Airline & Airport News.
VA to enhance Australian business travel
Virgin Australia’s domestic routes may soon boast a brand-new business class offering, with the airline hinting the product launch will happen before the end of the year. The slim new business class seats are expected to be dedicated to domestic services between Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth.
QF to roll-out full Wi-Fi service from September
Qantas has announced that its in-flight Wi-Fi service will officially launch in September this year, promising faster speeds and improved reliability compared to its trial service currently on offer. The full service will remain completely free for passengers, offering download speeds of 12Mbps, faster than most home ADSL connections. Qantas is planning to roll-out the service across ten domestic aircraft in time for the September launch.
VA considers flights to Hong Kong
Following the recent launch of its direct Melbourne – Hong Kong service, Virgin Australia has revealed plans to further expand into Asia by the end of the year. The carrier has applied for 21 new slots in Hong Kong, with Brisbane and Sydney tipped to be the next in line.
QF extends Extra Legroom offering
Qantas has extended its Extra Legroom pre-paid seating product to customers travelling on all Qantas domestic B737 and A330 flights, with international short-haul flights to follow shortly. Prices for extra legroom seats start at $20 for short-haul flights and $60 for east-west coast domestic flights.
VA MEL – HKG passengers exclusive access to lounges
Business class passengers and top-tier frequent flyers flying on Virgin Australia’s new direct flights between Melbourne and Hong Kong can wait for their flights in comfort, with access to luxury lounges at both sides of their journey. Business and First Class passengers, Velocity Platinum and Gold cardholders can start and end their journey in style with access to Etihad Airways’ lounge at Melbourne Airport and Hong Kong Airlines’ Club Bauhinia lounge at HKG.
VA passengers can now earn Velocity Points on four Chinese carriers
Under the new frequent flyer agreement between Virgin Australia’s Velocity Frequent Flyer and Fortune Wings Club, VA passengers can now earn Velocity Points and Status Credits on flights operated by four Chinese carriers. The agreement covers all Hong Kong Airlines’ (excluding routes to and from North America), Hainan Airlines’, Capital Airlines’ and Tianjin Airlines’ services between Australia, New Zealand and Greater China. In phase two of the agreement to be finalised in coming weeks, top-tier members will enjoy lounge access, priority check-in, priority boarding and additional baggage.
QF health project to enhance the traveller experience
Combatting jetlag, onboard exercise and transit-lounge wellness are three concepts that are forming part of Qantas’ new health project aimed at improving the passenger experience ahead of the long-haul Dreamliner flights launching later this year. QF has engaged researchers from the University of Sydney who are experts in a variety of fields including nutrition, physical activity and sleep. The project hopes to uncover extraordinary health, science and engineering discoveries and innovations in the airline space.
VA boosts domestic services
Virgin Australia will increase its Sydney–Hobart services from 14 weekly to 16 weekly services with additional flights on Friday and Sunday. In addition, a weekly return service between Brisbane and Launceston will commence on 23 September 2017, running through until late March 2018.
Australia cuts Outgoing Passenger Cards
As of 1st July 2017, outbound travellers from Australia no longer need to complete an Outgoing Passenger Card upon departure. This new paperless measure aims to facilitate a more seamless and automated traveller experience, removing unnecessary manual entries with all passenger information electronically stored within the Advance Passenger Information System. The phase out of the Incoming Passenger Card is set to follow, with the Government focused on automated border clearance processes and technologies to manage the 50 million travellers annually by 2020.
New business rewards scheme for Singapore Airlines
Businesses with up to 30 travellers can earn points for every dollar spent on their traveller’s tickets, with Singapore Airlines’ new HighFlyer rewards scheme. HighFlyer points are awarded across all seat classes, as long as the traveller has also linked their personal KrisFlyer membership number to the reservation. The points earned are in addition to the traveller’s personal KrisFlyer miles accrued, and cannot be converted into KrisFlyer miles. For more information on how your business can implement Singapore Airlines’ new HighFlyer rewards scheme into your corporate travel program, contact your dedicated CTM consultant.
CX ups HKG – ADL service
Cathay Pacific has recommenced its fifth weekly service from Hong Kong to Adelaide, which was originally a four-times-weekly service. Airbus A330s will operate the route, offering more Business Class and Premium Economy Seating.
Upgrades to Hong Kong International
Authorities at Hong Kong International Airport have announced plans to upgrade passenger services over the coming months. A new ‘HKG MyFlight App’ will enable passengers to check parking availability, book long-term parking spaces, pay parking fees and access real-time information about traffic conditions at the airport. Free shower facilities and an additional 900 charging points for electronic devices will also be introduced as part of the airport upgrades.
EK introduces new technology at Dubai Int’l Airport
Emirates has introduced a new Smart Wallet system at Dubai International Airport, eliminating the need for travellers to present their passports for arrivals, check-in or departures. The Smart Wallet comes in the form of an app, which travellers can download onto their smartphones. The app integrates information such as the traveller’s personal data, EK ID, passport information and e-gate card data. This world-first technology hopes to enable efficient passenger movements at the airport, reducing departure clearance time to approximately 9-12 seconds per passenger. Furthermore, EK is looking to build biometric technology into the Smart Wallet, allowing travellers to check in to the airline’s First and Business Class lounges through an automated facial recognition process.
Two new destinations get QR’s Qsuite business class
Paris and New York have been confirmed as the next destinations to experience Qatar Airway’s latest Qsuite business class seating. The Doha-Paris and Doha-New York flights will soon offer 42 Qsuites, which will be fitted into the carrier’s Boeing 777 aircraft at the rate of one plane per month. The suites feature sliding doors for privacy and middle seats that can convert into a ‘quad’ of four facing seats for in-flight meetings.
