Instances of Avios fraud are generally pretty rare. Mainly because there are not many ways to redeem Avios without needing to provide some sort of incriminating evidence such as an address or turning up in person for a flight or hotel booked on Avios.
However, with the Nectar partnership, it has introduced a new temptation for criminals since if they can get into Avios account, they can simply transfer Avios into Nectar and spend them instore immediately on whatever they fancy. They can also be transferred into Ebay which means anyone in the world can use the Nectar points unlike Sainsbury’s where you need to be in the UK. The Times reported that we are already seeing instances of fraud from Avios accounts using the Nectar route.
So the moral of the story is to make sure your BA account is secure using a unique password. It could be time to start using a password manager such as LastPass or 1password if you have trouble remembering them (I certainly do!). Google Chrome is also useful as it will create unique passwords, remembers them and then also tell you which of your passwords may have been compromised. You can also consider Award Wallet which we wrote about here. This stores details of your loyalty accounts (not just travel) and will send weekly emails with your balances. This could alert you to potential fraud. There is also a premium version that will monitor your expiry dates which could be handy at the moment.
Some B777s taken out of service after pieces of engine crash onto ground
At the weekend you are probably aware of the United Airlines flight that suffered an engine failure with parts of the engine detaching and falling to the ground. As a result of initial investigations, a number of B777s around the world with the same engines will be withdrawn from service. Very luckily the plane landed safely, and nobody aboard or on the ground was reported injured.
This Youtube video gives a good account of what happened, but best not to watch if you are of a nervous disposition.
Boeing released this statement:
Boeing is actively monitoring recent events related to United Airlines Flight 328. While the NTSB investigation is ongoing, we recommended suspending operations of the 69 in-service and 59 in-storage 777s powered by Pratt & Whitney 4000-112 engines until the FAA identifies the appropriate inspection protocol.
“Boeing supports the decision yesterday by the Japan Civil Aviation Bureau, and the FAA’s action today to suspend operations of 777 aircraft powered by Pratt & Whitney 4000-112 engines. We are working with these regulators as they take actions while these planes are on the ground and further inspections are conducted by Pratt & Whitney.
The aircraft in question are owned by United Airlines, Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways who have stopped using 62 planes, while Korean Air added it will ground six.
There are also a further 59 aircraft in storage.
British Airways refinances again
The current situation facing UK airlines and the travel industry is one of the most precarious since the start of the crisis. After months of very little income, it had looked like travel was starting to recover in the middle of 2020. However, the start of 2021 effectively closed the border to the UK with all but essential travel being made illegal and strict quarantine being mandatory for arrivals from all destinations. The government’s inconsistent messaging about booking travel and media hysteria about variants has led to huge uncertainty for consumers wanting to book a holiday. Many believe that travel will not restart this year or at best towards the end of 2021 (I don’t believe that – it may well still be restricted for sometime to come, but I expect UK travellers to be allowed to legally travel again by April and then easing of quarantine a couple of months after that for select destinations).
Airlines that have previously refinanced are having to look again at how they will whether the latest storm until the UK government gives some indication on how they plan to restart travel (I’m not holding my breath for any details today).
International Airlines Group (IAG) the parent company of BA has confirmed that two financing agreements have been finialised that will give BA an increase in total liquidity by £2.45 billion. In addition to this, IAG is still looking at other solutions to improve its financial situation.
On 31 December 2020, IAG announced that British Airways had received commitments for a 5-year Export Development Guarantee term-loan of £2.0 billion underwritten by a syndicate of banks, partially guaranteed by UK Export Finance (UKEF) which is a government scheme to help companies secure finance. British Airways has now reached final agreement with UKEF and the lenders and expects to draw down the loan before the end of February 2021.
Secondly, British Airways has reached agreement with the Trustee of New Airways Pension Scheme (NAPS) to defer £450 million of pension deficit contributions due between October 2020 and September 2021. This is the old BA pension plan that is closed to new entrants.
We are expecting the latest annual results (a very large loss) to be presented on Friday this week which should also give us information on IAG and BA’s plans for the future. This is likely to include further fleet reductions and delays in new deliveries.