NEWS: Airlines call to restart transatlantic, UK travellers face Irish quarantine, London City to finally get lounges & Qantas draws a kangaroo in the sky

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Major airlines call for testing to restart transatlantic routes

On Tuesday major airlines in the US and Europe including BA’s parent company IAG sent a letter from their CEO’s to the EU and US governments urging them to consider testing as a way to restore transatlantic routes.

You can read more here:

Airlines Push For Testing To Restore US-Europe Travel

The route between New York and London is known as the most profitable in the world, and airlines rely heavily on transatlantic flights to remain profitable. Although a smattering of these flights remains, they are often empty and certainly not full of the high yield business travelers they once were.

 

UK travellers face Irish quarantine

Ireland landscape

Ireland

Ireland has released its list of countries that are allowed to enter without quarantine. Sadly the UK isn’t on the list so despite being the UK government being happy for us to travel there, you will not be allowed to enter unless you self isolate for 14 days.

Travellers arriving from San Marino, Gibraltar, Monaco, Latvia, Slovakia, Greenland, Greece, Lithuania, Cyprus, Slovakia, Estonia, Hungary, Malta, Finland, Norway and Italy will now be able to travel freely to Ireland without any coronavirus restrictions. Everyone else will still have to self-isolate for 14 days and will be required to fill in a passenger locator form.

 

London City should finally get lounges

BA birmingham bristol routes

E190 aircraft taking off from London City

London City is rather unique in that it does not have an airport lounge within the terminal. There are two lounges in a separate building at the Private Jet Centre (one of which includes a private transfer to the plane!) Despite a number of British Airways flights, you don’t get any sort of concession for a lounge except for BA1, the all-business class flight to New York. For that flight you get a voucher for a meal at the airport, otherwise, you are out of luck. Up until the COVID crisis, the majority of passengers were on business and wanted to check in as late as possible. This is one of the main selling points as you can check in as late as 15 minutes before departure for some flights. With the limited floorspace, not having a lounge was the sensible option given the target market. However, at the moment London City has retargeted leisure travellers and this may well be an area of growth since it could be years before business travel returns to the previous level. 

In an interview with Head for Points, London City’s CEO announced that they are planning two premium lounges when they redevelop the airport. The expansion is planned for 2022 and should quadruple the available area in the terminal, so fitting in the lounges would not be an issue. It was not revealed whether these would be airline lounges or third party lounges. 

 

Qantas marks the end of an era with the departure of their last Boeing 747 jumbo jet

Flight radar 24 shows the Roo symbol flight path

The final 747-400 in the Qantas fleet (registration VH-OEJ) departed Sydney at 2pm as flight number QF7474, bringing to an end five decades of history-making moments for the national carrier and aviation in Australia.

Qantas took delivery of its first 747 (a -200 series) in August 1971, the same year that William McMahon became Prime Minister, the first McDonalds opened in Australia and Eagle Rock by Daddy Cool topped the music charts. Its arrival – and its economics – made international travel possible for millions of people for the first time.

The fleet of 747 aircraft not only carried generations of Australians on their first overseas adventures, they also offered a safe voyage for hundreds of thousands of migrant families who flew to their new life in Australia on board a ‘roo tailed jumbo jet.

 

Qantas 747s were at the forefront of a number of important milestones for the airline, including the first Business Class cabin of any airline in the world. Their size, range and incredible reliability meant they were used for numerous rescue missions: flying a record 674 passengers out of Darwin in the aftermath of Cyclone Tracy; evacuating Australians out of Cairo during political unrest in 2011 and flying medical supplies in and tourists home from the Maldives and Sri Lanka following the Boxing Day Tsunami in December 2004.

The last rescue missions the 747 flew for Qantas were to bring hundreds of stranded Australians home from the COVID-19 epicentre of Wuhan in February this year.

Qantas brought forward the scheduled retirement of the fleet by six months after the COVID-19 pandemic decimated international travel globally.

Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said the 747 changed the face of Australian aviation and ushered in a new era of lower fares and non-stop flights.

“It’s hard to overstate the impact that the 747 had on aviation and a country as far away as Australia. It replaced the 707, which was a huge leap forward in itself but didn’t have the sheer size and scale to lower airfares the way the 747 did. That put international travel within reach of the average Australian and people jumped at the opportunity,” Mr Joyce said.

“This aircraft was well ahead of its time and extremely capable. Engineers and cabin crew loved working on them and pilots loved flying them. So did passengers. They have carved out a very special place in aviation history and I know they’ll be greatly missed by a lot of people, including me.

