Wednesday, December 1, 2021
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Virgin Australia launches amazing points redemption sale

Virgin Australia
Image; Virgin Australia

Virgin Australia Group has launched a two-day frequent flyer redemption sale with every available economy seat on the airline’s domestic network available to purchase, on all flights operated by Virgin Australia departing between December 1, 2021, and March 31, 2022.

In what is Velocity’s largest-ever consumer Reward Seat promotion, millions and millions of Economy Reward Seats with no blackout dates will be up-for-grabs, with Velocity members having until midnight this Tuesday, November 23, 2021, to book.

Virgin Australia expects economy seats to be snapped up, particularly for travel over the popular Christmas and summer holiday period, when more state and territory borders are expected to be open.

Reward Seats will be available for as little as 7,800 Points plus taxes, fees, and carrier charges.

Also, the airline says that up to December 17, 2021, Velocity members will receive a 20 percent discount with Points Booster when they purchase between 1,000 and 100,000 Points,** so members can top up their Points balance, to get to their next reward faster.

As part of an ongoing loyalty offer, Velocity members will continue to earn Status Credits on Reward Seats when they fly on eligible Virgin Australia flights by 31 March 2022, making it easier than ever before to climb the Velocity Status ranks.

Velocity Frequent Flyer chief executive, Nick Rohrlach said Velocity is introducing new and exciting ways to make it easier for members to use their Points.

“This is a Reward Seat frenzy at a scale not seen in our history and our biggest ever Velocity consumer promotion,” said Mr. Rohrlach.

“We’re literally turning every available Economy seat across the Virgin Australia domestic network into a Reward Seat for the next 48 hours. This means we’re essentially making every Virgin Australia domestic aircraft a Points Plane.

“There will be more than five million Reward Seats available from today, for Velocity members to book using their Points, which is great news for our members who are planning on traveling between now and early 2022.

“Velocity members will be able to choose their preferred flight, and any available Economy seat that can be purchased with cash, will also be available as a Reward Seat using Points, and there are no blackout dates – not even for the night before Christmas!

“We’re also extremely focussed on bringing more value to our members, whether that’s through our long list of every day earn partners, or offering some of the lowest-priced redemptions seats in the market.

“Velocity Points make it possible,” he said.

Commenting on the recent shift in Velocity member redemption behavior, Mr. Rohrlach said “We’re seeing a huge positive shift in member confidence as we inch closer to a new normal.

“In the last fortnight, we’ve experienced a phenomenal result from our November Points transfer campaign, with billions of financial services points transferred into Velocity, which is equivalent to pre-COVID levels.

“It’s clear that members are using Points for beach holidays, with flights to Cairns and the Gold Coast more popular for Points bookings than pre-COVID. Unsurprisingly, services between Perth and Broome are more popular than ever for Points redemption bookings, which is consistent with the current WA border restrictions,” he said.

Velocity Frequent Flyer has more than 10 million members and has launched a number of promotions to reward loyalty since the Virgin Australia Group was re-launched last year, including extending all Velocity Platinum, Gold, and Silver memberships until at least June 2022.

 

What we have learned so far from the revolutionary new tracking of MH370

MH370

Startling new clues have been revealed from the new tracking of MH370 by aerospace engineer Richard Godfrey using the new breakthrough tracking technology called Weak Signal Propagation (WSPR).

MH370 disappeared on a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8, 2014, taking 239 souls.

READ: Qatar Airways adds more flights to Australia

READ: WSPRnet explained

Mr. Godfrey’s retracing of the flight path of MH370 which is due to be completed early in December has revealed that the pilot in command (PIC) of the Boeing 777 made many turns to avoid detection before it settled on its fatal course into the Southern Indian Ocean.

But even then the flight path zigzagged.

For instance, in May this year, Mr. Godfrey said that “The PIC appears to have had knowledge of the operating hours of Sabang and Lhokseumawe radar and that on a weekend night, in times of little international tension the radar systems would not be up and running.”

