Airline & Airport News.
Australia and China ‘Open Skies’ pact
Australia and China have recently signed an ‘Open Skies’ pact, removing all capacity restrictions on flights to Australia’s four major cities. Previously, flights to SYD, BNE, MEL and PER were limited to around 67000 seats per week. Business travellers will reap the benefits as early as January next year, from which seven airlines will offer flights to 14 Chinese cities from Sydney Airport alone.
Perth to London in only 17 hours?
Qantas has confirmed it will commence non-stop flights from Perth to London in 2018, making business travel between Australia and Europe a whole lot easier. Passengers can purchase Business, Premium Economy and Economy seats from April 2017, with the first services taking off in March 2018.
VA now offers international online check-In
VA has responded to the demands of business travel with online check-in now available for passengers on international Virgin Australia flights. Online check-in opens 24 hours before departure and remains open until 90 minutes before take-off. Passengers should keep in mind that this is only available for those departing directly on Virgin Australia flights, not on later connecting Virgin flights.
New Qantas lounge on the cards for Perth
With the introduction of Qantas’ Perth-London route commencing in 2018, the airline is looking at developing a brand new lounge for its eligible passengers. The new lounge would open at Perth Airport’s Terminal 3, which is undergoing upgrades to cater for the new international flight requirements such as immigration and quarantine. In 2025, Qantas will open an all-new Qantas pier at the international T1 terminal.
Virgin Australia and Air Canada codeshare partnership
Virgin Australia will partner with Air Canada on flights to Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal and Calgary from early 2017 under a new the ‘strategic cooperation agreement’ between the two airlines. The partnership has been split into two stages, the first stage covering only Air Canada’s flights from Los Angeles as connections with Virgin’s flights from Sydney and Brisbane to Los Angeles.
Virgin Australia changes airport lounge access in LAX
Effective 19 December, VA Velocity Platinum member will move from the Star Alliance First Class Lounge to the combined Etihad Airways First and Business Class Lounge prior to boarding their Virgin Australia flight. VA’s business class passengers will also move to the Etihad lounge from the Star Alliance Business lounge. Etihad’s facilities include a dedicated dining room with table service, a showcase bar, a TV lounge area, relaxation zones and shower facilities.
Qantas tests in-flight Wi-Fi
Qantas’ has installed its new in-flight Wi-Fi system in one of its Boeing 737- 800 aircrafts, which will operate for a few months without the Wi-Fi tech activated while the carrier runs tests. The Wi-Fi company, ViaSat, will complete a range of ground and in-flight tests of the service over coming weeks before QF rolls out the Wi-Fi across its fleet in early 2017.
Qantas revises tariffs between Australia and Singapore
Qantas has revised its tariffs for Economy and Business class, on routes between Australia and Singapore. The Q class fare has been reduced by $10 return on SYD-SIN, and will be introduced on ADL-SIN via SYD.
Virgin ‘Fly Ahead’ Discounted on Getaway Fares
From 1st December 2016 Velocity Gold and Platinum members can still switch to an earlier flight, provided they’ve booked an Elevate, Freedom, Business Saver or Business domestic fare. Selecting a domestic Getaway fare will not permit “Fly ahead” from your original flight, unless you pay a flight change fee and any fare difference, as you would for a regular flight change. Gold and Platinum travellers on the higher-priced Elevate, Freedom, Business Saver and Business domestic fares may continue to request a ‘Fly Ahead’, but as Virgin Australia notes, “fees may apply”:
SQ reduces Jakarta route due to runway maintenance
Runway maintenance at Jakarta’s Soekarno-Hatta International Airport has forced Singapore Airlines to reduce its operations to Jakarta by five weekly flights, effective 1 December 2016. The airline will instead operate 58 weekly services, and will accommodate affected passengers on other flights. The maintenance has also caused SQ to postpone its new Singapore-Jakarta-Sydney route, which was ready for launch on 23 November.
