U.K. Government under siege from anxious airlines
IAG, easyJet, RyanAir, Jet2, Tui, Virgin Atlantic, they’ve all been saying the same thing for months, but now it’s getting serious.
All of them have had to slash their expected winter schedules – in more than a few cases they’ve been unrealistically over-optimistic. Almost all of the airlines expected a more stable Covid environment than now exists despite the fact they were repeatedly warned by medical professionals that without a vaccine, unlikely before mid-2021, they were making the wrong call.
Part of their argument has been that the government’s endless running around in circles over testing has made it impossible to decide what to do. As the pandemic waned the appetite for testing en-masse dropped away, now it’s on the rise the testing facilities are mostly gone.
Airlines pestered for funding to allow testing at airports, something the Germans seem to have persisted with and improved upon despite their own governments indifference.
Even though Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland (effectively similar to US states within the U.K.), managed to work out Greek islands had Covid hotspots, while the central English (also British overall )national government seemed incapable of doing the same, with vastly superior resources.
All the airlines were forced into cancellations, refunds and a complete revision of their September-October timetables as more countries and islands were added with little more than 36 hours notice, to the quarantine list. Some like Portugal are on the Scottish, NI and Welsh list but not the English.
Airlines have had enough, they’re loosing money hand over fist and unable to plan anything even short term. They want the government to have a policy, a process and a plan to manage airline and airports in the Covid era. None of which seems even vaguely likely to happen.
Overall the U.K. government seems to be sleepwalking into the loss of one its greatest advantages: the tourist and aviation sector, and the previously unending demand for flights to and from Heathrow particularly, but to every other airport besides.
United has agreed a deal with 3,000 pilots for an extensive modification to their working patterns, hours and pay in exchange for not laying them off either permanently or on long term furloughs.
Everyone seems to understand the crisis faced by the airline and is doing their level best to make an equitable result for everyone involved, though all are being asked to make substantial sacrifices for the near to medium term.
Bain Capital, the airlines new owners, have decided to cut the airlines fleet from 85 to 53, and are negotiating the return of the aircraft to their leasing company owners.
The airline said that the plane was, once air travel returned to normal, return the fleet to a maximum of 75 aircraft.
American announced that it was telling Boeing it wanted out of 18 737MAX from its current contract and deferments on most of the rest.
The exact number they wanted to cancel had been under question for weeks. Some analysts think the airline should have cut far more, waited until things picked up and re-ordered once the aviation environment had stabilised.
Boeing’s 787 woes worsen
Having found a highly complex problem in eight recently delivered 787’s that had to be taken urgently out of service, involving the rear tail section fuselage assembly, another issue that may be far more widespread has fallen into the FAA’s inspection roster.
The problem for many is that the new issue – again involving shims that are designed to prevent part separation – was discovered in February and only announce last thing Tuesday.
The part involves the rear stabilisers and may have been “over clamped” creating unnecessary stress. The number of aircraft involved is unknown and may result in a wide ranging inspection of some 1,200 aircraft.