Airline & Airport News.
QF to upgrade A380 business class
Commencing in 2019, Qantas’ Airbus A380 fleet will undergo a refurbishment, meaning all 12 aircraft will be fitted with the airline’s latest Business Suite product. The refurb will also include a larger lounge area for Business and First Class passengers on the upper deck, while more cabin space will be dedicated to Premium Economy seating.
VA goes daily to Hong Kong
Virgin Australia’s current five-times-weekly service from Melbourne to Hong Kong will move to a daily operation from 12 November 2017. The two extra services will operate on Friday and Sunday departing at midday. VA has announced it will deploy one of its Airbus A330s on the route.
Qantas and Emirates to renew alliance
A proposal has been put forward by Qantas and Emirates to extend their partnership for another five years, with both airlines making changes to their offering to deliver more benefits to passengers. The changes proposed include introducing new aircraft technology and larger capacity on popular routes such as the fast-growing Asian market. Qantas earlier announced that it will upgrade its Melbourne-Singapore flights from an A330 to an A380, and adjust its Sydney-London route by flying via Singapore rather than Dubai. This will mean Australian passengers now have three flight options to Europe, via Dubai, Perth and Singapore. READ MORE.
VA Wi-Fi launch confirmed
Virgin Australia has announced the roll-out of in-flight Wi-Fi across the majority of their domestic and international aircraft. Wi-Fi is currently being rolled out on VA’s Boeing 737 aircraft, with Boeing 777 aircraft to commence in October 2017.
Changes to Qantas route to London
Qantas has announced it will change its current Sydney-London flights to fly via Singapore rather than Dubai, as part of a new five-year renewal of its alliance with Emirates. The switch is to come into effect from 25 March 2018. The change will mean Australian passengers are provided with three options to Europe, via Dubai, Perth or Singapore.
VA’s Wi-Fi to extend to international flights
Following the roll-out of Virgin Australia’s domestic in-flight Wi-Fi service later this year, the carrier has announced plans to extend its Wi-Fi offering to select USA, Hong Kong and China routes. The expansion is said to include the airline’s Boeing 777 and Airbus A330 aircraft. VA’s Boeing 737 fleet is currently being fitted with the service, which mainly operates domestic and trans-Tasman routes.
Qantas plans direct flights to New York
Non-stop flights between Australia’s east coast and London and New York are on the cards for Qantas by 2022, with the carrier challenging Boeing and Airbus to deliver a product capable of the distance. The flights would depart Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne with the SYD-LHR expected to take just over 20 hours, while SYD-JFK would take merely 18 hours.
VA passengers access to brand new lounge at HKG
Virgin Australia’s business class passengers and top tier Velocity members can enjoy a brand-new lounge experience at Hong Kong International Airport, thanks to VA’s alliance with Hong Kong Airlines. HKA’s Club Autus officially opened its doors last week offering a Premier and business zone, with capacity for 225 guests. The lounge includes shower facilities, work areas and a 20m buffet of local and international dishes.
Refurbs to QF MEL lounge
Melbourne Airport’s domestic Qantas Club and Business lounges will undergo a refurbishment over the next 12 months, with plans to increase lounge capacity. Qantas has announced that both facilities will remain open during the process. The newly renovated lounge is expected to be completed by mid-2018, 10 years since its first opening.
Further upgrades to QF’s 717 fleet
Further refurbishments to QantasLink’s Boeing 717 fleet will see an additional two aircraft reconfigured with a business class cabin and in-flight entertainment for passengers. There will now be a total of 12 reconfigured aircraft (out of 20), with one of the revamped jets to operate Brisbane to Adelaide and Cairns routes. Furthermore, QantasLink will redeploy a Boeing 737 to operate routes with increased demand, such as MEL-SYD and PER-ADL.
QantasLink bumps up SYD & MEL to HBA
QantasLink has announced plans to increase capacity on flights between Hobart and Sydney & Melbourne during the peak holiday season. Larger Boeing 737s will replace the current Boeing 717s on the route from 16 December 2017 to 24 March 2018, adding almost 5,400 seats to the thrice-weekly service. The increased capacity comes as response to a boom in Tasmanian tourism.
SQ to reveal all-new A380 Business Class
Singapore Airlines will reveal its latest business and first class products on 2 November 2017, ahead of the delivery of the airline’s newest Airbus A380s. The newly configured A380s will see first class relocated to the upper deck, with an extended business class area positioned behind and stretching all the way to the end of the upper ‘premium’ deck. Select top-tier KrisFlyers have already experienced the new design in a bid to fine-tune the more practical aspects of the seats. Sydney and London have been tipped as likely launch routes for the new Airbus A380s.
SQ to upgrade BNE services
Brisbane business travellers will soon have the chance to experience Singapore Airlines’ new generation Business class seating, with the new Airbus A350-900 aircraft to be deployed on the Brisbane route from 16 October 2017. Flights SQ235/256 will be the first to adopt the new aircraft, followed by SQ245/246 in December 2017 and SQ255/236 in January 2018. The A350 also features SQ’s new generation Premium Economy and Economy class.
