07 October 2016

Extra runways at London´s airports (to date)

It has been recognised that there is a need for another runway in one(at least) of the London airports for some time. On one forum at least there has been extensive debate. "Extra Runways at London Airports" (Business Traveller, from 20-4-13 and ongoing).

The  Airports Commission was set up in late 2012 by the coalition Conservative-Liberal Democrat government with a brief to find an effective and deliverable solution which would allow the UK to maintain its position as Europe’s most important aviation hub.  

The comments I have included are to give you an idea of the matters discussed. They are all this blogger´s as I feel I have no right to include any from the other 61 persons who contributed with a grand total of 504 comments so far since the opening of this thread. However, they are there to be read if one so desires. Just a few remarks have been left out as they are irrelevant or make no sense on their own.



Philip Hammond(former Transport Secretary) wrote in an article for his local paper “The Argus”, yesterday Friday 19th April, about the need for a second runway at Gatwick.
“Minister backs call for extra runway at Gatwick”
He said: “So why not reflect that reality with a multi-airport model and expand London’s existing single runway airports at Gatwick and eventually Stansted, to two runways each, providing decades worth of passenger growth capacity.”
Others quoted are against this solution. However, it does appear that ideas are being floated, by government, about the inevitable – the expansion of runway capacity in the south-east. I would expect more in the future, including Heathrow.

To supplement the above Gatwick airport chiefs were quoted in the “London Evening Standard”, of yesterday 19th April, as saying, in a submission to the Davies Commission, …..
“Gatwick chiefs: Heathrow hub would raise cost of flights”

“Holidaymakers would see the cost of flying from the South-East rise if Heathrow is allowed to become a super-hub airport, Gatwick chiefs warned today.”
This seems like more power to the elbow about expansion at Gatwick. Wait for more in the days ahead.

Another event is to take place concerning Heathrow expansion. According to the “Uxbridge Gazette”, of 19th April,………
“Hillingdon’s Heathrow referendum – which way will you vote?”

…………there are to be referenda in Hillingdon and Richmond about expansion at Heathrow.
The way things are organised makes me think the ploiticians, and subsequently government, are trying to put to rest the idea of a third runway at LHR while opening the door to a second runway at Gatwick.
This would be another unsatisfactory “fix”.

More movement in promotion of Gatwick……
“Labour warms to Gatwick expansion”

(London Evening Standard 24th April)

Published today1st July in Travel Weekly.
“Aviation review identifies 20 possible runway sites”.

Seen in Airport World 11th July ´13
“UK needs ‘constellation’ approach for London airports” by CEO of Gatwick.
To start with, a second runway at Gatwick followed by expansion at other airports round London “to deliver the air connectivity”, “to deliver true competition”,” to lesssen the environmental impact …. and….. make the UK capital’s airports more resilient to disruption”.

Seen in Travel Weekly today 15th July´13.
“Boris goes cold on his Thames estuary island hub plan”
The London Mayor switches support to Lord Fosters proposal to an airport on the Isle of Grain. He also supports expanding Stansted to four runways. (Both ideas are, conveniently, outside his constituency of Greater London).

Also seen in Travel Weekly today 15th.
“Heathrow to rule out fourth runway until 2040”,
The CEO of Heathrow Airport Holdings(HAH) ruled out a fourth runway at LHR and mixed mode use on the existing two runways until 2040, but ruled in a third runway.


It seems that the Airport Commission, which is due to publish its provisional conclusions on runway provision in the South East of England by the end of December, is already preparing the ground. It will then also provide a “short list of options for expansion”.
The UK Airports Commision chairman, Sir Howard Davies said,”To rely only on runways currently in operation (in the UK) would be likely to produce a distinctly sub-optimal solution for passengers, connectivity and the economy, and would also almost certainly not be the best solution in terms of minimising the overall carbon impact of flights and travel to and from airports,”
Published by Airwise/Reuters yesterday 7th Ocober.
“Airports Commission Says UK Needs More Runways”,

Published by Buying Business Travel yesterday 7th October
“South-east needs more runways – Airports Commission”

Will the politicians swallow the poisoned pill?  

Published yesterday 7th Oct. in the Mailonline…
“Heathrow runway hint as airport tsar backs expansion: New runways WILL have to be built in the South East of England warns Britain’s airports chair.”


New difficulties are on the horizon for the Airports Commission.
Published today Monday on Travel Weekly.
“Davies Commission faces Stansted legal challenge”.


The chief executive of MAG (the owners of Stansted), Charlie Cornish, wants to develop Stansted like Manchester, adding routes to Asia, with the Middle East and China on his radar.
Published today(15th) in Travel Weekly.
“Stansted boss sets out vision for two runways”.

Also CAPA publishes today an article about the runways´ issue as faced by the UK Airports Commission.
“UK Airports Commission: the UK’s runway capacity farce continues as opponents dig in”.


Published today 28th April 2014 in Travel Weekly.
“Heathrow to ‘refine’ expansion proposals”

“Refinements to Heathrow’s proposal for a third runway will be submitted to the Airports Commission on May 14, reflecting input from public consultation in February and March.”
“..(the)proposal would raise the capacity at the London hub to 740,000 flights a year, from the current limit of 480,000. It would cater for up to 130 million passengers a year against up to 80 million.”
“The Airports Commission is due to report its final findings in summer 2015.”

Runway expansion in the South East Of England is a hot potato without doubt. However, somebody at some point must take up the challenge.
Politics being the overiding factor then a politically acceptable solution must be found.
Maybe it is the restriction of use of a third runway due to noise and fumes.
Maybe it is combining the extension of the runway to the elimination of the level crossings along the Windsor lines from Clapham Junction, together with the announcement of a resurgence of Airtrack.
Maybe it is a question of leaving the market foces to play their role without help.
Who knows? We know it is, unfortunately, going to be a “fudge” as tends to be the British solution to problems.

The solution is not going to satisfy everybody. Let us hope it satisfies at least some people and solves, at least, the greatest problems.
I am not optimistic. 

The better connected airport to the rest of the UK, linked to the MML and with a possibility of connecting to the ECML, is Luton. Everybody writes it off or just ignores it so it is not even mentioned.
Can´t we have an objective look at it? Terrain problems have been mentioned in the past but if anybody is promoting an estuary airport then I would consider Luton´s terrain problems to be small in comparison.

If Luton were designated as an airport for development then the logical thing would be to build a rail link from the MML to the airport and then on to the ECML at Stevenage. This could then provide rapid connections along two routes into London and for passengers going further north.

If the said Goldsmith is the MP for Richmond he should spend some time walking around his constituency.
There the aircraft sounds into Heathrow are minimal. At most these days you could call them a minor irritant.

The innovative proposal was for the planes to land at the extreme eastern ends of both the north and south runways, while outbound planes would take off from about halfway down the runways extended westwards for about 3 kms. over the M25 towards the Staines-Windsor rail line.
Since the take offs and landings do not need as much extension of runway as with previous generations of planes, it makes the proposal quite feasible. Maybe for safety precautions this use might be limited when the Superjumbos land/take off in wet or icy weather.
The disadvantage of these proposals, apart from the expense, is that it would mean the end of the Cranford agreement when north and south runway use has been alternated between take offs and landings so as to give the residents under the flight paths some respite from aircraft noise. The new proposals would double the flight numbers and mean continuous use of both runways morning, noon and night.
A third runway would not suffer this problem. It would be used in mixed mode – alternating take offs and landings – while the types of aircraft used would be smaller jets or even propeller driven thus producing much less noise. The effect on the surrounding residences would, therefore, be minimal.
The increase in flight capacity would certainly be 50% but the ground capacity would demand a new terminal with plenty of air bridges for the aircraft.

