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British Airways to refresh lounges in Chicago, Edinburgh and Berlin

British Airways lounge refresh
The shape of things to come: BA says this gives a sense of what the refreshed lounges will look like. Photo: British Airways.

British Airways will refresh its lounges in Chicago, Edinburgh and Berlin as part of its £6.5bn investment in customer services.

The updates are part of a 2020 lounge program that will also see work on a number of lounges at the airline’s Heathrow Terminal 5 hub and the relaunch of the Elemis Spa at New York JFK.

WATCH a breathtaking video of the Boeing 777X VIP interior.

The Chicago update to First and Club lounges is due to be completed in the northern spring 2020 and will include new décor, flooring and furnishing the airline says will provide a lighter and more relaxing atmosphere for customers.

There will be more charging ports that will be built into marble tables as well as “specially crafted chairs to help customers relax” and redesigned serving stations in the dining area.

British Airways
Additional charging ports are always welcome. Photo: British Airways.

Passengers will also receive a personal and more interactive welcome in new-look reception areas.

BA’s lounge in Edinburgh also gets a fresher, brighter with new carpeting and furniture, including bespoke armchairs. The revamp will be completed by the end of spring.

A reconfigured working and dining area will give passengers traveling in Club Europe on one of up to 20 flights a day more room to work and eat.

The lounge is also open to customers connecting to a Club World or First flight or those with silver or higher Executive Club status.

Early spring will see BA’s Berlin lounge open with new furnishings, carpet and décor to service up to 10 daily flights to London.

“Lounges are incredibly important to our customers traveling in our Club and First cabins, or to those with Executive Club status, and they are rightly a focus of our £6.5bn customer investment,’’ British Airways director of brand and customer experience Carolina Martolini said.

“We’ve recently refurbished nine lounges across the network, and we’re looking forward to refurbishing more in 2020.”

British Airways Lounges that have seen improvements in the last year, include San Francisco, Johannesburg, Geneva as well as Club and First facilities at JFK.

Breathtaking video of Boeing 777X VIP interior

777X

A breathtaking video of the Boeing 777X VIP interior concept has been released.

It is a showcase of a BBJ 777X VIP interior designed by Jet Aviation Design Studio visualised by ACA.

The Boeing 777X is due to fly his month.

SEE our fabulous photo galleries

Its modernity meets classical elegance, including features like transparent OLED screens in front of the window panels, illuminated table inlays and flexible mood lighting.

Boeing launched the VIP 777X in December 2018 and it can fly its owner half-way around the world in the ultimate luxury and connect virtually any two cities.

READ: Airbus uses image recognition for automatic take-off.

Boeing BBJ-777X

The BBJ 777-8  version of the plane will have an astonishing range of 11,645 nautical miles (21, 570km) while the bigger BBJ 777-9 will still offer an ultra-long-range 11,000nm (20,730km).

This means they will fly farther than any business jet ever built.

Boeing BBJ 777X launch
Jet Aviation’s entryway.

“Our most exclusive customers want to travel with the best space and comfort and fly directly to their destination,” said Greg Laxton, head of Boeing Business Jets, at the Middle East Business Aviation Association Show in 2018.

“The new BBJ 777X will be able to do this like no other airplane before it, redefining ultra-long range VIP travel,”  said Mr. Laxton.

Boeing BBJ 777X
Greenpoint Technologies’ lounge concept.

The long-legged BBJ 777-8 offers a spacious 3,256 sq. ft. (302.5 sq m) cabin while this increases to 3,689 sq. ft. (342.7 sq m) on the 777-9 model.

To demonstrate the versatility of the airplane’s spacious cabin, BBJ unveiled interior concepts from three leading design firms: Greenpoint Technologies, Jet Aviation, and Unique Aircraft Design.

Boeing 7BBJ 77X
Even the toilet is luxurious in Unique Aircraft Design’s concept.

Each concept shows how the BBJ 777X can be transformed to suit the tastes of any VIP customer.

