July saw the start of the summer season, with schools breaking up and airports at their busiest as families jetted off on their holidays. This was also the month that saw a relaxation of the laptop ban, strike plans for BA staff and the launch of Singapore Airlines’ new frequent flyer programme aimed specifically at SMEs. For further July travel news, read on:
Laptop ban relaxed on flights to the USA
On 21 March, the UK and US governments announced a ban on large electronic devices such as laptops and tablets on all flights to the UK and US that originate from Turkey, Lebanon, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Tunisia.
While the ban in still in place in the UK, on 20 July, the US lifted it, instead bringing in more stringent overall security checks. However, this is a fluid situation with some airlines and airports now beginning to relax the rules. For example, Turkish Airlines and Pegasus Airlines announced the electronics ban that applied to their UK bound flights has been removed.
British Airways mixed fleet staff to strike in August
British Airways’ mixed fleet staff have agreed to strike from 2 to 15 August as part of an on-going pay dispute. However, the impact on passengers should be minimal, with the airline expecting to operate a full schedule.
Flights to and from London Gatwick will operate as normal with the exception of the service to and from New York JFK on some days. Affected customers on these services are being contacted in advance and will be likely be rebooked from Heathrow. [August update: the strike has been extended to 30 August, including the August bank holiday weekend].
Australian airports increase security
After a foiling an aircraft terror plot in Sydney, Australian authorities have increased security checks at airports across the country. This has led to major delays at the country's larger airports, so passengers should arrive earlier than usual.
Virgin Atlantic expands partnership
On 27th July, Virgin Atlantic announced their intention to expand their partnership with The Air France-KLM Group and Delta Air Lines, in a long term venture move expected to last 15 years. As a result, they will offer their customers a more comprehensive transatlantic route network, including more convenient flights and more competitive fares, as well as reciprocal frequent flyer benefits.
Birmingham airport sees record passenger numbers
Birmingham Airport’s June 2017 passenger numbers show a continued increase, with 1.3million passengers travelling, a 16.4% increase on the same month last year. Meanwhile the airport’s short-haul traffic has increased by 17.8% and its long-haul traffic by 2.7% year on year; these numbers are expected to rise further as the peak summer season progresses.
Singapore Airlines launches SME frequent flyer programme
Singapore Airlines have launched a new corporate travel programme specifically aimed at SMEs, allowing frequent flyers to earn High Flyer points for their business and Kris Flyer miles for the traveller themselves. Managed online through a self-service web portal, the programme requires no minimum annual travel spend and corporate travellers earn five points for every S$1 spent.
Accor Hotels to open hotel in Leicester Square
In August 2017, Accor Hotels will open the MGallery by Sofitel, and 86-room hotel located in the Victory House in Leicester Square, central London, just a stone’s throw from some of the best theatres and restaurants in the city.