Mr. Godfrey found that “in case the aircraft was detected, the pilot also avoided giving a clear idea where he was heading by using a fight path with a number of changes of direction. These changes of track included toward the Andaman Islands, towards South Africa, towards Java, towards 2°S 92°E (where the Flight Information Regions of Jakarta, Colombo, and Melbourne meet) and towards Cocos Islands.”

After the May revelations, Mr. Godfrey set about a series of blind tests to refine the technology.

These blinds tests were set up by an ex-Qantas Captain Mike Glynn and adjudicated by AirlineRatings.com

Mr. Godfrey resumed his tracking of MH370 in September and then revealed in a sensational development that after following the coastline of Sumatra the Boeing 777 was put into a holding pattern for 22 minutes before proceeding south.

“What I found out, without looking for it, was that MH370 entered a race track holding pattern at around 19:12 UTC:

“I was surprised to discover that not only did MH370 enter a holding pattern but that the holding pattern lasted for around 22 minutes until 19:34 UTC.

Below is a map of the early part of the MH370 flight path showing the holding pattern.

“The Inmarsat satellite BTO and BFO data matches perfectly the timing, position, and track at the 1st Arc (18:28 UTC BTO and BFO), during the SATCOM call (18:40 UTC, BFO only) and the 2nd Arc (19:41 UTC BTO and BFO). On entering the holding pattern MH370 was 150 nm from the coast of Sumatra and 40 nm from the 2nd Arc,” Mr Godfrey said.

“The burning question is why did Captain Zaharie Shah or the person in control of MH370 allegedly put the 777 into a holding pattern?”

Mr. Godfrey continues;

“If the pilot’s goal was to make MH370 disappear without a trace, then why waste fuel with a holding pattern and why not head directly to the most remote area possible of the Indian Ocean without deviation, asked Mr. Godfrey on November 9, 2021.

Then on November 18, Mr. Godfrey revealed that the pilot put the Boeing 777 into a zigzag flight path as he flew south as per this new map below which also shows the arc intercepts of the Inmarsat Satellite tracking every hour. This map illustrates the tracking of MH370 so far and Mr. Godfrey is due to complete his research in early December.

In the November 18 update, Mr. Godfrey said the MH370 flight path was due south from 20:32 UTC until 21:54 UTC.

“The speed was aligned initially to the Long-Range Cruise (LRC), then later to the Maximum Range Cruise (MRC) autothrottle speed schedule and then even later back to LRC,” Mr Godfrey said.

“Then at 21:54 UTC MH370 turned South East on to track 163.3 °”

“At the same time, MH370 accelerated to the maximum cruise speed at FL360 at Mach 0.866 and a Ground Speed of 505.8 knots.”

“This is again evidence of an active pilot,” Mr. Godfrey said.

“A continuation along this track with an initial bearing of 163.3 °T would lead you eventually very close to the Zaharie Shah Home Flight Simulator end point of 45.0852°S 104.1455°E.”

“At 22:26 UTC MH370 turned South West again on to a track of 213.8°T.”

“By pure coincidence, the 777 tracks South West parallel to the 5th Arc with a small offset and the position of the 777 at 22:41:22 UTC exactly matches the Inmarsat Satellite BTO and BFO data,” Mr. Godfrey said.

 

 

MH370 pilot zigzagged as he flew into the southern Indian Ocean

MH370

In a sensational new development in the search for MH370, aerospace engineer Richard Godfrey has discovered the pilot put the Boeing 777 into a zigzag flight path as he flew south.

This revelation is one of many, including the 777 being put into a holding pattern off the coast of Sumatra for 22 minutes before proceeding south.

Mr. Godfrey is using a revolutionary new tracking technology called WSPRnet to track MH370 which it is hoped will lead to a new search.

READ: Qatar Airways adds more flights to Australia

READ: WSPRnet explained

READ: Mr. Godfrey’s full comments here at the bottom of the blog

Using a new set of tools Mr. Godfrey says he is “able to detect and track aircraft anywhere in the globe and at any time currently or historically going back as far as 2009.”

