British Airways cuts 2,000 flights over restrictions
The United Kingdom’s imposition of flight restrictions on Nigerians and other nationals will cost British Airways over 2000 flights in the next three months.
The flights have been removed from the schedule, with the UK bringing back PCR testing for all, leading many to cancel or amend travel plans.
As of yesterday, Nigerian citizens have been banned from entering the United Kingdom. UK’s Secretary of State for Health, Sajid Javid, earlier announced that Nigeria has been added to the red list as part of measures to stem importation of the Omicron variant into the country.
While things are generally getting better for the aviation industry, airlines continue to suffer from the impact of snap decisions causing uncertainty around future planning. Stricter rules mean a drop in demand for travel, with little to no warning usually given about changes to the rules.
According to flight data experts Cirium, British Airways has cut over 2,000 flights from its schedule up to and including March. January was the single worst hit month with 1,146-flight reduction in scheduled flights week-on-week. The airline trimmed 545 flights from the schedule in December, 210 in February, and 243 in March, giving a total flight reduction of 2,144 flights over the four months.
The worst affected destinations during January vastly differ in length from domestic hops, all the way to transcontinental treks. Thirty one rotations have been cancelled from Belfast to Glasgow and Birmingham. Meanwhile, flights from London Heathrow to Johannesburg and Cape Town have also dropped by 31 services in response to the UK government re-establishing the red list. This includes postponing the Airbus A380’s return to South Africa.
Just two routes saw an increase in scheduled flights during January 2022. The route between London and Cairo will see 12 additional rotations, increasing it to twice daily across the month. Meanwhile, British Airways has also added four further rotations on its mammoth trek from London Heathrow to Santiago in Chile.
While it may seem pretty doom and gloom that British Airways has cut its upcoming schedule following the rule change, the airline actually remains in a far better position than a year ago.
According to the plan as of Friday, the programme is significantly beefier than a year ago, with February 2022 sitting over 600 per cent higher than the same month this year. There are 18,810 flights planned for February 2022, compared to just 2,669 this year.
The other months affected by schedule cuts in the past week also sit significantly above the previous year. December has the lowest year-on-year increase from 6,709 to 16,672, an increase of roughly 150 per cent.
While it seems relatively implausible that British Airways will be forced to cut as many flights again this winter, it is possible that the UK could continue to enforce more rules and bolster the red list in response to the perceived threat of the Omicron variant.