Carry on: Etihad brings 'flying hotel suite' to Sydney

Etihad's Residence: viewing lounge
Etihad's Residence: en-suite bathroom
Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour (artist's impression)

Etihad sets start date for A380 to Sydney
Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways has confirmed its new Airbus A380 services to Sydney will start on June 1 next year, giving luxury travellers the first chance in this part of the world to try the “flying suite.” The Residence class is a three-room fully enclosed space that features a double bed, en-suite bathroom and lounge area.

The A380 will replace a Boeing 777-300 on the daily service but the aircraft will be retained on the four daily service, which is also daily when added to codeshare partner Virgin Australia’s three weekly 777 flights. The changes will increase weekly capacity on the high-demand Sydney route by 1,320 making a total of 4,784 seats in each direction.

Virgin Australia codeshares with SAA
Virgin Australia will soon codeshare on South African Airways’ daily Perth-Johannesburg flights, allowing Velocity members to earn frequent flyer points on their trek to South Africa. Passengers from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane will also be able to join the Perth-Johannesburg flight after connecting domestically with Virgin Australia. While SAA began codesharing on Virgin Australia’s domestic services between Perth and Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Sydney earlier this year, Velocity points on SAA flights weren't part of the deal.

Sofitel lands Sydney hotel-convention centre deal
Accor has signed a management agreement for Sydney’s new international convention centre hotel to operate under its luxury brand Sofitel. This follows a contract for Accor to run the new convention centre complex proposed for Christchurch. The Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour is part of the NSW state government’s $A2.5 billion project to create a new convention, exhibition and entertainment precinct. Construction of the 35-storey hotel is expected to start toward the end of 2014 and it is due for completion in the second quarter of 2017. It will have around 600 rooms.

Choice picks up Academy in Tauranga
The mid-sector Choice Hotels chain has added Comfort Inn Academy (formerly Academy Motor Inn) in Tauranga to its portfolio of owned and operated establishments.  Choice says the Academy offers secure off-street parking, free high-speed wireless internet, flat-screen TVs with Freeview, an outdoor seasonally heated swimming pool, jacuzzi and barbecue area plus laundry facilities.

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