Virgin Atlantic to axe last China route

Virgin Atlantic has announced that it is terminating its only route to mainland China at the end of the summer 2024 season, citing ‘significant challenges and complexities’ due to being unable to overfly Russia.

The final Virgin Atlantic flight from London Heathrow Airport to Shanghai Pudong International Airport will depart on Oct. 25, retuning the following day. Virgin currently operates the 4,987-nm route daily, operating a Boeing 787-9 aircraft.

A Virgin Atlantic spokesperson said, ‘after careful consideration, we’ve taken the difficult decision to suspend our London Heathrow to Shanghai services, after proudly serving this Asian hub city since 1999. Our people and customers in Shanghai have been amazing since we first touched down 25 years ago and since then we’ve provided important connectivity between the UK and Shanghai for thousands of customers and supported global supply chains through our cargo operations. However, significant challenges and complexities on this route have contributed to the commercial decision to suspend flying to Shanghai.’

Lengthy diversions have been necessary since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in spring 2022, which saw many countries impose sanctions on Russian airlines. In retaliation, Russia closed its airspace to most international carriers. This means the flights from London to Shanghai take approximately 1 hour longer than before, with the return leg taking about 2 hours longer, requiring Virgin Atlantic and its peers to account for additional aircraft and crew time. However, Chinese airlines continue to operate over Russia on routes to Europe, giving them a competitive advantage and drawing calls from some western airlines for new rules to help regain parity.

Virgin Atlantic said that passengers booked for travel to China beyond Oct. 26 will be offered a full refund.

Princess Cruises to cancel vacations on roundtrip Southampton sailings

Princess Cruises, an international premium cruise line and tour company, has said that it will withhold its UK-based cruise vacations, sailing roundtrip from Southampton, through September 25, 2021 on Sky Princess, Regal Princess and Island Princess.

The move comes as the cruise company reviews its operations following the recent UK Government announcement on the roadmap to ease lockdown and related international travel restrictions, the company said. For UK guests, Princess Cruises will launch a series of new short cruises departing in late- summer on Regal Princess and Sky Princess from Southampton that will go on sale later this month.

‘We share in our guests’ disappointment over these cancelled voyages, and we appreciate the continued understanding and cooperation from our loyal guests and travel advisors,’ said Jan Swartz, president of Princess Cruises. ‘As we prepare our ships for a return to service, we remain in close contact with the UK Government to monitor the latest travel guidance for international guests.’

The company said that for customers booked on a cancelled voyage, Princess will offer to move guests to the equivalent cruise in 2022. The rebooking process will have the added benefit of protecting the guests’ 2021 fare on their 2022 voyage. Alternatively, customers can choose a future cruise credit (FCC) equivalent to 100 percent of the cruise fare paid plus an additional non-refundable bonus FCC equal to 10 percent of the cruise fare paid (minimum $25 ) or a full refund to the original form of payment.

For guests currently booked on a cancelled voyage where there is no suitable cruise available in 2022, guests will automatically receive a refundable future cruise credit (FCC) equivalent to 100 percent of the cruise fare paid plus an additional non-refundable bonus FCC equal to 10 percent of the cruise fare paid (minimum $25). Alternatively, guests can request a full refund to the original form of payment.

Customers are required to send the through an online form by April 15, 2021 or guests will automatically receive the FCC option. FCCs can be used on any cruises booked by and sailing by December 31, 2022, Princess said.

The latest information and instructions for booked guests affected by these cancellations, and more information on FCCs and refunds, can be found online at Information on Impacted & Cancelled Cruises, it added.

Cunard to extend pause in operations amid ongoing travel restrictions

Cunard, the British luxury cruise line, and part of Carnival Corporation, has said that it has extended its pause in operations due to the ongoing travel constraints across the world.

According to the cruise line, voyages departing on board Queen Mary 2 up to and including May 28, 2021, and on-board Queen Elizabeth up to and including June 4, 2021, have been cancelled. Departures on Queen Victoria remain unaffected and are scheduled to resume May 17, 2021.

