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News: Virgin extends Tel Aviv closure, BA resumes Gatwick-Jersey, Heathrow Express sale

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News in brief:

Virgin Atlantic extends Tel Aviv flight suspension

Last week we covered the news that British Airways would resume flights to Tel Aviv on 1st April.

It will be a skeleton service with just four flights per week, outbound flights stopping in Larnaca for 45 minutes for a crew change and the aircraft swapped for a short haul plane.

This looked like a gift for Virgin Atlantic, which was due to resume flights in April using a long haul aircraft. However, the airline confirmed yesterday that flights to Tel Aviv will remain suspended until at least 5th September.

Virgin Atlantic extends Tel Aviv flight suspension

British Airways resumes Gatwick to Jersey flights

British Airways is resuming flights from Gatwick to Jersey.

I believe flights from Gatwick to Jersey were last flown in 2022. They were pulled for 2023 but are now back for the Summer season.

The route will operate four times a week, on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. Flight times vary but are a mixture of morning and afternoon departures.

British Airways also operates flights from Heathrow which will be better for long haul connections, but this should be cheaper for those after a point-to-point option.

Heathrow Express discounts until Wednesday

As a reminder, the Piccadilly Line is closed until the end of Wednesday for engineering works.

To soften the blow, Heathrow Express has released an additional 2,000 discounted tickets for services during the same period.

The Heathrow Express is generally twice as fast as the Elizabeth Line, at 15 minutes from Paddington to Terminals 2 and 3. The price will be £15 one-way, closer to the Elizabeth Line fare of £12.80.

Early bird tickets should still be available for travel today or Wednesday, but must be booked in advance. They are available on the Heathrow Express website or via the app.

Comments (65)

  • dave says:

    I had a flight booked with VS for apr16 booked with points (under a points sale) on premium and virgin Atlantic kindly rebooked me on to LY premium.

  • Paul says:

    The HEX remains Britain’s most expensive train service. It’s an absolute rip off as is everything about LHR. When it opened it was more expensive per mile than flying Concorde!

    It is also outrageous that TFL are required to pay them for track access hence the £12:50 fare. Time to nationalise all railways without compensation and get people back onto the system

    • dougzz99 says:

      Yeah, trains were brilliant in ye olde days……

    • Rob says:

      Why is it outrageous for TfL to pay Heathrow for track and tunnels it paid for? (And indeed went well over budget due to the tunnel collapse.)

      • pigeon says:

        I’m surprised TfL got a bad deal. After all, they could just threaten to stop all services (Elizabeth, tube, bus) to Heathrow altogether and that would force the airport’s hand.

        • BA Flyer IHG Stayer says:

          HAL actually wanted more but lost a court case brough by the Office of Road and Rail Regulation who said the access fee should only cover the costs of day to day operations as the capital costs of the tunnels / other infrastructure had already been paid for.

      • Londonsteve says:

        Track access charges per se are understandable since HAL owns the tunnels and infrastructure TFL trains run over. The £5 per person charge is however not reasonable and feels like price gouging, bringing the cost of taking the Elizabeth Line closer to HEX, it’s also the same as the ‘drop off’ fee if someone is dropped on the terminal forecourt by private car or minicab, albeit that’s paid per vehicle and not per passenger. It feels like HAL wants another fiver from nearly everyone on top of the PSC, even from those doing the responsible thing and using public transport. It’s particularly egregious this fiver is also payable by users from nearby suburban stations, many of whom will be low paid airport staff. It’s almost £7 to go from Hayes & Harlington station on the Elizabeth Line due to this charge which is absurd for the short distance. HAL should be encouraging as many people as possible to access the airport with the high capacity and environmentally friendly EL trains, alleviating the load placed on buses and generating extra car traffic.

      • Novelty-Socks says:

        I mean, it’s hardly TfL’s fault it went over-budget.

        More sensibly(?) my suggestion would be to increase the fee for dropoff by car and use this to offset the train access fee. The impact of traffic around the airport is far higher than that of trains and anything to encourage people to use public transport has to be good.

    • JDB says:

      @Paul – yes, of course trains would be so much better if nationalised, well funded and efficiently run like British Rail was. Oh, and naturally the government would cut fares as well.

      • Londonsteve says:

        I don’t think most people would care what the ownership structure is as long as trains were punctual and affordable. The latter probably even more important than the former. Unfortunately, neither is true.

      • PhatGit says:

        @JDB to be fair the twice the east coast mainline has been taken back in to government ownership/operation the service has improved greatly

        • pigeon says:

          The same LNER that has abolished off peak fares between London and Edinburgh…

          (of course you can just book to Haymarket instead)

    • mark2 says:

      In 2004 the rails and signals were nationalised as Network Rail.

      • JDB says:

        Network Rail currently isn’t strictly speaking nationalised, it’s a not for profit company with no shareholders (not even the government), operating as a regulated monopoly, answerable to the DoT and funded by grants from the different UK governments, fees levied on TOCs as well as income they generate from their estate. The distinction matters in respect of keep their debt off the government books.

        • ken says:

          If it walks like a duck etc etc….

          Network Rail describe themselves as an arms length public sector body.

          All network rail debt is backed by a financial indemnity from the government.

          The debt has been on the government books for a decade according to ONS

    • Andrew says:

      The railways are effectively already nationalised. The track is publically owned as are several ToCs. The others almost all run under a franchise model where they run services based on a fixed revenue from government.

    • Andrew. says:

      It really isn’t Britain’s most expensive train service.

