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Carry on: Qantas wi-fi, Emirates fleet options, flight diversion costs and more

Business traveller news also includes new routes of the week and Boeing's largest 737.

Nevil Gibson
Fri, 17 Feb 2017

Qantas signs inflight wi-fi content services
Qantas passengers will have soon be able to watch and listen to their favourite movies and music through inflight wi-fi services. The airline has announced these will be available from Foxtel, Sky News, Netflix and Spotify on domestic services through the national broadband network. Qantas has begun installing wi-fi in the first of 80 domestic aircraft – a mix of Boeing 737 and Airbus A330 planes – for a launch at the end of this month. The services require subscriptions but pay-TV channel Foxtel is offering a free three-day trial of its app and programmes, including live sport from the AFL, NRL and A-League. Netflix and Spotify are offering 30-day free trials.

Emirates to go narrowbodied?
Emirates is best-known for its all widebodied fleet and long-distance routes. But now it is considering the introduction of adding single-aisled aircraft for the first time, president and chief executive Sir Tim Clark says. He says a decision will be made over the next 18 months on whether to buy latest generation Airbus A320 or Boeing 737 MAX months, a decision will be made on whether to add aircraft such as the A320 aircraft. The airline’s move to Dubai’s new World Centre airport will give it greater terminal and gate capacity to develop thinner routes that are unsuited to its existing fleet of 92 A380-800s, 10 B777-200LRs, 10 B777-300s and 128 B777-300ERs. 

Emirates has yet to make a decision on whether to order the A350 or B787 given it axed an order for 70 A350s back in June 2014. Among the types under consideration are the A350-900/-1000 and the B787-9/-10. 

Medical emergency costs
Meanwhile, Emirates, as one of the world’s largest airlines, has added up the costs of flight diversion for medical emergencies. Last year it handled more than 60 such incidents, each at a cost of between $US60,000 and $US600,000. These can include fuel, flight catering, landing and ground handling fees, air navigation cost, passenger rebooking costs and onward connection, as well as other associated costs to care for crew and passengers. In 2016, Emirates delivered nearly 23,000 hours of medical training for cabin crew and pilots. It also spent more than $US7 million on the installation of medical equipment on board, with annual maintenance costs being a further $US1.7 million. On average, Emirates’ crew make about 20 calls to the medical advisory service per 100,000 passengers flown but most calls do not result in a diversion.

Aer Lingus to upgrade fleet
International Airline Group (IAG) will take seven long-range A321neo variants for its Irish arm, Aer Lingus, Bloomberg reports. The order has not been confirmed by the airline or Airbus. The planes will replace four Boeing 757s on some Aer Lingus flights to the US. Aer Lingus faces increasing competition from Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA, which is establishing an Irish arm and aims to operate transatlantic services using Boeing 737 MAX aircraft.

Boeing’s largest 737 to fly in April
Boeing says it plans to fly its new 737 MAX-9 for the first time in April. Delivery of this larger model is expected to start in 2018. The smaller MAX-8 will start coming off the assembly line by mid-year. MAX models are much more fuel efficient and will come in five variants.

Saudis buy 80 A320neos
Saudi low-cost carrier Flynas has signed an €8.6 billion deal to buy 80 Airbus A320neos and an option for 40 more. NAS Holding chief executive Bander Al Mohanna says the airline aims to "play a leading role in the market," which he describes as "very huge." Delivery will begin next year and continue until at least 2026. Flynas passenger numbers now exceed six million annually. It operates mainly within the Arabian peninsula and in the immediate vicinity within four hours' flying time.

Qatar Airways adds Skopje
Fresh from its new Doha-Auckland nonstop service, Qatar Airways has confirmed its new direct service to Skopje, capital of the Republic of Macedonia, will start on July 17. The four-weekly flight route will operate with Airbus A320 aircraft.  

Route news of the week
AirAsia X will end its Kuala Lumpur-Mauritius service on March 26. The route was launched in October 2016 with A330 aircraft. Garuda Indonesia will increase its Jakarta-Melbourne and Jakarta-Sydney services to from four to five times weekly between June and October.  The Melbourne flight change will take effect from June 1 and Sydney from June 4. Cathay Pacific is boosting its Hong Kong-Adelaide route from four to five times weekly from July. The service is operated by A330-300 aircraft. Etihad Airways is introducing Boeing 787-9 aircraft to its Abu Dhabi-Johannesburg route from March 26 to September 28. During this period, an A330-200 will also be used, with the Dreamliner taking over on a daily basis from September 29.

Nevil Gibson
Fri, 17 Feb 2017
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Carry on: Qantas wi-fi, Emirates fleet options, flight diversion costs and more