Customers who have had their voyage cancelled will receive a 125 percent Future Cruise Credit, providing an additional 25 percent on any amount paid, to redeem against a future voyage. The 125 percent Future Cruise Credit can be used on any new booking made by the end of December 2021 and on any voyage available at the time of booking. Voyages are currently available through to early 2023. Guests preferring a refund should complete the form on

Cunard President Simon Palethorpe said: ‘Our extension to the pause in operations is the result of the ongoing restrictions on cruising in the UK and around the world, and recognizes the significant lead times to return to service once those restrictions are lifted.

‘We are extremely sorry for the disappointment we know this will cause. We know how much careful consideration goes into planning a holiday and apologize that our guests now have to wait a little longer to travel once again with Cunard.

‘Guests are able to use their enhanced 125% Future Cruise Credit to book for later in 2021 or for one of our newly announced 2022 voyages. The tremendous response already to our 2022 voyages, put on sale just a few weeks ago, clearly demonstrates our guests are eagerly anticipating travelling again with us. We’re equally looking forward to the time when we can welcome back our guests.’

Cunard extends stoppage of operations, confirms itinerary changes for 2021 and 2022 World Voyage

British cruise line Cunard has said that will be extending its stoppage of operations from November 2020 until March 25, 2021 for its ship Queen Elizabeth; until April 18, 2021 for Queen Mary 2 and until May 16, 2021 for Queen Victoria, due to issues arising from the coronavirus pandemic.

Cunard president Simon Palethorpe said: ‘We are so sorry to all those guests who were due to sail on any of the cancelled voyages and for the disappointment this news will cause. After very careful consideration and reviewing the latest guidance, we simply do not feel it would be sensible to start sailing again with our current schedule so we have reviewed future itineraries.

‘Queen Elizabeth has returned to the UK and with ongoing uncertainty over the re-opening of many ports and countries, it is sadly not practical to continue her planned itineraries for 2021. Therefore, in addition to the pause in operations, all of Queen Elizabeth’s sailings due to depart between March 26, 2021 and December 13, 2021, in and around Australia, Japan and Alaska, will be cancelled.

‘These voyages will be replaced with a programme of shorter duration European holidays ranging from three to 14 nights, departing from Southampton. These will start at the end of March 2021, with a series of scenic voyages around the coast of Cornwall, the west coast of Ireland and the Scottish Isles. There will also be short breaks to Amsterdam which will include an overnight in the city, as well as voyages to northern and southern European destinations including Norway and the Iberian coast, with several of these itineraries featuring overnight city stays.’

All new itineraries on board Queen Elizabeth will be available to book from September 29, 2020. ‘Queen Elizabeth’s new programme will be completed with a series of seven and 14 night voyages in the Mediterranean, sailing from Barcelona. It is an exciting new programme which I am sure will have great appeal,’ Palethorpe said.

‘Additionally, recognising the immense disappointment of those on board Queen Mary 2’s curtailed World Voyage this year, and the cancellation of her World Voyage in 2021, we are delighted that Queen Mary 2 will sail a classic World Voyage in 2022. This will replace her scheduled sailings departing January 3, 2022 to April 3, 2022, including the voyage to South America,’ he added.

The new 118 night adventure will depart roundtrip from New York on January 3, 2022 and include calls to Greece, Dubai, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Australia and Bali before returning to Southampton via Abu Dhabi, Oman, Italy and Portugal. The ship will sail through the Suez Canal both on the outbound journey and on return. It will be bookable, either as a full world voyage or as one of six sectors, from September 8, 2020.

Cunard will be contacting guests and travel agents who are impacted and all guests who have had their voyage cancelled will automatically receive an enhanced 125 percent Future Cruise Credit or alternatively can fill in the website form for a 100 percent refund.

Full details of the changes to operations and options available to guests due to travel on cancelled voyages, as well as the latest updates, can be found at, it said.

Philippine Airlines announces cancellation of special PAL flight to/from London

Further to its announcement on April 1, Philippine Airlines has said that it has been compelled to cancel the one-off flight to/from London Heathrow that was planned for April 4.

