NEWS: Heathrow CEO predicts future travel rules, BA introduce new fare types & restart Menorca Heathrow flights

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Heathrow CEO predicts future travel rules

Despite Priti Patel saying i”t’s far too early” to book holidays today, there has been some interesting commentary from the Chief executive of Heathrow Airport John Holland-Kaye. Personally, I do not feel that the government should be telling people that it is too early to book holidays. For a start, it is incredibly damaging to the travel industry which is already on its knees. Secondly, she didn’t even give a time frame. I think even the most pessimistic would think they are probably safe if you book for 2022! What I believe the government should be advising is to exercise caution if booking and make sure it’s refundable or changeable. Paying by credit card is also sensible as it gives an extra layer of protection.

Heathrow, Terminal 2

Today Heathrow airport presented its results for 2020. The airport made an annual loss of £2bn. Passenger numbers collapsed to 22.1m, more than half of whom travelled in January and February 2020.  Overall revenue fell 62% to £1.2bn and passenger numbers fell to those of the 1970s. The travel industry has had little help compared to many other countries and Heathrow is now calling on the government to provide more support by providing 100% business rates relief, extending the furlough scheme, and reversing the tourist tax. 

Sadly the government recently decided to get rid of most duty-free shopping in airports and ports apart from alcohol and tobacco. Their excuse was “concerns that the tax-concession is not always passed on to consumers in the airport”.  This also makes the UK a less attractive destination for shoppers as they will no longer be able to claim the tax back on goods bought in the UK. Understandably Heathrow are calling for this decision to be reversed. 

In a series of interviews this morning Mr Holland-Kaye gave some interesting insights into how he saw foreign travel being restarted. Although it sounds like it could be an enormously complicated task, IATA already has a vaccine passport that will store vaccine and test data. This is currently being trialled by several airlines. Having this sort of technology will be crucial to restarting travel and I only hope the government goes with a proven existing solution rather than trying to implement its own version. 

He then went on to talk about a red, amber, green system which sounds extremely sensible. Hopefully, it will be more stable than last year’s corridors as with vaccine rollouts cases should be mainly falling rather than rising. 

Talking to BBC News he said, 

“For the aviation sector, we can start to plan ahead for 17 May to make sure we’ve got the people and the planes in place so that we can get, not just people on their holidays, but also start to get British businesses moving again,” he said.

Mr Holland-Kaye said it was likely that travel to the UK from “low-risk” countries such as New Zealand and Singapore would not require a Covid test, “medium-risk” countries where passengers would need a test, and “high risk” countries would require tougher passenger controls such as quarantining.

 

BA introduces new fare types

BA currently has a pretty good flexibility policy called “Book with Confidence“. This allows you to change your flight with no fee and also to cancel and get a voucher refund. Today BA emailed travel agents with news of two new types of fares. At the moment there are three types of fares with BA  – Basic, Standard/Plus, and Fully Flexible fares.

Select and Select Pro are the new fare types and only available to book via travel agents. It will allow customers the flexibility to cancel a flight and claim a partial or full refund, should your travel plans change. If you would like a flight quote with any airline, you can use our booking enquiry form here. 

The table below shows the different benefits and attributes of each of the available fare brands:

The new fares are probably aimed at when there is more certainty in the travel market and they can start to withdraw travel with confidence (if you booked whilst it was still in place, it won’t be an issue). The advantage of these against Book with Confidence is that the Select Pro is likely to be cheaper than a full fare but give you a full refund and no fees for changing. 

 

British Airways restart Menorca flights

Cala Macarella beach, Menorca

BA used to fly to Menorca from Heathrow until 2019 when the summer route was suspended.  BA is planning to return from 27 June 2021 until the end of August. Flights will operate on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Sunday. Tickets are now on sale with prices starting at £256 return for Club World. Avios tickets are also available to buy with good availability. Looking at that photo above makes me want to book to go now!

I suspect this may be due to the Baleric Islands stating that they wish to be amongst the first to welcome back UK tourists with a pilot scheme like they did with Germany last year. 

BA also operates Menorca flights from London City and Gatwick.

HT: @seanM1997