Virgin Australia announced today that the airline had added an additional five Indonesian destinations through an expansion of it code share arrangement with SilkAir. The additional five destinations will increase to ten the number of Indonesian destinations which Virgin Australia codeshares on. The new destinations which include Bandung (BDO), Balikpapan (BPN), Lombok (LOP), Palembang (PLM) and Solo (SOC) will operate via Singapore on 2 Class Airbus A319 and Airbus A320 Aircraft. Virgin Australia Chief Commercial Officer Judith Crompton said: “Indonesia is the largest economy in Southeast Asia and one of Australia’s most important trading partners, with over eleven billion dollars’ worth of trade between the two countries in 20121. “We now have Virgin Australia marketing code on ten destinations across Indonesia that can be accessed on one ticket from all Virgin Australia serviced airports across Australia and New Zealand. “SilkAir offers a high quality business and economy class product with a strong emphasis on customer service, ensuring the best possible travel experience for our customers”, Ms Crompton said.
Today Qantas has increased Airbus A380 Services into Hong Kong from Sydney, the increase will see Qantas switch one of its Boeing 747 return services to the Airbus A380 superjumbo. The increase will see the airline move from four to five return services per week increasing capacity by 5% on the route. In August this year Qantas CEO Alan Joyce had the following to say about the increase in this service “The Qantas Group is serious about Asia and we’ve already increased capacity to Hong Kong by 10 per cent this year. As well as adding almost five per cent more seats per week on this route, the aircraft swap will increase the amount of flying done by our flagship A380 fleet into Asia” Qantas A380 services from Sydney to Hong Kong operate under QF127 with the return flight QF 128. QF 127/128 is a daily service however only Thursday through Monday flights will operate on the A380 with the remaining Tuesday Wednesday flights still operating from their Boing 747. Last week Qantas announced that it would be opening an upgraded single class/status Qantas International Lounge Hong Kong from March 2014 the new Qantas Hong Kong Lounge will be similar to what the airline opened in April this year in Singapore.
Oneworld has a new member Qatar Airways joined the alliance on 31 October increasing the oneworld alliance membership to 13 and making the airline the second middle eastern oneworld carrier. To celebrate oneworld membership a Qatar Airways Boeing 777 in oneworld livery became the first aircraft to land at the soon to be open Hamad International Airport. Qatar Airways joined one year after receiving its invitation to join the alliance, which is no mean feat as most new member airlines take 18-24 months to comply with oneworld’s membership requirements. Qatar Airways, which serves more than 130 destinations in 70 countries across the Middle East, Europe, Africa, North and South America, Asia and Australasia, is oneworld’s second member airline based in the Middle East. It makes oneworld the leading alliance in one of the world’s fastest growing regions for air travel demand. Frequent Flyer Benefits and Double Frequent Flyer Mile Offer For a limited time Qatar is offering all oneworld frequent flyers double frequent flyer miles when flying on Qatar Airways between 15 November and 31 January (except between 20 December and 5 January). Qatar Airways’ Privilege Club loyalty are eligible for oneworld frequent flyer benefits when travelling with any oneworld member airline around the world Privilege members will earn and be able to redeem Qmiles on any oneworld flight, they will receive double Qmiles award miles when flying on Qatar Airways’ oneworldpartners between 15 November and 31 January (except between 20 December and 5 January) as an additional sweetener double tier status is also being thrown in. Privilege Club Platinum cardholders will have Emerald status in the oneworld programme. Privilege Club Gold will be equivalent to oneworld Sapphire and Privilege Club Silver will be oneworld Ruby. Privilege Club Platinum and Gold members will be able to access more than 550 airport lounges worldwide offered by oneworld member airlines when they fly with one of the alliance’s carriers – five times more than they can use up until now. Qatar Airways’ First and Business Class passengers will also be able to make use of oneworld partner airline lounges. As oneworld Emeralds, Privilege Club Platinum cardholders will be able to use First Class lounges, where available – and receive an additional baggage allowance and access fast tracks through departure security at select airports. Also from midnight tonight, the 140 million members of the established oneworld airlines’ frequent flyer programmes will be able to earn and redeem awards and tier status points and receive all other oneworld benefits when flying on Qatar Airways. A set of Qatar Airways Oneworld ceremony photos can be seen in the gallery below:
Qantas today shed some more light on the two international lounges it will open in Hong Kong and Los Angeles in 2014. The lounges which Qantas plans to set the standard in high-end travel by extending some of the service found in the air on board Qantas into the lounge. The example given was for overnight flights giving passengers the option to dine in the lounge before the flight so that more of the in-flight time could be used for sleep. Qantas says their two new lounges will feature local elements in the design of the lounge as well as the wine and food served. The first lounge to go live will be the Qantas Hong Kong International Lounge from March 2014 offering passengers “an exciting new experience with stylish and contemporary interiors reflecting the colour, vibrancy and luxury of Hong Kong.” The new Qantas Hong Kong Lounge will offer: Yum cha trolleys serving dumplings throughout the lounge Customers the opportunity to dine at our Spice Temple BBQ Bar A tray around and a buffet style offering similar to our International Business Lounges in Sydney and Melbourne featuring a range of fresh and enticing food Panoramic views across the airport overlooking Qantas gates from a feature bar where customers will be able to enjoy signature cocktails, wines, spirits and barista service A Family Zone The new Qantas Los Angeles lounge that will be jointly owned by Qantas, Cathay Pacific and British Airways but managed by Qantas will open in phases from April 2014 until completion in late 2014 and will see the current capacity of the existing lounge double to almost 600 seats. In addition the Qantas Los Angeles First Class lounge will get a makeover with an opening date also around late 2014. The Los Angeles Business Lounge will offer: Menus inspired by a mix of local West Coast US and Asian flavours. A dining area with view into the kitchen offering fresh regional food A wine bar offering signature cocktails and bar snacks, and a barista service. A circular internal fireplace to relax and socialise around. And seating surrounding a central glass atrium. Are you a regular traveller to Hong Kong or Los Angeles with Qantas any new features you would like to see? Leave your thoughts and comments below.