‘We are presently working on an alternative arrangement for passengers who had planned on taking this flight, and are in coordination with the concerned authorities and the UK Embassy. Once arrangements are set and operational challenges resolved, we shall make the appropriate announcement,’ it said.

Flybe cancels Hamburg route due for Sunday launch

UK-based airline Flybe has announced cancellation of the new route from Southampton to Hamburg, which was previously set to launch on Sunday, October 26, the Daily Echo has reported.

Flybe said that the flights between Southampton and Hamburg have been cancelled following a recent review that the route will not be commercially viable in winter. The planned daily service to the German port city, due to take off on Sunday, has been grounded until further notice. The airline is yet to officially announce a new start date for the service, but flights were last night available to book via their website from March 29, the report said.

A spokeswoman for the airline said: ‘As part of a recent review, the route has been deemed commercially unsustainable for the moment and we have taken the decision to suspend our plans to operate flights between Southampton and Hamburg this winter.

‘Passengers who have booked to fly on this route will be contacted and offered an alternative flight or a full refund. We sincerely apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.’

Southampton Airport, which has removed Hamburg from the destinations map on their website, said that the route will be reinstated next summer.

Airport managing director Dave Lees said: ‘The route to Hamburg has been postponed until the start of summer 2015, which aligns more closely with leisure and business travel patterns.’

The new route was welcomed by business leaders as well as general tourists when it was announced in June.

County council leader Roy Perry said: ‘Southampton Airport is a very important facility and we are always pleased to see the development of connections with other European cities. It’s disappointing if this route is to be lost and we would hope that the airport would look at reinstating it.’

Stewart Dunn, chief executive of Hampshire Chamber of Commerce, said: ‘I understand that it’s merely been delayed but they hope to start it in the spring.’


French air traffic control strike disrupts UK flights

Strike action by an air traffic controllers’ union in France over budget cuts has caused five times as many flight cancellations as predicted, leaving hundreds of British air passengers stranded at airports, The Telegraph has reported.

Airlines including Ryanair, British Airways and easyJet have cancelled several more of their flights than predicted earlier, and said that they expected further cancellations today. As on Tuesday, Ryanair has cancelled 210 flights to and from France, while 52 affected British airports; British Airways cancelled 12 flights from Heathrow and easyJet cancelled 101 flights, half of which were to or from UK airports. Ryanair had earlier predicted that a total of only 26 would be cancelled, while easyJet predicted 28 cancellations.

British Airways said that it is expecting a further 14 flights from Nice, Zurich, Lyon, Barcelona, Marseille, Toulouse and Geneva to be cancelled tody – all scheduled to travel to Heathrow. Ryanair said that it expected another 250 flights to be cancelled, though it remains unclear as to how many would affect British airports.

The strike action is also expected to cause 14,000 hours of delays, and the airlines have warned of potentially worse delays to all flights crossing French airspace.

All three – British Airways, easyJet and Ryanair – said they would offer a full refund for passengers facing flight cancellation.

A spokesman for Ryanair said yesterday: ‘At this time, French ATC (Air Traffic Control) are predicting that slot delays will be ‘materially worse’ tomorrow (Wednesday).

‘The French Authorities (the DGAC) have requested Ryanair to cancel up to 20% of our flight program for Wednesday, in order to ease the pressure on French ATC services.

‘As we wish to minimise delays and disruptions for our customers we have decided to cancel approx 15% of our scheduled flights on Wednesday, which will principally effect flights operating to/from France and Spain.’

Originally, the two biggest air traffic controllers’ unions in France have voted for a six-day strike from Tuesday in protest over budget cuts. However, one of the unions withdrew from strike action. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has condemned the strike action, alleging that it targeted holidaymakers just at the peak of a busy summer season.


Strike causes Easyjet to cancel Milan flights

Easyjet, a no-frills airline based in Luton, UK, has been forced to cancel flights to Milan in Italy later this week due to strike action.