News which is both good and worrying:
It is good because it reflects how the economy is improving.
“Passenger numbers rise at Stansted Airport” (Business Weekly 20-11-14)
“London City airport posts record traveller number.”s(Buying Business Travel 20-11-14)
“Gatwick warns of ‘capacity crunch’ after record results.”(Buying Business Travel 20-11-14)
“Gatwick issues capacity warning after busiest six months in its history.”(Travel Weekly 20-11-14)
And on Heathrow I have only found this……
“Heathrow traffic and business commentary October 2014.”( LHR Airports Ltd. 11-11-14) …. but it tells the same story.

All well and good, but the worrying part is the delay in deciding on runway expansion in the south-east. This information surely illustrates the need to take decisions now and not after the next election. We are a victim of our own success.
We do not want any fudging. Let the government lay down (strict) conditions for runway building, then let both Heathrow and Gatwick get on with the job of building the extra runways at both airports with their own funding.
Not one but two runways are going to be needed by mid century. Cannot we anticipate demand for once?

This article appears today on the BBC website.
“Heathrow and Gatwick report record passenger numbers in 2014”

Heathrow achieving a flow of 73.4 million passengers while Gatwick achieves 38 million.
The trend is upwards and shows no sign of abating. Is that not reason enough to suggest that new runways are needed at both airports?

I read with gloom the arguments made against expansion at both airports.
“Increase in CO2 levels…” – cars produce 100 times more Co2 but no mention of them.
“Increase in noise levels…” – rubbish, because the level of noise has been reducing gradually since the 1970s. Now, the newer and newer generations of aircraft are producing less and less noise.
“Other airports can absorb any increases in traffic…” – that is precisely why Vietnam Airlines is transfering from Gatwick to Heathrow. Distance from the final destination is vitally important. Anywhere more than 50kms from London is a non-starter. Anywhere east of London is too far away for the vast majority. The only remaining alternative is Luton which is possible but only with massive investment and only when targeted as an, eventual, four runway option.

With your permission, some more of my thoughts on the matter.

From The Independent today….
“Passengers avoid connections at busy London airports in favour of continental rivals.”
This indicates some figures of the effect of overcrowding at the London airports.


So what you are suggesting is that the APD is devolved to the nations, except England. They will then abolish it to promote regional flights to such important international destinations as Paris CDG, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Franfurt, Munich and Zurich. All these are hubs for other airlines than our own. This, of course, suits the ostriches because any growth in demand is diverted from the South East.
This was evident with the measure announced in airport-tecnology.com (30th March 2015)
“International and domestic connections from smaller airports to be expanded in UK”.

At least if Aer Lingus comes into the IAG fold then flying from Dublin will be less rasping.
It astounds me how quick fixes are the order of the day and the few can dictate to the many .

In my view STN is out in the boondocks as would be any Estuary airport. The infrastructure to STN is deficient and any bettering of it would not better anybody else outside East Anglia.
The objections against Luton is the lay of the terrain. However, I have never understood how one can propose constructing an airport on marshland or quicksands to destroy the environment and the multiple wildlife habitats that exist there. On the other hand setting loose some bulldozers to level the terrain between Luton and Harpenden where four independent runways could be built between the MML and the ECML is a much more logical and feasible solution.
Since that option is not on the cards then the solution has to be expanding both Heathrow and Gatwick.By the time both are up and running they could be straining at the seams which means that Luton should be looked at again.


A long awaited report lands with a thump. Its size is formidiable – I hope the intention is not to drown us with detail.
However, the devil, as always, is in the detail. Just to give one example is the following on domestic connections. However, take note that while there is a committment to legistate against air and noise pollution, and on the prohibition of a fourth runway, there is no firm committment about promoting and protecting domestic connections. It is all mentioned as a passing observation

Howard Davies emphasises the need of the extra runway for the whole UK. In this piece, in the report, he points out the necessity of maintaining regional domestic links to Heathrow. In 1995 there were 15 domestic UK destinations. These have been pushed out so are now reduced to 7.
“Howard Davies on the benefits to the whole country of an expanded Heathrow airport”

On the other hand Heathrow Airport itself promises to increase the number of domestic destinations from the present 7 to 16.
There are other flaws which will have to be looked at. One of which is the situation of the New Terminal (will it become the new T1?). Its logical position is over the Heathrow Express/Crossrail line into central London with a new station incorporated.
In fact Heathrow´s design for the third runway leaves a lot to be desired.

One report said that after due consideration the government would provide a decision at the end of this year..
Another said that the government would wait till after the mayoral elections in May 2016.

Whatever the decision it should be open and not party led.
It has also been said that the first spades could be in the ground by 2020.
The first spades at Gatwick could be in the ground by 2019.

Is it not time to give the TWO airports free reign to get on with construction asap under their own steam and own risk!!

If the government gave the permission to go ahead from e.g. 1st August what are the obstacles and what is the timescale to actually start digging at both airports?
Even though Gatwick has a “cast-iron” agreement not to permit construction of a new runway there until 2019 (a) when does that run out precisely(August 2019?), and (b) does the agreement prohibit any preplanning before the bulldozers get on site?


If there were ever an argument to increase capacity of BOTH Heathrow and Gatwick, it is the record number of passengers passing through both airports this summer.
Heathrow hit 6.6million passengers in June…….
...............................................and 7.29million in July. http://www.travelweekly.co.uk/Articles/2015/08/11/56239/heathrow-tops-250000-passengers-on-three-days-in-july.html
Meanwhile Gatwick hit 3.8million in June……….
.............................................and 4.3million in July.
And all this before August is finished which is expected to produce even higher numbers at both airports.
In fact I remember reading an article(which I cannot find now) saying that Gatwick had achieved the highest number of take-offs /landings ever with over 900 in one day which worked out to about one every 100 seconds.
Thus the government should permit construction at both airports asap. This would proably mean that Gatwick could open first as no new terminals are needed at first.

The traffic figures for London´s Heathrow and Gatwick airports have been published today. They show the same upwards tendency as reported for the June and July figures.
Heathrow recorded 7.33 million passengers for August which makes for a rolling twelve month figure of 74.44 million (1.8% increase).
In the figures for Gatwick in August, 4.53 million passed through the terminals while the rolling twelve month figure is 39.49 million (a 5.9% increase).
Add these figures to the previous ones mentioned by me on this thread @transtraxman – 11/08/2015 09:27 BST and the argument for expansion at both airports becomes unrefutable.
Gatwick´s, CEO Stewart Wingate, lays great emphasis on the Aiport Commission´s estimated traffic for Gatwick reaching 40 million by 2024 while it is already at 39.5 million.
It just goes to show that the “so-called” experts consistently underestimate the traffic forecasts for London´s airports. There can be no better argument to get ahead of the game to provide the capacity already needed. Let both airports be expanded now!