This system has been undergoing a number of tests that have been set up by an ex-Qantas Captain Mike Glynn and adjudicated by AirlineRatings.com which have been very successful.

In his latest update, Mr. Godfrey says the MH370 flight path was due south from 20:32 UTC until 21:54 UTC.

“The speed was aligned initially to the Long-Range Cruise (LRC), then later to the Maximum Range Cruise (MRC) autothrottle speed schedule and then even later back to LRC,” Mr Godfrey said.

“Then at 21:54 UTC MH370 turned South East on to track 163.3 °”

“At the same time, MH370 accelerated to the maximum cruise speed at FL360 at Mach 0.866 and a Ground Speed of 505.8 knots.”

“This is again evidence of an active pilot,” Mr. Godfrey said.

“A continuation along this track with an initial bearing of 163.3 °T would lead you eventually very close to the Zaharie Shah Home Flight Simulator end point of 45.0852°S 104.1455°E.”

“At 22:26 UTC MH370 turned South West again on to a track of 213.8°T.”

“By pure coincidence, the 777 tracks South West parallel to the 5th Arc with a small offset and the position of the 777 at 22:41:22 UTC exactly matches the Inmarsat Satellite BTO and BFO data,” Mr. Godfrey said.

 

Virgin Australia to add more 737s as all staff return

Virgin Australia

Virgin Australia has signed up for seven more Boeing 737-800NGs and has advised all staff that they will be re-employed by December.

To meet anticipated demand on the back of rising vaccination rates and open borders the airline also says its needs 600 more.

Over the last 12 months since its re-launch, Virgin Australia has announced it will grow its 737 fleet by over 45 percent, from 58 aircraft to 84 aircraft with the additional seven aircraft announced today.

An additional two A320s also have been recently added to VARA, the group’s West Australian resource operation, bringing VARA’s total A320 fleet number to seven, along with 11 Fokker F100 aircraft.

READ: Aussie whizz Hapgood to lead digital production of Boeing’s next aircraft.

READ: Qatar Airways adds more flights to Australia

READ: Sensational new finding in MH370 search 

Speaking at a staff event at Virgin Australia’s Brisbane hangar Virgin Australia chief executive Jayne Hrdlicka thanked staff for their dedication, loyalty, and support since the airline’s re-launch 12 months ago.

Virgin Australia

Ms. Hrdlicka said it had been a huge year for the airline in so many ways “and it wouldn’t have been possible to be in the position we are today, standing here, more competitive than ever, marking one year since our re-launch, if not for our amazing people.”

Ms Hrdlicka said that the entire workforce would be stood up by next month and that Virgin Australia has close to 600 roles advertised across five states to support the introduction of new aircraft, including in engineering, pit crew, cabin crew, and corporate.

 

Full video of Boeing 777X’s stunning flying display

Boeing

Boeing has released more vision of its 777X’s stunning flying display at this week’s Dubai Air Show.

The 777X was the show stopper with its breathtaking maneuvers that left the huge crowd in awe.

But last week Emirates President Tim Clark was critical of Boeing and the delays in the certification of the 777X.

Mr. Clark will be hoping that not only will the 777X wow the crowd at the Dubai Air Show but Boeing management will wow Emirates – the 777Xs biggest customer – with concrete plans for its certification.

READ: Aussie whizz Hapgood to lead digital production of Boeing’s next aircraft.

READ: Sensational new finding in MH370 search 

That certification process has been upended after the tragic 737 MAX crashes.

In June the US safety regulator, the FAA, told Boeing that the 777X will not be certified till late 2023.

In a letter, revealed by the Seattle Times, the FAA rejected the company’s request to issue a Type Inspection Authorization Readiness saying “the aircraft is not yet ready for TIA.”

This followed the FAA telling Boeing to address various problems, including flight control software that apparently triggered the plane to pitch abruptly without pilots’ input during a December 2020 test flight.

The late 2023 certification timeline is in line with Boeing’s advice to the market given by Chief Executive Dave Calhoun.