Etihad Airways today announced that from tomorrow the airline will make live TV available via its inflight entertainment system e-box. The new live TV channels will include BBC World News, BBC Arabic, euronews and Sport 24, which are available from November 1. CNBC, Japan’s NHK World Premium, and CNN, will be introduced during November; and Sky News Arabia will follow All of the above live TV channels will be available initially on 21 of its wide body aircraft and will be expanded to 37 aircraft by the end of 2014 Peter Baumgartner, Etihad Airways’ Chief Commercial Officer, said: “We are delighted to broadcast this weekend’s Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on many of our aircraft, ensuring that passengers who are flying on race day won’t miss any of the action from Yas Marina Circuit.” In addition to the Formula 1, passengers can also watch a wealth of live top sporting action this November including the ATP World Tour Finals, English Premier League and German Bundesliga matches, and Euroleague Basketball. The major sports coverage continues in 2014 and includes the Australian Open, French Open and US Open tennis championships, the Winter Olympics, the Masters from Augusta and Ryder Cup golf, and the FIFA World Cup from Brazil.
Vietnam Airlines recently the airline has selected General Electric Next Generation (GEnx) propulsion System for its Boeing 787 Dreamliner fleet that is expected to go into operation from the beginning of 2015. Vietnam Airlines has committed to purchasing 8 Boeing 787 Dreamliners to help position the airline at the forefront of Aviation in the region. The agreement contractual signing which occurred on 28 October 2013 sees the airline buy and lease 40 new jet engines from GE. The GEnx propulsion system provides a fuel saving of up to 15 percent compared to previous system in addition to being the quietest engines in the Sky.
Airbus has announced that final assembly on Asiana Airlines first Airbus A380 is underway in its Final Assembly Line (FLA) in Toulouse France. Asiana Airlines will take delivery of this Airbus A380 toward the middle of 2014 making Asiana the 12th airline to operate the aircraft. The airline has a total of six Airbus A380 aircraft on order which they plan to operate mostly on services from Seoul to the United States.
After four months on the ground United Airlines today relaunched 787 Dreamliner services, with United Airlines Flight 1 from Houston to Chicago’s O’Hare. This the first flight since the 787 Dreamliner battery incident will be the start of Uniteds six 787 Dreamliners going back into service. “The 787 offers an unmatched travel experience for our customers and co-workers, and we are thrilled to be flying it again,” said Jeff Smisek, United’s chairman, president and chief executive officer. “This is an exciting time at United. Our investment in the Dreamliner is just one more example of our commitment to delivering the best product, route network and customer service in the industry.” United grounded its fleet of Boeing 787 Dreamliners back on the 17 January after 2 incidents involving Japans All Nippon Airways in which the aircrafts lithium-ion batteries malfunctioned. United will launch international 787 service on the much-anticipated Denver-Tokyo route on June 10. This summer United also plans to inaugurate 787 service on existing routes including Houston-London, Los Angeles-Tokyo, Los Angeles-Shanghai and Houston-Lagos. The airline expects to take delivery of two more Dreamliners from Boeing in the second half of 2013.
United Airlines has reconfirmed that the Boeing 787 Dreamliners will be back in the air soon with a media release stating that the company has already retrofitted 2 of its aircraft to resolve the battery issue, with the remaining aircraft to be complete soon. United Airlines further confirms that they will have the 787 Dreamliner back in operation on domestic flights from Houston to other domestic hubs from 20 May and their International Denver to Tokyo service from 10 June.