Boeing BBJ 777X
Unique Aircraft’s dining room

 

Etihad Airways announces bold emissions targets

Etihad Emissions
An Etihad Boeing 787

Etihad Airways announced a commitment to a minimum target of zero net carbon emissions by 2050 and halving of its 2019 net emission levels by 2035.

The airline’s ambitious environmental targets will be achieved through a mix of internal initiatives, collaboration with industry partners and adoption of a comprehensive program of relevant carbon offsets, to be developed with a specific focus on the requirements of the UAE and markets served by the airline.

READ Air France passengers vote on carbon offset programs

The Group Chief Executive Officer of Etihad Aviation Group, Tony Douglas, said: “The global focus on the environment and the urgency of reducing carbon emissions has never been greater. Etihad Aviation Group, together with its partners, is taking an active role in reducing the impact of aviation on the environment through initiatives ranging from optimised fuel management to sustainable financing practices.”

Mr Douglas said the entire air transport industry, from airlines and suppliers to airspace providers, was responsible for helping to reduce aviation’s emissions, and solutions needed to be holistic and coordinated, not isolated and sporadic.

“Airlines have attracted significant scrutiny in the global discussion of the environment, and our collective challenge as a fast-growing industry is to deliver meaningful initiatives which can quickly help to contain and reduce carbon emissions,” he said.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) predicts that the number of passenger journeys will more than double within 20 years, from 4.5 billion in 2019 to an estimated 9 billion by the late 2030s.

The International Transport Forum (ITF) at the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) adds that international aviation will experience compound annual growth of 3.8 per cent to 2050, forecasting that traffic will reach 16.5 billion passenger-kilometres, or 3.6 times 2015 volumes.

Recent sustainability initiatives taken by Etihad Aviation Group include:

  • Continued induction of the latest-generation, most fuel-efficient aircraft, including additional Boeing 787 Dreamliners, and plans for three new types – the wide-bodied Airbus A350-1000 and Boeing 777-9, and narrow-bodied Airbus A321neo. The next Dreamliner is due to arrive next week
  • Commencement of the Etihad Greenliner Programme, in which the airline’s entire fleet of Boeing 787 aircraft will be used during normal scheduled flights as ‘test beds’ for sustainable products and practices
  • Becoming the first airline to secure commercial funding conditional upon compliance with the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations. In partnership with First Abu Dhabi Bank and Abu Dhabi Global Markets, Etihad recently secured 150 million Euros to help finance the development of a multi-storey ‘eco residence’ for cabin crew living in Abu Dhabi. The airline is now exploring more opportunities for this style of funding
  • Partnering in the development of sustainable aviation fuels including biofuel developed and refined in Abu Dhabi from saltwater-tolerant plants, and commitment to support the development of another sustainable jet fuel from municipal waste in Abu Dhabi.

 

New Qantas snub-nosed dog rules fail to impress grieving owner

Qantas dog rules
Duke the boxer in happier days. Photo: Facebook.

The owner of a boxer dog that died on a Qantas flight says she is unimpressed by the airline’s moves to suspend the carriage of snub-nosed dogs and introduce new health requirements in response to the tragedy.

Kay Newman says the real issue is what the airline is doing to stop dogs being left out on the tarmac.

Newman has accused Qantas of negligence in the death of her beloved boxer, Duke, during hot weather on a December 19 Sydney-Brisbane flight. A bulldog called Frank also died two days later in a separate incident on a flight from Sydney to Melbourne.

In Duke’s case, Newman accused the airline of leaving the boxer on the airport tarmac on 39C heat for more than an hour as he was waiting to be loaded on an aircraft.

READ: ‘Very close’ Qantas flights came within 800m of each other.

She alleges it was this, rather respiratory issues, that led to his death and that Qantas did not exercise its duty of care.

Instead, she says, the airline treated Duke “as though he was nothing but luggage and as a result, he suffered an unimaginable death”.