A Boeing spokeswoman told CNBC at the time that the company “remains fully focused on safety as our highest priority throughout 777X development. As we subject the airplane to a comprehensive test program to demonstrate its safety and reliability, we are working through a rigorous development process to ensure we meet all applicable requirements.”

Boeing installed a major software upgrade on the four test aircraft to address a series of problems including the software fix for the un-commanded pitch event that occurred on December 8, 2020.

 

Boeing lands big 737 MAX order from Akasa Air

737 MAX
Vinay Dube, chief executive officer, Akasa Air, and Stan Deal, Boeing Commercial Airplanes president and chief executive officer, after Akasa Air ordered (72) 737 MAX airplanes to build its fleet.

Boeing and Akasa Air, a brand of SNV Aviation, have announced the new Indian carrier has ordered 72 737 MAX airplanes to build its fleet.

At the 2021 Dubai Airshow, Akasa Air CEO Vinay Dube said, “We are delighted to partner with Boeing for our first airplane order and thank them for their trust and confidence in Akasa Air’s business plan and leadership team. We believe that the new 737 MAX airplane will support our aim of running not just a cost-efficient, reliable and affordable airline, but also an environmentally friendly company with the youngest and greenest fleet in the Indian skies.”

Dube added, “India is one of the fastest-growing aviation markets in the world with unparalleled potential. We are already witnessing a strong recovery in air travel, and we see decades of growth ahead of us. Akasa Air’s core purpose is to help power India’s growth engine and democratize air travel by creating an inclusive environment for all Indians regardless of their socio-economic or cultural backgrounds.”

SEE: Boeing 777X puts on a stunning display at the Dubai Air Show

READ: Aussie whizz Hapgood to lead digital production of Boeing’s next aircraft.

READ: Sensational new finding in MH370 search 

Akasa Air’s order includes two variants from the 737 MAX family, the 737-8 and the high-capacity 737-8-200.

“We are honored that Akasa Air, an innovative airline focused on customer experience and environmental sustainability, has placed its trust in the 737 family to drive affordable passenger service in one of the world’s fastest-growing aviation regions,” said Stan Deal, Boeing Commercial Airplanes president and CEO.

“The 737 MAX, with its optimized performance, flexibility, and capability, is the perfect airplane to establish Akasa Air in the Indian market and ensure it effectively grows its network.”

India’s growing economy and expanding middle class will fuel strong demand for commercial flights, driving the need for more than 2,200 new airplanes in South Asia valued at nearly $320 billion over the next 20 years, according to Boeing’s 2021 Commercial Market Outlook forecast.

Akasa Air plans to offer commercial flights starting in the summer of 2022 and use its new fleet of 737s to meet the growing demand across India.

Singapore Airlines adds the ritz to its 737s

Singapore Airlines

Singapore Airlines has launched its highly-anticipated new cabin products, which will be rolled out on its Boeing 737-8 fleet in the coming weeks.

This elevates the passenger experience on its narrowbody fleet to a level similar to its widebody aircraft, offering a consistent and premium travel journey across the entire Singapore Airlines network.

READ: Sensational new finding in MH370 search 

SEE: Boeing 777X puts on a stunning display at the Dubai Air Show

READ: Emirates installing premium economy in 105 jets

All of SIA’s 737-8 aircraft will have 154 seats in two classes, 10 in Business Class and 144 in Economy Class, with new cabin products featuring bespoke elements.

The lie-flat Business Class seats have been designed by London-based Factorydesign and manufactured for Singapore Airlines by Thompson Aero Seating. The Economy Class cabin will feature the latest generation sleek and slim-line seats, which have been built by Collins Aerospace.

The aircraft feature Panasonic’s X-Series seat-back in-flight entertainment, allowing all passengers to enjoy the latest KrisWorld entertainment content. The fleet is also fitted with Panasonic’s in-flight Wi-Fi service, as well as mobile data connectivity services.

Singapore Airlines has invested around S$230 million on the development, design, and installation of the new cabin products, which elevate the standard for short- and medium-haul travel onboard narrowbody aircraft.

