22 JUNE 2020

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Article from BTNews 22 JUNE 2020

COMMENT: Passports + London City Airport

In its many years of publication Business Travel News has never used the COMMENT feature to cover two unconnected stories.  Times are different.  This week we highlight a pair of BTN news items that have no link, although one would not work without the other.

No passports on Eurostar is a technology story demonstrating how far we have come in the development of the mobile phone in just a few years.  Go virtually anywhere in the world and you can use your handset.

The headline should be “No passports to anywhere”. 

Surely the details, including photograph, can go on your handheld and not only be used for passport control but any place where identification is needed.  For your day-to-day shopping, travel pass, ticket purchase, and at the bar proving you are over 18 (in the UK but 21 for the United States). 

Some good will inevitably come of this pandemic, and the elimination of the traditional passport will be to everyone’s advantage (except the printer, but British company De La Rue Plc lost the contract to a French firm).  Hard cash is also a loser (cheers from HMRC) with no minimums in the shops and most goods and services purchased on a card. 

London City Airport (LCY) did not need a passport control last night.  British Airways (BA) became the first airline to fly into the Docklands airport since 25 March (see in this issue).

But trying to obtain information from BA is like ‘getting blood out of a stone’.  The last public utterance was not by the airline but BALPA the pilots’ Union saying it has been informed by BA CityFlyer of a proposal to make 72 of its 248 pilots redundant.

Checking on the BA website (not the most user friendly), and choosing the popular route to Edinburgh (EDI) as a basis, it looks like CityFlyer business routes will reopen on Monday 20 July with the aircraft based at LCY, the outbound 17:10 and the return leaving EDI 19:05. It does seem that the EDI station will be closed.

According to LCY CityFlyer, operating under the BA brand, will from 10 July reintroduce Ibiza (IBZ); Florence (FLR); Málaga (AGP); Palma de Mallorca (PMI) with Dublin (DUB); Edinburgh (EDI) and Glasgow (GLA) to follow later in the month.  All detailed enquiries are referred to the aforementioned BA.com website.

In its heyday BA flew up to eight return services between EDI and LCY, the route with the now defunct Flybe competing, worth over half a million passengers last year.

At the end of the day the kingpin of any airline is its commercial department.  Investment, finance, crewing, engineering and the back office will all look after themselves in a properly run organisation, but without selling (getting passengers on board) nothing will work. 

What CityFlyer needs to do is reinvigorate the market place and tell the traveller, whether business or leisure, where it is going and what  its plans are.  Now!

Loganair’s CEO Jonathan Hinkles, speaking recently on the Anna.aero webinar, implored airports too – the best thing you can do for us is tell passengers you are open and it is safe to travel. London City is doing its bit.

Can I book a meeting in Glasgow for August?  Is my Majorca family holiday trip on for the school holidays? Or should I try Florence with someone else on a much larger aircraft from an alternative airport?  The travelling public is desperate to know. 

The accountants need the revenue.

Get out and tell us British Airways (or is it CityFlyer?!).
 
And now is perhaps not the time to ask about Gatwick, worth 7.8m passengers to British Airways last year but currently moribund!

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OUR READERS' FINEST WORDS (All times and dates are GMT)

All comments are filtered to exclude any excesses but the Editor does not have to agree with what is being said. 100 words maximum


Johnny Walker, London

PASSPORTS. This is an answer to a piece in THE TIMES this morning (front page). If we have our Passports on our phones, but include telephone number and address, all you will need to do is go to the bar and swipe the information. Less than 10 seconds and no delay which would be the case with written information.


Stephen Smith, Clapham just south of The Thames

I live in Clapham with good connections to all three main London airports and am a regular business traveller. My preference is City for its speed but Gatwick is a good alternative with many more BA destinations. Can someone please tell me what is going on? And I feel sorry for the staff. At least at City there is life but nothing at Gatwick. Stephen Smith


Stephen Smith, Clapham just south of The Thames

I live in Clapham with good connections to all three main London airports and am a regular business traveller. My preference is City for its speed but Gatwick is a good alternative with many more BA destinations. Can someone please tell me what is going on? And I feel sorry for the staff. At least at City there is life but nothing at Gatwick. Stephen Smith


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