The British government’s announcement of a second lockdown due to the pandemic, forces British Airways to restrict its operations dramatically, and quickly. The airline has detailed information on its website, to assist passengers whose bookings may need changing.
Earlier this week, the UK government announced a second, four-week lockdown from the 5th of November. Details of it may differ from the earlier lockdown last spring, but needless to say, it will severely restrict travel, air travel included. British Airways and other airlines travelling to and from the country have had to respond.
British Airways did so in a number of ways. First, they will stop all flights to and from Gatwick airport until December. This is a severe reduction which, in strictly operational terms, must make sense. Having different bases in a single city makes sense if passenger traffic is there. Much less so if it isn’t.
This development will affect most British Airways staff based in Gatwick. Furloughed staff in Great Britain will have some assistance thanks to the UK government’s ‘Job Retention Scheme’. With the lockdown announcement, the government extended the Job Retention Scheme until the end of March.
More Lockdown Effects
British Airways will also limit its services during the lockdown in other airports. In Heathrow, the airline will close all Terminal 5 lounges, for all passengers. Also, any airport businesses that don’t provide takeaway food and drink will close as well. The airline had remodelled and upgraded these lounges during the previous lockdown and subsequent closure. Alas, it is now likely that these lounges won’t see use until the new year.
Obviously these flight cancellations will affect a lot of passengers. But a lot of these and other passengers will have to cancel their flights in any case. That’s due to them being non-essential and therefore not allowed during a nation-wide lockdown. Only passengers travelling for work, studies or other essential purposes relating to government or the Covid-19 epidemic can now travel internationally.
Many other countries in Europe have introduced or are about to introduce similar lockdowns, unfortunately. In others, restrictions for outgoing or returning passengers are such that many affected passengers would be forced to cancel. Throughout Europe people hope that these lockdowns are effective enough to allow a (perhaps muted) festive season, once lifted.