Aer Lingus to suspend Belfast- London Heathrow service under post-Brexit rules

Irish airline Aer Lingus is set to suspend its service between Belfast and Heathrow at the end of October in accordance with the post-Brexit rules, media reports have said.

Since the UK left the European Union, EU-based carriers are not permitted to operate scheduled services on UK domestic routes. Aer Lingus has been running the route under a temporary licence, which has now come to an end. Meanwhile, the carrier’s sister airline, British Airways, will run a three-flights-per-day service over winter. A final service from Aer Lingus will run on Sunday October 30.

‘We have not prohibited any airline from operating in the UK, a UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) spokesperson reported, adding: ‘After the UK left the European Union, all UK-based airlines have to operate under a UK operating licence which governs the traffic rights they may hold.’

According to the spokesperson, the service operated by Aer Lingus UK between Belfast and London currently uses ‘a wet-leased capacity arrangement from its parent company, the Irish airline, Aer Lingus’. This has been the case over the past two years while a long-term solution was sought.

An Aer Lingus spokesperson said, ‘Aer Lingus is very keen to continue operating the Belfast City – Heathrow London service, which we have been operating since 2007.’

‘We are engaging with the relevant authorities in order to allow us to continue to serve this route into the future. For the upcoming winter season, we will be working with our sister airline, British Airways, to ensure there is continuity of service and no impact to any of our passengers’ journeys.’

Following Brexit, UK passport holders are classified as third-country nationals and can only stay within the EU or Schengen area for 90 days within any 180 days.

Effective May 2023, the EU entry-exit system will see an automated IT system that will replace the manual checks and passport stamping for third-country nationals on entry and exit from the EU and the Schengen area. EES will register the data and place of entry and exit and take finger prints and a biometric photograph whenever a traveller crosses the EU border.

British Airways announces plans to cut 10,000 more flights to and from Heathrow

British Airways has announced a further round of cancellations, eliminating 10,000 flights to and from Heathrow until the end of March 2023, The Guardian has reported.

Heathrow’s directive comes as it struggles to find the staff amid post-Covid recovery to meet returning demand from business travellers and tourists, leading to chaos and long queues over Easter, spring half-term and into early summer.

The carrier, owned by International Airlines Group, has decided to reduce its short-haul schedule by eight percent after the London airport extended the summer’s 100,000 daily cap on passenger numbers by six more weeks until the end of October and asked airlines to sell fewer flights.

British Airways said that it will increase cancellations, continuing a trend that began in May as airlines and airports struggled with staff shortages. The airline has already cut thousands of flights over the summer to address the staffing problems faced by airports and the airline itself. It also suspended ticket sales on short-haul flights from Heathrow earlier this month in light of Heathrow’s capacity cap.

British Airways said that more than 600 return flights to and from Heathrow would be cancelled to October 29, while the winter schedule, which runs until the end of March, would be cut by eight percent. The impact is expected to be ‘minimal’ as alternative same-day flights available on most of the routes affected, but some cancellations would be unavoidable.

‘While the vast majority of our customers will travel as planned and we’re protecting key holiday destinations over half-term, we will need to make some further cancellations up to the end of October,’ a spokesperson for BA said.

‘In addition, we’re giving customers travelling with us this winter notice of some adjustments to our schedule, which will include consolidating some of our short-haul flights to destinations with multiple services. We’ll be offering customers affected by any of these changes an alternative flight with British Airways or another airline or the option of a refund.’

The government has allowed airlines to cut their capacity this year via the introduction of a ‘slot amnesty’, announced last month. The facility allows airlines to reduce operations without forfeiting the right to valuable landing slots at Heathrow and other busy airports, which normally have a ‘use it or lose it’ rule, the report noted.

Eurotunnel closed to Britons with EU homes

Following new COVID restrictions imposed by the French government, Eurotunnel has warned British citizens that live in the EU that they cannot travel by car through France to get to their homes.

The Eurotunnel ban on travel for EU-domiciled Brits was confirmed by the tunnel’s operator, Getlink, in an urgent warning on its website and Twitter page that first appeared on Wednesday evening. Appearing to confirm a change in travel rules by the French government, the statement read, ‘Following a French Government decision, on 28/12/2021, unless they hold French residency, British citizens are now considered 3rd country citizens and can no longer transit France by road to reach their country of residence in the EU.’