“I was beside myself, all I could do was scream no, no, no,” she said on a Facebook post that drew international attention. “I demanded to see Duke because I didn’t want to believe what was happening.

“Duke was still in the crate and when I reached in and put my arms around him, I knew immediately why he died because the heat coming from the underside of his body, and the bottom of his crate, was immense.”

Announcing the new regulations on Friday, Qantas said increasingly popular snub-nosed breeds were at significantly higher risk of health complications due to their short snouts and respiratory systems.

“These risks are compounded by warm weather,’’ it said.

The airline said it was working with the RSPCA and other animal experts to finalize additional measures which include requiring all snub-nosed dogs to be cleared to fly by a registered vet immediately prior to travel.

It noted the requirement applied to snub-nosed breeds and not to other types of dogs,

The airline strongly recommended that customers who want to ship the dogs use registered animal shipping companies with vets at major capital city airports.

It also said it was taking “a longer-term review” of airport equipment to provide further tarmac protection for vulnerable breeds in extreme weather and is reinforcing procedures for minimizing time on tarmac.

“We already have special procedures in place for these vulnerable breeds and the simple thing for us would have been to introduce a blanket ban,’’ Qantas freight chief customer officer Nick McGlynn said.

“We know many owners love to take their pets with them when they travel, so we’re designing a way to help reduce the risks that are inherent with these particular breeds.

“These types of dogs are hugely popular but unfortunately they are high-risk flyers due to their respiratory system and breathing problems.”

But Duke’s owner said Saturday that Qantas was in damage control in “a desperate move to make them look like they are doing something”.

“I want to know what steps they are taking to prevent animals from being left out on the tarmac,’’ she said. “That’s the real issue.”

The changes were welcomed by RSPCA Australia’s senior scientific officer Dr. Sara Zito, who said flat-faced breeds faced particular risk from air transport, particularly in summer.

“Their extreme features mean they often struggle to breathe and regulate their body temperature effectively, even in mild conditions, let alone at the hottest times of the year or on a plane,” she said.

The airline said it transported more than 40,000 pets a year across its domestic network, including some 2000 snub-nosed dogs, and took its responsibility for transporting the animals “very seriously’.

Weekly Roundup – January 20th, 2020

Qantas
The flight paths of the two Qantas jets. Graphic: ATSB

Here are our 4 most popular articles from the past week.


Boeing 777X out of paint shop being prepared for first flight

777X
Boeing 777X being prepared for first flight. Credit Matt Cawby

Boeing’s 777X, WH001, is out of paint shop and being prepared for the first flight, which is expected this month.

READ ARTICLE


MH370 families lose US court appeal

MH370

The families of victims of missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 crash have lost an appeal against a court ruling that lawsuits against the carrier, insurer Allianz and manufacturer Boeing do not belong in the US.

READ ARTICLE


 Airbus all smiles as whale-like BelugaXL enters service

BelugaXL Airbus
The BelugaXL. Photo: AIrbus.

The plane only a mother could love, the whale-like BelugaXL cargo aircraft, has entered service at Airbus.

READ ARTICLE


‘Very close’ Qantas jets came within 800m of each other

Qantas
The flight paths of the two Qantas jets. Graphic: ATSB

The captain of a Qantas Airbus A330 told air traffic controllers that another Qantas jet undertaking a missed approach on the same runway came “very close” during an incident at Sydney Airport in August

READ ARTICLE


Bombardier considers exit from A220 partnership

Bombardier Airbus A220
A worker on the A220 final assembly line in Alabama. Photo: Airbus

Bombardier has warned it might exit its partnership with Airbus to build the A220 passenger jet.

The Canadian company announced it was hopping into bed with Airbus in 2017 and consummated the partnership to produce what were then its C Series passenger jets on July 1, 2018.

Airbus took a controlling interest in the partnership and rebranded the C Series as the A220 while Bombardier and the Quebec provincial government took minority stakes.