I do not trust politicians to make the right decisions, only the ones which most convenience them.
Much of decision making, in my view, depends very much on who has the politicians´ ear. Lobbyists of all colours, unions, employers´ associations, large employers locally, manipulative party members, party barons – when it comes down to it anybody who is well organised and can shout very loud – all seem to influence the soggy press who then go for the highest readership/viewership whatever the consequences.
Any real, balanced, informative reports etc are heavily filtered before they actually reach the general public. How many people actually read reports or are given the chance to? very few in fact. This can be realised by just standing back and listening to the never ending use of the same phrases and weak arguments over the airways and across the written page.
That is why weak decisions taken yesterday have to be corrected today or tomorrow.
A transport infractructure policy has to be a whole, not itsy bitsy patchwork fixes. What is needed is a rolling programme to anticipate, develop and provide solutions which are then put into effect.
Is that possible from our politicians?

10/12/2015 23:10 GMT
So the decision on a new runway at Heathrow or Gatwick has been kicked into the long grass yet again by the prevaricating procrastinating political eunuchs.
It is about time these political castrati explained to the general public that expansion will go ahead one way or another.
I think most of us on this forum would opt for adding new runways at both Heathrow and Gatwick. Opening the options means that Gatwick´s could be up and working sooner than Heathrow´s. Gatwick could dig the first turf in 2019 when the present agreement with West Sussex County Council runs out. The runway could be used before the new terminals are completed, so it could be an ongoing process.
The Cranford agreement between the UK government and Cranford residents was an oral undertaking promised 31st July 1952. This restricted use of each of the northern and southern runways to take-offs or landings which was alternated at midday. The residents under the flight paths were thus freed from continuous daylong noise from aircraft. This agreement was ended 15th January 2009 and this decision was confirmed by the new coalition government in September 2010.
Therefore, the protection for the residents at both ends of the runways has ended and is not in force. and will not come back into force.
Any increase in activity at Heathrow from now on means both runways are to be used in "mixed-mode" i.e. take-offs and landings on/from the same runway (just the way Gatwick is used). The increase in demand for slots at Heathrow means this will happen without doubt. Thus the increase in aircraft noise and fumes will be greater for those residents under or near the flightpaths. The advantages of building a third runway will be lost (or postponed for a long time). Any limiting conditions(applicable to the whole airport and beneficial to all) which would have been build into the granting of the right to construct a new runway will not be introduced so everybody loses out.
These are the sort of things never mentioned by the interested parties of the nimbys and the gutless rulers who are loath to take decisions. We need somebody to stand up and be counted with the b...s to see this through and build both new runways...... err, isn´t that called a leader?
EDITED TO ADD: With the introduction of mixed-mode at LHR and the subsequent increase in slots, then the problem will be diverted to the ground. More parking places for aircraft will be needed. Thus, this will mean greater use of bussing to aircraft and greater discomfort for passengers.

11/12/2015 12:02 GMT
I am absolutely astounded by this decision about whether to construct one, two, new runways or none in SE England. After 15 years of dithering and dathering on the decision, it is based solely on the good of the party and not on the good of the nation. With endless meetings and man hours spent on producing innumerable reports (all saying the same thing) the political eunuchs can still not make up their minds.
Now we have a postponement for another six months (so that the elections for London Mayor can be passed) to produce the same result. at an added cost. The Davies Commission is said, so far to have spent about GBP20 million in its deliberations, and that is not counting the previous reports etc.
Is it not time for some group to yell that enough is enough and so take the government to court for misuse of public funds. The politicians forget that there is "responsibility without power" . Is this not what politics is all about, convincing people about the right things to be done even if they are not convinced. However, what we now have is "power without responsibility," which is much worse. This means that power is to be obtained and maintained for power´s sake. The public good is subject to that concept and even ignored. All results in nothing good being done at all - so those politicians should leave and hand over to more responsible ones.

13/01/2016 20:12 GMT
The statistics for passenger traffic at London airports make for interesting reading, with numbers increasing everywhere.....
                          2015                          2014
Heathrow           74.96m. (up 2.2%)       73.4m.
Gatwick             40.27m. (up 5.6%)       38.13m.
Stansted             22.57m. (up 13.0%)     19.98m.
Luton                 12.31m. (up 16.9%)     10.53m.
and for comparison...................
Manchester         23.21m. (up 5.23%)     22.06m.
Traffic is increasing at Heathrow and Gatwick mostly because of the use of bigger aircraft. The statistics for Cargo are not included but tend to be much greater increases.
The conclusion must be that new runways at both Heathrow AND Gatwick are needed now. The alternative of doing nothing means the traveller, business and even government revenue will all suffer.
The expansion could only come about in that case by mixed-mode use of the two runways at Heathrow. Gatwick shows how much traffic can be crammed on to one runway(with no let up period as at present). In that case everybody in West London would suffer, and much more than with the prevision of a third runway.

14/01/2016 22:26 BST 
The question of mixed mode is not simple arithmetic. The present operation is use of one runway for landings and the other for take offs. The distance between aircraft is regulated so that there is a minimum gap between the aircraft for safety reasons. Using mixed mode operation you slip a takeoff between each landing and vice versa. Thus the use of each runway is increased substantially. That is why Gatwick is only at about 87% capacity use while LHR is at 98%. This affects the distance between landing (or taking off) aircraft as a greater safety margin is used. Thus the figures at both airports cannot be compared so simply.
This question of mixed mode use has been discussed and trialed at LHR in the last six years and discarded so far. However, mixed mode can be introduced at any time at LHR. Then there will be no let up for the residents of West London all day. The construction of a new runway is the only way to limit the effects on nearby residents and maintain the present alternation of runway use. Thus the "do nothing" option is a "no-goer".

15/01/2016 19:29 GMT
I do not think the night restrictions are very different between the two airports, though they might be less restrictive at Gatwick.
Whatever, the point I seek is if anything is to be done soon about building one or two new runways. The result will certainly be greater restrictions on engine noise, engine fume emissions and operational flying hours. Even so both new runways are needed.

07/05/2016 20:35 BST
Now that the local elections are over in London and the new Mayor has been decided upon, let us now get down to the real business of seeing and getting the country to work.
Firstly, Boris J. put a stopper on the expansion of London City airport. Here he was in disagreement with the local authorities (Newham?) apart from all the relevant players. Let us see if the new Mayor decides to do what needs to be done and approve the expansion of London City. After that we can start to believe in his credentials.
He has expressed a muted positive view on airport expansion. As a result he favoured Gatwick as the least bad solution. That is fine as far as it goes and good luck to him.
However, I still maintain the view that the expansion of Gatwick, while necessary, is not enough. This is when the new Mayor will have to bite the bullet and accept that expansion at Heathrow is inevitable. Thus his role is to help ameliorate the effects on the affected populace.
As President Harry Truman used to say, "We need action, and the time for action is now". (paraphrased).

11/05/2016 10:51 BST
Heathrow airport has accepted new more restrictive conditions in order to get permission for construction of the third runway.
"Heathrow offers concessions in fight to build third runway".
Heathrow airport lays out the information in its own press release.
"Heathrow responds to Airports Commission conditions, third runway can now be approved by PM".
This is just after the House of Commons Select Committee calls on the government to make a decision now.
"Government urged to set clear timetable for airport expansion".
.........and this is after passenger traffic increases by 2.6% yet again in the first quarter of 2016

11/05/2016 11:22 BST
The answer from Gatwick has not been long in coming.
"Gatwick chief says Heathrow expansion would be a 'failed solution' ". (Travel Weekly 11-5-16)
From Gatwick airport`s own website.....
"Heathrow cannot promise away the reality of its location".
So the battle is hotting up..........unfortunely I would say, as I firmly believe we will need both airports to be expanded.

