Book Flights
Home Blog Page 437

New alliance forged

Air New Zealand and Singapore Airlines have forged a deep alliance which will open up the latter’s extensive network throughout Asia to Air New Zealand passengers.

The agreement calls for New Zealand to resume its Auckland-Singapore route, abandoned in 2006, and for Singapore Airlines to operate the Airbus A380 to New Zealand for the first time.

The Singapore Airlines’ A380 service and the Air New Zealand 777-200ER service would be daily increasing capacity of the route by 30 per cent. Currently Singapore Airlines operates a five times weekly 777-300ER service on the route.

Singapore Airlines’ daily Singapore-Christchurch service would continue as part of the alliance.

The proposed alliance would enable Air New Zealand passengers to access code share travel on the Singapore Airlines network to South East Asia, the United Kingdom and Europe and Africa as well as on the network of its regional subsidiary airline, Silk Air. Singapore Airlines’ customers would be able to access code share travel across the Air New Zealand domestic network and to selected international destinations.

The alliance comes over 12 years since the two airlines split up over the collapse of Ansett, when  Singapore Airlines was a shareholder of Air New Zealand.

However, times have changed and so has the management of both airlines as well as the shareholding of Air New Zealand.

Air New Zealand Chief Executive Officer Christopher Luxon said: “Air New Zealand is on a positive growth trajectory with a clear focus on Pacific Rim destinations. An alliance with Singapore Airlines clearly fits our business objectives of working with the right partners in the right markets to deliver seamless customer journeys.”

Singapore Airlines Chief Executive Officer Goh Choon Phong added, “This alliance is another example of our commitment to the important Southwest Pacific market, and our commitment to the further enhancement of our network. This is a genuine win-win partnership, enabling Singapore Airlines and Air New Zealand to work together to provide more flight frequency and enhanced travel options to our customers.”

The parties are seeking approval for the alliance from the Competition Commission of Singapore and the New Zealand Minister of Transport.  Pending approval, flights could commence as early as December 2014.

The alliance is significant as it increases the pressure around embattled Qantas and cements Singapore Airlines as a major player in the New Zealand tourist market.



U.S..Airport Gun Confiscation Soars

An analysis of Transportation Security Administration data shows gun confiscation at U.S. airports skyrocketed by 20 percent – a  full fifth – in 2013 compared to a year earlier. Northwestern University’s Medill National Security Journalism Initiative ( reports TSA took 1,828 guns from flyers trying to board flights last year. According to Medill’s S.B. Anderson, “The increase over 2012 is the third annual jump since 2010 – and the largest.”

A disturbing 84 percent of those weapons were loaded.

We don’t know the intent of those pistol-packing passengers, but – when questioned – the most common response was that they’d forgotten the weapon was in their carry-on luggage.  That’s been the standard answer for years.

A TSA spokesperson urges “all passengers to check the contents of their bags before leaving home” in order to make sure that they’re not carrying any prohibited items to the airport.

If you do bring a firearm to a TSA checkpoint law enforcement will take your weapon, interview you and then determine if you’re going to be hit with criminal charges. There are civil penalties to be had too – fines of  $250 to $11,000 for a single firearm transported to a security checkpoint.

In all, the TSA spokesperson says the agency intercepts some 35 guns and dangerous weapons each week.

Racking up the most firearms among the 207 airports at which TSA confiscated guns is Hartsfield-Jackson International, the planet’s busiest aerodrome. TSA took up 110 of them, most of the .380 caliber and 9mm variety. ATL’s tally was followed up by Dallas/Fort Worth International with 98 and Bush Houston Intercontinental with 67. ATL is Delta’s prime hub. DFW is American’s and IAH is a key hub for United.

Rounding out the top ten airports on TSA’s firearm’s take-up list are Phoenix Sky Harbor (65), Denver International (52), Nashville International (49), Orlando International (47), Seattle/Tacoma International (46), Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International (42) and Las Vegas McCarran International (39).

The Medill National Security Journalism Initiative breaks down the data in even finer grain when it comes to just how near ready to use those confiscated weapons where. While 94 percent of Nashville’s confiscated guns were loaded, 37 percent of those firearms had rounds that were actually chambered. By contrast, although just 72 percent of the firearms taken up in Vegas were loaded, 43 percent of them had chambered bullets. The report did not say how many firearms had gunlocks attached or safeties engaged.

We will leave an elaboration of just what prompts a person to carry a gun in their luggage – cognizant of its presence or not – for another day.

