Carry on: Air NZ's biometric check-in, Cathay at Gatwick and more

Business traveller news also includes Emirates fleet upgrade, Easyjet expands in Scotland and Jetstar-Finnair tie-up.

Eyes have it in check-in first
International travellers on Air New Zealand at Auckland Airport are the first in the world to use a self-service bag drop that uses biometric camera identification as well as passport scanning.

The technology is similar to that used by SmartGate passport control facilities and fully automates the check-in process. Five are already in operation and a further eight are planned to be installed in early 2016.

Cathay adds London Gatwick
Cathay Pacific Airways will launch a new four-times-weekly service to London’s Gatwick Airport on September  2, 2016, subject to approval. It will complement the five-times-daily service to Heathrow Airport and bring the total flights a week between Hong Kong and London to 39. The service will use the new Airbus A350-900, which has business, premium economy and economy seating.

Air NZ codeshares withdrawn, expanded
Contrary to a report in this column’s print version this week, Air New Zealand [NZX: AIR] is not going ahead with its SilkAir codeshare to five Indian destinations. No reason has been given, though Airline Route says the codeshare was loaded into reservations system by mistake. Meanwhile, the Air China-Air New Zealand codeshare, also reported in the December 11 print edition, has been extended to three more transtasman routes – Auckland to Adelaide, Cairns and Perth.

Finnair, Jetstar codeshare in Asia
Finnair and Jetstar Asia will operate codeshare services to the latter’s flights to Penang, Kuala Lumpur, Ho Chi Minh City, Phuket, Perth and Darwin from December 15. Finnair has a direct service to Singapore from Helsinki.

Lufthansa gets first A320neo
Germany's Lufthansa is set to become the first airline to fly Airbus's revamped single-aisle A320neo (new engine option) jet instead of Qatar Airways. The Gulf-based airline is said to have concerns about the performance of the Pratt & Whitney-supplied engines. The first delivery was originally targeted for the end of this month.

Emirates upgrades fleet
Emirates airline is retiring 26 older aircraft next year, with a further 13 set to leave the fleet in 2017 and another 13 in 2018. This makes an average age of aircraft retirement at 15.7 years compared with the industry’s average of 25 years.

The planes being retired in 2016 are 12 A330-300s, four A340-300s, one A340-500, six Boeing 777-200ERs, two Boeing 777-300s and one Boeing 777-300ER. The 36 additions to its widebodied fleet in 2016 comprise 20 Airbus A380s and 16 Boeing 777-300ERs.

Airbus clocks up 1000 orders
Airbus says it has booked more than 1000 orders in the first 11 months of 2015 but is lagging last year’s delivery performance. Some 556 have been delivered to the end of November but it needs another 73 deliveries this month to match last year’s total. By comparison, Boeing has delivered 709 through to November.
Airbus net order bookings through November reached 1007, while planes, including a cancelled order for 12 A350s after TAP Portugal switched to a version of the A330. Aircraft. Boeing says it  has 568 orders through to December 2.

Easyjet boosts Scotland-based services
UK budget carrier Easyjet will increase it services from Scotland next year with eight aircraft based at Edinburgh airport operating on 36 routes within Europe. Easyjet haqs also launched a new year-round service between Glasgow and Milan Malpensa. Altogether, Easyjet flies to 62 destinations from Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Inverness airports. It expects to increase the 5.5 million passengers it flied between Scotland and Europe by 10% next year.

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