Read: ‘Very close’ Qantas jets came within 800m of each other

Bombardier subsequently announced it was exiting commercial aircraft manufacturing and would sell its regional jet business to Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and its aerostructures manufacturing business in Belfast to Spirit Aerosystems.

It is now mulling an exit from the Airbus Canada Limited Partnership and raised the prospect in a preliminary fourth-quarter earnings report that anticipates a $C130m pre-tax earnings loss.

“With its exit from Commercial Aerospace, Bombardier is reassessing its ongoing participation in ACLP,’’  Bombardier said.

“While the A220 program continues to win in the marketplace and demonstrate its value to airlines, the latest indications of the financial plan from ACLP calls for additional cash investments to support production ramp-up, pushes out the break-even timeline, and generates a lower return over the life of the program.

“This may significantly impact the joint venture value. Bombardier will disclose the amount of any write-down when we complete our analysis and report our final fourth quarter and 2019 financial results.”

Airbus has been pushing the regional jet for the 100 to 150 seat market and as a complement to its A320 family.

It also decided to establish an A220 final assembly line in Mobile, Alabama, and officially began manufacturing the plane in the US in August 2019.

The first US-made A220 – an A220-300 destined for Delta Air Lines – is scheduled for delivery in the third quarter of 2020.

Airbus aims to produce between 40 and 50 A220 aircraft per year at the facility from the middle of this decade.

The plane is also produced in Mirabel in Canada.

ANA kicks off Virgin Australia codeshare

Virgin haneda Japan

All Nippon Airways passengers will be able to codeshare on select Virgin Australia flights from January 30 with further codesharing and reciprocal frequent flyer benefits coming later of the year.

Details of the previously flagged deal released Friday show ANA code-sharing on six routes from January 30: Sydney-Brisbane, Sydney-Melbourne, Sydney-Cairns, Sydney-Canberra, Sydney-Gold-Coast and Sydney-Adelaide.

ANA passengers will be able to travel on the six  Virgin Australia services with ANA tickets and check their bags through to their destinations with one seamless booking experience.

Read: Competitors attack tax holiday for troubled Flybe.

The announcement comes ahead of Virgin’s decision to launch flights between Tokyo-Haneda and Brisbane from March 29 to become the only flight connecting the two cities.

ANA has also recently launched services between Tokyo and Perth and plans to increase the frequency of its flights from Tokyo-Haneda to Sydney.

The airlines later this year plan to expand their codeshare in Australia as well as launch international codeshare between Japan and Australia as well as domestic codeshare in Japan.

“Japan is a popular destination with Australians with more than half a million Aussies traveling there in 2018 and these numbers predicted to continue to grow,’’ Virgin Australia chief commercial officer John MacLeod said at the official announcement of the codeshare in Japan.

“It’s important to us to provide travelers with better choice and convenience with our new flights from Brisbane, and the ability to travel onward in Japan with ANA.”

ANA executive vice president Suichi Fujimura said the airlines shared a commitment to high-quality service.

“This collaborative effort will allow us to meet growing passenger demand in the region by providing greater choice and flexibility through shared resources, and furthering ANA’s commitment to expanding the Japan – Australia network,” he said.

Japan is new territory for Virgin, which  battled arch-rival Qantas to get one of two slots that opened up at Haneda.

Qantas was awarded the second slot and is launching flights from Melbourne from March 29, switching its Melbourne-Narita flights to the closer airport.

ANA also announced Friday it would donate $A20,000 to the Australian Red Cross bush fire appeall and a portion of sales from ANA travel packages to other relief organizations.

Donation boxes placed at check-in counters in Perth and Sydney would also give passengers and opportunity to donate and funds being raised by ANA staff would be donated to Australian wildlife rescue organization WIRES.

Cathay expects 2020 to remain ‘highly challenging’

cathay challenging
Cathay is still not in the clear. Credit: Richard Kreider

The Cathay Pacific Group expects the operating environment in 2020 to remain “highly challenging” as it moves to tackle the offset unfavorable conditions by reducing capacity and offering staff voluntary unpaid leave.

