To say that the final year of this decade was a bumpy one for the aviation industry is a bit of an understatement.
During 2019 countless airlines had their wings clipped, while many others struggled to stay in the air. For some carriers it’s been a time of celebration, marking their centenaries in the sky. We’ve seen new liveries and new uniforms and of course there’s the ongoing saga surrounding the Boeing 737 MAX which remains grounded, following two horrifying crashes.
So as this year begins its final decent and we prepare for the departure of 2020 we take a look back at some of the highs and lows of this turbulent year.
We must of course start with the heartbreaking loss of one of the UK’s biggest (and best loved) airlines.
On Monday September 23, 2019 we woke to the news that Thomas Cook, the worlds oldest travel company had gone in to liquidation. The collapse rocked the aviation world and sparked the biggest ever peacetime repatriation to bring back stranded passengers and crew.
The outpouring of grief for the Thomas Cook staff was immense. Passengers had whip rounds on flights and my lovely dollies offered news of job vacancies at their airlines, set up GoFundMe pages and offered words of support and shoulders to cry on, showing how we truly are one big aviation family. Thomas Cook may be gone but the sunny heart will never be forgotten and you can check out our tribute to this iconic airline here.
Sadly, Thomas Cook wasn’t the only airline to fly off in to the sunset this year –
2019 was also a year of celebrations for a number of airlines. KLM had their 100th birthday on October 7 and we took a look back at the evolution of the airlines uniform styles over those years.
Then there was British Airways, who celebrated their centenary. We also looked back at the airlines uniform evolution since its first flight on August 25, 1919. Sadly the birthday party was marred by various pilot strikes over pay.
One thing that British Airways did do right during their centenary year was their incredible retro liveries. The first aircraft to receive its special paint scheme was Boeing 747 (G-BYGC) which arrived at Heathrow resplendent in the iconic BOAC livery on February 18. This was followed by A319 (G-EUPJ) in BEA livery on March 3; Boeing 747 (G-BNLY) in Landor livery on March 9 and Boeing 747 (G-CIVB) on March 21. Check out our BA gallery below.
BA wasn’t the only airline giving their jets a lick of paint, although none of these new looks would be a patch on those fabulous retro schemes. Aer Lingus, SAS Scandinavian and United all revealed their new colour-schemes this year. Which one is your favourite?
2019 was also the year for more consolidation in the industry. IAG announced their intention to purchase Spanish airline Air Europa in a deal worth an estimated €1 billion; in a bid to turn its Madrid hub into a true rival to Europe’s four largest hubs: Amsterdam, Frankfurt, London Heathrow and Paris Charles De Gaulle.
Meanwhile one of the biggest announcements was the take over of UK regional carrier Flybe by a consortium made up of Stobart Air, Cyrus Capital and Virgin Atlantic for an estimated £2.2 million. Later it was revealed that the troubled airline would be rebranded as Virgin Connect.
It was also the beginning of the end of the A380 when Airbus announced in February that due to falling sales the manufacturer would end production of the “Superjumbo” by 2021. Despite being loved by passengers the double-decker plane, which first flew back in 2007 with Singapore Airlines, has proved an abject commercial failure.
Tragically there was a number of air accidents this year. On May 5, Aeroflot flight SU1492, a Sukhoi Superjet 100 crashed at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport after being struck by lightning shortly after take off. The jet had returned to the airport and suffered a hard landing resulting in a fire that killed 41 of the people onboard including crew member Maxim Moiseev aged just 22. Moiseev died trying to help people evacuate at the rear of the plane and the subsequent investigation revealed passengers had been trying to retrieve their hand luggage, wasting time and costing people their lives. You can read the full story about the disaster here.
Less than two months previously on March 10, Ethiopian Airlines suffered the loss of one of their brand new Boeing 737 MAX 8 jets killing all 157 people onboard. Flight 302 was a scheduled international passenger flight from Addis Ababa to Nairobi, Kenya and crashed just a few minutes after take off. It was the second fatal crash of a Boeing 737 MAX in five months and caused the global grounding of the jet which remains in place today with no clear date of when the plane may take to the skies again.