It seems that yet again the decision on a new runway in the south east is to be put off.
“Airport expansion decision ‘may be delayed until September’ “. (travel Weekly 8-6-16)
Apparently there is a bottleneck of important decisions to be made in Whitehall. And……” you can’t take this decision when the House of Commons is not sitting”.
That would take us to September and the Conference season. If David Cameron does not achieve a resounding “remain” vote in the upcoming referendum in two weeks then his job will be on the line. All it would take would be for some unscrupulous egocentric individual, like Boris Johnson, to put the cat among the pigeons by standing against the PM for leadership of the Tory party. Then there could be a change at the top and the decision is thwarted.

If DC loses the referendum then he is out anyway and so the decision is then postponed indefinitely.I think the only way for this decision to go forward is for the PM to call everybody´s bluff in July before Parliament breaks up for holidays. Now is the time to lay his political life on the line.

So what will happen now that Cameron has resigned?
This decision will be put on a backburner…..again.

The best example of the future after Brexit is what already happens with Norway and Switzerland.
The travel concerns of this forum (about which we are talking) will reveal that nothing will change in that department. Easyjet and Ryanair will continue to dominate the European air transport markets as Norwegian has learnt how to do, despite being outside the Union.
Pragmatism will prevail, unless UKIP and its Fifth Column decide to raise the drawbridge – in that case may reason and enlightenment save us all.

Just as there is a petition to force a Commons debate on the having a second Brexit referendum (which at this moment is reaching 3.375 million signatures), there could also be a petition started to try to force the government and other politicians to make a decision on the runway.
It could be framed so as to include either Heathrow or Gatwick (or even both) to have the permission to build another runway at their own expense. The petitioners insist the government no longer postpones the decision and has it presented to the Commons for debate and decided upon before the summer recess.
It would need to be passed from forum to forum, agency, media publication, trade associations etc.etc. to achieve a wide distribution.
Or would that be a step too far for the dithering politicians?

......... the debate is hotting up as today´s press shows.......
..........over Heathrow
“Doubts raised over runway decision following referendum,” (Travel Weekly, 27-6-16)
“Brexit ‘cast doubts’ on Heathrow expansion decision,”( Buying Business Travel, 27-6-16)
...........and about Gatwick.
“Gatwick expansion offers certainty after Brexit vote, claims airport boss”,(Travel Weekly, 27-6-16)
......However, some critical comments have been made by IAG´s boss........
“IAG’s Walsh Warns Over Heathrow Expansion Cost”, (Airwise/Reuters, 22-6-16)
.......which might have some relation to Stansted´s expansion policy.........
“London Stansted launches final phase of infrastructure improvements” (Breaking Travel News, 14-6-16)
........and that is without mentioning the forecast reduction in passenger numbers at the airports and reduced profits at IAG, Easyjet and TUI.
Whatever happens BT sister publication, “Buying Business Travel”, estimates a decision to be made by the UK government by 7th or 8th July next.

It is curious because the greatest noise coming out against the third runway at Heathrow is from Richmond and Putney. In fact they would be less affected than the good folk of Acton and Brentford.
With regard to Northolt, the people greatly affected would be in Harrow, Wembley and Uxbridge.
Any use of that air station is limited to the size of the aircraft and not whether they are military, private or commercial.

Of course, FLYBE is interested in using Northolt simply because its aircraft are smaller jets and turbo props so could use the air station easily. Any other operator would be a similar sort of airline (e.g.Eastern, Aurigny, BMI Regional and Blue Islands) but all minnows in comparison.
Let us put an end to the procrastination and hypocrisy being bandied about, especially the latest excuse, pollution.
I remember reading somewhere that only 2% of the air pollution in London up to 1500 meters(?) is caused by aircraft. The greatest polluting agents are cars and other ground-based combustion engined vehicles.

The two airports LHR and LGW should be given a free hand to develop an additional runway in each case free from government intervention but subject to the due planning process, which would be a different political battle. 

“O’Leary wants three new London runways” (Buying Business Travel 31-8-16)
“Airbus 319 passenger jet had Gatwick near miss”, (BBC.com 1-9-16)
The principal reason given is……..
….” reducing the usual separation time between departing aircraft from two minutes to 45 seconds to increase frequency”…..
That is a major indication of how full Gatwick really is. So yet more evidence to show that runways are needed now at both Heathrow and Gatwick. In fact in the time it will take to open the runways the situation will be worse. Are we going to have a major accident before the politicians wake up?

“Heathrow could apply to lift flight limit allowing 50 more planes to use the airport every day”, (Evening Standard 10-9-16)
This sounds like a good stop gap measure to introduce before the new runway gets built. This would mean increasing the annual aicraft movements from the present 475,000 to the maximum permitteed of 480,000. However, it will never be so simple. The slack is likely to be composed of uninteresting time slots because it that were not the case then they would have been snapped up already. Anyway, to bring the total up to 50 flights per day the present cap would have to be lifted.
The alternative is to introduce mix-mode, whereby both runways are used for take offs and landings just as Gatwick does. This would mean each runway at Heathrow could reach the figures of Gatwick for annual movements which meant that this last year Gatwick has moved 41.7million passengers. For Heathrow that would give it a margin of 10 milliom passengers more to achieve.
Most probably this mix-mode use of the two runways is not on the cards but selective use of mixed -mode might help and convince the people of West London that they would be better off with a third runway.


Some more development on the question of new runways has come to light.
One CEO, Andrew Swaffield of Monarch airlines, considers “…Brexit may force the debate on new runway capacity in the southeast to a head saying aviation is “a critical lubricant of trade deals” and his personal view was there is a clear need for new runway capacity at both Gatwick and Heathrow.”
So another airline professional sees the need for runways at both LHR and LGW.
“Aviation should prepare for ‘hard Brexit’ says Monarch boss” (Travel Weekly 14-9-16)

But much more importantly the changes in government seem to be going the same way.
Taking its information from a “Times” article, the piece says a leaked document seemed to indicate the major opponents of Heathrow expansion were being sidelined.It states the there is speculation “… prime minister Theresa May is leaning towards approving a third runway at Britain’s biggest airport”.
To defuse any opposition from ministers collective responsibility would be suspended and a free vote given.
Moreover, “…some believe that May could also decide to encourage Gatwick to expand on the grounds that the UK must do all it can to expand its export capacity after Brexit, according to The Times.”
“Boris frozen out of southeast runway decision,” (Travel Weekly 15-9-16)

October 18th is seen as the probable date when the decision is announced.
It appears that at last the politicians have grasped the metal.

Now that a decision on runway expansion for London airports seems imminent, CAPA has come up with an analysis today 7-10-16 which proves interesting reading.
“South East England runway decision – UK Prime Minister Theresa May could select a radical solution,”
The economic and political problems are highlighted, including the fact that no Prime Minister in recent times has been in a better position to do what he/she believes in. CAPA proposes and then knocks down its own proposals.It comes to the conclusion that PM. May could well propose both Heathrow and Gatwick are given the go-ahead to built another runway each and let them get on with it.
This double solution is the way forward put forward by this poster/blogger for some years now. Of course there would be problems not least the capacity (or lack of) to finance the operations. However, every problem is there to be solved. This decision is expected towards the second half of this month. Let us hope it is so – at last.