Combined traffic figures Thursday which showed passenger numbers on Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon fell 3.6 percent in December compared to the previous December.

Inbound passenger traffic saw a 46 percent decline for the second consecutive month as the city continued to be plagued by political unrest.

READ: Competitors attack tax holiday for troubled Flybe.

Cargo fared a little better with overall volume in December on a par with November and 2.9 percent down compared to the same month in 2018.

And on the plus side, a 15 percent growth in transit traffic and a 1.3 percent reduction in capacity helped boost the December load factor to 85 percent.

“The sentiment for travel into Hong Kong was particularly weak on our regional routes such as mainland China, Taiwan and Japan.  said Cathay Pacific Group chief customer and commercial officer Ronald Lam.

“On the brighter side, our long-haul routes performed well with better load factors.  Outbound traffic, meanwhile, was down 4 percent– a further improvement over the previous few months, but still significantly below what we would expect for a peak holiday month.”

Group passenger traffic for 2019 fell by 0.7 percent to 35.23 million and Cathay is expecting its second-half performance to be significantly below that of the first half.

“2019 was an incredibly challenging year for both the Cathay Pacific Group and Hong Kong,’’ Lam said.

“Our full-year load factor remained above 82 percent despite being 1.8 percentage points lower compared with 2018.

“Intense competition, particularly during the non-peak period, along with our greater reliance on transit traffic have continued to place significant pressure on yield. “

Lam said bookings for Chinese New Year appeared promising with the boost in transit passengers but the airline continued to see a significant shortfall for the period after the holiday, especially from inbound traffic.

“We anticipate 2020 will continue to present us with a highly challenging operating environment,’’ he said.

“We remain agile in our operations, ensuring our capacity is best aligned with demand.

“As announced last month, we are reluctantly reducing our overall seat capacity in 2020 by 1.4 percent year-on-year as opposed to our original plan of 3.1 percent growth in light of the immediate commercial challenges we are facing. “

Nonetheless, the Cathay executive said the group’s commitment to its passengers remained resolute.

“In 2020, we look forward to taking delivery of the first of our modern Airbus A321neo single-aisle aircraft and continuing to prepare for our upcoming Boeing 777-9 aircraft,’’ he said.

“Customers can look forward to a further enhanced experience on the ground and in the air, as new aircraft are a great platform to showcase the best of what we offer.

“We will also continue to invest in our digital transformation to enable customers to enjoy a seamless and personalized journey, giving them more reasons to choose to fly with us.”

Competitors attack tax holiday for troubled Flybe

Flybe bailout

Competitors of troubled UK regional airline Flybe have reacted angrily to a British Government rescue package that allows it to defer about £100 million ($US131m) in tax payments.

The airline, which was taken over by a consortium led by Virgin Atlantic in early 2019, will be allowed to defer handing over Air Passenger Duty that adds £13 to most short-haul flights and promised a review of the tax.

The deal came as UK media reported the airline came close to collapse with an accountancy firm on standby to oversee a potential administration.

READ: Industry player Willie Walsh to retire from IAG

About  2400 staff and millions of passengers would have been affected if the airline had gone under and Flybe’s investors agreed to provide additional funding to keep it going as part of the package.

Flybe boss Mark Anderson described the deal as a positive outcome for the UK that would allow the airline to focus on delivering for customers and planning for the future.

“Flybe is made up of an incredible team of people, serving millions of loyal customers who rely on the vital regional connectivity that we provide,” he said

But not all were happy and British Airways owner International Airlines Group led the charge by filing an official complaint with the European Commission.

Outgoing IAG boss Willie Walsh described the tax holiday as a blatant misuse of public funds.

“Prior to the acquisition of Flybe by the consortium which includes Virgin/Delta, Flybe argued for taxpayers to fund its operations by subsidizing regional routes,” Walsh argued in a letter British Transport Secretary Grant Shapps.