World’s best airlines awarded by AirlineRatings the world’s foremost safety and product rating website has announced the selection of Air New Zealand as its Airline of the Year for 2014. celebrates and promotes excellence in the airline industry and the pinnacle of these efforts is its Airline Excellence Awards. Winners also include; Emirates; Cathay Pacific Airways, Qantas, Silk Air, JetBlue, flydubai, Jetstar, Norwegian, Singapore Airlines, Air Canada and Swiss.


Airline of the Year

Air New Zealand is being honoured for its in-flight innovations, financial performance, operational safety and motivation of its staff that have stamped the airline an industry trendsetter.

The editorial team, one of the world’s most awarded and experienced, lauded Air New Zealand’s commitment to a young fleet and its continual focus on the environment.  The airline also won Best Premium Economy Class.

Air New Zealand has been a leader in the airline industry for years and has won countless awards including Air Transport World’s Airline of the Year in 2010 and 2012.’s editorial team took special note of Air New Zealand’s comprehensive long haul offering which had two multi-award winning products in the Skycouch and Spaceseat for economy minded passengers.

“Quite simply Air New Zealand is an airline of first choice. And given the airline’s location and the country’s size, its performance is even more remarkable,” said editor Geoffrey Thomas.

“This outstanding performance has seen Air New Zealand catapult to the top tier of the industry in a host of areas and in particular market position, product innovation, yield and social media that made the airline a trendsetter.”

“The editors of also noted that the airline’s focus on delivering value to passengers has resulted in higher yields and better returns for staff and shareholders. Air New Zealand is unquestionably Airline of the Year for 2014,” said Mr Thomas.

Read more about Air New Zealand’s offerings here


Regional Airline of the Year

Singapore based Silk Air has taken out this award for delivering a first class experience on regional routes. editorial team praised Silk Air on its innovation that has resulted in exceptional performance in customer service, product and financial performance. This performance has seen Silk Air dominate its regional market segment for decades and makes it an industry trendsetter. “Silk Air’s regional offering is better than many full service airlines,” said Mr Thomas. “Silk Air richly deserves Best Regional Airline award.”

Read more about Silk Air’s offerings here


Best First Class

Emirates, which has won a number of awards, is a standout winner of Best First Class. “Its First Class product is a new industry benchmark and is offered over almost all of the airline’s long haul fleet,” said Mr Thomas. “For those who want the ultimate experience Emirates’ First Class is just that.” Features include showers on the A380 and of course a now famous bar.

Read more about Emirates First Class offerings here


Best Business Class

Cathay Pacific Airways has won Best Business Class and the award adds to a string of accolades the airline has won for its business class offering. According to Mr Thomas, Cathay Pacific’s new business class is exceptional. “It’s a magnificent blend of comfort, functionality and privacy,” said Mr Thomas. “The airline has listened to its customers and it shows. Cathay Pacific is a standout winner of Best Business Class award.”

Read more about Cathay Pacific Business Class offerings here


Best Premium Economy

Air New Zealand has won Best Premium Economy for its innovation in designing its own premium economy seat. The airline is continually innovating in all cabins and this has resulted in higher yields as passengers upgrade their travel experience with value propositions. “Air New Zealand has proven conclusively that passengers will pay more if the product is right and priced accordingly. Its efforts in this space are a lesson to all airlines that passengers want better and are prepared to pay.

Read more about Air New Zealand’s offerings here


Best Economy

Australia’s Qantas Airways picks up Best Economy Class.  “ editorial team singled out in particular Qantas’ domestic economy product for special praise. We found that there is absolutely no doubt that it is world’s best – and by a wide margin,” said Mr Thomas

The airline domestic economy class offering is a step beyond and quite simple the world’s best. “Passengers enjoy a full meal service, free in-flight entertainment and a free baggage allowance,” said Mr Thomas.

Whereas most domestic airlines have stripped away features and now charge, Qantas has maintained there is only one price – that of the ticket. The airline’s international economy class product is also a standout.

Read more on Qantas here


Best Lounges

Another win for Qantas. ‘Qantas’ lounges have become an Australian air travel institution and the airline’s overseas offerings are also an industry benchmark,” said Mr Thomas.

Qantas Lounges not only provide complementary food and beverages the airline was a leader in installing showers. Importantly the airline’s lounges have robust broadband internet access that can handle demand – something lacking in many other airline’s lounges. “The Qantas Lounge is the place to be for the savvy traveller,” said Mr Thomas.


