Carry on: More Air NZ Dreamliners, Qantas' new Auckland lounge, world's safest airline

Aviation news for business travellers

Air New Zealand firms up latest Dreamliner order
Boeing and Air New Zealand have finalised an order for two additional 787-9 Dreamliners that will eventually bring the airline’s fleet to 12, of which three have been delivered.

The order, booked in 2014 valued at $514 million at current list prices, comes six months after Air New Zealand was Boeing’s launch customer for the 787-9 in July. Air New Zealand also operates 15 Boeing 777-200ERs and 777-300ERs in its long-haul fleet.

At the same time, Air New Zealand has moved forward its planned daily 787-9 operation on the Auckland-Tokyo Narita route to August 21 from October 25. It originally planned to keep a 767-300ER on the route along with with a 787-9.

"The entry [of the 787-9] into service programme has gone very smoothly and we've been incredibly pleased with the aircraft's performance," chief executive Christopher Luxon says in a statement issued by Boeing. "These new 787-9 Dreamliners will provide us with additional flexibility as we move forward with our growth plans."

These include the just-this-week resumption of flights to Singapore in an alliance with Singapore Airlines and plans to open a new route to Buenos Aires, Argentina, later in the year.

Meanwhile, Morocco’s Royal Air Maroc has taken delivery of its first Dreamliner, becoming the first airline in the Mediterranean region to operate the 787.

Qantas plans new international lounge for Auckland
Qantas is considering building an all-new international lounge at Auckland Airport, reports Australian Business Traveller. It quotes customer experience head Kylie Morris as saying: “We’re undertaking a global strategic review of our lounge position.” adding that “we’re evaluating Brisbane right now and Auckland is also on our radar.”

Auckland is Qantas’ most popular international destination due to high transtasman traffic. Qantas has recently opened new international lounges in Singapore, Hong Kong and Los Angeles. 
One option for Auckland and Brisbane would be to consolidate each airport’s first class and business class lounges into an “integrated” lounge, along similar lines to Singapore and Hong Kong, with service differentiation available to Chairman’s Lounge and Platinum One travellers.

Qantas tops airline safety rankings
Qantas has again topped Australian-based website’s ranking of global air safety. The list is based on a range of factors, including aviation authority audits and the carriers' fatality records. Qantas has had no fatalities during the jet era and this has made it a standout, AirlineRatings editor Geoffrey Thomas says.

"Qantas has been the lead airline in virtually every major advancement in airline safety over the past 60 years," he says. "It's very hard for anybody to approach them, they've never lost a paying passenger.”

Other carriers in the top 10, in alphabetical order, are: Air New Zealand, Cathay Pacific, British Airways, Emirates, Etihad, EVA Air, Finnair, Lufthansa and Singapore Airlines. The top 10 budget carriers in alphabetical order are: Aer Lingus, Alaska Airlines, Icelandair, Jetstar, Jetblue,, Monarch Airlines, Thomas Cook, TUI Fly and Westjet.

Boeing delivers record number in 2014
Boeing has reported record annual orders and deliveries of its commercial jetliners alongside a drop in deal cancellations.  It says it delivered 723 aircraft in 2014, hitting its own target, setting an industry record and retaining its title as the world's biggest plane maker. But it lost out on new and net orders in 2014 to Airbus, which is expected to announce next week it was ahead of Boeing on both gross orders and net orders.

In 2013, Airbus booked 1619 gross orders and 1503 net orders. In 2014, Boeing set company records by booking 1550 gross orders and 1432 net orders worth $US232.7 billion at list prices. Net orders, which account for cancellations, rose 6% from the prior year.

Air Arabia gains Jordan airline stake
In business developments, Sharjah-based low-cost carrier Air Arabia will open a new international hub at Amman’s Queen Alia International Airport in Jordan, its fifth fixed-based operation globally, following the acquisition of a 49% stake in Petra Airlines.

The deal will see the existing principal shareholder of Perta Airlines RUM Group maintain a 51% stake. The new partnership will also lead to the creation of Air Arabia Jordan.
Operation is expected to commence in the first quarter of 2015.