Airline & Airport News.
Trans-Tasman in-flight Wi-Fi by March 2018
Passengers flying with Virgin Australia between Australia and New Zealand will be able to access in-flight Wi-Fi from as early as March 2018. The airline recently announced a variety of short-haul international connections, including trans-Tasman flights, to be fitted from the end of March, with the entire Boeing 737 fleet to be completed by the end of September 2018. This news follows VA’s previous announcement that flights from SYD, MEL, and BNE to LAX will come online from December 2017.
Qantas opens London Heathrow lounge
Qantas has opened its premium business lounge at London Heathrow Airport, the first dedicated QF lounge at the London megahub. The lounge has been designed to accommodate up to 250 travellers flying in first and business class, Qantas Platinum One, Platinum and Gold Qantas elite frequent fliers and their guests. Key features include innovative spaces spread across two levels, six shower suites, dedicated work zone with wireless printing, à la carte menu and self-serve buffet, and two private rooms for VIP guests. The lounge opening comes ahead of the non-stop Perth-London flights to launch in March 2018.
VA’s multi-million dollar MEL T3 revamp
Virgin Australia has announced a multi-million-dollar revamp of its domestic terminal T3 at Melbourne Airport to start construction in 2018. The refurbishment will include automated bag-drop facilities, enhanced self-service kiosks, a kerbside Premium Entry and two additional baggage carousels. The project aims to facilitate a more streamlined airport experience for business and leisure travellers and is expected to reach completion by mid-2019.
Qantas continues roll-out of in-flight Wi-Fi
The race for connectivity continues, with 15 of Qantas’ Boeing 737-800 jets now fitted out with the in-flight Wi-Fi service. The airline has announced it will soon be moving to its second-generation ‘Gen2’ technology product which will deliver speeds up to 10 times faster than conventional onboard Wi-Fi. QF’s domestic A330s will also be fitted from early 2018, meaning the entire Boeing 737 and Airbus A330 fleet is expected to be online by the end of 2018.
Virgin ‘Grab & Go’ breakfast
Virgin Australia will offer ‘Grab & Go’ meals at its Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane lounges, giving customer quick access to breakfast that they can bring on board their flight. The selection will include takeaway espresso coffee, plus breakfast items such as muffins and fruit.
Qantas axes in-flight duty-free
Qantas will no longer serve their in-flight duty-free shopping service with sales steadily declining over the past decade.
Virgin Australia charging for in-flight WI-FI
At the end of December 2017, Virgin will complete its free trial of in-flight Wi-Fi. The airline will introduce a two-tier service of standard or high-speed services. The charges are yet to be released.
Qantas marks 70 years of London flights
This year marks 70 years Qantas’ Sydney to London service, with the first ever flight taking almost 4 days including 7 stops. The flight consisted of 29 passengers and 900 kg of food for post-war Britain. The single hop service from Perth to London, launching in March 2018 is also another milestone for Qantas as it will be the first time both continents have been directly linked by air.
Australia no longer issuing larger ‘Frequent Traveller’ passports
Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has phased out the 66-page ‘Frequent Traveller’ passport as of 1 December 2017, restricting new passport issues to the 34-page standard passport.
Air New Zealand opens Perth lounge
Air New Zealand has opened its brand-new business class lounge at Perth Airport on Tuesday 5 December, the fourth addition to the airline’s Australian lounge network. The lounge features a similar design to the Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne lounges, with self-serve drinks and buffet dining.
MEL check-in technology
Melbourne Airport is quickening up the check-in process with new never seen before technology in an Australian airport. Two new check-in zones with “hybrid desks” will be launched in the lead up to Christmas. The desk will allow airlines to switch between self-service bag drop or traditional counters. The new technology will see a reduction in staffing costs. The first airline carrier to utilise this technology will be United Airlines, for its Melbourne to Los Angles route.
Sydney Airport Facebook Messenger updates
Sydney Airport has introduced a new flight update system, using Facebook Messenger. Passengers can access flight updates from the ‘flySYD’ Facebook page, by sending a private message to the airport bot.