Best In-Flight Entertainment

Emirates, which was one of the pioneers of IFE, wins Best IFE award. The airline has an IFE product that few airlines equal. editors noted that Emirates was one of the first adopters, particularly for economy class. By 1993 all the airline’s seats were fitted with IFE.

Emirates ICE has a host of features. It allows you to follow the progress of your flight, or take in the view from the aircraft’s external cameras. You can keep in touch with live business, news and sport headlines. As a communication tool it provides phone, SMS or email capability. For entertainment there are 600 channels of premium entertainment.


Best Long Haul Airline Best Long Haul Airline awards have been won by: Emirates (Middle East/Africa), Singapore Airlines (Asia/Pacific), Swiss (Europe) and Air Canada (The Americas).

According to Mr Thomas, these four long haul airlines are leaders in their region and in fact well beyond. “Each in their own way defines long haul travel and can be counted on to deliver the best product. Emirates and Singapore in particular are standouts in long haul travel and pioneer new aircraft designs to enhance global travel,” said Mr Thomas. “Swiss and Air Canada also have rich histories in pioneering long haul travel and are deserving winners.”


Best Low Cost Airline

There is no question that the Low Cost Airline market is the most competitive and also the most rapidly growing. Thus competition to be the best is a challenge of balancing product with low prices. winners are: jetBlue (The Americas), Jetstar Group (Asia/Pacific), flydubai (Middle-East/Africa) and Norwegian (Europe).

The four airlines are clear leaders in their respective markets with clever innovations and they consistently delivery an excellent value proposition. “These airlines may not always offer the lowest fare but what they almost always do is deliver by far the best value,” said Mr Thomas. And these airlines open new routes and bring travel to millions who could previously not afford to fly.




Superb cockpit video

We continue our series of superb videos from Captain David Rodrigo, who flies with Avianca Brazil, that take you into the cockpit of an Airbus A320 as never before.

The videos are shot using a Go Pro Hero3.

You will see landing and take-offs from the cockpit and a number of South American cities including Rio.

 To see more videos by Captain Rodrigo go here:

First Steps – The American / US Airways Merger

It’s going to take a while to fully fashion the world’s largest airline, to mesh the mechanics of merger and align passenger perks. Still, the process has begun as the US Airways brand (but certainly not its management team) slowly vanishes from view and American stands ascendant.

It’s US Airways’ top management that will largely call the tune for the megacarrier. One of the first things they did was roll out some first phase steps, passenger-facing measures designed to cater to customers. Here are a few that are in effect now: 

– American AAdvantage and US Airways Dividend Miles frequent flyer members can now earn and redeem miles when traveling on either carrier’s routes;

– Elite members of each of those programs get reciprocal perks such as First and Business Class check-in, priority security and priority boarding, complimentary access to Preferred Seats, priority baggage delivery and no-charge checked luggage;

– American Admirals Club members and flyers belonging to the US Airways Club now have mutual access to each other’s airport enclaves.

As things progress, look for co-location of airport ticket counters in key markets such as Miami and Phoenix. All-important upgrade rules are going to be harmonized too.

Another change you’re going to want to know about is US Airways’ exit from the Star Alliance. That happens March 30. It joins the oneworld alliance March 31. American is a key player in oneworld.

The marriage of the two airlines begets a megacarrier of great girth. Consider, together they operate an average of almost 6,700 daily flights to 339 destinations in 54 countries.

The emergent airline’s sheer size, its market penetration (despite divestiture of critical takeoff and landing slots at Reagan Washington National and New York LaGuardia) concerns some observers. They feel the result will be diminished competition.

At least one prominent airline observer feels otherwise. “Over the next five years we can expect to see additional market entry from start-up [airlines] who are going to take advantage of consolidation opportunities,” contends Josh Marks, CEO of masFlight, an aviation consultancy. “History proves that when airlines consolidate service, that sets up new opportunities for new-entrants.”

Marks believes the American/US Airways merger is probably the last of its kind we’ll witness, at least for a while. The U.S. skyscape should soon be dominated by a trio of so-called U.S. “network” carriers – American, Delta and United.

Southwest is the last member of the so-called “Big Four.” But it’s those anticipated new-entrants, along with more airport access by existing low-cost carriers, that Marks maintains will spark more consumer-friendly competition. 

Time will tell whether he’s on the mark. This much is sure: the planet’s biggest airline is emerging before our eyes. Don’t blink.

Qantas the safest airline the world’s only safety and product rating website has announced its top ten safest airlines for 2013 from the 448 it monitors.