20 December 2015

What are IAG´s next steps?

The CEO, Willie Walsh, of IAG (International Airlines Group) the owner of British Airways(BA), Iberia(IB), Aer Lingus (EI) and Vueling(VY) recently admitted in public that,   "he wanted to add more airlines to IAG but no deals were currently “imminent”."(Buying Business Travel 23-11-15) He was speaking at the Airport Operators’ Association (AOA)during the UK Aviation Conference 2015 held in London.
Vueling A320
Aer Lingus A321


In the first year of this blog an article was published titled, Maybe BA has found a new way(24 September 2010) which looked at the progress British Airways was making trying to get out of the financially difficult situation in which it found itself. Since then a lot has happened and even not happened.

BA has completed the merger with Iberia to form IAG (International Airlines Group) which has taken over the non-owned shares in Vueling, and convinced the Irish Government, Ryanair and Etihad to sell their holdings in Aer Lingus to the group.Thus IAG is formed with 4 brands and in good health. This is something which cannot be said for its competitors, Air France/KLM or the Lufthansa group.

Alitalia is now, mostly, in the hands of Etihad but the "The Etihad Equity Alliance" seems to be now concentrating on Asian airlines. Virgin Atlantic has dropped its Little Red domestic UK service and is now firmly in the hands of Delta and subject to it. Malev(Hungary), Mexicana and Kingfisher (India) have dropped out of the oneworld alliance and disappeared into the history books. Even the alliance partner (under Etihad´s wing), Air Berlin, is finding it very difficult to get into profit. Part of the reason might well be Berlin Brandenburg airport failing to open because of grave technical problems which means that it is postponed till, most probably, 2018. This would make the airport 8 years late in opening.

Other movements in that time have occurred in oneworld with the entrance of new airlines. The most notable is the entry of one of the three Gulf airlines which span the globe, Qatar Airways, including its purchase of a 10% shareholding in IAG.

Bringing this information up to date and looking at European airlines mean an article was published later titled,

European Airline Consolidation - what does it mean? what does it involve?(06 February 2014).  In the near two years since then things have not stood still - except for the increase in number of runways in the London airports of Gatwick or Heathrow. There is no change and the decision has been put off again till the summer 2016, at least!!!

The LCCs are still growing. they are being joined by other holiday airlines (like Monarch) while Lufthansa is closing Germanwings(too expensive) to the benefit of Eurowings(better value for its short, medium and even long haul flights from airports other than Frankfurt and Munich). Norwegian is increasing its long-haul flights (and has even set up a UK subsidiary to add to its Irish one to facilitate this). It is also increasing its European bases outside Scandanavia. Air France/KLM (Skyteam) wanted to increase the profile and presence of its LCC Transavia. The setting up of a new subsidiary met with strong opposition from unions in France, so they have been ignored and the Dutch subsidiary, Transavia, will be the vehicle for growth in Europe. TAP has been sold to groups of investors but stays in Star Alliance. 


But what about other possibilities for IAG.

  1- Europe

Flybe did not last long in Finland and sold its 60% of the joint venture, Flybe Nordic, back to Finnair for €1. This airline is now called known as Nordic Regional Airlines. The 60% is most likely to be sold on to other investors with Finnar retaining 40%.
Finnair A350-900 (c) Carlos Enamorado

As recently as 12 November 2015 rumours were rife about IAG set on consolidating in the European market - which were denied despite Finnair being seen a the most likely candidate to enter IAG for a long time.   

"Finnair comments market rumours: no ownership negotiations are ongoing".

This is quite possibly the situation as IAG is still digesting Aer Lingus whose purchase was only finalised in September 2015. On the other hand it seems that IAG and Finnair are getting closer together after signing an agreement on cargo on 27 July which was put into effect on 10 September last. This means that the two companies could well be in the first stages - "talks about talks" - rather than anything concrete which they would have to reveal to the respective stock markets.  The likelyhood of this deal being done is high. Finnair would form part of a bigger, stronger group while keeping its operational independence and brand - that is something which convinced the Irish government, with Aer Lingus, and could convince the Finnish.

Meridiana A319

This blogger looked at Meridiana and saw it as a possible candidate. However, since then Vueling has stepped up its presence in Italy and is making Italy an important base for operations so the decision might have already been made to ignore the airline. Meridiana still has operating agreements with BA and Iberia but will they be enough to spark interest in it? Most of its focus is on serving Sardinia and Sicily but it has recently increased destinations from both Madrid and London. Also, it has some long-haul (holiday) flights to the Maldives, Africa, North America and the Caribbean. Thus, there is still a possibilty of interest in it though this blogger views that as remote.

There are various small airlines operating in Europe but the logical step to take would to look at operators in more medium or larger countries. Germania is an independent airline in Germany. However, after the experience of dba (originally Deutsche BA) and the travails of Air Berlin, Germany might well be seen as too difficult a market. Bulgaria Air comes to mind but the market might not be big enough nor rich enough to be of interest. Aegean in Greece is another possibility but it is one thing to operate to Greece and quite another to operate within Greece, especially after the financial hardships this country has to, and will have to suffer.

The one country of medium size that still provokes interest is Poland and its near 40 million
LOT B787- 8
population. The national airline, LOT, is owned by the government who is still trying to sell it off. The country is well positioned between Central and Eastern Europe
to fill in the gaps between Spain, the UK and Finland. It also has a large diaspora in Europe and North America. LOT flies long distance as well as into other hubs, but it would have to be tempted away from the Star Alliance into oneworld. It still seems to be a very appealing airline for IAG

One must not forget the feeder airlines to IAG members. Iberia Express is a 100% subsidiary company while Iberia Regional (Air Nostrum) has no shareholding by Iberia (IAG). Aer Lingus Regional (Stobart Air) also has no shareholding by Aer Lingus (IAG).  The major airlines might think it prudent to have a greater say in each Regional airline through a minority shareholding. However, it should be emphasised that  each bases its business model on complete and utter subservience to the major so any shareholding should not be necessary to maintain fidelity to the major. Having said that Flybe is a regional airline 15% owned by BA (IAG) which goes its own way. It forges alliances of one sort and another with whom it pleases, including the direct opposition. It is in no way subservient to BA. In addition to these airlines there is the British Airways franchisee (Sun Air of Scandanavia) flying out of Billund in Denmark. This airline is privately owned. It is well placed to fill in the gaps that  IAG has between the British isles and Finland (and even Poland). It could serve the capital cities of Scandanavia and the major cities of northern Germany (Hamburg and Berlin principally) to connect to London and Dublin in the west, Madrid, Barcelona and Rome in the south, and Helsinki and Warsaw in the east. However, Sun-Air is a slow moving, very prudent operator in the market. It could well be an interesting airline with which to expand IAG´s presence in Northern and Central Europe. 


   2- South America/Latin America:

Iberia is the largest operator from Europe to the subcontinent while oneworld also has a large partner, LATAM, which flies domestically in Chile, Peru, Ecuador, Argentina, Columbia, Paraguay and Brazil as well as internationally. At the moment the airline is still using its two brands LAN and TAM but they are being substituted at the moment and will eventually be replaced in the next few months. That leaves six countries in South America of which, Venezuela, Bolivia and Uruguay are the Latinos where it has no domestic subsidiary. It has no domestic operations within Central America and Mexico.