The company has cancelled more than 60 flights that were scheduled for the Linate and Malpensa airports in Milan for tomorrow, Wednesday May 29, including flights to the UK airports Gatwick and Luton. The strike by airport staff at the two Italian airports will last for twenty-four hours, according to SEA Group, the airports’ operator. The company has said that it will provide live updates via its twitter feed regarding the impact that the strike is having.

Easyjet has issued a statement saying, ‘In order to minimise the disruption to passengers and to allow sufficient time to make alternative plans, Easyjet has taken the decision to proactively cancel some flights to and from both airports. All passengers travelling to or from the Milan airports on that day are strongly recommended to check the status of your flight before heading to the airport to avoid any unnecessary disruption.’

In some cases, Easyjet has arranged to reroute flights from Gatwick and Luton to Turin, from where it will provide a coach connection to Milan.

The company is also expecting disruption at Naples airport due to local industrial action, particularly with delays through security checkpoints. It will therefore be opening its bag drop three hours before the departure of flights from the airport to help ease congestion.

Full details of changes to the airline’s schedules for the affected airports can be obtained from Easyjet at


Flybe Terminates Service between Gatwick Airport and Aberdeen

Flybe, a UK-based airline company, has announced the cancellation of its service between London Gatwick Airport and Aberdeen Airport, in Scotland.

The airline is currently offering a three times-daily service between the two airports, operating an Embraer aircraft. The last service will be on October 27, 2012.

In a statement the airline said, ‘Flybe carefully reviews the viability of all our 180 plus routes on a regular basis looking not only at passenger numbers but also at external cost pressures,’ said the company in a statement.

This is done not only to monitor where we can offer increased regularity on a given route but also where passenger numbers make a flight environmentally, as well as economically, harder to justify.

Unfortunately, after much consideration Flybe can confirm it is cancelling its Aberdeen to Gatwick route from the end of the IATA summer season on Sunday October 28.’

With the withdrawal of Flybe’s service, Easyjet, another UK based airline, will be the only carrier to serve the route. Easyjet also serve Aberdeen airport from London Luton Airport, and Aberdeen Airport is served by British Airways from both London Heathrow Airport and London City Airport.

Flybe has also given its support to the campaign against Air Passenger Duty (APD), which is to be implemented by the UK government, and expressed its support for publication of a report on Inquiry into Aviation Policy and Air Passenger Duty by the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG).

The government will charge APD to passengers flying out of the UK in an aircraft that has an authorised take-off weight of more than ten tonnes or more than twenty seats. Passengers have to pay the tax twice for a return journey, around an additional GBP26 for a return fare.


Ryanair Cuts Morocco Flights

Ryanair, an Ireland-based low cost airline, has announced the cancellation of weekly flights to Morocco, which took effect June 28, 2012.

Ryanair has reported that ONDA, the airports authority that is owned by the Moroccan government, has backed down on an agreement with the airline and will be working with a new handling company, which will increase the airline’s charges.

The airline has announced the cancellation of eight weekly flights to Nador, six weekly flights to Fez, eight weekly flights to Marrakech, four weekly flights to Tangier, and the closure of its operations at Oujda Airport.

The airline deputy chief executive, Michael Cawley, said, ‘Ryanair entered into long term agreements with the Moroccan Tourism Authority and ONDA, as part of the Moroccan governments 5-year plan to grow tourism.

Ryanair has spectacularly over-delivered on all its undertakings under these agreements, becoming Morocco’s second largest airline and ensuring the Moroccan government’s achieved its 5-year targets within an earlier timescale. It is regrettable that ONDA has now lost sight of the key to the success of our partnership, offering low fares based on low costs.

Ryanair cannot accept cost increases as it seeks to deliver more growth to Morocco. It is completely unacceptable for ONDA to increase the cost of Ryanair’s operation in Morocco and unrealistic for them to expect us to continue to grow our business in that context.

Consequently I regret to announce that we are making these substantial reductions which will result in up to 100,000 less tourists annually and an annual loss in tourism expenditure and job losses for the Moroccan economy of EUR50m.’