Belfast International
Edinburgh
Cagliari
Turin
Nice
Krakow
Bordeaux
Grenoble
Athens
Bremen
Rijeka
Rimini

Categories
Aviation Archive

Aviation Archive: Summer 2006 – Bournemouth

Bournemouth was quite typical of regional airports before the recession at the end of the decade. It had a based airline (usually Thomson), along with charter airlines either from Spain or Turkey supplementing them. However, Bournemouth had a twist – an airline which was named the world’s best airline!

The Thomson destinations included:
Palma
Alicante
Verona
Salzburg
Amsterdam
Pisa
Ibiza
Faro
Jersey
Malaga
Paphos

The other based airline in question was Palmair. The aircraft was operated by European Aviation, a somewhat old 737-200, and was chartered for holidays provided by Bath Travel. (This later ended when Bath Travel was taken over by Hays Travel some years later).

Services included:
Funchal
Faro
Brescia
Palma
Tenerife South
Jersey
Mahon (Menorca)
Lanzarote
Corfu
Alicante
Dubrovnik

Additional services included:
Pegasus – Bodrum
Futura – Palma
SpanAir – Tenerife South
Blue Islands – Alderney, Jersey, Guernsey
Ryanair – Dublin, Gerona
Iberworld – Palma
Air Berlin – Paderborn

Categories
Aviation Archive

Aviation Archive: Summer 2006 – Coventry

It was a rather short-lived project, but Thomson’s reinvention into low-cost airline which saw the acquisition of 737-classics meant that different route portfolio was introduced. One of the key bases was at Coventry, with a small fleet of 737’s.

Routes included:
Malaga
Palma
Ibiza
Faro
Pisa
Paris Orly
Jersey
Valencia
Barcelona
Salzburg
Alicante
Amsterdam

Categories
Luxury Holidays

Aviation Archive: Summer 2006 – Teesside

The regional aviation scene fifteen years ago looked very different from the world we know today. It was still largely dominated by the larger charter carriers, offering inclusive tour packages on low-frequency services around Europe. Low-cost airlines were also expanding, but their networks were considerably smaller than they are today.

No more so than Teesside, an airport which nearly went out of business recently now finding a renaissance with an expanded portfolio of domestic services, and a few international, courtesy of TUI and Ryanair.

In 2006, bmibaby still had based aircraft at Teesside offering the following services on 737-300’s:

Malaga
Alicante
Palma
Paris
Newquay
Knock
Amsterdam
Jersey
Cork
London Gatwick

In addition, TUI (then Thomson) offered a number of charter services including Dalaman, Tenerife South, Bodrum, Bourgas, Palma, Monastir, Mahon, Corfu, Alicante, Ibiza and Paphos.

Eastern’s service to Aberdeen was supplemented by a 10 weekly service to Bristol, and bmi still had their up to 3 daily service to London Heathrow.

So, there is plenty of scope for more…!

Categories
Aviation Archive

Aviation Archive: Summer 2006 – Cardiff

Cardiff was quite a different place in 2006 compared to 2021, with four based charter airlines – along with a base for low-cost airline bmibaby. They covered all the usual summer sun routes, and overlapped considerably, but there were also a few you might not have expected!

Excel Airways

Fuerteventura
Dalaman
Paphos
Malaga
Tenerife South
Corfu
Gran Canaria
Lanzarote
Palma
Sharm El Sheikh

First Choice Airways

Lanzarote
Tenerife South
Palma
Reus
Dalaman
Bodrum
Naples
Menorca
Alicante
Bourgas
Kefalonia
Larnaca (Scheduled Service)
Paphos (Scheduled Service)

ThomsonFly

Malaga
Bourgas
Paphos
Tenerife South
Gran Canaria
Palma
Gerona
Ibiza
Varna
Jersey (operated by Aer Arann)
Alicante
Monastir
Lanzarote
Zakynthos
Verona
Corfu
Heraklion
Dalaman

MyTravel Airways

Menorca
Dalaman
Tenerife South
Lanzarote
Heraklion
Fuerteventura
Larnaca
Rhodes
Gran Canaria
Alicante
Reus
Palma
Faro
Zakynthos

Bmibaby

Palma
Alicante
Malaga
Faro
Edinburgh
Belfast International
Glasgow
Amsterdam
Prague
Jersey

Additional Short Haul Services

KLM – Amsterdam
Ryanair – Dublin
Aer Arann – Lorient, Cork, Dublin, Galway
Onur Air – Dalaman
Spanair – Ibiza, Palma
Astraeus – Funchal
Futara – Ibiza
Air Southwest – Newquay/Manchester
Eastern – Newcastle

Cardiff Airport – Long Haul Services

Excel Airways – Orlando Sanford
Monarch Airways – Orlando Sanford
ThomsonFly – Orlando Sanford, Cancun, Puerto Plata
Zoom – Toronto, Vancouver

Categories
Luxury Holidays

We Have The Vaccines – So Now What?

“We were told that vaccines were the way out of this. We have the vaccines, we have the vaccines.”