Normally one associates all the American(both north and south) countries as being fiercely nationalistic so never even contemplating the sell-off of national iconic firms to foreigners. The USA limits foreign direct participation at 25%. Though this percentage was supposed to have been increased to something like the European 49% after the signing of the "Open Skies" agreement when first signed 30-4-2007. This meant that BA´s investment in, firstly, United and, later, US Air never exceeded 25% without any effective control. On the other hand, Singapore Airlines sold its 49% shareholding in Virgin Atlantic to Delta, which effectively now controls that UK airline. The (UK)Virgin group was never allowed to buy more than 25% of Virgin America and had(has) no control at all since it is prohibited from having even one member on the board. 

        Such non-reciprocal agreements are frequent all over the world. Thus what can IAG achieve in South America? There are two big groups LATAM ( in oneworld) and Avianca(Star Alliance)(which covers 8 countries in Central and South America), COPA(Star Alliance) is the third (represented in Colombia and Panama). It seems logical , therefore, that if IAG does anything in Latin America it will start with LATAM as the following article will help one to understand.

 An interestisting article appeared in the Madrid newspaper, EL Pais Negocios, on Sunday 6 December last looking into the problems at LATAM ( the airline to appear after merging the Chilean LAN with the Brazilian TAM) and how it was facing the financial crisis of South America and its prospects. The following is the final part of the article.

"At the moment, the company is valued on the Stock Exchange at US$3000 million as against the US$12,000 million at which the company was valued on announcing the merger.This together with the potential of the Latin American market makes it a very appealing morsel for any external investor. The company increased its capital in 2013 by US$780 million. However, repeating the operation, according to financial analyst Robert.W.Mann, would dilute control too much. This suggests looking for a strategic partner. (my emphasis).

Last November the shares in LATAM rose on the Chilean Stock Exchange when the CEO of IAG, Willie Walsh; expressed a wish to have a closer relationship with the airline which together with IAG forms part of the alliance oneworld.Straightaway the company denied any conversations, but the very same Willie Walsh had made it very clear that if anything was going to happen, it will not be now. He did affirm, "When the time is right and they are ready to sit down with us then we will have constructive talks." "  (translated)

There it is in that last sentence. IAG looks like being prepared to take a stake in LATAM if the terms are right, but this blogger is still not convinced that the Chileans and Brazilians will give up majority control in their iconic airline.

LATAM denied any interest by IAG to invest in the airline with press releases on 10 November and 10 December  to that end.

   3- North America

The oneworld partner of IAG in the subcontinent  is American Airlines(AA). This airline is considered the biggest in the world so it is most unlikely that IAG would make any sort of move for that airline. As already stated the maximum permitted shareholding by any foreign airline in those of the USA is limited to 25%. Thus it is unlikely anything would happen here, at least in the mid-term (10 years?). There is another US airline which collaborates with IAG based in Seattle - Alaska Airlines together with its sister Horizon. They have working partnerships with five oneworld members, as well as nine other airlines. thus it does not seem to be a candidate for IAG.

Westjet B737- 6CT (c) dlowwa

 In Canada, since the flag carrier, Air Canada, is in the Star Alliance, competitors have looked around and found a worthy partner in WestJet, founded only in 1996. Between codesharing arrangements (5) and interlining (6) there are eleven oneworld partners, including IAG, which partner WestJet. However, its other partners number 31. Oneworld might try to attract WestJet into the alliance but any relationship is not likely to go beyond that, especially the statutes of the company call for 75% Canadian ownership.

Mexicana went bust so leaving oneworld without any representative in the Mexico of 120 million. Both BA and Iberia fly to Mexico City while BA also flies to Cancun. Both airlines tend to direct a lot of traffic through AA hubs in Miami and Dallas as well. Other oneworld carriers fly into the country and so LATAM and AA have found a partner in interjet, founded in December 2005, together with Iberia. The airline has built up a respectable domestic route network of 38 destinations plus 9 more to other neighbouring countries. Interjet could thus be

Interjet A320-214 (c) Luis Miguel Martinez

cultivated to join oneworld. It might prove attractive to IAG, if the terms were right, but regulations might limit any shareholding. BA has followed Iberia into codesharing with interjet with an agreement from 4 March 2015.The Mexican airline calls itself "low cost and high efficiency". However, that should not be a restraining factor since BA is now talking to low cost Ryanair about co-operation, while its franchise partner in South Africa - Comair - also flies under the low cost Kulula.com brand and is strengthening ties with BA. This could well prove the door opener for interjet.

   4-The Caribbean:(including Central America):

Most airlines, especially in North America and Canada, tend to think about flying to this region, mostly for touristic reasons. Nobody proposes flying from it to other destinations. It must be the richest region for tourism the year round. From Mexico´s Gulf and Yucatan coasts which would be from Veracruz, to Campeche, Merida, Cancun, down to Panama, Aruba, Venezuela, Trinidad and Guyana the potential is tremendous.

Limiting ourselves to the airlines mentioned on this continent we find LATAM flies to Cancun, Punta Cana (Dominican Rep.), Havana(Cuba) and Oranjestad(Aruba)AA, on the other hand, flies to 34 Caribbean destinations plus 10 Central American ones, so clearly dominates this traffic. 

If we look at the Mexican interjet, it flies to Guatamala City and San José in Costa Rica, while connects to Havana and Varadero in Cuba. Cancun is the only "Caribbean" resort connected to Miami.  Westjet offers 27 Caribbean destinations plus 4 Mexican ones in the Caribbean, though it is not clear which are direct and which are reached through connections.

From the other side of the Atlantic Iberia flies to the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico,Panama, Costa Rica and San Salvador while returns to Havana. BA flies to many different islands which are British possessions in the Caribbean, such the Providenciales and the Cayman Islands, and others which are now independent states, such as Trinidad and the Bahamas. Between direct flights and connecting ones BA offers 26 destinations to the Caribbean islands and Central America plus Cancun and Bermuda(which come down to 16 direct flights). All these are attractive, some exotic, some pure leisure, some poor and some super rich - this is certainly not a market to be ignored. 

It is not something to be ignored but the British, French and Dutch still maintain possessions in the Caribbean. Their relationships with the European Union and, therefore, each other are difficult to unravel in the question of airline traffic rights. However, an European company, as is IAG, should be able to sort that problem out so that maybe a subsidiary airline were set up to fly from these resorts to, especially, the USA and Canada, with the support of one or all of the British, French and/or French governments. On the other hand, an existing vehicle might prove more attractive. 

The French offer the airline Air Caraïbes, based in Guadeloupe, which flies within the Caribbean islands plus French Guiana as well as across the Atlantic to Paris. Its owners, the Groupe Dubreuil, decided to buy the French airline Corsair from the tour operators TUI. You can see from the link that Corsair not only flies to the (French) Caribbean, but also to Montreal, Abidjan, Dakar, Madagascar, Reunion, Mauritius, and Mayotte. This makes its network, which is all long -haul, similar to the long haul network of Meridiana from Italy. This flies to the Americas, Africa and the Maldives. The interesting additional point to mention is that some several months ago Iberia signed a working agreement with Corsair. This blogger does not know if it is still in force. However, it all makes for interesting speculation.

The Dutch have Insel Air to connect their Caribbean possessions, with others, and up to 23 destinations across North and South America. It is based in Curaçao.The British Overseas Territories in the region are: Anguilla, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Monserrat,  and the Turks and Caicos Islands All are attractive for tourists and some have very-well developed services.