Singapore Airlines has announced that they will boost services into Indonesia with a new service to Surabaya and increased services into Jakarta and Bali from July this year. The new daily Singapore to Surabaya service will operate on a 285 seat Airbus A330 and will see the combined SilkAir Singapore Airlines capacity increase on the service to 48 percent. Also on 26 July, SIA will introduce a ninth daily service to Jakarta, and will simultaneously add its fourth daily service to Denpasar (Bali). SIA currently operates 56 weekly Jakarta flights – more than to any other destination in its network – and 21 weekly Denpasar flights. SilkAir currently operates 60 weekly fights to nine Indonesian destinations, and in July and August will launch services to two more points, namely Semarang and Makassar. “The Indonesian economy is growing and this has increased demand for both business and leisure travel,” said Ms Lee Wen Fen, SIA’s Acting Senior Vice President Marketing Planning. “Indonesia is an especially important market for the SIA Group, as demonstrated by SIA’s new services to Surabaya, our additional flights to Bali and Jakarta, and SilkAir’s new services to Semarang and Makassar. These new flights will provide even more options to our customers for travel to and from Indonesia, as well as for travel beyond Singapore to the many other destinations in our global network.”
If you fly Qantas from the East Coast of Australia to Perth you will be pleased to know Qantas has introduced its International a la carte menu on all East Cost to Perth services. The new International standard menu designed by Chef Neil Perry will be available from late May on all Sydney-Perth, Melbourne-Perth and Brisbane-Perth services. In addition to the standard three course menu the new menu will feature Qantas International’s very popular Small Bites to start, along with small and main plates. Qantas Domestic Chief Executive Officer Lyell Strambi said Qantas continues to challenge the notion of traditional airline meal service by delivering modern, restaurant style experiences in the sky. “Qantas invented Business Class travel and now we’re raising the bar again,” Mr Strambi said. “The new format lets customers dine with greater flexibility, allowing them to rest, work or enjoy inflight entertainment at their leisure. “If customers don’t feel like a three course dining experience a choice in plate sizes means they can design a menu to match their appetite. “Including two small plates, five main plates and the option of a ‘small bite’ to start, passengers can choose what they want and when they want it.” Neil Perry and his Rockpool team have worked closely with Qantas to develop and implement the new menu -from designing the dishes, to writing and testing the recipes. “Qantas customers wanted more choice, this new dining experience delivers on this,” Mr Perry said. “The new menu gives customers a more contemporary dining experience too while still tapping into local produce and providing enough variation for frequent flyers.” The menu will mark the removal of tray-service as the airline moves to deliver a more restaurant style approach on-board. Mr Strambi said the launch of the new menu coincides with the use of wide-body Airbus A330 aircraft on all weekday Sydney-Perth and Melbourne-Perth flights as well as the completion of a $20 million program to refresh the airline’s Boeing 767 fleet which will be used on Brisbane-Perth flights. “Our enhanced business class menu is just one part of the ongoing investment we’re making into improving the experience for Qantas customers,” he said. “Our on-board dining experience in addition to our fleet of aircraft, superior network, frequencies, lounges, ontime performance, and frequent flyer program, is why we continue to be the best for business and premium travellers. “We are also the only domestic airline that offers a meal and checked-in baggage to every passenger as part of their fare, no matter what time they are flying or which class they are in.”
Virgin Australia today unveiled its new regional airline operation with Virgin Founder Sir Richard Branson and Virgin Australia Chief Executive Officer John Borghetti in Perth. Following the acquisition of Skywest Airlines last month, today marked the launch of the newly branded airline. The first two aircraft to be rebranded as ‘Virgin Australia’ were officially unveiled, representing the airline’s commitment to continued investment and new growth opportunities for regional and charter travel in Australia. The entity known as Virgin Australia Regional Airlines will be based in Western Australia and the operation will now have 32 aircraft operating over 800 services per week to 41 different destinations. Virgin Australia Chief Executive Officer John Borghetti described it as a momentous day for the airline, tourism and the travel industry. “This country has one of the most geographically dispersed populations in the world and reliable, affordable air services are vital to the growth of regional Australia. “In 2010, we articulated a strategy to become the airline of choice for all travellers in Australia. Since then, we have changed the competitive landscape in many ways and today marks our next major leap forward. “By integrating Skywest Airlines into the Virgin Australia Group, we unlock new opportunities to grow our services to regional Australia and significantly increase our charter presence in the highgrowth fly-in-fly-out markets. “Western Australia is one of the fastest growing aviation markets and a very important part of our strategy. We have made significant investment over the past two years with the introduction of our internationally configured Airbus A330 aircraft on services between the East and West Coast, increased frequencies to the resource-rich Pilbara region and established a large crew base in Perth. “By building a Perth-based operation and workforce, we will continue to invest in local resources, expertise and infrastructure”, Mr Borghetti said. Sir Richard Branson said: “It is fantastic what John and the team have done over the last couple of years, completely repositioning the airline with the introduction of the Virgin Australia brand and its brilliant product and service. Now I am thrilled to see him focusing on other market segments including regional and charter services where I know they will deliver. “This is the start of the next ground-breaking chapter for the Virgin Australia Group and an exciting time for the airline”, Sir Richard said.
