BA, Alaska, Airbus, Garuda, Delta, China

The endless tit-for-tat British Airways likes to play with Virgin Atlantic has reared it’s pathetic head again.

It’s been almost a month since Virgin Atlantic announced it would start flying to Lahore and Islamabad in Pakistan, from both Heathrow and Manchester.

The reason is there is a huge Pakistani population in the U.K. and PIA is still shut out of most of the world after its pilots came under investigation, when it was revealed many of them didn’t actually sit their own exams, and weren’t actually qualified pilots.

Desperate to find a new route to service with the North America market cut off by Covid, Virgin Atlantic saw an opportunity. However the market is depressed and while it’s better than nothing it’s still fairly limited.

Yesterday, British Airways stepped back in to the very same market, albeit just operating from London, failing to see that there just aren’t the passenger numbers to justify it, but doing it nonetheless because it might just damage Virgin Atlantic.

These silly games have been going on since 1984 and it’s long past time BA grew up. Now is not the time for this self destructive behaviour.

Meanwhile the companies controversial pay deals with what’s left of its staff are set to be resolved soon. The airline said it was “hunkering down for a long protracted recovery”.

Alaska

Many of you will know I have a passion for America’s west coast. I watch the fires and the damage, and the smoke, and frankly it’s heartbreaking to watch. The human, financial and physical damage is bad enough, but these are affecting the whole planet. Over 1 million square miles of dense smoke is circulating over the Pacific and its reached as far as the U.K. in the high atmosphere, though at very low levels.

It’s so bad in Portland that Alaska Airlines has had to cancel flights, saying that damage to intakes is a secondary problem, but the real issue is in fact minimal visibility. The city now has the worlds worst air quality and its too dangerous to go outside.

Other airlines are keeping the situation under constant review. Nobody wants to cut flights into anywhere, especially now, but as my neighbours on the San Francisco peninsula told me, it’s like nuclear fallout, thick ash is falling everywhere and it’s impossible to breathe safely outside.

Demand for flights into the west coast has slumped, but airlines soldier on. Business is too dire to turn down any paying passengers.

Airbus

Airbus is officially the worlds largest aviation business by volume and financially, officially displacing Boeing. Does it matter? No, and Airbus aren’t inclined to boast about it.

They have more than enough of their own problems, as they try and persuade thousands more staff to take voluntary redundancies, saying if more don’t step up then they will have to make compulsory job losses, and it won’t be pretty.

The company delivered 38 aircraft last month, which seems huge suddenly, but in fact is barely half what it should be doing and September looks to be dire.

Garuda

Garuda Indonesia has agreed deferments of its new aircraft orders, and won’t take any aircraft for the rest of 2020. The airline is operating at barely 50% of its aircraft (142 in total), and passenger numbers are ‘very poor’.

Garuda has nine A330-900’s on order and 49 737 MAX, on top of that the airlines subsidiary Citilink, has 15 A320neo’s and another 2 A339’s scheduled.

Garuda has negotiated lease non-payments worth US$100m on 62 aircraft with 30 different leasing companies and is looking for ways to let staff leave voluntariliy to help balance the budget.

The airline lost US$712 million in the first half of the year and looks set to repeat that in the second. Its an extremely precarious situation, but its unlikely the government would let the airline completely fail.

Delta

Delta has reached an agreement with flight attendants that should mean no more furloughs or permanent job losses. The airline said when the CARES Act support ends on the 30th September it won’t be making any compulsory layoffs.

Delta also took delivery of its latest A350 today, N514DN.

China’s domestic airlines rebound

While the US buckles under the horrendous climate change fires in the west and another hurricane season that is devastating the Gulf Coast, on top of an out of control pandemic that still shows no sign of abating, the situation in China has almost completely reverted to pre-pandemic normality.

China’s government has been urging people to fly, and the top three domestic airlines are almost back to pre-pandemic passenger numbers. Incentives to get airlines and passengers to fly overseas are seeming to have an affect.

Despite many countries still barring most international travel, China is keen to resume operations and is subsidising airlines willing to fly overseas.

However its not been so easy for European airlines to get back into China, not because they’re being denied access, but because passengers don’t want to go.

Finnair yesterday announced major cuts in network capacity, but is expecting to restart, albeit with limited flights, more Chinese destinations such as Nanjing.