Carry on: Qantas aims for Sydney-New York direct

Business traveller news also includes Emirates' next destinations, Virgin Australia's increased transtasman services and Fijian Airways' additional Auckland-Suva flight - with Special Feature audio.

Click the NBR Radio box for on-demand special feature audio: Nevil Gibson breaks down the latest aviation news

Qantas has Big Apple in its sights
Qantas is stepping up the number of Sydney to Dallas-Fort Worth direct flights – the world’s longest commercial route – and is looking at an even longer one to New York. But this won’t be possible until the advanced Boeing 777-8X is available in the next decade.

Speaking at a media lunch in Sydney last week, chief executive Alan Joyce revealed the airline “puts 300 people a day to New York anyway, so the market’s growing – it’s just that we can’t do [non-stop] with the technology [we have today]. Once the technology happens, we would go there straight away,” he told Australian Business Traveller.

"We’re looking at the new 777-8X that would potentially have the range to do it but that doesn’t come until [the early] 2020s.” Meanwhile, the Sydney-Dallas-Fort Worth route will go daily from April 26, 2016, using A380 aircraft.

Emirates looks at Mexico, Berlin
Emirates has identified Mexico City and Berlin as the most attractive new destinations that will become available with longer-range jets and expanded air-service treaties. Flights from Dubai to the Mexican capital will be possible with the Boeing 777X, for which Emirates is due to be the first customer in 2020. A Dubai-Berlin service requires Germany to approve more bilateral flights.

Meanwhile, Emirates is adding four flights a week from Dubai to Jeddah, the commercial capital and main seaport of Saudi Arabia. The additional flights start from December 14 and will be operated by A380s on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays, bringing the total number of weekly flights to 21.

Where US travellers want to go
Accommodation website Hotels.com has revealed its Top Travel Predictions for Americans in 2016. Mexico heads the international destinations with Mexico City, Cancun and Riviera Maya, followed by Ciudad Juarez and Tijuana.

Phuket in Thailand has experienced a significant increase in travel demand (up 70% over 2014) and the country is expecting a record 30 million visitors this year.

Under-the-radar Canadian destinations will continue to shine in 2016. The province of Ontario is home to the perennial international destinations for Americans – Toronto and Niagara Falls – but over the past two years lesser-known places such as Mississauga, the border city of Windsor and the scenic town of Niagara-on-the-Lake have more than doubled in popularity.

Further afield, the Norwegian capitol of Oslo will become a top Scandinavian destination. It has had the largest increase in travel demand among all European destinations since 2013 (up over 180%).

Russia takes ‘white tail’ Boeing 747s
Air Bridge Cargo of Russia has taken delivery of two “white tail” Boeing 747-8s, reducing the list of latest model jumbo jets that have already been built but without a buyer.

Boeing’s own financing unit, Boeing Capital Corporation, has bought the aircraft and then leased them to Air Bridge, leaving four yet to be sold.

Air Bridge Cargo offered a big boost to the sluggish 747 programme at the Paris Air Show in June by signing a preliminary agreement to take 20 of the jumbo jets through “a mix of direct purchases and leasing over the next seven years.”

Virgin Australia boosts transtasman flights
Air New Zealand partner Virgin Australia will add 75,000 seats on transtasman routes in 2016. From June 30, these are:

  • three additional return services per week between Auckland and Sydney;
  • two additional return services per week between Auckland and Melbourne; and
  • up to four additional return services per week between Brisbane and Queenstown during the ski season (June 25-October 2).

The flights will use Boeing 737 aircraft with Virgin Australia’s new business class offering. The airline is also introducing A330-200s in peak travel periods on services from Brisbane and Melbourne to Fiji.

Additional Auckland-Houston flights
Air New Zealand plans to expand operations for its new Auckland-Houston route before it's even launched. From March 27, the previously scheduled three times a week operation will be expanded to five times a week.

Fiji adds Auckland-Suva flight
Fiji Airways is changing its Auckland-Suva schedule and will add a third weekly flight next year. From November 27, all departure times for existing direct flights (Monday and Friday only) between Auckland and Suva are being advanced by two-and-a-half hours. From April 1, 2016, an extra service will operate on Wednesdays.

Kapiti gains more Auckland, loses Christchurch
Air New Zealand is boosting its flights between Auckland and Kapiti Coast (Paraparaumu)  and is cutting the service between Kapiti and Christchurch due to a lack of demand. The Auckland-Kapiti flights will be increased to 16 a week while the last Christchurch service will be on February 28.

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