Going back as far as last spring, a vaccine to reduce the effects of Covid-19 was hailed as the solution to getting our lives back on track. Even back in October when a new variant spread across the country, and brought several towns and cities to a standstill, vaccines were still the saving grace.

Then we get to Christmas, with the government wanting to try and make sure that people were able to see each other, which ultimately just wasn’t possible. Hope was at least given, with the lifeline that with vaccines ramping up, we could move Christmas to Easter.

Yes, the vaccination programme has gone well. Better than the whole of Europe, however as there has been with this government all along there is a ‘but’, instilling fear and division across the nation.

Now we have the vaccines, we’re told they might not be the right vaccines. With different variants appearing around the world, in South America, South Africa and here in the UK – the government have taken that hope away suggesting that a mutation could evade the current vaccine. Maybe we will need a booster, maybe that will come later in the year – but many people won’t be able to hold on for that long.

It should be a surprise, that is what happens to Coronavirus. Its why there is a different flu vaccine every year to ward off what the expected changes are from year to year. The government knew this, and is now stringing us along, fear gripping the nation that the next mutation will be deadly. There is no proof that is the case and even if the vaccine is less effective against it, it shouldn’t have the severe cases seen in the last year. Some have even suggested that symptoms could be as little as a runny nose.

So, while the government is running project fear – lockdown, borders effectively closed and the fear that its to remain for a while yet, we question why?

The aviation and travel industry has seen a 90% reduction in revenue year-on-year compared to last February, this is just not sustainable. People want to travel, they are happy to travel once they have had the vaccine – and it appears it is safe to do so. Once again, the government has shut down the industry with no support and no guidance to how it can all be restarted, to what is the worst effected industry through the pandemic.

Where do we go from here? I think most would say, somewhere for a holiday…!

Categories
Luxury Holidays

‘A Response from Grant Shapps’ – What Do We Think?

Last October I sent a letter to my local MP, Mike Penning, the contents of which I posted on here and we’re directed at how the travel industry can plan to restart. This is the response from Grant Shapps:

It remains vitally important that we manage the risk of COVID-19 and keep the number of cases of COVID-19 in the UK as low as possible. The Government recognises that COVID-19 has had an immediate and profound impact on businesses and consumers’ ability to fly within the UK and across the globe.

The Government has put in place an unprecedented package of cross-economy financial support, including liquidity schemes and the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CRJS), which has now been extended to March 2021. If airlines, airport or other aviation organisations find themselves in trouble as a result of COVID-19 and have exhausted the measures already available to them, we have been clear that the Government is prepared to enter discussions with individual companies seeking bespoke support.

With regards to Air Passenger Duty (APD), the Chancellor has announced that there will be a consultation on aviation tax reform. As part of this consultation, the Government will consider the case for changing the APD treatment of domestic flights, such as re-introducing a return leg exemption, and for increasing the number of international distance bands. The Treasury is keen to engage widely as a part of this consultation and welcomes input from businesses, individuals, trade bodies and other interested parties.

In terms of a regionalise approach to travel corridors, the Government updated the travel corridors policy on 7 September 2020 to enable islands to be added to the travel corridor list separate to their mainland countries, where the available data supports it.

It is not considered safe to implement a fully regional system for travel corridors – there is too much movement between high risk and lower risk regions within single countries and regional health information is not sufficiently reliable. However, when a region has natural boundaries – like an island – the risks reduce. Decisions on travel corridors are reviewed weekly and data is kept under constant review to determine whether it is safe to add a country or territory to the travel corridor list. If a country or territory which is on the list becomes high risk, we would not hesitate to re-introduce self isolation requirements.

As of 14 December 2020, the self-isolation period for arrivals in the UK from non-travel corridor locations has been changed to 10 days from 14 days. This change came into effect across England, Scotland and Northern Ireland; it already applied in Wales. Also, the “test to release” scheme is one outcome of the Government’s Global Travel Taskforce report recently presented to the Prime Minister, which set out the steps it is taking both domestically and on the international stage to enable the safe and sustainable recovery of international travel. From 15 December 2020, passengers arriving into England from countries not featured on the Government’s travel corridor list will have the option to take a test after 5 days of self-isolation, with a negative result releasing them from the need to isolate. With those opting in to the scheme having to book and pay for a COVID-19 test from a private provider on the GOV.UK list, we are ensuring the NHS Test and Trace testing capacity is protected. We acknowledge that the tests may cost more than many people will be willing to pay; we expect the cost of test to decrease in the future as testing technology advances and the market expands.

The Taskforce’s recommendations blend immediate action, including the implimentation of the test to release scheme, with longer term measures that will help to reassure passengers, make travel easier, boost the travel sector and most importantly – keep everyone safe. The recommendations are based on advise from a consortium of expert representatives from the aviation, maritime, international rail, tourism and hospitality industries to boost international travel for all modes, whilst safeguarding public health in the UK. The Government will continue to work with international partners and representatives across the transport industries to further build on the recommendations in the report, including exploring pre-departure testing for pilots with partner countries on a bilateral basis.

We have heard the sector’s requests for additional support and this has been outlined. It is therefor right that our work on medium term recovery needs to build on that immediate work and we now expect to publish a medium-term recovery plan following a successful restart.