Carry on: Qantas delays wi-fi, Qatar offers laptops, Cathay-Lufthansa deal and more
Qantas postpones wi-fi launch
Qantas says "stability issues" have forced it to delay the launch of its inflight wi-fi. The service is being tested on a Boeing 737 equipped with the satellite antenna and electronics hardware.
A media launch and test flight was scheduled for last Monday, March 27, but it could take another month before this is held.
"We’re working with NBN [national broadband network] and ViaSat to fix these issues very soon. We remain on track for a broader rollout to the Qantas domestic fleet from mid-2017," the airline says.
Meanwhile, Virgin Australia is considering its options in how to respond with its own wifi service on domestic flights. It has begun surveying customers on their attitudes toward internet access on flights, looking to gauge how much frequent flyers are prepared to pay and the likelihood that it will influence the choice of airline.
Qatar offers free laptops for Doha-US
Qatar Airways is offering a laptop loan service for passengers travelling to the US from Doha. US authorities have banned large electronic devices from being carried in cabins on selected flights from the Middle East and North Africa.
The complimentary laptops will be available to business class passengers from next week and can be collected after boarding. Customers will be able to download their work on to a USB before stepping on board to pick up where they left-off.
Lufthansa-Cathay Pacific deal includes Auckland
Kiwi passengers on Lufthansa Group airlines will now be able to gain frequent flier miles on Cathay Pacific between Auckland and Europe via Hong Kong under a new partnership agreement with Cathay Pacific.
The codeshare takes effect on April 26 and covers travellers on Lufthansa, Austrian and Swiss departing from Frankfurt, Munich, Zurich and Vienna for Hong Kong and connecting with Cathay Pacific flights to Auckland, Sydney, Melbourne and Cairns. Lufthansa already offers codeshare privileges on Cathay's Auckland-Hong Kong service as this is codeshared with Lufthansa's Star Alliance partner Air New Zealand.
Cathay Pacific travellers will also gain easier access to 14 other destinations in Europe using Lufthansa Group carriers in addition to Cathay’s existing destinations of Dusseldorf, Frankfurt and Zurich.
Three continents in one day
Emirates launched three new Airbus A380 services to three continents on a single say this week – from Dubai to Tokyo-Narita in Japan, Casablanca in Morocco, and Sao Paulo in Brazil.
Emirates will be the first airline to operate scheduled A380 services in Latin America and North Africa. The airline says it previously served Tokyo-Narita with an A380 and its reintroduction is to meet the “healthy demand” for travel between Japan and Dubai. On all three routes, the A380 replaces an existing Boeing 777 service.
US, China airlines discuss partnership
American Airlines and China Southern Airlines are discussing a “major strategic cooperation,” the Chinese airline says in a regulatory filing. This could involve an equity purchase by American and other forms of cooperation. China Southern, based in Guangzhou, says any deal could be subject to approvals by the boards and shareholders of both companies and by government authorities.
NZ-China flights still capped
Restrictions on flights between New Zealand and China remain capped despite a 20% capacity boost to 59 a week. The cap was lifted to 49 in 2016 from 42 in 2014. Chinese tourism last year rose 12% to 421,000 visitors. Officials say they are still working on an open skies agreement. From June, six Chinese airlines will be flying directly to New Zealand.
Niue ends seasonal flights
Niue has signed a deal with Air New Zealand for two flights a week to carry on year round. The airline has been operating a second flight only during the high season, which runs from April to October.