Airline & Airport News.
New QF Business Lounge for Sydney International
Qantas will begin construction on its Sydney International Business Class lounge in the third quarter of this year. The multi-million-dollar upgrade will increase lounge capacity by 30%, and include an all-new dining experience from resident chef Neil Perry. Led by David Caon, developer of the Qantas Dreamliner cabins and International Transit Lounge in Perth, the lounge will be designed to provide ‘ample space, privacy and ambiance’, in line with feedback from Qantas customers. The lounge will be completed in stages to allow ongoing lounge access, targeting completion at the end of 2019.
Virgin to expand its US reach
A request to expand Virgin Australia and Air Canada’s codeshare partnership is awaiting approval from authorities, with plans to offer more options for passengers flying between Australia and the United States. The VA code is already featured on Air Canada’s flights between Toronto, Calgary and Montreal from LAX, but hopes to include even more North American routes that connect with VA’s services into Los Angeles.
Qatar plans new Qsuite product
Qatar Airways has announced that it is shifting its focus to the next generation of its business class Qsuite product. The updated product will be designed for the airline’s A380 superjumbos and world-first Boeing 777X jets due in 2020. Fitted in a 1-2-1 configuration, the new Qsuites will be at least 22% lighter than the current seats.
Qantas introduces new in-flight menu
Qantas has unveiled the menu for its 787 Dreamliner Perth-London Heathrow service. The menu is designed to specifically reduce jetlag and increase hydration. The menu includes probiotic infused Botanica cold pressed juice shots, an herbal tea developed to encourage relaxation and dishes which feature ingredients that promote hydration such as green leafy vegetables, cucumber, strawberries and celery. The new menu will be on offer from 24 March 2018.
VA granted extra capacity to Pacific Islands
The International Air Services Commission (IASC) has granted Virgin Australia additional capacity to Fiji and the Cook Islands for five years. The carrier was offered an extra 156 weekly seats in each direction to the Cook Islands and an extra 242 seats to Fiji. New services are expected to commence operation in June or July 2018, on a Boeing 737.
SYD-HKG for Virgin
Virgin Australia’s new Sydney-Hong Kong service now has secured spots at Hong Kong airport. The new service is set to launch mid-2018. The service will now not only link China but will also connect Virgin Atlantic’s flights to London.
Emirates ditches middle seat in new Boeing 777 business class
Emirates has debuted a newly designed Boeing 777 business class cabin, removing the middle seat to make space for wider business class seats. All ten of the Boeing 777-200LR jets will switch to a 2-2-2 layout as a part of an update which will also remove the first-class, the revamp also includes a new ‘mini lounge’ with a self-serve bar with snacks. The central overheads have also been removed which will limit carry-on space.
Qantas to launch Pilot Academy
With estimates showing that 640,000 additional pilots will be required world-wide over the next 20 years, Qantas is taking a proactive approach by establishing a pilot academy in 2019. The academy will initially accept 100 pilots a year, with hope to grow to 500 pilots a year. One of the major initiatives of the new facility will be working towards a more balanced gender ratio, with males currently taking up 97% of the professional globally.
Qantas to delay Airbus A330 Wi-Fi
Qantas has announced that it will push back the installation of inflight Wi-Fi on its domestic Airbus A330 fleet until 2019. QF initially pegged the fast and free satellite-based Wi-Fi service to be in the air from early 2017, which was then pushed back to early 2018.
Qantas brings back first-class Sydney-Singapore
Qantas will be re-introducing first class seating between Sydney and Singapore in the lead up to Singapore replacing Dubai as a stopover for its QF1 Airbus 380 flight to London. The change will take place on 25 March, the day after the launch of Boeing 787 Dreamliner non-stop Perth-London.
Cathay Pacific ‘The Deck’ to open this month
Cathay Pacific’s new lounge, The Desk is set to open 22 March 2018. The new lounge is located near Gate 16 in Terminal 1 of the Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) and has been designed in line with their signature lounge style. The space will allow travellers to enjoy signature dan-dan noodles, drinks and a view from The Terrace and a relaxing and refreshing space for pre-flight prep.
Virgin’s Melbourne-Hong Kong schedule change
The midyear launch of Virgin’s Sydney-Hong Kong service will see the Melbourne-Hong Kong service cut back. The service will be cut back from daily to just 5 flights a week with no flight on Wednesday or Friday.
Air Niugini to add Boeing 737 equipment on some Port Moresby-Cairns frequencies
Air Niugini has announced it will upgrade Port Moresby-Cairns equipment from Fokker 70 or Fokker 100 equipment to Boeing 737 equipment on three weekly frequencies. The carrier will also suspend two overnight services (operated Monday and Thursday), except for 29 March and 2 April.