Cayman Airways B737-300


 The only medium range airline based in a British Overseas Territory in the Caribbean is  Cayman Airways. It flies to 5 destinations in the USA, 2 in Cuba, 2 in Jamaica, and one in Honduras as well as inter - Cayman island domestic services.              



LIAT is a regional airline owned by 11 Caribbean governments, together with banks and other funds, and is based in Antigua, principally, but the commercial department is based in Barbados while there is another hub on Trinidad. It flies to 21 island destinations in the area. The government shareholders are Trinidad & Tobago, Antigua & Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, St Kitts & Nevis, Monserrat, St.Lucia, St.Vincent & the Grenadines. Of these only Monserrat is an Overseas British Territory.           

The model used by LIAT might not be to the liking of IAG, if it looked at the airlline, as it is basically an island hopping airline, similar to Loganair in Scotland (with which BA used to have codesharing operations now taken over by Flybe). It could be a feeder airline but already does that role for (British) Virgin Atlantic and (US) JetBlue. It should be noted that the airline does not receive good press for punctuality and struggles to make a profit if any.

Other airlines in the region are Bahamasair which flies to 4 destinations in Florida,  Havana(Cuba) and the Turks & Caicos Islands.

Caribbean Airlines B737-800

The most ambitious is, the appropriately named, Caribbean Airlines. It was founded in Trinidad by the government there to replace British West Indies Airlines(BWIA) after this closed in 2006. This mid/long-haul airline flies (or has flown) to 7 islands in the region, plus Caracas, Guyana and Suriname,  from its bases in Trinidad and Jamaica, and  to Florida(3), Toronto, New York and London(this last route is to be closed down 10-01-16 for equipment reasons).           

Caribbean sees itself as an airline for the whole region, "The recruitment from other CARICOM nations showed the airline’s commitment to being the airline for the whole of the Caribbean. " This led it to incorporate Air Jamaica into its operations in May 2011, thus giving the Jamaican government a 16% shareholding in Caribbean. The wish to run an efficient, profitable entity "to fly the flag" for both countries and promote the region as a whole made the two governments reach agreement. This could well be a working model for IAG.  With its operating independence and own brand within the benefits of a larger outfit like IAG might just make Caribbean an interesting merger partner.   

Just to add a closing statement in this section, Norwegian (which subsidiary will run it?) has recently announced its intention to introduce services from the USA to the French islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique. This takes advantage of the "Open Skies" agreement signed by the USA and the European Community. The two Caribbean islands are part of Metropolitan France.

"Norwegian Air Will Serve French Caribbean From U.S. And Eyes Boston-Europe" (Forbes /Logistics and Transportation) and

"Just the ticket: Norwegian airline to offer flights from BWI to French Caribbean".(Baltimore Sun).



When we think about IAG and Africa thoughts immediately go to South Africa. As has previously been mentioned IAG has a franchise partner in the republic flying under BA livery called Comair, which also operates a second low cost brand called Kulula.com . Both airlines feed into BA´s services from Johannesburg and Cape Town. No doubt they will do the same for Iberia when that company restarts its flights into Johannesburg in August 2016. That would strengthen the co-operation between Comair/Kulula.com and IAG. In fact, to illustrate that, Comair and the St. Helena government have just signed an extendible three year agreement for the provision of air services between Johannesburg and the mid-Atlantic island from February 2016.     

Apart from that arrangement in the South African region both BA and Iberia offer few services to Africa from their home bases. BA serves 18 destinations while Iberia serves 10.  Their respective websites indicate something different. BA´s offers 16 countries (in some of which it flies to more than one destination) plus some (probably 7) of those 18 destinations are flown from a connection in Johannesburg with its franchise partner Comair. Iberia´s offers 34 destinations. 15 of those destinations are to North Africa, 4 are to the Republic of South Africa itself, which leaves 15 destinations to all of sub-saharan Africa.                             

In their respective countries and from their hubs, Egyptair(Cairo), Ethiopian Airlines (Addis Ababa)(both Star Alliance) and Kenya Airways(Nairobi)(Skyteam) are fast developing their networks so as to provide pan-African coverage.More destinations and more flights mean more incoming passengers. On the contrary oneworld has no partner in Africa with which to build a relationship, apart from the aforementioned Comair.

There is a long tradition of Spain and Morocco being involved together in one way or another.Now
Royal Air Maroc - B737-8B6
 the terms are certainly amenable. The national airline of Morocco Royal Air Maroc (100% government owned) has drawn closer to Qatar Airways and is trying to form a joint venture on their routes to the Persian Gulf. It is looking for a strategic partner in one of the Gulf airlines. It is also trying to form a joint venture with Iberia. Thus it is being drawn in closer to and considering joining oneworld. From its hub in Casablanca it would be able to serve Europe, North and West Africa.


In West Africa after experiencing a boom in traffic to serve the booming economies the Ebola outbreak suddenly put a stop to that. This forced many airlines to suspend operations in the region. the areas affected were principally Guinea down to Côte d´Ivoire. The airports of Conakry, Freetown and Monrovia experienced the greatest downturn in traffic.It seems that things are returning to normal as the outbreak has been contained with airlines creeping back into the region. 

One airport that has taken advantage of this is Accra(Ghana). The demise of Ghana International Airways in 2010 means the country has been without a national flag carrier since then. it was the second attempt to established an international carrier after Ghana Airways (1958-2005). The remaining airlines are Africa World Airlines, Antrak AirStarbow and Eagle Atlantic Airlines, but are minnows. Long term possibilities exist.

The Central African country, Rwanda, might be an attractive possibility where to base an airline to service Africa. RwandAir flies to most capitals of central and east africa, as well as Lagos(Nigeria), Accra(Ghana), Johannesburg(Rep.Sth.Africa) and Dubai. It presents itself as an outward looking airline, which is not that surprising when the country is only about 220kms. across at its widest point. Since its airline´s destinations are all to foreign countries comparison to other small countries come to mind, especially Singapore. This could mean that RwandAir could aim to become like Singapore Airlines, providing service to all Africa(and elsewhere) from a hub in central Africa.      

It might not sound appropriate to mention the following, but anyone who has worked in Africa will appreciate the considerations. The fact that Rwanda has joined the Commonwealth ( Nov.2009) makes it an added attraction. It has signed the charter which commits the country to
the principles of the Commonwealth. The core principles are "..consensus and common action,mutual respect, inclusiveness, transparency, accountability, legitimacy, and responsiveness."This makes the country and its institutions subject to "Good Governance". This idea has moved Cameroon(1995) and Mozambique(1995) to also join the Commonwealth. It shows a desire to better themselves and makes for a good business environment, making it much better than others such as Dem.Rep.of the Congo, Nigeria, and even neighbouring Burundi. 

Thus Rwanda gives the impression of being a go-ahead country in which to do business, and its RwandAir airline gives the impression of being the appropriate vehicle. The basic question is if this airline can develop on its own , or needs partners. It could sign agreements with a mutitude of foreign airlines or it could join an alliance. This is where oneworld should step in since it has no partners in Africa. Even IAG should be able to make a case for the airline to work more and more closely with it with the aim of joining oneworld. It could then provide the opportunity of IAG being its strategic partner so as to eventually join the group, just as Aer Lingus did. Maintaining its own identity, brand, home base and control of operations would give it the opportunity of being an independent airline within a larger group.

