Avios (as in avios.com and not British Airways Executive Club) is, very quietly, winding down its redemption partnerships with non-oneworld or IAG airlines.
What is happening?
These redemptions are with avios.com, not British Airways Executive Club. To book them, you need to open an avios.com account and use the ‘Combine My Avios‘ function to move Avios from BAEC into avios.com. There is no charge to move your Avios and you can reverse the transaction if required.
These partnerships are now being wound down. Monarch has already gone – the last day to book a redemption with them was 4th January.
Aurigny – ending 1st April 2017
Aurigny flies to various Channel Islands destinations from Gatwick, London City, Bristol, Southampton, East Midlands, Stansted and Manchester. You can see a full list of routes by visiting their website and clicking on ‘Timetable’.
Availability from Gatwick is good. When I checked in January for a random midweek date in June 2017, there were six departures to Guernsey available (economy seats only) and a return ticket would cost you 9,000 Avios plus £35 in tax.
These are OK deals. A typical cash ticket for the dates I checked was £99 return. That is around 0.72p per Avios of value.
Air Malta – ending 1st April 2017
The Air Malta partnership will also end on 1st April. Tickets booked before that date will remain valid and can still be cancelled if necessary.
This was always a bit of an odd partnership. When it was launched, BA did not fly to Malta and so it filled a gap in what was presumably seen as a core target market for Avios customers. British Airways launched its own flights to Malta a couple of years ago which meant that this partnership became less valuable.
As with all of these partner airlines, you can seach for Air Malta flights using the standard avios.com reward booking site. If there is availability, it will show up but only in Economy.
Seats have historically been available on the scheduled routes from Heathrow, Gatwick and Manchester to Malta. You do not tend to see redemptions offered on some of the Summer seasonal routes from smaller UK airports.
Economy flights from Gatwick cost 20,000 Avios return plus £55 of tax. Business class is not available. This is poor value compared to the British Airways flights which, on off peak dates, require 17,000 Avios return plus £35 of tax.
There is currently a lot of ‘tidying up’ being done at Avios. We have seen various redemption options dropped (see this article) including theme park tickets, sporting holidays, Eurostar tickets and the ability to earn and redeem Avios on package holiday bookings. We now have the loss of three airline partnerships.
This is all in preparation for the full merger of the various schemes on the avios.com platform. In order to do this, Avios needs to drop partnerships which would conflict with these airline partners. Eurostar conflicts with BA and I doubt BA would want Executive Club members to be able to redeem for it directly. Earning and spending Avios on package holidays conflicts with BA Holidays. Redeeming on Monarch, Air Malta and Aurigny conflicts, on some routes, with British Airways.
At some point we should start to see benefits from this move. Royal Air Maroc, for example, is adopting Avios as its currency which should bring extra reward availability to Morocco and, via connections, into parts of Africa not served by British Airways.
In the short term, though, redemption options will get worse before they get better. This is especially bad news for flyers outside London who will see a sharp drop in the number of flights on which they can redeem their Avios points.
Remember to book your Aurigny or Air Malta redemptions in the next couple of weeks if you’re interested.
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