Carry on: Most-loved airlines, Capital Express codeshare and more

The travel news roundup also includes Taiwan's first A350 XWB and route news of the week. With special feature audio.

Asia dominates most-loved airlines
Three Asian carriers have been ranked at the top of Skytrax’s most-loved airlines in a new survey based on customer reviews. They are, in order, Garuda Indonesia, Asiana Airlines, of Korea, and Taiwan’s EVA Airways. Fourth-placed Athens-based Aegean Airlines was the only European carrier in the top 10.

All the six others are also from Asia: Korean Air (fifth), Bangkok Airways (sixth), Singapore Airlines (seventh), AirAsia X (eighth), ANA All Nippon Airways (ninth) and Royal Brunei Airlines. Skytrax says it doesn’t use customer reviews for its airline ratings and the heavy Asian dominance may reflect the greater willingness of passengers in Europe, North and the Middle East to complain.

Air New Zealand (27th) and Qantas (24th) are well down the lists as are Cathay Pacific (22nd) and Emirates (35th) while all the major US airlines are the bottom – United at 78th and American at 79th with Hawaiian much higher rated at  -49th out of 80.

Air New Zealand to codeshare Capital Express
Star Alliance partners Air New Zealand and Singapore Airlines have announced they will extend their codeshare agreement to include travel between Wellington and Singapore via Canberra, the so-called Capital Express. The new service by Singapore Airlines begins on September 21. It also means Singapore Airlines will codeshare on Air New Zealand’s domestic network for flights out of Wellington.

Taiwan gets first A350 XWB
Taiwan’s China Airlines says its first Airbus A350 XWB is undergoing its final ground and flight-testing before delivery that is expected any day. The airline has 14 A350s on order. Airbus says delays on cabin interiors have held up A350 deliveries this year. But it says it will still meet its previous target of delivering 50 of the aircraft in 2016. Airbus has 810 firm orders for the A350 from 43 customers. China Airways flies to both Auckland and Christchurch via Australia but it is not known if the A350s will be on this route initially.

First US-Cuba flight touches down
US airline JetBlue has made the first regular commercial flight between the US and Cuba in more than half a century. The August 31 inaugural flight – the first of its kind since 1961 – took off from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and arrived about an hour later in the central Cuban city of Santa Clara.

The flight kicks off a new schedule that includes 110 daily trips, with 90 already authorised by both governments to nine Cuban airports, many of them in or near tourism hotspots. Some 20 daily routes to Havana are also pending, with airlines requesting the US authorities to triple that number.

Air Niugini fills Cairns gap
Papua New Guinea’s Air Niugini says it will fill the gap left by Qantas after it abandoned direct Cairns to Port Moresby flights. Qantas says due to high demand for services to Bali, it will be reducing its regional and domestic routes. This includes shifting its Port Moresby flights to Brisbane from October 30. Air Niugini chief executive officer Simon Foo says the airline will increase its frequency and seat capacity by more than 50% or up to eight extra flights per week.

Route news of the week
United Airlines has delayed deployment of its Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner on the San Francisco-Auckland run to March 25, 2017. It previously planned to upgrade from the B787-8 from February 28. Korean Air has moved forward its planned Airbus A380 operation on the Seoul Incheon-Sydney route from December 1 to October 30. This is a daily service. Air China has opened reservations for its planned Beijing-Warsaw service from September 21. This route will be operated by A330-200 daily. Hainan Airlines will begin its second Australian service, Xi'An-Melbourne, on November 1.  The twice-weekly service will use an Airbus A330-200 aircraft.
 SIingapore Airlines’ subsidiary SilkAir will be launching thrice-weekly flights from Singapore to Laos from October 31. It will operate a circular route, Singapore-Vientiane-Luang Prabang-Singapore, with an Airbus A320.

Tune into NBR Radio’s Sunday Business with Andrew Patterson on Sunday morning, for analysis and feature-length interviews.

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