Mr Lee Lik Hsin, Executive Vice President Commercial, Singapore Airlines said: “This is the culmination of three years of innovation and hard work, involving extensive customer research and close partnerships with designers and suppliers. As a result, we can now offer customers a premium travel experience across our entire full-service network, no matter how long or short their journey.

“This significant investment demonstrates Singapore Airlines’ commitment to maintaining our leadership position in the airline industry. As air travel recovers, our customers can continue to enjoy world-class products and award-winning service across our fleets.”

SIA’s 737-8 aircraft will progressively enter into service on short- to medium-haul flights across the Airline’s network in the coming weeks.

 

Emirates to install premium economy in 105 jets

Emirates

Emirates will install its new premium economy product in 105 of its 777 and A380 aircraft in addition to other cabin enhancements.

The 18-month retrofit program, scheduled to begin at the end of 2022, will be entirely conducted at Emirates’ Engineering Centre in Dubai.

READ: Aussie whizz Hapgood to lead digital production of Boeing’s next aircraft.

READ: Sensational new finding in MH370 search 

Emirates said that 52 of its A380s and 53 777 will be fitted with the new cabin class.

The airline also announced that it is also considering installing a brand new Business Class product on its Boeing 777 aircraft, with customized seats in a 1-2-1 layout.

Sir Tim Clark, President of Emirates Airline, said the airline “is investing in this retrofit programme to ensure that we continue to serve our customers’ needs, and provide the best experiences in the sky.

“Since we introduced our Premium Economy seats a year back, we’ve received a hugely positive response. Customers have been amazed by the quality and comfort.

“As Emirates has done with our signature First, Business and full-service Economy travel experiences, we intend to further develop our Premium Economy into a distinctive Emirates experience that is unmatched in the industry.

Mr Clark added that “we are also considering a brand new Business Class product. More details will be revealed in due course.”

At the end of the retrofit program, Emirates will have a total of 111 Boeing 777 and Airbus A380 aircraft offering premium economy seats, including the 6 A380s that would have been delivered to the airline with four cabin classes by December 2021.

On the Emirates Boeing 777, 5 rows of economy class seats located just behind Business Class will be removed to install 24 premium economy seats laid out in 2-4-2 configuration.

On the Emirates A380, 56 Premium Economy seats will be installed at the front of the main deck also in 2-4-2 configuration.

Emirates’ Premium Economy has been designed to a very high specification with 6-way adjustable headrests, calf rests, and footrests, and a seat pitch of up to 40-inches, each seat is 19.5 inches wide and reclines 8 inches into a comfortable cradle position with ample room to stretch out.

 

Air Lease Corporation commits to 111 Airbus jets

Airbus

Air Lease Corporation has signed a Letter of Intent for 111 Airbus jets across the manufacturers’ product range.

The LOI is for 25 A220-300s, 55 A321neos, 20 A321XLRs, four A330neos and includes seven of the just-launched A350Fs.

Founded in 2010, ALC has ordered a total of 496 Airbus aircraft to date.

With this order, ALC and Airbus are also launching a multi-million dollar ESG fund initiative that will contribute towards investment into sustainable aviation development projects that will in the future be opened to multiple stakeholders from the aircraft leasing and financing community and beyond.

READ: Sensational new finding in MH370 search 

SEE: Boeing 777X puts on a stunning display at the Dubai Air Show

READ: Emirates installing premium economy in 105 jets

Steven F Udvar-Hazy, Executive Chairman of Air Lease Corporation said “after lengthy and detailed consultations with several dozen of our strategic airline customers around the world, we are focusing this comprehensive order on the most desirable and in demand aircraft types, covering the A220, A321neo, A330neo, and A350 families.”

”ALC was the launch customer for the very popular A321LR and XLR versions. Now, we become the launch lessor for the A350F and by far the largest lessor customer for the A220.

“We had the vision to be first adopters of the A321 and are convinced we have made the right choice again on the A220 and A350F, responding to what we see the market will need in the period of recovery ahead.

“In addition, we are very enthusiastic to have inked a partnership for a sustainability fund which will contribute to the green future for our industry.”