MEL welcomes first direct service to Zhengzhou
Melbourne Tullamarine Airport has welcomed a new direct service to Zhengzhou in Central China, providing more options for business and leisure travellers alike. The twice-weekly Jetstar service will add 70,000 seats to China and Australia every year.
Western Sydney Airport forecasts 5 million by 2030
Growth forecasts for the planned Western Sydney Airport show annual passenger traffic of up to 5 million by the early 2030s. Proposed designs for the new airport mirror the recently-opened Adelaide and Canberra airports, and demonstrate capacity for up to 10 million passengers per year.
ADL free electric vehicle charging
Adelaide Airport has installed four electric vehicle charging stations as part of a new green initiative. The stations will be offered to the public for free for the first 12 months, during which time the airport will assess demand and consider installing further units.
Essendon Airport upgrades
Melbourne’s Essendon Airport is gearing up for a $3 million revamp of its terminal building. To boost its appeal as a regional travel hub it will be renamed Essendon Fields Airport. The refurbishment will include new check-in and passenger screening facilities, a cafe and eight commercial tenancies. The works follow an $8 million main runway overlay and $12 million invested in new hangars.
Cathay Pacific launches self-check in at London Gatwick
Cathay Pacific has launched self-check in and bag drop kiosks at Gatwick Airport’s South Terminal. The system provides a stress-free, quick check-in for customers. This is the first airport where the Cathay Pacific technology has been implemented. With the kiosks, the whole check-in and bag-drop process takes under 10 minutes.
CA Beijing-Brisbane start
Air China has commenced its newest international route to Australia with the debut of nonstop flights between Beijing and Brisbane taking off earlier in the week. The route operates four-times-weekly on a 237-seat dual-class Airbus A330-200. The new city pairing comes as Brisbane welcomed a 9% growth increase in traffic in financial year 2017.
New look for Adina
Adina Apartment Hotel Melbourne has revealed a stylish new look featuring 11 penthouse apartments, a renovated roof-top pool and a brand-new makeover for all of its 155 apartments. Aiming for a modern international aesthetic throughout, the new penthouses go for a New York loft-style look. The refurbishment of the Adina Apartment Hotel Melbourne is part of owner TFE Hotels’ expansion in the city, with four new properties planned.
Mantra to debut new Melbourne property
A new Mantra Hotel is in the works for Melbourne’s Southbank, expected to open in March 2018. The 46-storey hotel will offer 469 guest rooms and is located within walking distance to the CBD, Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre and Crown Casino.
IHG has announced a 20-year agreement with Franzr Developments to open and operate Holiday Inn and Suites Geelong, the largest hotel in the city. Opening in 2020, the 190-room property will be the city’s first new hotel in more than 20 years. The site will be a mixed-use development that will include 10,000m2 of retail and office space, 24 residences, a co-working space and the Holiday Inn property. The hotel will boast an all-day restaurant and bar, swimming pool, gym, parking and a 300m2 of meeting facilities including a function room for 250 people.
Novotel & Mercure Singapore on Stevens
AccorHotels has officially opened its newest addition, Novotel & Mercure Singapore on Stevens, an integrated lifestyle hub on Singapore’s Orchard Road. The joint hotel is equipped with 9 meeting rooms and ballrooms, 13 dining outlets, two 35-metre infinity pools and a tennis court. The Novotel offers 254 rooms spread across seven levels, while the Mercure offers 518 Superior, Deluxe, Privilege and Suite Rooms.
Crowne Plaza for Fiji
The InterContinental Hotels Group is expanding its Crowne Plaza brand to Fiji. Opening in 2020, the 453-room resort will become the largest hotel in Fiji. The resort will boast ocean views and direct beach access in a location about 10 minutes’ drive from Nadi International Airport. It will also feature five restaurants, two pools, a kids’ club and a conference centre.
Avis boosts SIN
Avis has expanded its presence at Singapore’s Changi Airport, with the car rental operator having kicked off operations at the brand-new Terminal 4. A T4 rental counter offers both Avis and Budget vehicles, making the company the only car rental operator to have a presence at all four of Changi’s terminals.