Singapore Airlines announces additional flights to Australia in 2017
Next year marks Singapore Airline’s 50th anniversary in Australia, and to celebrate the airline will be increasing flights to three major Australian cities. A fifth weekly service to Melbourne will commence from 17 July offering the brand new premium economy class, while Brisbane will see daily flights from 22 August 2017. As of 4 June 2017, flight SQ251/252 will increase to five times weekly to Sydney, and SQ231/222 will continue offering its four-class service from 18 June to 30 September 2017.
MU ramps up key routes over summer
This month, China Eastern Airlines will commence four weekly services from Shanghai to Brisbane, increasing to daily flights between January and February 2017. The increase of frequency comes in response to growing demand for flights between Australia and China, as 2017, the China-Australia Year of Tourism, approaches.
SQ adds new routes for A350
In mid-December, Singapore Airlines is expected to begin operation of its new A350-900 aircraft on selected flights from Singapore to Tokyo Haneda and Moscow.
Emirates welcomes arrival of A380s
The first of Emirates’ next generation Airbus A380s have been delivered, featuring higher ceilings and larger overhead cabin storage for Business class. The carrier is expecting seven of the new super jumbos to be delivered this financial year.
Delta’s bag tracker
Passengers on Delta flights will be able to track their luggage with Delta’s new bag tracking system. Those who have downloaded the Fly Delta app, will receive push notifications tracking their bag’s movements post flight.
Air Canada reopens Maple Leaf Lounge
Air Canada’s international Maple Leaf Lounge at Montreal-Trudeau airport has reopened, following renovations that started a year ago. The revamped lounge features a cyber work counter, live food station with a chef, and an exclusive private area for special guests.
British Airways’ $110m upgrade
A revamp of BA’s First and Business class lounges at JFK airport is on the cards as British Airways unveils its $110m investment plan. The investment plan seeks to improve the customer’s entire journey, beginning with upgrades to the check in process and airport security gates in US airports.
China Eastern opens reservations for XIY-SYD
China Eastern Airlines has opened reservations for its new Xi’an-Wuhan-Sydney route, which will take to the skies from 18 January 2017. The new service will operate thrice-weekly on an Airbus A330-200.
QF Frequent Flyer bonus
Qantas is offering five Qantas Frequent Flyer points per dollar spent on gift vouchers purchased before 31 December. Vouchers between $50 – $2000 can be bought online, with a customised personal message included. Quadruple points are on offer for purchases of activities until the end of the month.
QR Privilege goes digital
Members of Qatar Airways’ Privilege Club can now access their loyalty card in digital form, via the QR mobile app, website or Apple wallet.
Canada reinforces eTA for travel
Those travelling to Canada must now have an electronic Travel Authorisation (eTA) before entering the country. Applications for eTAs are made online for a fee of CA$7. Responses are received within minutes, meaning last minute applications can be made from devices with an internet connection, even at the airport.
Currency alert in India
Following India’s demonetisation reforms introduced in late November, travellers are advised to carry cash and consider using an electronic currency card. The new reform seeks to reduce corruption in the country by devaluing existing 500INR and 1000INR notes.
Quest opens five new hotels
Yesterday, Quest Apartment Hotels welcomed the last of the five new hotels that opened their doors during the last month. The new additions are the Quest Port Adelaide (SA), Quest Griffith (NSW), Quest Dandenong Central (Vic), Quest Fremantle (WA) and Quest Macquarie Park (NSW). In total, the new properties added 500 rooms to the Quest network.
Perth welcomes its first Pepper’s hotel
The Mantra Group has expanded its Pepper’s brand to WA, with its first property opening in Perth’s Shafto Lane entertainment precinct. Peppers King Square Hotel boasts 120 rooms, an a la carte restaurant, lounge facilities and valet parking.
Mantra expands AU/NZ hotel network
Mantra will introduce five new hotels across Australia and New Zealand at locations including Melbourne, Perth, Airlie Beach, Port Macquarie and Queenstown. The new properties will add a total of 900 new rooms to its network, adding to the record 3000 rooms that recently opened in FY2016.