“Time has overtaken the 747 and we now have a much more fuel efficient aircraft with even better range in our fleet, such as the 787 Dreamliner that we use on Perth-London and hopefully before too long, the Airbus A350 for our Project Sunrise flights non-stop to New York and London,” added Mr Joyce.

Qantas has flown six different types of the 747, with Boeing increasing the aircraft’s size, range and capability over the years with the advent of new technology and engine types.

Qantas’s first female Captain, Sharelle Quinn, was in command of the final flight and said the aircraft has a very special place in the hearts of not just Qantas staff, but aviation enthusiasts and travellers alike.

“I have flown this aircraft for 36 years and it has been an absolute privilege”, Captain Quinn said.

“From the Pope to pop stars, our 747’s have carried over 250 million people safely to their destinations. Over the decades, it’s also swooped in on a number of occasions to save Aussies stranded far from home.”

Captain Quinn added, “It has been a wonderful part of our history, a truly ground breaking aircraft and while we are sad to see our last one go, it’s time to hand over to the next generation of aircraft that are a lot more efficient.”

Captain Quinn and crew flew the 747 to Los Angeles with a full cargo hold of freight before its final sector to the Mojave.

VH-OEJ departed Sydney and made a final mark in the sky as it drew out the Qantas symbol “the Flying Roo” in the air. 

Fast Facts

Flight number:              QF7474

Aircraft registration:      VH-OEJ

Aircraft name:               Wunala

Year delivered:             2003 (30th July)

  • The first Qantas 747-238 was VH-EBA, named City of Canberra and the first ever Qantas 747 flight was on 17 September 1971 from Sydney to Singapore (via Melbourne), carrying 55 first class and 239 economy passengers.
  • In almost 50 years of service, the Qantas Boeing 747 fleet of aircraft has flown over 3.6 billion kilometres, the equivalent of 4,700 return trips to the moon or 90,000 times around the world.
  • Qantas operated a total number of 65 747 aircraft including the 747-100, 747-200, 747-SP, 747-300, 747-400 and the 747-400ER and each had specific capabilities such as increased thrust engines and increased take-off weight to allow longer range operations.
  • The 747-SP was the first 747 model that allowed non-stop operations across the Pacific in 1984 which meant travellers no longer had to “hop” their way across the Pacific and could fly from Australia to the west coast of the US non-stop. The 747-400 which Qantas operated from 1989 opened up the US west coast cities non-stop, and one-stop to European capitals.
  • In 1979, Qantas became the first airline to operate an all Boeing 747 fleet.
  • The 747 also broke records, including in 1989 when Qantas crew flew a world first non-stop commercial flight from London to Sydney in 20 hours and nine minutes. That thirty-year record was only broken in 2019 when Qantas operated a 787 Dreamliner London-Sydney direct in 19 hours and 19 minutes.
  • The Qantas 747-200, -300 & -400 models had a fifth engine pod capability that could carry an additional engine on commercial flights, a capability that was used extensively in early days of the 747-200 when engine reliability required engines to be shipped to all parts of the world. Improved engine reliability of the 747-400 and 747-400ER made this capability redundant.

Should British Airways do something similar to mark their final B747 departures? Let us know in the comments below and we will pass it on to BA’s PR team. At TLFL we are keeping our fingers crossed they let aviation fans say a final farewell before they send them off to their final resting place!

2 Comments on "NEWS: Airlines call to restart transatlantic, UK travellers face Irish quarantine, London City to finally get lounges & Qantas draws a kangaroo in the sky"

  1. Of course BA should, and they shouldn’t back out because of extinction rebellion this time! This plane is second only to Concorde in the history of aviation, and BA’s history in particular. I would pay good money for one last flight. Now the problem is fighting over who will be in 1A/K and 64A/K.

    Maybe couple it with a charity event to raise money for Flying Start?

    Oh, and it has to be the BOAC livery for me 🙂

  2. My first international flight in the 1970s as a little boy was on a B747 and over the years I have flown this aircraft with more airlines than I have done on any other aircraft.

    My late father instilled the love of flying in me. He helped several Asian airlines select and train their B747 pilots. So I held this particular aircraft in the highest esteem for many years.

    Having said that, my last few flights on this graceful beauty were awful, primarily because of the state of the interiors, especially on BA, but also Qantas and Virgin Atlantic. The noise levels also became noticeable compared to newer aircraft. Sadly, since 2017, I started actively avoiding flights operated by this aircraft.

    A farewell, like the one given to the Concorde, is not a bad idea. But I will not be vying for a seat on it because of said experiences.

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