Introducing new preferred seating options for EY and EK
Emirates and Etihad Airways have both introduced new seating options for Economy Class passengers. ‘Preferred Seats’ are offered at a fixed fee for passengers who prefer to be seated at the front of the aircraft for a faster disembarkation, or at the back of the aircraft for more privacy in smaller cabin sections. Emirates has also introduced twin seating options for window and aisle only seats and extra legroom seats positioned in exit row aisles. Etihad Airways also offers these added-value Economy class options. READ MORE.
Sydney-Houston with UA
United Airlines will commence direct flights between Sydney and Houston from 20 January 2018. The flights will operate on a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner with 48 lie-flat business class seats, and take around 15 hours 45 minutes to reach Houston.
BA’s Premium transfer for business travellers
Business travellers at London Heathrow can stress less when it comes to connecting flights, with a new Premium Transfer Drive service offered by British Airways. The airside car transfer service is offered to BA’s business and first class passengers who are at risk of missing their connecting flights. Passengers will be informed by a cabin crew member if a car is waiting for them, to alleviate stress at the airport.
UA upgrades business class experience
Polaris business class is United Airlines most significant product transformation in more than a decade featuring a reimagined, sleep-enhancing, departure-to-landing experience for international travellers. United Polaris features the new inflight food and beverage experience, new custom bedding from Saks Fifth Avenue, new amenity kits and new Polaris lounges. The new Polaris business class lounges will provide an oasis to relax and even enjoy a full preflight meal so customers have more time to sleep on board. Lounges also offer shower facilities featuring Cowshed products and private day beds for resting.
Preselect dining for Qatar business passengers
Qatar Airways has launched a pre-select dining service for First and Business class passengers, allowing them to choose one main from the a la carte on-board menu. The service is available to passengers 14 days prior to departure and closes 24 hours before take-off. Pre-select dining will be introduced on select QR flights to Australia, New Zealand, Europe, North and South Americas.
UberX for MEL
UberX services are now available for travellers at Melbourne Airport, with designated waiting zones in Lane 1 (for T1, T2 and T3) and on Level 2 for T4. UberX is the most affordable Uber product and offers 4 passengers seats.
Events in the sky
If you’re looking for a unique venue for your upcoming conference, you may want to consider one in the sky, thanks to a new offering by Lufthansa. FlyingLab is a new on-board events concept that has been introduced by the airline as a pilot project. It has been designed to operate on commercial flights with large groups of delegates on board, and even involves a pre-conference program ahead of the main event. There is a special Wi-Fi network to stream presentations on-board and a system to allow viewers to ask questions in real-time. Although still a trial service, the airline hopes to expand the product into a commercial offering for event planners.
DXB offers free movie streaming service
Dubai Airport has recently signed a deal with content provider, ICFLIX, to allow passengers access to free movies and TV shows while they wait for flights. Movies can be streamed to laptops and smartphones using DXB’s free wi-fi service. The movies will remain free during the two-month trial period, after which the companies will reassess their options for future services.
New luxury hotels for Accor
AccorHotels will expand its luxury hotel offering with six upscale properties to open over the next six months. The new properties include Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour, Pullman Brisbane Airport, Sofitel Wellington (re-launch), Sofitel Kuala Lumpur Damansara in Malaysia, Sofitel Singapore City Centre and Pullman Shenyang Ginza in China.
Adelaide Convention Centre grand opening
The newly redeveloped Adelaide Convention Centre has officially opened, after several years and $397 million worth of construction. A brand new East Building has been constructed as part of the redevelopment, with a 3,000m2 Plenary Hall that can accommodate up to 3,500 guests. The centre will welcome its first event in September with the International Astronautical Congress.
Mudgee’s famous Parklands Resorts and Conference Centre will be rebranded as Mercure Mudgee in 2018, after recently being signed by AccorHotels. The venue is renowned for its conferencing facilities, which include five event spaces with capacity for up to 1,200 delegates, 68 guest rooms, restaurant and bar. The hotel will undergo a renovation to bring it in-line with the Mercure brand standards, and will provide the regional NSW market with an internationally recognised midscale hotel offering.
The Crowne Plaza Adelaide will officially rebrand to Pullman Adelaide from 1 October 2017, as AccorHotels takes over the property’s management. The addition of the 308-room hotel to Accor’s portfolio will make Pullman the largest five-star brand in the country. An Executive Club Lounge will be added to the property to bring it in line with Pullman brand standard.
Quest Notting Hill under construction
Quest’s newest hotel in Notting Hill, Melbourne, is now under construction. Located within the Ferntree Business Park, the property is expected to open in 2019 offering 100 studios, one- and two-bedroom units. Other facilities include conference rooms, a business lounge, gymnasium and an outdoor terrace.