Carry on: Boeing stretches 737, China’s trillion-dollar fleet and more

In other business travel news, Singapore is ending the lease of its first A380. With special feature audio.

Boeing to stretch 737 Max
Boeing is studying two designs for its so-called Max 10, a potential stretch of its largest 737 aimed at making up ground on Airbus’ longest single-aisle jet. One option is a simple lengthening of the 737 Max 9 that would offer much of the range and payload of Airbus’s A321neo. The alternative is a more elaborate revamp that would feature a larger new generation engine option (neo).

The upgraded Max 9 version could enter the market by early 2020, while the more complex one wouldn’t begin service until almost two years later. Airbus, meanwhile, has already received almost 1300 orders for the A321neo, with a long-range version scheduled to begin commercial operation in 2019.

Boeing tips trillion-dollar fleet for China
Boeing says in a new forecast that China will be the first country with a trillion-dollar airline fleet. The manufacturer says Chinese airlines are likely to purchase 6810 planes worth $US1.025 trillion in the next 20 years. This estimate is 7.6% higher than the 6330 aircraft predicted last year.

"The continuing expansion of China's middle class, coupled with new visa policies and a wide range of widebody airplanes... gives us every reason to expect a very bright future for China's long-haul market," says Randy Tinseth, Boeing Commercial Airplanes' vice president of marketing. China’s passenger traffic is forecast to increase 6.4% annually over the next 20 years.

Singapore turns back on A380
Singapore Airlines (SIA) won't be renewing the lease on the first ever Airbus A380 to enter service. The 10-year lease expires next month and four others are on a similar arrangement. SIA has a total of 19 A380s in its fleet and is not ordering any more. In July, Airbus said it would slash production of the A380 to 12 planes a year in 2018 from 27 last year due to lack of orders.

National Travel Industry Awards
Air New Zealand collected two awards – best international airline online and best agency support. Etihad Airways was named best international airline offline. Rydges won the best hotel group category ahead of Accor and Sky City. Other winners included Carnival as best cruise line, Globus as best tour operator and Avis as best car rental operator. House of travel was best agency brand while Orbit was best corporate brand.

Chinese airlines name debut flight dates
Tianjin Airlines of China has scheduled its first flight to New Zealand for December 21. It plans to operate the Tianjin-Chongqing-Auckland route, three times a week, with Airbus A330-200 aircraft. 
Meanwhile, Hainan Airlines, also of China, has announced its planned Changsha-Melbourne route will start on November 9. This will also use A330-200 aircraft and operate twice a week.

Thai delays A350 launch to Melbourne
Thai Airways International has postponed its first Airbus A350-900XWB on an international route, Bangkok-Melbourne, to September 24. It was previously scheduled to start on September 16. Thai will operate Boeing 777-300ER (773) on the service instead. Meanwhile, the A350 will continue to operate Bangkok-Chiang Mai and Bangkok-Phuket routes during this period.

Qantas to replace Jetstar on Melbourne-Tokyo
Qantas will fly direct flight from Melbourne to Tokyo (Narita) from December 16. The route will add 297 seats with the operation of a two-class A330-300. Jetstar will continue to operate on the route until February 25, 2017, when its flights will cease. Qantas launched Sydney-Tokyo (Haneda) and Brisbane -Tokyo (Narita) services in 2015, Japanese vistors to Australia rose 17% in 2015/16 financial year, with those travellers spending $1.5 billion (up 14% on the previous year). The number of Australians travelling to Japan increased 24% in 2015.

American codeshares with Jetstar
American Airlines has expanded its codeshare partnership with Jetstar in New Zealand to the Auckland-Napier/Hastings, 
Auckland-Nelson
 and Auckland-Palmerston North routes.

Other route news of the week
Hong Kong Airlines, which starts operating to Auckland in November, is to expand its only service to Australia from three to five times a week. The expanded Hong Kong-Gold Coast-Cairns-Hong Kong service will operate from November 9. Air Niugini is launching a service to Micronesia. From, December 3 it will operate Fokker 70 aircraft with on a 

Port Moresby-Chuuk-Pohnpei-Port Moresby and a 

Port Moresby-Pohnpei-Chuuk-Port Moresby. Both will run once a week. Alitalia of Italy is introducing a service to Cuba. The Rome-Havana flight will be launched on November 29 and operate twice a week using Boeing 777-200ER aircraft.

Tune into NBR Radio’s Sunday Business with Andrew Patterson on Sunday morning, for analysis and feature-length interviews.

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