“Virgin/Delta now want the taxpayer to pick up the tab for their mismanagement of the airline. This is a blatant misuse of public funds.”

“Flybe’s precarious situation makes a mockery of the promises the airline, its shareholders and Heathrow have made about the expansion of regional flights if a third runway is built.”

Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary was equally blunt in a letter to British Chancellor of the Exchequer Sajid Javid sent on Thursday.

Noting it was “deeply concerned and shocked” by the bailout, Ryanair called on Javid to extend the “APD eco-tax holiday” given to Flybe to all its UK airline competitors.

“This Government bailout of the billionaire owned Flybe is in breach of both Competition and State Aid laws,’’ O’Leary said.

“The Flybe model is not viable which is why its billionaire owners are looking for a state subsidy for their failed investment.”

O’Leary said the reason Flybe was not viable was that it could not compete with lower fare services from UK regional airports on domestic and EU routes provided by Ryanair, Easyjet, BA and others.

It also could not compete with lower-cost road and rail alternatives on many smaller UK domestic routes.

“If Flybe fails (as it undoubtedly will once this Government subsidy ends) then Ryanair, Easyjet, BA and others will step in and provide lower fare flights from the UK regional airports, as we already have to make up for the recent failure of Thomas Cook Airways.

“This Flybe ‘subsidy’ cannot comply with Competition, or State Aid rules unless the same APD eco-tax holiday and other Government subsidies are extended to all other UK competitor airlines including Ryanair, Easyjet, BA among others.”

EasyJet, environmental groups, rail firms and analysts were also unhappy with the deal.

“The rescue package may provide short-term relief for Flybe, but deeper underlying issues are the root cause of the airline’s woes, said GlobalData tourism and transport analyst Ralph Hollister.

The British Government responded by denying it was giving Flybe state aid.

 

Malaysia still talking to Boeing about the MAX

Malaysia Boeing

Malaysia Airlines is continuing to talk to Boeing about its order for 25 737 MAX aircraft but is waiting for a regulatory outcome before deciding its next move.

The Malaysia carrier has suspended delivery of the jets, the first of which was due in July 2020, citing the lack of clarity about the plane’s return to service and Boeing’s decision to suspend production.

A Malaysia Airlines spokesperson told AirlineRatings the airline was “in continuing discussions with Boeing on this matter”.

READ: Emirates looks for China growth with online agency deal.

“Malaysia Airlines has a firm order of 25 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft and we await a decision by the FAA and other regulatory bodies before deciding on the next steps,’’ she said.

The suspension was another blow for the US manufacturer as it reported the lowest level of new orders and deliveries for more than a decade due to the MAX crisis and the trade spat between the US and China.

Boeing delivered just 380 commercial aircraft during 2019 as the MAX grounding prompted by two fatal crashes slowed 737 deliveries for the year to just 127.

The 2019 delivery total also included 158 787s, 45 777s, 43 767s and seven 747 jumbo jets.

This compared to 863 aircraft delivered by rival Airbus, an 8 percent increase compared to 2018.

The A320 family — the rival to Boeing’s 737s — accounted for 642 of the deliveries with the A220 family boosting the figure by 48.

The A220 was added to the tally after Airbus took a controlling interest in the company producing the former C Series in 2018.

Boeing’s gross orders fell 77 percent to 246 — its lowest tally before cancellations and aircraft conversions since 2013.  Net orders after cancellations or conversions totaled just 54 aircraft compared to 893 the previous year.

After adjusting for jets ordered in previous years but now unlikely to be delivered because of issues such as airline failures, Boeing said its net orders for the year were negative 87 aircraft.

Airbus said it added 1,131 new aircraft orders and recorded 768 net orders to produce a backlog of 7,482 aircraft.

The impact of single-aisle sales was demonstrated by the fact the A320 family, including the new A321XLR, made up 654 of the net orders.

The European manufacturer said the 363 cancellations during the year reflected “specific airline situations” as well as the decision to end A380 production.

 

 

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