Changes to EY chauffeur service
Etihad Airways has revised its chauffeur policy and will no longer offer free chauffeur services to business class and first class travellers at international destinations. Instead, the new policy offers the services for a small fee to all passenger classes but does not affect any tickets issued before 3 July. Passengers travelling in Etihad’s premium The Residence cabins on A380 services will still receive the free chauffeur service as well as passengers arriving/departing the carrier’s home base, Abu Dhabi.
Beijing’s mega-airport to enable seamless flight connections
Set to open in 2019, Beijing’s new mega-airport will soon become the world’s largest aviation hub, accommodating around 100 million passengers a year with up to seven runways. Business travellers will benefit from seamless flight connections, with the new airport designated as a hub for Sky Alliance members, bringing together China’s three biggest players, Air China, China Eastern and China Southern.
Tighter security measures for US flights
Passengers flying to the USA can expect tougher security checks for laptops, tablets and other portable devices before boarding their flights. New measures introduced by the US Department of Homeland Security have been enforced globally, with overall laptop bans threatened for airlines that do not comply. The tighter security standards aim to raise the global baseline of aviation security and reduce threats to passengers’ safety.
US Laptop ban lifted for EY, EK & QR flights from home airports
Three carriers have recently announced that the US laptop ban has been lifted on flights departing their base airports. Passengers flying with Etihad Airways, Emirates and Qatar Airways can now travel with laptops and other electronic devices as carry-on items, when flying from Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Doha respectively. As a condition of the exemption, passengers will need to undergo enhanced immigration and customs inspections prior to boarding, instead of after arrival.
UA introduces new routes for Premium Business Class
United Airlines will offer its Polaris Premium Business Class seating on its newly-established long haul routes, which are operated by the Boeing 777-300ERs. The routes include San Francisco – Beijing and San Francisco – Frankfurt which will commence on 5 October 2017, and Newark – Narita on 28 October 2017. The Boeing 777-300ER will feature 60 Polaris seats in a 1-2-1 configuration with direct aisle access from all seats and 102 Economy Plus seats.
AUH-LHR an all-A380 operation
Etihad has confirmed its Abu Dhabi-London Heathrow services will become an all-A380 operation from 12 July 2017, meaning business class travellers will fly comfortably in the airline’s famous Business Studio seating. Earlier this month, Etihad moved its New York flights to an all-superjumbo operation, while flights to Sydney to be the carrier’s third all-A380 route from October 2017.
Quest Newcastle West opens its door
Quest Apartment Hotels’ latest hotel in West Newcastle officially opened its doors on 3 July 2017. Complementing its CBD-based apartment, Quest Newcastle, the Quest Newcastle West features 78 guestrooms in various room types, including studio and one- to three-bedroom serviced apartments. The hotel also provides complimentary Wi-Fi, on-site parking and a conference room to cater for business travellers.
Melbourne to get new Adina Apartment Hotel
Melbourne will soon welcome a new 220-apartment hotel to its property market, with Adina Apartment Hotel Melbourne Southbank to begin construction in late 2017. Set to open in 2019, the property will be located at 55 Southbank Boulevard, with the property’s developers adding ten new stories to the existing six-storey office structure.
IHG expands portfolio in NSW
One of NSW’s most popular conference facilities, the Sebel Resort & Spa Hawkesbury Valley, has joined the InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) portfolio, officially rebranding to Crowne Plaza Hawkesbury Valley. The 105-room property sits just over an hour’s drive from Sydney at the foot of the Blue Mountains and features eight formal and five informal meeting rooms.
Mantra Group introduces new Masterbrand
Mantra Group has consolidated its 128 hotels across Australia, New Zealand, Bali and Hawaii into a new Masterbrand, Mantra Hotels. Representing the Group’s three brands, Peppers, Mantra and Breakfree, Mantra Hotels has launched an all-inclusive website to showcase the company’s full portfolio and suite of experiences. While each brand will still operate their standalone sites, MantraHotels.com conveniently provides curious connected travellers with the experiences they seek in one location and is reflective of the company’s ongoing expansion strategy into new international markets.
New art inspired hotel for Melbourne
Art Series Hotel Group will introduce their eighth art inspired hotel ‘The Chen’ to Melbourne’s Box Hill in November 2017. Inspired by Chinese Australian artist Zhong Chen, the hotel will feature Chen’s famous ‘Rooster’ artwork given the hotel will open in the year of the Rooster (2017). The property has 100 rooms across five stories, a rooftop pool, car park and the area’s best Yum Cha available on the spot.
Dubai welcomes new Sofitel hotel
Officially opening its doors in 2019, the Sofitel Dubai Wafi Hotel is set to become an iconic landmark in Dubai’s famous skyline. As the largest Sofitel in the Middle East, the hotel will feature 501 rooms with 86 suites and 97 serviced extended-stay residences. The structure consists of a day spa, in-house gym, and 10 meeting rooms to cater for business travellers from all over the world. The property is located within a convenient distance to The Dubai International Financial Centre, Healthcare City and the city’s International Conference and Exhibition Centre.
IHG to launch new midscale hotel brand
InterContinental Hotels Group is considering adding a new midscale hotel brand to the group. Initial features announced include a built-in work space, mobile check-in and check-out services, to cater for the business travellers. Further details of the new brand will be revealed later this year, followed by the constructional work of the brand’s first hotel in early 2018 and opening in 2019.