Air NZ, Qantas to codeshare, world's longest flight, Bombardier deal and more

Air New Zealand, Qantas to share domestic networks
In a surprise deal, Qantas and Air New Zealand have announced plans to codeshare on domestic routes in each other’s country. It will not involve transtasman travel and follows Air New Zealand’s decision to breakup its partnership with Virgin Australia. Under the deal, Qantas will add its code on up to 30 routes on Air New Zealand’s domestic network, while Air New Zealand will puts its code on up to 85 routes on Qantas’ routes in Australia.

The airlines say travellers will benefit from coordination of check-in and handling at airports, shorter connection times, opening up more onward flights and faster journey times overall. Eligible customers will also have access to a combined total of 36 domestic lounges on both sides of the Tasman when flying on routes covered by the codeshare agreement.

They also say that over time there is potential to explore areas of mutual interest, including research into biofuels, freight and ground-handling opportunities. The deal will take effect from October 28, when the Virgin Australia partnership ends, and doesn't affect Qantas' codeshares with its subsidiary Jetstar.

Qantas Group chief executive Alan Joyce says in a statement the two national carriers have cooperated in the past as well as sharing a goal of making travel easier.

“Our relationship with Air New Zealand goes back almost 80 years. We’ve been partners at various stages over that time and we have a lot of respect for them as a competitor,” Mr Joyce states.

“A codeshare deal on our domestic networks makes sense for customers because it leverages the strengths we each have in our home markets.” 

Air New Zealand CEO Christopher Luxon states, “While the two airlines will continue to compete very strongly across all markets, Air New Zealand and Qantas are known for having a commitment to innovation, customer service excellence, operational performance and safety. We are confident that our respective customers will enjoy the reciprocal benefits on both sides of the Tasman.”

Bookings open for longest flight
Bookings have opened for Singapore Airlines’ restored nonstop Singapore-New York/Newark service, the world’s longest commercial route. Flights will start on October 11, using the new Airbus A350-900ULR (ultra-long-range).

The route will initially run three times a week, departing Singapore on Monday, Thursday and Saturday. The aircraft will be configured in a two-class layout, with 67 business class seats and 94 in premium economy. Flight time is up to 18 hours 45 minutes and the journey is about 9000 nautical miles (16,700km).

Samoa seeks airport fees waiver
Government-owned Samoa Airways is asking the Samoa Airport Authority to waive the landing fees at Apia Faleolo airport. The government is unlikely to agree but may decide on a concession rate as a new operator. It is unlikely other carriers, including Fiji Airways, Air New Zealand and Virgin Australia, would be eligible. However, any future new operators would be able to benefit from the discount. Samoa Airways flies from Apia to Auckland (five times weekly) and Sydney (twice weekly) since being launched last year.

Qatar touches down in Mykonos
The popular holiday resort island of Mykonos in Greece’s Cyclades is only one stop away from New Zealand with the launch this week of a Qatar Airways service from Doha. The four times weekly service uses Airbus A320 aircraft in two classes. The four-month seasonal service runs until September 30.

Air Italy goes international
Italy’s newest airline has launched long-haul flights under a new call sign, new colours and recently acquired Airbus A330-200. The first routes are from Milan Malpensa to New York JFK and Miami (starting June 8). Qatar Airways owned 49% of Meridiana’s shares in February before it was transformed into Air Italy. The airline is leasing five A330s while it waits for its order of 30 Boeing 787-8 Dreamliners to be delivered.

US sanctions Iranian aviation officials
The US Treasury has imposed sanctions on nine individuals and firms accused of procuring jet engines and aircraft parts for Iranian airlines previously blacklisted for their support of US-designated terror groups. "The deceptive practices these airlines employ to illegally obtain services and US goods is yet another example of the duplicitous ways in which the Iranian regime has operated," Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin says.

Qatar touches down in Mykonos
The popular holiday resort island of Mykonos in Greece’s Cyclades is only one stop away from New Zealand with the launch this week of a Qatar Airways service from Doha. The four times weekly service uses Airbus A320 aircraft in two classes. The four-month seasonal service runs until September 30.

Bombardier lands big Baltic deal
Bombardier Commercial Aircraft and Riga-based Air Baltic have made a deal for 30 CS300 single-aisled aircraft with options and purchase rights for an additional 30. The firm order is valued at $US2.9 billion at list prices. This would increase to nearly $US5.9b should all 15 options and 15 purchase rights be exercised.

AirBaltic, which operates from Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania, will become the largest European C Series customer and the second largest worldwide. The airline's new business plan relies on significant expansion of routes from all three Baltic countries.

Meanwhile, Bombardier has unveiled three new versions of its Global business jet – the 5500, 6500 and 7500 (pictured). Bombardier Business Aircraft president David Coleal, says the flagship 7500 will be "the market's largest and longest range business jet.”

The Global 7500 will enter service during the second half of 2018 with all five of its test vehicles in a flight programme that has clocked up more than 2000 hours. The 7500 boasts an unmatched range of 7700 nautical miles, meaning it can fly nonstop from New York to Hong Kong and from Singapore to San Francisco. The 5500 and 6500 have ranges of 5700nm and 6600nm respectively.

BA codeshares with Qatar
British Airways has expanded its codeshare partnership with Qatar Airways to include services from Doha to Auckland and to Adelaide, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney in Australia. The codeshare also includes destinations in Southeast Asia and Africa. A separate expanded codeshare partnership with China Eastern covers additional domestic routes in China via Shanghai.

Jeddah’s new airport opens
Saudi Arabia’s new King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah will cater for millions of Muslim pilgrims going to the nearby holy cities of Medina and Mecca. The airport, which cost 36 billion riyals, is expected to have a capacity of 80 million passengers annually once fully operational. The old Jeddah airport handled a record 34 million passengers last year, a 9.4% increase from 2016.

Route news of the week
Air New Zealand’s lease of a Hi-Fly A340-300 aircraft on its daily Auckland-Honolulu route will run through to June 10. It replaces a Boeing 787-9 that is undergoing engine repairs. Emirates will operate an Airbus A380 on one of its twice daily Dubai-Hamburg flights from October 28. It will replace a Boeing 777-300ER and represent a capacity increase of more than 22% to a total of 6090 weekly seats in each direction, Meanwhile, Emirates’ plans to introduce a third Dubai-Dublin service have been delayed due to restrictions at Dublin Airport. El Al Israel Airlines has delayed the planned launch of its Tel Aviv-San Francisco route from November 19 to May 13, 2019. Delta Air Lines will suspend its once weekly New York JFK-Havana operation on September 1. It  uses an Airbus A319.

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