Carry on: Air NZ expands in Samoa as Polynesian Airlines returns

Business travel news also includes new first class from Emirates and the dropping of an A380 service between Auckland and Sydney.

Air NZ expands in Samoa
Air New Zealand is stepping up its Samoa operation with a move to widebodied B787-9 Dreamliner and B777-200 services at least twice weekly year-round. The larger aircraft will fly on Thursdays and Saturdays from September 2017, increasing to four weekly in the peak season (December-January). This will add at least 14,500 extra seats between Auckland and Apia annually. Airbus A320s are used on other days of the week.

Meanwhile, the Samoan government will end a decade-long joint venture with Virgin Australia on November 12. Each partner is a 49% shareholder in Virgin Samoa, which replaced Polynesian Blue and Polynesian Airlines before that. Samoan Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi wants to revive the wholly government-owned Polynesian Airlines.

A380 service to Auckland reduced
Emirates is dropping one of the four A380 superjumbos that fly into Auckland Airport every day. From July 13, the Dubai-Sydney-Auckland trip will require transfer to a new Qantas daily A330 service for the transtasman leg. This will be the first time Qantas’ upgraded, two-class A330-200 aircraft – including a 28-seat business cabin – will operate regularly across the Tasman. Qantas will also upgauge some B737 flights to A330 where there is demand. B737s will be retained for some weekend services. Qantas says its flights are timed to offer connections for New Zealanders travelling via Sydney to destinations in Asia, the US and South Africa.

Emirates upgrades first class
Emirates is overhauling its first-class offering on its Boeing 777-300ERs, reducing the number of private suites from eight to six. The new-look cabins will be unveiled in November at the biennial Dubai Airshow.

Dubai follows Singapore
Singapore Airlines’ boarding pass programme that gives visitors exclusive offers and discounts is being copied by Emirates in Dubai. My Emirates Pass features 120 restaurants and hotel dining outlets as well as a range of leisure activities. These include access to golf courses, theme parks and luxury spas. Three new attractions in Dubai – Bollywood Parks, Motiongate and Legoland Park – also feature in the scheme, which runs until August 31. Qatar also recently launched a similar scheme to encourage more tourists to stay over.

Route news of the week
Singapore Airlines has added Stockholm, the second Scandinavian city in its international network. The flight, using a new A350-900 aircraft, goes via Moscow and runs five times a week. Singapore already flies to Copenhagen in Denmark. 

Boeing clashes with Bombardier
Boeing says its trade complaint against Bombardier is designed to prevent the Montréal-based rival from using subsidies to build a larger version of the CSeries plane that would directly compete with its 737 aircraft. In its trade complaint case, Boeing says Bombardier would be positioned to build a full-fleet of single-aisle planes – repeating a strategy employed by Airbus – if Canadian subsidies to Bombardier are left unaddressed.

In a separate filing, Bombardier says Boeing is trying to shut down innovative technology and the CSeries aircraft aren’t an imminent threat to Boeing. Bombardier also says Boeing doesn't sell a comparable product and that it 737 production is sold out for about eight years with a backlog valued at about $US190 billion.

Airbus to rename Safe Air
Airbus is renaming the Blenheim-based Safe Air facility as Airbus New Zealand. It provides maintenance, repair, and overhaul services for military and commercial aerospace customers. The name change, which is expected to be formally announced in July, will not have any impact on existing contracts and agreements. Airbus acquired Safe Air from Air New Zealand in 2015 for an undisclosed amount.

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