Baggage impeding an evacuation was also the focus following a smoke filled cabin incident onboard British Airways Flight 422 from Heathrow to Valencia. The Airbus A321 with 175 passengers onboard encountered “technical difficulties” on approach to Valencia and smoke engulfed the plane. Footage emerged of chaos in the cabin as the crew waited for a decision to evacuate. A number of passengers were subsequently treated for smoke inhalation and minor injuries but most got off the aircraft safely. Images later emerged once again of passengers evacuating the aircraft with their hand luggage raising further questions of how this issue can be resolved.
From ‘The Miracle on the Hudson’ to the ‘Miracle in the cornfield’. A Ural Airlines A321 had just taken off from Moscow’s Zhukovsky Airport, carrying 226 passengers and seven crew on August 15, when it struck a flock of birds and lost all power to both engines. Pilot Damir Yusupov was later hailed a hero after all passengers were safely evacuated, although 23 people were later treated for injuries.
Tragically just two days after Christmas a Bek Air Fokker 100 flying from Almaty to Nur-Sultan in Kazakhstan crashed into a building just after take-off, killing at least 12 of the 93 passengers and five crew on board. The cause of the crash remains unclear.
We once again reviewed the worlds best flight attendant uniforms in our annual ‘Style In The Aisles Top Ten Uniforms’ which this year featured fabulous designs from Turkish Airlines, Volotea, Oman Air, Alaska Airlines, Eurowings, Alitalia, LATAM, Jazeera Airways, Southwest and Icelandair. And we wait with baited breath for the new designs coming from Aer Lingus and British Airways in the new year.
With extinction rebellion causing chaos at London City, commandeering an Aer Lingus flight and climbing on top of a BA Cityflyer jet, Greta Thunburg making waves and the perilous position our planet is at environmentally, it was no surprise that airlines began to look at how they can operate more sustainably.
easyJet announced that it will offset carbon emissions from the fuel used on all of its flights, making it the first major airline to operate net-zero carbon emission flights across its fleet. The budget airline said it would do this by investing in accredited carbon-offsetting schemes, including renewable and community-based projects. Carbon offsetting works by providing funds to projects that reduce CO2 emissions elsewhere in order to compensate for emissions produced. For every tonne of carbon produced, carbon offsetting aims to eliminate one tonne by, for example, planting trees or generating solar energy.
British Airways revealed in October that they would be offsetting carbon emissions for all UK domestic flights from 2020 and has already saved 30 tonnes of plastic a year by cutting the wrapping around its amenity packs and replacing its plastic swizzle sticks with a bamboo alternative.
International Airlines Group (IAG), the owner of British Airways, announced its plans to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.
Air New Zealand revealed it is trialling edible coffee cups in a bid to reduce the amount of waste onboard its planes. The cups, by local company Twiice, are made from vanilla-flavoured biscotti – and are apparently “leak-proof”.
Virgin Atlantic has started putting its headphones in a charity donation envelope and it no longer offers packs of toiletries in economy as a matter of course. Instead, passengers request them from cabin crew.
Qantas has trialled a zero-waste flight and aims to eliminate 75% of its waste in the next two years.
And finally. A heartwarming story emerged just before Christmas, showing that there are still some good people in this world. A passenger called Jack travelling to New York with Virgin Atlantic generously gave up his first class seat so that 88-year old Violet could enjoy her dream of flying up front, after the pair struck up a friendship whilst waiting to board the flight.
Telling the story, Manchester-based flight attendant Leah Amy wrote on Facebook : “Of the hundreds of flights I’ve operated, I’ve had the pleasure of looking after footballers, supermodels and some Hollywood movie stars but let me tell you about my two favourite passengers EVER! Jack and Violet. Jack and his family purchased seats in our upper class cabin for a flight home from New York, but when he got onboard, Jack went and found violet in economy and swapped seats with her. He then sat on the row of seats directly next to the economy toilets and never made a peep or asked for anything the rest of the flight. No fuss, no attention, literally did it out of the kindness of his own heart, no one asked him too”.
A VERY HAPPY NEW YEAR to all my dollies around the world. We have some exciting plans for Confessions of a Trolley Dolly as we take off in to this new decade and we look forward to having you all on board.
Love to you all and safe flights,
Dan Air x
© confessionsofatrolleydolly.com by Dan Air