Obama down under
Former US President Barack Obama is set to visit Australia and New Zealand in March to speak at an event held by the New Zealand-United States Council. The event will take place in Auckland on 22 March and Sydney on 23 March with Air New Zealand a major event supporter.
All-women Emirates crew
An Emirates crew made solely of women has completed a flight service from Dubai to San Francisco, made possible by over 75 women from more than 25 nationalities. Labelled the ‘Superwomen flight’, the world’s largest plane was piloted by Canadian captain Patricia Bischoff and British first officer Rebecca Lougheed. Along with the cockpit and crew being entirely female, all aspects involved were run by women from technicians and engineers to security officers. The special service ran in tribute to International Women’s Day.
Malaysia Airlines increase Adelaide-Kuala Lumpur flights
As of 5 July 2018, Malaysia Airlines will increase its ADL-KL service to five per week as it continues its Australian growth. It will depart KL at 10:20pm on Wednesdays and arrive at 7am the following morning which will then return on Thursdays to reach KL at 2:30pm that afternoon.
Australia’s largest trial of biometrics
Sydney Airport’s international terminal will be trialling a ‘passport free’ airport experience with Qantas. By the end of the year, passengers will be able to pass through the six steps of check in, bag drop, boarder processing, security screening, airport lounge and boarding gate after only showing their passport once. If the trial is successful it is expected to extend to other airlines quickly.
Brisbane Airport commissions 90m floor to ceiling artwork for refurbished international terminal
Brisbane Airport Corporation (BAC) has commissioned Queensland College of Art Master of Visual Art student Michael Phillips to create a 90m floor to ceiling artwork for the expansion of Brisbane Airport’s international terminal northern departures concourse. BAC received over 100 entries to design the artwork, with the winner receiving AUD20,000 (USD15,500). BAC will also cover the cost of the production of the artwork.
Perth Airport first destination for Boeing 787-10
Singapore Airlines has announced Perth Airport will be the first Australian destination for its new Boeing 787-10. The new aircraft will add 38,000 seats to the airline’s Perth-Singapore service. Out of the four current daily flights, the 787-10 is due to replace one of them come May 2018.
Melbourne Airport arrival records
Melbourne Airport revealed that January was a record breaking month of arrivals, with 553,654 in bound international travellers making their way through the gates. This is 6% up on their results last year.
Crowne Plaza Adelaide
The Crowne Plaza hotel label is due to return to Adelaide in 2020. InterContinental Hotels Group has an agreement with Kyren group to open the Crowne Plaza Adelaide as a part of a mixed-use development on Frome Street. The 326-room hotel will be set within Adelaide’s tallest tower, Frome Central Tower One with check in being situated on the 10th level. There will be 83 residential apartments.
Marriott International re-launches The Le Meridien Hotel in Australia
Scheduled to open in 2020, the 235-room hotel will re-introduce the brand to Australia. Le Meridien will be built on the site of Burke Street’s former Palace Theatre. Le Meridien has recently had openings in Italy, South Korea, China and the US over the past year.
Qatar acquires Melbourne hotel
Qatar Airways has expanded its hospitality portfolio, with the acquisition of Sheraton Melbourne Hotel. The 174-room hotel joins the likes of the Sheraton Skyline Hotel at LHR and the Novotel Edinburgh Park in Edinburgh, who are owned under Qatar’s Dhiafatina Hotels brand.
TFE Hotels adds hotel in Canberra
TFE have added the Adina Serviced Apartments Canberra Dickson to their rapidly expanding portfolio. Formerly Aria Hotel Canberra, TFE took over management on 1 March. The hotel’s contemporary design consists of 128 apartments in studio and one-bedroom format over eight levels, with some featuring a large private balcony and spa bath. Equipped with large living and work spaces, and well-equipped kitchens and laundries as well as free Wi-Fi and 24-hour reception.
New Vibe Hotel North Sydney
TFE Hotels is set to open its new Vibe Hotel North Sydney in Northpoint in April 2018. Guests will have access to a rooftop bar and pool and Northpoint’s new exciting eat street. Along with 187 rooms the hotel also offers four meeting rooms providing a conferencing capacity of 120.
ACCC gives Accor go-ahead for Mantra acquisition
The ACCC has announced it will not oppose the planned purchase of Mantra Group by AccorHotels, citing sufficient competition from the other hotel groups in the local market. There are over 125 Mantra properties in Asia Pacific area set to join AccorHotel’s portfolio, giving it the Peppers, Art Series, Mantra and Breakfree brands.