Fiji expansion, A380s for scrap heap, Pyongyang flights and more

Fiji Airways to boost long-haul fleet
Fiji Airways is ramping up its international ambitions after joining the Oneworld alliance and making decisions on expanding its long-haul fleet.

Chief executive Andre Viljoen says it will decide on at least eight new aircraft in September from a choice of A350s and A330neos from Airbus or Boeing’s 787 Dreamliners. Its fleet of A330s will be replaced if it opts for the Dreamliners, he says.

The Oneworld membership will mean more partnerships and joint ventures, adding to its existing codeshares with Qantas, American Airlines, Cathay Pacific and, most recently, British Airways. A direct service to Japan will start this year frequencies are being increased on some long-haul routes, including Singapore and San Francisco.

Fiji Airways carried 1.6 million passengers last year generated revenues of $US452 million and $US38m in net profit.

North Korea flights resume
Air China has resumed regular flights between Beijing and Pyongyang, the main route for foreigners. The Chinese flag carrier indefinitely suspended flights last November, citing poor demand. A more likely reason is that the suspension was due to sanctions applied by China over the nuclear weapons programme. Since then, diplomatic moves have dramatically changed, leading to next week’s US-North Korea summit and closer ties with South Korea as well as China.  The flights from Beijing to Pyongyang will run on Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoons using a Boeing 737-700.

First A380s to be broken up
Two of the first Airbus A380 superjumbos to be retired after just 10 years will be broken up for parts. A German investment company, Dr Peters Group, says it has failed to find an airline willing to keep them flying after a decision by Singapore Airlines not to keep them in service. Despite praise by passengers for their quiet and spacious cabins, most airlines have preferred the largest twin-engined aircraft because they offer greater fuel efficiency and are easier to fill than two decks carrying as many as 550 passengers.

Emirates adds A380 to Japan
Emirates is the biggest user of A380s and has announced it will deploy them on its Dubai-Osaka route on October 28, replacing Boeing 777-300ERs. This represents a capacity increase of 38%, with each aircraft carrying a total of 489 seats in a three-class configuration – 399 seats in economy, 76 flat-bed seats in business and 14 first class private suites. A380s already operate daily to Tokyo’s Narita International Airport. Emirates also operates daily to Tokyo’s other airport, Haneda. This is the 10th year of Emirates’ A380 operations using a fleet of 103 and with 59 more on order.

Singapore to start LA service
Singapore Airlines chief executive officer Goh Choon Phong says the recently announced non-stop service to New York – the world’s longest – will be followed “quite soon” with direct non-stop flights to Los Angeles. The flights to Newark Liberty International Airport will start on October 11. Both routes will use the new ULR (ultra long range) variant of the A350-900. Singapore has ordered seven and will take delivery of the first in September. The remaining are due by the end of March next year.

Hong Kong Airlines pulls out of Australia
Hong Kong Airlines (HKA) will cease its Hong Kong-Gold Coast-Cairns-Hong Kong triangle route after October 28. The three-times weekly service will end "due to its changing business strategy in the Australian market." It is HKA’s only service to Australia and it operates it with partner Virgin Australia. HKA codeshares on Virgin Australia's Melbourne-Hong Kong route and will also do so when Virgin's new daily Sydney-Hong Kong service launches on July 2. Both airlines share the same shareholder, HNA Group, which also owns Hainan Airlines.

Route news of the week
Air New Zealand will be unable to offer premium economy seating when it operates leased Boeing 777-200ER aircraft from Singapore Airlines on the Auckland-Honolulu route from July 17 to September 2. This is due to the grounding of its Dreamliner fleet for engine repairs. Air New Zealand is rescheduling its Auckland-Niue route from October 31 to operate on Tuesday and Saturday and then return on Friday and Monday. Currently, flights depart from Auckland on Wednesday and Saturday and return on Friday and Tuesday. Air New Zealand is adding and early-morning departure on its Queenstown-Wellington route. Etihad Airways is launching a new route to Spain. Abu Dhabi-Barcelona flights will start on November 21 using A330-200 aircraft. Emirates will start a third daily service on its Dubai-Moscow Domodedovo route on October 25. Flight EK173 will depart Dubai at 0330hrs and arrive in Moscow at 0750hrs, while the return flight EK174 will depart Domodedovo at 1040hrs and arrive in Dubai at 1655hrs.

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