Carry On: News for business travellers

Luftnansa's five-star first class cabin
Austrian's new business class

Lufthansa gains five-star rating
Lufthansa has been awarded top five-star ranking by Skytrax for its first class product and service package. The ergonomically contoured seats convert into a fully flat, 2m long bed. Top marks also went to Lufthansa’s in-flight entertainment, which offers movies in up to eight languages, a variety of TV and radio channels as well as a selection of CDs and audio books. Skytrax said the in-cabin service had shown marked improvement over the past 12 months, while the first-class terminal in Frankfurt scored five-star ratings across many of the assessment categories, including its armchairs and sofas as well as other amenities such as quiet rooms with daybeds, separate cigar lounge, spacious bathrooms offering high-quality an extensive choice of hot or cold meals, cocktails and fine wines.

Austrian boosts long-haul seating comfort
Austrian Airlines’ first Boeing 777 to feature a completely remodelled long-haul cabin has made its flight from Vienna to Malé, capital of the Maldives. The new fittings mean passengers in business class have new seats that offer a persuasive mix of intuitive operation, a built-in massage function and extra storage space. A new air cushion system provides the option of converting them into full-flat beds. Economy class passengers on long-haul flights will also have a new level of seating comfort.

Air NZ daily to Tokyo, Shanghai
Air New Zealand is now operating daily return services to Tokyo and Shanghai in response to strong growth in the Asian market. Daily return services to Shanghai started this week for the first time since launching the route in 2006. Daily return services to Tokyo also resumed for the first time in three years, increasing capacity on the route in December by more than 12% year on year. “The Japanese market is now showing signs of strong recovery after it was hit very hard by both the Christchurch earthquake and Japan tsunami in 2011,” says Air New Zealand deputy chief executive officer and acting chief sales officer Norm Thompson. “China is now New Zealand’s second largest inbound tourist market, after Australia, having recently overtaken both North America and the UK.”

Singapore plans big spending
Singapore Airlines says it plans to increase its capital expenditure for the next five years by 67% to buy new planes and improve its cabins as it battles for market share in an industry facing declining demand from the important corporate market.  "We must venture outside our comfort zone, find new ways to conduct our sales and marketing, reduce expenditure, and improve both productivity and operational efficiency," Goh Choon Phong, the airline's chief executive, told employees in an in-house magazine seen by the Wall Street Journal. "It cannot be business as usual, and I cannot stress this point enough." The company plans to invest $S14.25 billion over the next five years, compared with $S8.55 billion in the previous five years.

Dreamliner grounding costs mount
More than 1000 flights around the world have been affected by the continued grounding of all Boeing 787s up to the start of the weekend. Japan’s ANA, which operates 17 of the 787s, is the most affected with the loss of more than 500 flights between January 17 and January 24. Japan Airlines, which has a slightly smaller Dreamliner fleet, has had nearly 100 flights impacted. United, the only US airline that flies the 787, has a fleet of six. More than 70 United flights have been impacted. US, Japanese and other international bodies that have grounded the planes have provided no specific timetable for the 787s’ return.

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