Carry on: Airline of the year, big Airbus order, Dreamliners across the Pacific
CAPA names airline of the year
Etihad Airlines of the United Arab Emirates has won the coveted airline of the year accolade in the CAPA Aviation Awards for Excellence. CAPA is the Centre for Aviation based in Sydney and the award is for the airline that has made greatest impact on the development of the global airline industry, as a strategic leader and by setting a benchmark for others to follow.
CAPA executive chairman Peter Harbison says: “The efficiency of the aviation industry is strangled by archaic ownership and control rules that prevent cross border mergers and rationalisation of airline offerings. More than any other factor this has effectively confined the industry to drastic financial underperformance.
“Faced with this roadblock, no single full service airline has done more than Etihad Airways to challenge the status quo with its remarkable strategic partnership model.”
This includes equity shareholdings in Virgin Australia, Airberlin, Air Seychelles, Aer Lingus, Air Serbia and Jet Airways. It is in the process of formalising equity investments in Alitalia and Swiss-based Etihad Regional (operated by Darwin Airline).
Delta tipped for big Airbus order
Unconfirmed reports say Airbus has won a crucial order worth roughly $US14 billion at list prices from Delta Air Lines for 50 long-haul, wide-bodied jets. The order, to be split between the all-new A350-900 and a recently announced revamp of the current-generation A330, follows a closely fought competition with Boeing. Airbus emerged as the front-runner in part after it became clear its revamped A330neo could be delivered earlier than Boeing's temporarily sold-out 787 Dreamliner.
Air Canada steps up trans-Pacific Dreamliner flights
Air Canada expects to have six of it 37 ordered Dreamliners in its fleet by the end of the year and is deploying them on its trans-Pacific services. It will add Beijing and Seoul to its list of destinations from Vancouver early next year. Like Air New Zealand, it is replacing old B767s, though Air New Zealand won’t be adding Dreamliners to both its Auckland to Shanghai and Tokyo services until later next year.
Air Canada’s existing Vancouver-Beijing service will switch over to the 787 in February and the Vancouver-Seoul route in March. Air Canada first deployed the Dreamliner in July this year on a new route between Toronto and Tokyo Haneda Airport. The Canadian flag carrier is also set to convert its service between Vancouver and Tokyo Narita to the Dreamliner in mid-December.
Air China to fly Beijing-Auckland direct
A new "strategic alliance" between Air New Zealand and Air China, signed as part of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to New Zealand, will see Air China operating a new direct Beijing-Auckland service in addition to Air New Zealand’s existing Shanghai-Auckland service. The alliance is subject to regulatory approval. In addition, the airlines say the alliance will bring significant benefits to travellers in both directions through better network connections and increased frequency of flights.
Australia’s public broadcaster goes inflight on Virgin Australia
ABC news bulletins will be available on all of Virgin Australia’s international and domestic network for the first time. Passengers travelling on the Boeing 737 and Embraer 190 fleet, which service more than 33 destinations domestically, will be able to stream dedicated daily news direct to their own devices from early 2015. The four separate 90-second news bulletins will be available on the wireless in-flight entertainment app, which was the first of its kind in the Asia Pacific region when it launched in 2013. Three 15-minute ABC News bulletins covering news and weather, sport, business and finance were introduced to Virgin Australia’s wide-body fleet earlier this month, through its seatback entertainment system, Red.
Virgin Australia, SIA merger loyalty schemes
Members of the Virgin Australia and Singapore Airlines frequent flyer schemes will now be able to convert miles and points between programs at a rate of 1.35 to1.00, offering greater access to reward seats and flight upgrades on one another’s airlines. The conversion rate reflects the fact that each airline programme operates in a different reward program currency. In addition, Virgin Australia’s Velocity Frequent Flyer members will soon be able to redeem flights with Singapore Airlines and SilkAir on the Velocity Frequent Flyer website.
Adelaide-Alice Springs monopoly ends
Virgin Australia says it will bring competition to the Adelaide-Alice Springs route in the full service market for the first time in almost 10 years. The airline will operate three direct services a week from March 2015. Virgin Australia has also confirmed plans to launch a new regional lounge in Alice Springs.