According to the previous French travel guidance that was introduced on December 18, which stated that travel from the UK was would only be allowed for ‘compelling reasons’, ‘nationals of the European Union or equivalent’, as well as their partners and children, ‘who have their main residence in France or who join, in transit through France, their main residence in a country of the European Union’, are considered to have a compelling reason for travelling from the UK through France.

The French government is yet to make an official announcement about the latest change to the rules. But the Eurotunnel statement said the ban did not apply to British people living in France, or people from the UK that also hold an EU passport through dual nationality.

Heathrow cuts domestic passenger charges by over a third

London Heathrow has announced a discount of £10.00 to domestic passenger charges to support affordable domestic routes starting January 1, 2017- the highest cut ever by the airport.

Scheduled to last up to twenty years, the discount is part of Heathrow’s plan to promote growth outside London by making it cheaper to travel beyond the capital. The new domestic charge of £19.10/passenger is over a third cheaper than 2016.

In September 2016, Heathrow also announced a plan to get UK regions connected to give all of Britain a ‘Brexit boost’. With the move, domestic passengers flying from Heathrow will be able to collectively save nearly £500m over the next 20 years, it said.

Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye said: ‘Earlier this year Heathrow promised to do more to help Britain’s economy grow stronger. This morning I’m delighted that we’re able to come good on that promise with our new £10 domestic discount. Putting over £500 million back into the pockets of British families and businesses will help to spur growth in every part of the UK.’

Airlines have already expressed interest in launching services at Heathrow’s cheaper domestic charges. Starting from March, Flybe will start operations from Heathrow for the first time. The UK-based European regional airline will add 40 new weekly flights to Edinburgh and Aberdeen. In addition, Flybe and easyJet have also expressed interest in using the additional capacity to serve additional domestic destinations – including Newquay, Liverpool and Dundee.

Heathrow’s move to discount domestic charges will also reduce pressure on airlines operating existing domestic services by making their routes more commercially attractive, it added.

Ryanair announces 2016 winter schedule at Belfast

Irish low-fares airline Ryanair has launched its Belfast winter 2016 schedule, with seven new routes to Alicante, Berlin, Krakow, Lanzarote, Malaga, Milan and Tenerife.

Ryanair also said that it will increase flights to London Gatwick to five daily, which is expected to deliver over one million customers a year. The new Belfast routes makes Ryanair a choice for Northern Ireland business and leisure travellers, who can now choose from eight Belfast routes during winter 2016.

The new routes will see three weekly flights to and from Alicante, Berlin and Krakow, four weekly flights to and from Malaga, and two flights a week to Milan, as well as to and from Tenerife and Lanzarote in the Canary Islands. The fares for Alicante start from £24.99, Berlin and Krakow from £19.99 and Lanzarote from £34.99.

In January, the airline announced plans to re-establish a base at Belfast this month with a thrice daily service to London Gatwick. Next winter, the Irish airline will base three aircraft at Belfast and expects to create 750 jobs at the airport.

Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary said: ‘We are pleased to launch our Belfast winter 2016 schedule, which grows to 3 based aircraft, 7 new routes to Alicante, Berlin, Krakow, Lanzarote, Malaga, Milan and Tenerife, as well as extra flights to London Gatwick (5 x daily), and will deliver over 1m customers p.a. and support 750 jobs at our Belfast International base. Our 5 times daily London Gatwick service will be perfect for both business and leisure customers and we look forward to growing routes, traffic and jobs in Belfast in the coming months and years.

‘This large inward investment (over $300m) and new job creation is the latest example of how Northern Ireland benefits from the UK’s membership of the European Union. Low fare air travel, which was pioneered by Ryanair in the UK and Europe, is one of the EU’s great success stories.’

O’Leary further called on Northern Ireland to vote ‘Yes’ in June’s Brexit referendum. ‘We are calling on everyone in Northern Ireland to vote ‘Yes’ to Europe in the Brexit referendum in June, because staying in Europe will mean stronger economic growth, more tourism and more jobs for young people, whereas leaving will reduce the UK to the same status as Norway – namely outside the EU, but part of the single market (for which Norway still pays and still obeys the EU rules), but with no role in setting EU policy or strategy.’