Qantas has released a new iPhone app that will give customers more choice and options when planning, booking and managing their flights and accommodation, including the ability to view frequent flyer account balance and check-in The app is free and available for both the iPhone and iPad from the app store, for all Android users you will be pleased to know that Qantas are working on an app that is scheduled for release later this year. The main features of the new Qantas iPhone app include: Access new travel deals and discounts Search and book flights quickly and securely Search and book from your choice of over 100,000 hotels Create personalised sale alerts (with the option to be alerted by price preference and/or destination) Check-in for most domestic flights Locate lounges and search lounge facilities across the network Share deals and discounts with friends and family easily via social media Log-in as a Frequent Flyer to view points balance and next flight information at a glance Access up to the minute flight status information Get it from the Apple App store here Qantas iPhone/iPad app give the new app a try and let us know what you think in the comments section below
Hot on the heels of today’s announcement from Qantas that they will upgrade the Darwin Qantas Club lounge to more than double its existing size, Virgin Australia has announced that the airline will build its own lounge at Darwin International Airport. The new Virgin Australia Lounge will be made possible due to the planned $60 million upgrade of Darwin Airport and is expected to be complete by the middle of 2014. Virgin Australia welcomed the upgrade of Darwin International Airport saying the new and upgraded facilities will move the Virgin Australia check-in area to a new part of the terminal which will allow streamlined security processing. Virgin Australia’s Chief Operating Officer Sean Donohue said, “Over the past two years, Virgin Australia has been expanding its presence in the Northern Territory and making enhancements to improve the travel experience for our customers. “We recognise the increasing importance of Darwin in line with the growth of the Northern Territory as a business and tourism destination. To date we have launched Sydney-Darwin flights, commenced codeshare on SilkAir international flights from Darwin and announced a new 150-seat airport lounge to be launched in 2014. With the recent acquisition of Skywest Airlines, Virgin Australia will now fly direct from Darwin to Broome and Kununurra. “We are pleased to announce today that as part of the airport upgrade, we will be able to deliver a more seamless arrival and departure experience for our guests through enhanced check-in and gate facilities. The new lounge will feature Virgin Australia’s trademark style, including luxury seating, gourmet food and beverage designed by internationally-acclaimed chef Luke Mangan and impressive views across the airport landscape. “We look forward to working closely with Darwin International Airport to ensure the best possible experience for our customers and to continue to promote Darwin as a business and tourism destination”, Mr Donohue said. Virgin Australia currently flies direct to Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth from the Northern Territory, offering 58 services per week to connect to 30 domestic and over 400 international cities. The airline also codeshares on SilkAir’s 4 return flights per week between Singapore and Darwin. SilkAir is the regional airline of Singapore Airlines.
Qantas today announced that it planned to upgrade the Qantas Club lounge in Darwin that will see it more than double the existing lounge size to cater for Business and premium leisure travel to the region. Qantas Group Chief Executive Officer Alan Joyce, who visited Darwin Airport to make the announcement, said the new facilities would provide Qantas customers travelling to and from Darwin with a seamless travel experience. “Qantas had its early origins in the Northern Territory in the 1930s and that commitment to the region continues today,” Mr Joyce said. “As our services have grown over recent years we have outgrown our existing space at Darwin Airport so we are extremely excited to be expanding and upgrading our Qantas Club here. “Qantas award winning lounges are extremely popular with our customers and they are one of the reasons why Qantas continues to be best for business travellers.” Work on the new Darwin Qantas Club is scheduled to complete in line with the greater Darwin Airport expansion which is due mid 2014 The Club will have additional seating, business facilities, meeting rooms, Wi-Fi, showers, family zone and new food and beverage areas. Qantas will look to use local influences where possible. Mr Joyce also welcomed the investment by Darwin Airport in the terminal expansion. “This is great news for locals and visitors using Darwin Airport. I think it will vastly improve the travel experience for customers of all airlines, including Qantas Group airlines Qantas, QantasLink and Jetstar and allow the region to grow,” he said. “Qantas and Jetstar will also get new engineering administration and ground operations facilities as part of the redevelopment. Qantas customers can use the Next Generation Check-In system which substantially reduces check-in times and enables customers to avoid unnecessary queues. The Qantas Group operates around 80 per cent of all domestic flights to and within the Northern Territory. Jetstar has international services from Darwin to Singapore, Bali, Tokyo and Manila. The Qantas Group directly employs more than 200 people in the Territory, and provides a further 100 indirect jobs.