Qatar's Cathay deal, Virgin Australia delisting and more

Carry On: Business travel news also includes Air New Zealand's Dunedin lounge and Emirates' new B777-300ER first class cabins.

Qatar Airways buys into Cathay Pacific
Qatar Airways has bought a 9.61% stake in Cathay Pacific, adding to interests it already has in British Airways-parent International Consolidated Airlines Group (20%), South America’s LATAM Airlines Group (10%) and Italy’s Meridiana (49%). Hong Kong’s Kingboard Chemical Holdings sold the stake to Qatar for $HK5.16 billion ($US661 million), Swire Pacific owns 45% of Cathay and state-owned Air China 30%.

Virgin Australia may delist
Virgin Australia Holdings is considering going private as it swung to profitability in the first quarter from a loss a year ago and forecast a continued improvement in the second and third quarter. Virgin Australia is about 90%-owned by Singapore Airlines, Etihad Airways, Virgin Group, HNA Aviation and China’s Nanshan Group, all of which have representatives on the board. Privatisation would lead to less public scrutiny of its financial performance. “The board has held discussions about privatisation. However, there is no outcome to report to the market at this stage,” chairwoman Elizabeth Bryan told the annual meeting. Virgin shares are at their highest level since February.

Air NZ expands Dunedin lounge
Air New Zealand’s new regional lounge at Dunedin Airport, pictured, now caters for more than 120 customers, double the previous capacity. It has four different seating zones and a café as well as a self-service food buffet and drinks station. The lounge is part of a four-year, $100 million upgrade programme. Other completed lounges are in Auckland, Sydney, Brisbane, Nadi, Melbourne, Wellington, Queenstown, Hamilton, Invercargill and Palmerston North.

Fiji Airways expands Qantas codeshare
Fiji Airways has added more destinations to its codeshare agreement with Qantas to allow one-ticket travel from Nadi to Perth, Hobart, Canberra, Darwin, Townsville and Rockhampton through connections via Sydney or Brisbane. Fiji offers direct services from Nadi to Sydney (twice daily), Brisbane (daily), Melbourne (five times a week) and Adelaide (twice weekly).

Emirates’ new B777-300ER cabins
Emirates Airline has unveiled plans for new first-class cabins in its latest Boeing 777-300ERs. Details will be fully revealed at the Dubai Air Show and the initial two aircraft will operate from Dubai to Brussels and Geneva from December 1. The cabins feature six private suites in a 1-1-1 layout, compared with the current configuration of eight suites in a 1-2-1 layout on its 777s. The two new aircraft will also have what the airline calls “refreshed features” in business and economy.

Boeing renews big China deal
President Donald Trump’s visit to Beijing brought further details of deals to sell 300 Boeing aircraft to the China Aviation Supplies Holding Company worth $US37 billion. General Electric also signed jet engine deals worth $US2.5 billion. China Aviation Supplies, which leases planes to Chinese airlines, says the Boeing agreement covers 260 737s, and 40 777s and 787s. The new agreement may overlap substantially with a similar, 300-plane agreement Boeing signed during Chinese President Xi Jinping's 2015 visit to the US. Boeing says it also has orders for 42 737 MAXs and 10 787-9s from CDB Aviation, a unit of China Development Bank Financial Leasing Co. The order is worth $US7.4 billion at list prices.

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