Carry on: Japan's first A380, customer satisfaction awards, Virgin's expanded Melbourne lounge

Skymark's first A380

Skymark’s first A380 nears completion
Japan’s third largest and fastest growing carrier, Skymark Airlines, will be that country’s first operator of an Airbus A380 superjumbo. Skymark has firm orders for six and will use them to service international routes from Tokyo Narita.

The picture shows the first A380 making its first journey on its wheels to the next station at the Airbus final assembly line in Toulouse, France. There it will undergo general tests on electric and hydraulic systems, mobile parts, landing gears and fuel tanks. Also, the aircraft’s four Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engines will be mounted.

Customers approve Air New Zealand Link
Complaints about the cost of regional air fares may be common but they are out-ranked by those who rate Air New Zealand Link as providing the best passenger service.

Roy Morgan Research surveys 12,000 consumers a year on customer satisfaction and Air New Zealand Link has their highest proportion in seven months to Air New Zealand Domestic’s five. Jetstar didn’t top any month. It is the third consecutive year Air New Zealand Link has taken out the satisfaction award.

Emirates rates best international airline
The Roy Morgan Research survey of international airlines showed fewer of those surveyed had made an overseas holiday in the previous 12 months.

In 2007, nearly 30% of New Zealanders aged 14 plus had gone on a trip; by 2013, this figure had dropped to just over 25%. Emirates took out the international carrier award with the highest proportion of satisfied customers for the second year in a row.

Hilton wins tight hotel race
In a tight three-way race, Hilton won the hotel award with six months ahead of Novotel and Crowne Plaza. Roy Morgan Research says with both domestic and international tourism in decline over the past five years, the hotel market has never been more competitive. To compete, hotel chains must distinguish themselves on customer service to entice travellers back on their next trip.

Virgin's Melbourne lounge doubles in size
Virgin Australia has officially unveiled its new Melbourne lounge, which covers 1200sq m and seats more than 600 guests. The six-month transformation project doubles the former size to become the most expansive lounge in Virgin Australia’s network. New services include a wine bar and an espresso bar. The airline has also launched its first Premium Valet service at Melbourne domestic airport, allowing guests to drop off their car before their flight.

Overseas holidaymaker arrivals rise in January
Visitor numbers rose 14.7% during January from a year earlier. Holiday arrivals are up 11.8% for the 12 months with total arrivals rising 7.5% to 2.75 million. All markets contributed to the increase, Tourism New Zealand chief executive Kevin Bowler says.

“Holiday arrivals from the UK in January were up 11.9% and Germany delivering amazing growth, up 22.9% for the month,” he says. “This is backed up with impressive holiday growth from Australia up 8.1% for the month.”

The early celebration of Chinese New Year, from January 31, drove growth during January with China holiday arrivals up 73.3% for the month. Holiday arrivals from Hong Kong were up 159.2%, Singapore 126.3% and Malaysia 104.2% during the month.

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