One has to be careful about other countries, not least stepping on Air France´s toes. This airline follows its own government´s neo-colonial involvement in its former colonies. It is, therefore, logical for IAG to take its time to look at opportunities that develop in other west and central African countries with potential partners. The fast growth of African low cost carriers (LCCs) like Mango (South African Airways), Fastjet (the founder of Easyjet is involved), Flyafrica.com and Jambojet (Kenya Airways) plus others are all trying to make their mark on the continent. This means that IAG and oneworld have to make strategic decisions sooner than later, otherwise they will be shut out of Africa.


consensus and common action, mutual respect, inclusiveness, transparency, accountability, legitimacy, and responsiveness, - See more at: http://thecommonwealth.org/our-charter#sthash.Lnu9vwok.dpuf
consensus and common action, mutual respect, inclusiveness, transparency, accountability, legitimacy, and responsiveness, - See more at: http://thecommonwealth.org/our-charter#sthash.Lnu9vwok.dpuf

    6- Asia-Pacific:

oneworld has, as members, Royal Jordanian, and Qatar Airways (Middle East), Qantas (Australasia), JAL- Japan Airlines and Cathay Pacific and its regional subsidiary Dragonair (Far East). These have been joined by Sri Lankan Airlines(South Asia) and Malaysia Airlines (SE Asia). BA flies to the whole region while Finnair offers an excellent choice of destinations in South, South East Asia and the Far East.

The oneworld relationships in this region have changed. The Indian airline, Kingfisher, has stopped functioning so access to South Asia (the Indian sub-continent) is provided by other airlines. BA and Finnair fly direct from Europe. From neighbouring countries the offer is much greater. From the east - Kuala Lumpur - Malaysia Airlines offers 9 (international) destinations. From the south - Colombo - SriLankan Ailines offers 8 destinations , while from the west - Doha -  Qatar Airways offers 24. An Indian partner is considered interesting for the alliance but at the moment it seems that the subcontinent is well covered. 

South East Asia is the homeland of Malaysia Airlines which offers 10 routes to other countries in the region. Obviously there are other airlines which are associated to oneworld through their parent airlines. Some such airlines are MasWings and Firefly from Malaysia, and the JetStar group which are subsidiaries or associates of Qantas. The members of the JetStar group cover Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Vietnam and Japan.

However, there is one airline outside oneworld co-operating more and more with its members.
Bangkok Airways A320
This is
Bangkok Airways which has a strong regional network of routes both domestically in Thailand and to the immediate neighbouring countries. It describes itself as a "boutique airline", which is just what oneworld wants. IAG could well be interested in incorporating the airline into its stable but that would be dependent on the Thai government rules on foreign investment.    

The Australian airline and founder member of oneworld, Qantas, used to have a joint venture(JV) with BA on flights to London - the "Kangaroo Route". This went through Singapore, Bangkok and Hong Kong as intermediate stops. Since the airline was losing money it reduced the offer to eventually close the JV. The alternative, on which it decided to co-operate, was with Emirates though Dubai. The agreement with Emirates offered many many more destinations from the one stop in Dubai. This is particularly important for connections to Europe because before by flying into London, BA´s connections, in most cases, had to double back to other destinations in Europe. This increased flying time. The relationship with Emirates has worked well for Qantas by bringing it back into profit, though it does maintain the one through route to London. BA maintains it route to Sydney though probably more for traditional reasons than anything else. There is still co-operation between the airlines  but much less than before. This could be increased by use of the Qantas´subsidiary and associate airlines JetStar.

 Japan Airlines (JAL) has signed a JV with BA and Finnair on flights between the Far East and Europe which seems to be working very well. On the other hand Cathay Pacific, which has always maintained a distance from its partners in oneworld now seems to be putting greater distance between itself and BA. BA has always found it difficult to work with Cathay Pacific and its subsidiary Dragonair, as it wants to channel the feeder traffic through its own airlines. Thus BA has not been able to offer the number of one stop destinations in China (mostly) which it would have liked to. That is how Cathay Pacific is able to offer 5 flights per day into London Heathrow and it is introducing a new service into Gatwick. The ins and outs of the relationship are explained by the aviation analyst CAPA. This also points out that Cathay Pacific has increased its European destinations to 10 with more in the pipeline, with Madrid to be opened in June 2016. 

With flights directly into China,  BA flies to Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai and Chengdu, while Finnair flies to Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, Guangzhou, and Chongqing.To try to satisfy the desire to enter into mainland China in quantity, BA is looking at the possibility of coaxing China Eastern Airlines and China Southern Airlines away from the Skyteam Alliance in which they already are and into oneworld. This would be a coup for oneworld and a heavy blow for Skyteam, possibly with unpredictable consequences. Before the alliances picked up non-aligned airlines but this would mean stealing two heavyweights from a competing alliance.

China Eastern is based in Shanghai and is considered one of the "big three" airlines in China. This is, probably, why BA has decided to increase its fights to 2 daily to Shanghai. This might be appealing to IAG members but the Chinese airline has strenghtened its ties with Skyteam partner Delta which has purchased a 3.55% share of China Eastern.

China Southern is another of the "big three" but is based in Guangzhou(formerly Canton). Beijing,Urumqi and ChongQing are other hubs, Beijing being of most interest to BA. The Guangzhou -London route is now known as "The Canton Route". 

Both these Chinese airlines are interesting without doubt, but they are in Skyteam and any co-operation might be limited by that factor. IAG might be interested in investing in these airlines, or even others. However, I doubt that. I think their size is offputting though their traffic would be welcome. On the other hand such rumours might just mean IAG is manouvering so as to get better deals with Cathay Pacific and Dragonfly.  It should not be forgotten that other oneworld members offer flights into China which, as additional one stop destinations, would be: Malaysia to Xiamen and Guangzhou, Sri Lankan to Kunming and Guangzhou, Qatar Airways to Chongqing, Hangzhou and Guangzhou, and JAL to Guandzhou and Taiwan(2). Using the oneworld network the possibilities are great but greater if Finnair is incorporated into IAG.



IAG is making progress after, at last, getting out of the financial doldrums. The immediate way forward is with further airline consolidation in Europe in order to strengthen its home continent with its bases. That way the consolidation of and the co-operation between the different partners would give them the opportunity to provide, alternative routings, more frequencies and greater feeder traffic for each member of the group as well as the alliance.

After that IAG has to look at possibilities to see if any investment is hindered in the markets in which it is interested. In this blogger´s view the best opportunties exist in Rwanda (or some very similar case) and the Caribbean where the North /South traffic is large and lucrative.

Also IAG has to investigate (something way beyond this blogger´s means) what the possibilities are in the different markets to see if only minority shareholdings are permitted. This can vary greatly from country to country. Then the decision will be made whether to become a strong airline holding company , or whether it becomes an investment vehicle in airlines. These two strategies are different. The first seeks to promote traffic between and through the participating airlines thus leading to profitability. The second is just orientated towards profit. This would mean investment in any activity in airlines or related to them - such as airport handling services, catering, engine and aircraft maintenance, or even in airports themselves among others. Then IAG would become a different animal and not just a group of airlines.

The last point is to speculate to see which photo or photos will be added to the stable of IAG members, in the near/mid term (by 2020) to the four  illustrated here of Vueling, Aer Lingus, Iberia and British Airways.                                                                                                                                                                                                 

Iberia A350-900

British Airways A380