Canada looks south, welcome to Wales and more

Carry On: The weekly business travel news roundup also includes how airlines handled fuel shortage and 12 months of the Capital Express.

Air Canada boosts Vancouver hub
Air Canada is expanding its long-haul network from Vancouver into India, Australia and Europe, giving the hub more options for Kiwis. The possibility of a direct link to New Zealand has risen as well. This follows the appointment of former Air New Zealand chief executive Rob Fyfe (2005-10) to the board of Air Canada. Mr Fyfe was responsible for Air New Zealand’s successful Auckland-Vancouver service, which remains the only nonstop link between the two countries.

Air Canada was to have launched a seasonal Vancouver-Melbourne service in December but has instead decided to start a year-round service from June 1, 2018. This will run three times a week and means Air Canada will have three nonstop routes into Australia, as it already flies to Brisbane and Sydney.

A seasonal Vancouver-Delhi nonstop service will resume from October 14 and frequency will increase from three times weekly to five. From June 7, 2018, Air Canada will add a three-times weekly Vancouver-Zurich service and Vancouver-Paris from June 8 on a four-times weekly basis.

A second daily Vancouver-London Heathrow service will be added during the northern summer of 2018. This will bring Air Canada’s roster of European markets from Vancouver to four on its mainline operation, and six inclusive of Air Canada Rouge. The Vancouver-Frankfurt route will run through to October and resume again on May 1, 2018. Air Canada Rouge also flies Vancouver-Dublin and Vancouver-London Gatwick.

Airlines survives fuel shortage
Domestioc services on the Air New Zealand network returned to normal as early as Wednesday after fuel supply at Auckland Airport was restricted last weekend due to a pipeline rupture. The government responded quickly with assistance from the military to boost the regular supply chain that is largely the business of the major oil companies and the airlines. Aviation fuel is shipped to Chriustchurch and Wellington by tanker and large storage facilities there meant little danger of a nationwide shortage.

Domestic aircraft were topped up each time they landed at these airports, contrary to usual practice, and this enabled jets to land and take off from Auckland without the need for refuelling. International operators also picked up their fuel requirements at these airports and by making stops at other overseas ports. At least one of Emirates' A380 Auckland-Dubai nonstop flights went south to Christchurch before making its 17 and a half hour journey. A little known fact is that Christchurch is closer to, say, Singapore than Auckland.

Meanwhile, Qantas generated some publicity (pictured above) with its "fuel mules" – a special Boeing 747 flight and an Airbus A330 scheduled service that flew to Auckland with a total of 75,000kg of fuel to ensure Qantas and Jetsar aircraft would not run short in Auckland. Both airlines say disruption to domestic New Zealand and transtasman services has been minimal.  

Capital Express’ first year
Singapore Airlines say it’s looking forward to further growth on its Capital Express service that links Wellington with Canberra and Singapore with four flights a week. While loadings have been satisfactory for a new route, the use of older Boeing 777-200s has been disappointing for travellers compared with the more modern aircraft used on other Singapore Airlines routes to New Zealand. Country manager Simon Turcotte says upgrading should be possible next year when the airline takes delivery of Boeing;s first 787-10 Dreamliners as well as the large order of Airbus A350s. 

Mr Turcotte says the short Wellington Airport runway has not proved a problem for these long-haul aircraft and the first 12 months has shown Wellingtonians’ strong desire to explore Asia with eight of the top 10 destinations being from that region. In return, those coming into Wellington are also mainly from Asia, as well as from Frankfurt and London. The anniversary is being marked by low speciall fares as well as extension of the Singapore Stopover promotion that provides accommodation and tourist attractions for as little as $1.

Qatar heads for Wales, Turkey
Qatar Airways will launch a nonstop daily service to Wales on May 1, 2018. The Doha-Cardiff route will open up the Gulf region for passengers from South Wales and Southwest England for the first time. It will also enable passengers from New Zealand, Australia and Southeast Asia to fly direct into the Welsh capital via Doha. Cardiff is one of the UK’s top tourist destinations with countless museums and exhibitions, a thriving music scene and world-class sporting events at the Principality Stadium. Wales also has picturesque coastal villages (above).

Qatar will also add the historic Turkish city of Adana on the Mediterranean coast to its network from November 6. This will be the airline’s fourth destination in Turkey after Ankara and both of Istanbul’s airports. Adana is Turkey’s fifth largest city, a major agricultural and industrial centre, and a starting point for the popular tourist sights of Cappadocia.

Emirates adds to Sydney service
Emirates may have dropped its Auckland-Sydney A380 service but it’s set to introduce a fourth daily Dubai-Sydney service between from March 25, 2018. It will also be operated by an A380 and will increase passenger capacity by 6846 seats a week. Emirates says this is to meet continued demand for services to Dubai and complement Qantas’ re-routing of its Sydney-London service via Singapore (instead of Dubai).

The new service will offer passengers an afternoon departure from Sydney and arrival in main European cities the following morning. It also introduces a new option for passengers to depart London and main European cities in the morning with an afternoon arrival in Sydney the next day with a short connection in Dubai.

United to link Sydney and Houston 
United Airlines is planning a new Houston-Sydney nonstop 787-9 flight from January 18 that adds to expansion by US airlines in this part of the world. The service will expand United's capacity on US-Australia by 26% and 8% to that of all nonstop airlines. This will be United's second longest route after Los Angeles-Singapore and follows Qantas' and Air New Zealand's links with Texas, in Dallas and Houston respectively.

United serves 53 domestic US airports from Houston that it does not serve at Los Angeles and San Francisco from its existing Australian gateways. United's joint venture partner Air New Zealand could be indirectly affected as it picks up passenger traffic for its US destinations from Australia. The JV excludes Australia.

All content copyright NBR. Do not reproduce in any form without permission, even if you have a paid subscription.