      Heathrow Express is £25 for a single journey that’s 24km or £1.04/km

      The Luton DART costs £4.90 single for a 2100 metre journey, so is £2.30/km

      North of the border, the state owned Scotrail will take £3.60 for the 1200 metre journey between Gyle and Edinburgh Gateway or £3.00/km.

      • AirMax says:

        what about the edinburgh tram between the airport and the next stop? about £5 per km?!

        • Andrew. says:

          It’s 900 metres from Ingliston P&R to EDI, and a single ticket is £7.50. I make that £8.30/km

          • Londonsteve says:

            Seeking to dissuade airport passengers using a P&R facility intending for Edinburgh commuters? Makes sense if that’s the case.

    • Dubious says:

      Nationalisation is a red-herring.
      To echo what others have said, the problems of the last decade have actually arisen due to government meddling.

      What the *transport system* needs is integrated planning – schedules, fares, information sharing – with other forms of public transport (inter-modality).

      • JDB says:

        @Dubious – yes, that’s the issue rather than ownership. The licence terms need to include terms, incentives and penalties to encourage integration of services and ticketing as well as inter-modality.

        • ken says:

          Some very nice Danish people were ‘fined’ £38 on a train from Manchester to Liverpool at the weekend.

          They had a ticket (of course they did, they were Danish) but it was a Northern Rail issued ticket rather than a Transpennine ticket (service from Liverpool to Manchester is largely identical on the stations they were travelling).

          They had bought their ticket at Oxford Road station at the counter.
          Certain fares limits you to one operator, an open return (scarcely more expensive at the weekend) doesn’t.

          How would you know as an overseas visitor ?
          They appeared to have done everything they could to get the right ticket.

          Felt a bit ashamed really.

          • Londonsteve says:

            Yes it’s madness. There’s an increasing tendency on the part of TOCs (via their website, mainly) to guide you towards buying an Advance fare that of course ties you to a particular train but an ‘off peak’ or ‘day return’ fare might be barely any more expensive yet offers a lot more flexibility. A foreign visitor has zero chance of understanding the complexities of the UK fares structure on first acquaintence, nor should they have to.

          • John says:

            It’s not much better in Denmark, the fare system outside the big city centers rivals Germany for complexity, or you can ‘fine’ yourself for more than £38 by buying the anonymous rejsekort and get charged random amounts not based in reality – and then you will find that Danish customer service people don’t actually all speak good English

        • Lady London says:

          I would have accosted the conductor and pleaded for them.

          This kind of thing is part of what makes Britain so nasty nowadays.

    • newbz says:

      The Air Train at JFK is now $8.25… Which makes me feel HEX is no longer that bad.

  • barry cutters says:

    HEX Is also avaliable for £5.50 ew if you book for the specific day you need a few months in advance

    • chistery says:

      Can you give an example date? They stopped the £5.50 fares months ago. £15 is the lowest now isn’t it?

    • Bernard says:

      Alas £5.50 fare has been killed off.
      Cheapest is now a very uncompetitive £16.50. And you have to pay around 3 months ahead so they have your money way ahead.

      Or take Elizabeth line that runs more often, and get every other TfL journey on the same card for the daily travel cap around £14-15. You pay on the day so no risk if your plans change.

      Heathrow Express is now just expensive, inflexible, less frequent (and thus effectively slower) and doesn’t resto anywhere useful apart from Paddington.

      • chistery says:

        £15, as advertised on their home page.

      • Londonsteve says:

        Strikes me as madness to do away with the early booker discounted fares. If anything, they should have expanded accessibility. This remained near enough the sole reason why most people might use the HEX and would have been a steady revenue stream for HAL to keep the service running in competition with TFL. Yes, it started nearly 30 years ago as a posh service for American businessmen on corporate accounts but it might still have a future as a fast but good value service to Paddington. There are still passengers that are happy to get to Paddington quickly, because they live around there, book hotels in the vicinity precisely because of quick access to LHR or are continuing their journey on a train from Paddington.

        • John says:

          Most people use the HEx because they don’t know any better and they think they should be taking taxis everywhere anyway

          • Londonsteve says:

            Agreed. But soon there will come a point when people wake up and realise it’s overpriced and inflexible. Maybe that’s when they’ll deluge us with cheap tickets to keep using it? For £5.50, I would contrive to take the tube and EL to Paddington and take the HEX from there.

  • SammyJ says:

    What fare is £12.80 each way on the Elizabeth Line? When we get the tube from LHR to Kings Cross it’s usually £5.60 each on contactless, and the Single Fare Finder on TfL website says the Elizabeth line should be the same?

    • chistery says:

      Says £13.30 for the Elizabeth line for me.

      From: Heathrow Terminal 5 Rail Station
      To: King’s Cross St. Pancras Underground Station

    • lumma says:

      Elizabeth line costs more as tfl have to pay for track access. However, it’s still subject to the daily cap, so can’t spend more than £14.90 per day even if you take the Elizabeth line

    • HampshireHog says:

      I’ve always used the Piccadilly line from Kings Cross to Heathrow till a recent closure and am now a convert to the Elizabeth line via Farringdon. Bizarrely the TFL journey planner wants me to walk from Farringdon to Barbican though which can obviously be ignored.

  • SG says:

    Is it possible that BA knew Virgin weren’t going to resume flights to TLV and this may partly explain their decision to downgrade the route to short haul (stopping one way in Larnaca)? It did look like a total gift to Virgin otherwise.

    • His Holyness says:

      It wouldn’t be the first time that BA knew what was going on at Virgin 🤣

    • GS says:

      Just realised BA regional connections onward to TLV will now be chargeable if short haul. Thats a big Avios dent for a family trip. Bummer!

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