BA considers using large jets for UK's post-lockdown holiday boom

Suban Abdulla
·3 min read
A British Airways Airbus A320 lands at London Heathrow Airport on 28th October 2020  (Photo by Robert Smith/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Currently, many of BA's B787s and A350s along with other planes including B777s are remaining idle while international travel remains restricted, unless necessary. Photo: Robert Smith/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

British Airways is considering deploying some of its bigger planes to add capacity for an anticipated post-pandemic holiday rush as the UK eases out of lockdown.

The British flag carrier, part of International Consolidated Airlines Group (IAG.L), could divert some of its jets used on long-haul routes to short-haul destinations as demand for European trips from the UK increases.

Popular holiday destinations such as Greece and Spain are gearing up to open for European holidaymakers from mid-May, according to Bloomberg. This could see a spike in bookings and make the usage of the bigger aircraft financially viable.

Currently, many of BA's B787s and A350s along with other planes including B777s are remaining idle while international travel remains restricted, unless necessary.

“We keep our operation under constant review,” a spokesman for British Airways said.

Airlines and travel firms have seen a bump in demand since prime minister Boris Johnson proposed a four-step roadmap out of lockdown, last month.

Johnson said that a government taskforce will produce a report by 12 April which will recommend how international trips can resume for people in England.

This could lead to foreign holidays being allowed by 17 May at the earliest.

It is understood that BA will decide on using its larger jets on short-haul routes based on booking volumes when Johnson restarts international travel. Long-haul travel is not expected to restart as soon as short-haul.

READ MORE: Heathrow records lowest passenger numbers since 1966

In the hours after the announcement, budget airline EasyJet (EZJ.L) said bookings by UK customers for the summer season were more than four times higher compared with the same period during the previous week.

According to the data, the most popular destinations for this summer are beach resorts including Malaga, Alicante and Palma in Spain, Faro in Portugal and the Greek island of Crete. August is the most booked month, followed by July and September.

Online travel firm Thomas Cook also said traffic to its website was up 75% on Monday as people rushed to book holidays for this summer and 2022.

‘’The roadmap to reopening has accelerated the recovery in travel and hospitality stocks with fresh rises since the market open," said Susannah Streeter, senior investment and markets analyst, Hargreaves Lansdown.

"Although international travel won’t begin until at least 17th May, news that the government’s global taskforce will reconvene in April to recommend how holidays can resume has been a boost for the industry which has been anxious for a sense of direction."

The impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the travel sector was laid bare earlier this week, after the UK's biggest airport Heathrow said its monthly passenger numbers for February fell below 500,000, the lowest since 1966, as a result of strict travel restrictions amid the pandemic.

It said in a statement the collapse in numbers was "due to the ban on all but essential travel, blanket quarantine, pre-departure and post-arrival testing."

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