Christian Scherer, Airbus Chief Commercial Officer and Head of Airbus International said that “this is a major announcement for Airbus in 2021. ALC’s order signals we’re moving beyond the Covid doldrums.”

 

Asia-Pacific airlines call for more action on restoring air travel

Asia-Pacific
Photo: Changi Airport.

With International passenger volumes across the Asia-Pacific still at just 6 percent of pre-pandemic levels, the leaders of the region’s major airlines have called on governments to do more to restore global connectivity.

The Association of Asia Pacific Airlines Assembly of Presidents met last week to discuss the major issues of the day: reducing carbon emissions to net-zero by 2050 and rebuilding global air travel and connectivity.

The Asia-Pacific international travel figures compare to an average of 40 percent of pre-pandemic levels in other regions and stem from a lag in reopening borders and easing restrictions compared to those regions.

READ: AirAsia X readies for takeoff after creditors endorse restructuring

While cargo has provided some relief, the AAPA noted this was not enough to mitigate the losses from the significantly reduced commercial passenger operations.

It also pointed to the economic damage affecting an industry that accounts for US$944 billion of Asia-Pacific GDP and more than half of the people employed in the aviation industry globally.

The airline chiefs called on governments to restore global connectivity and reopen borders swiftly to reunite families as well as revive trade and commerce.

“Many communities in the region are dependent on aviation as an essential means of transportation and source of livelihood,’’ said AAPA director-general Subhas Menon. “AAPA applauds the efforts of governments to accelerate the vaccination of their populations and gradually ease travel restrictions.

“It is hoped that quarantine requirements will be progressively lifted, with air travel made accessible to a wider segment of the population, such as those who have recovered from COVID infections.

“The industry has already embraced all health measures recommended by ICAO and WHO to keep air travel safe for passengers and crew, with the risk of onboard transmission being widely accepted as being very low.”

Menon told reporters that the airline chiefs had approached the meeting with hope and cautious optimism.

“We do see light at the end of the tunnel and more and more governments are coming up with roadmaps to open their borders and also understanding the importance of sustainability for the airlines,’’ he said.

The airline bosses saw the establishment of quarantine-free vaccinated travel lanes as the first step in reopening borders

But they called on governments to adopt measures such as a robust multilateral framework with mutually recognized protocols for vaccination, testing and identification to restart air travel safely and efficiently.

They also want governments to cooperate with industry in rebuilding travel confidence including the adoption of digital tools to reduce delays, congestion and inconvenience for travelers.

While Menon said the hope was for a smooth and sustainable recovery, he conceded the challenges were “quite daunting”.

These included low vaccination levels in some countries as well as difficulties getting governments to recognize vaccines, vaccination certificates and other travel documents,

The AAPA chief said the process of setting up mutual recognition remained  “a bit of a mess” but it was still early days and more discussion was needed between governments.

He believed the industry had shown it was resilient and members were up to the challenge of working collectively to achieve their goal.

He also noted that governments attending the ICAO High-Level Conference on COVID-19 had agreed to forge a consensus on how to harmonize certificates as well as measures to make it easier for people to travel internationally.

On the question of climate change, the assembly committed to working with governments and industry partners on the goal it set in September to reach net-zero carbon emissions by  2050.

Current industry plans mainly rely on the development of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) and the CORSIA global carbon offsetting scheme to achieve the reduction, with technology and operational improvements playing smaller roles.

AAPA does not expect highly-publicized technologies such as hydrogen-powered and electric aircraft to be available before 2040 and even then on routes of less than 1500 kilometres.

Menon said the industry was committed to reducing its carbon footprint in a responsible manner but conscious of the challenges ahead of it.

“Facilities for producing sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) are severely lacking in the Asia-Pacific compared to other regions,’’ he said.

“Taxes, onerous regulations and other penalties would only increase the cost of travel without any benefit to the environment.

“Conversely, government incentives and investment would contribute to the effective development of sustainable fuels and new energy sources to bolster the industry’s efforts to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.”

 

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