Top of the list is Qantas which has a fatality free record in the jet era (since 1951). Making up the top ten with seven stars for safety and in- flight product are in alphabetical order: Air New Zealand, All Nippon Airways, Cathay Pacific Airways, Emirates, Etihad Airways, Eva Air, Royal Jordanian, Singapore Airlines and Virgin Atlantic.’s rating system takes into account a number of different factors related to audits from aviation’s governing bodies and lead associations as well as government audits and the airline’s fatality record.

Of the 448 airlines surveyed 137 have the top seven-star safety ranking, but almost 50 have just three stars or less.

Over its 93 year history Qantas has amassed an extraordinary record of firsts in safety and operations. In 2008 in its successful defence, to the British Advertising Standards Association, of its claim that it is the world’s most experienced airline Qantas was able to list almost 30 notable industry leading achievements.

These included the war time operation from Perth, Australia of what was then, and still is, the world’s longest air route by elapsed time from Perth to Colombo, Sri Lanka giving passengers an award dubbed “The Order of the Double Sunrise.”

This service, using Catalina Flying Boats, took about 28 hours non-stop and was performed in radio silence to avoid the Japanese. When the flights ended on July 18 1945, the aircraft had made 271 crossings and had carried 858 passengers more than one million miles without a single accident.

Qantas was the first international airline to operate around world service with its Lockheed Super Constellations in 1958 and the first to take delivery of the Boeing 707 outside the US in 1959.

The Australian airline was also amongst the first to pioneer technical breakthroughs such as long range operations for twin-engine planes and the development of the Future Air Navigation System. 

Qantas was a leader in using the Flight Data Recorder to monitor plane and later crew performance in 1962. Only six parameters were available unlike today’s FDRs which monitor 500 on the most advanced planes.

Qantas has also been a leader in a wide variety of recent cockpit innovations such as automatic landings using Global Navigation Satellite System as well as precision approaches around mountains in cloud. Dubbed GLS and RNP these technologies are cutting edge.

Qantas was the lead airline with real time monitoring of its engines across its fleet using Satellite Communications, which has enabled the airline to detect problems before they become a major safety issues.

And 2013 was the safest for flying since 1945, with only 269 deaths from 29 accidents.

According to the Aviation Safety Network the results are well below the 10-year average of 32 accidents and 719 fatalities.

The worst accident was the crash of a Tatarstan Boeing 737-500 operating Flight U9-363 from Moscow to Kazan, which killed all 44 passengers and six crew aboard. The 737-500 was on its second approach to land in strong winds on November 17 and was about to go around for a third time when it hit the runway and exploded in flames.

Tatarstan, a small regional airline from central Russia has not completed the critical International Air Transport Association Operational Safety Audit (IOSA). Airlines that have completed IOSA have a safety record 77 per cent better than those which have not.

On October 17, 49 passengers and crew lost their lives when a Lao Airlines ATR72 crashed while on approach to Pakse in Laos. Flight QV301 left Vientiane almost four hours late because of bad weather at the destination airport. It took off at 2.45pm local time and on descent to land hit a severe rain squall associated with tropical storm Nari which had battered the Philippines.

Like Tatarstan, Lao Airlines was only rated as a four-star (out of seven) airline by in part because it had not completed IOSA. Other major airlines in SE-Asia that have not completed IOSA include; Air Bagan; Cebu Pacific; Lion Air and Merpati Air.

The most miraculous escape was for the 304 passengers and crew that walked away from the spectacular crash of the Asiana Boeing 777 at San Francisco International Airport in July. Only three passengers died, when the Boeing 777 hit the runway sea wall and flipped over.



Worst Crashes

Date                 Aircraft                                     Airline                       Fatalities           Location          

Jan 29             CRJ                                           SCAT                         21                     Almaty Airport. Kazakhstan

July 7              DHC-3T Turbine Otter               Rediske Air               10                     Soldotna Airport, USA

Oct 3               Embraer Brasilia                        Associated                  16                     Lagos, Nigeria

Oct 14             Cessna 208B                             AereoServicio              14                     Loreto Airport. Mexico

Oct 16             ATR-72-212A                             Lao Airlines                49                     Pakse Airport, Laos

Nov 17             Boeing 737                               Tatarstan                   50                     Kazan Airport. Russia

Nov 29             Embraer ERJ 190                     LAM                            33                     Bwabwata NP Zambia



Lowest Ranked Airlines  

One Star

Kam Air                                


Bluewing Airlines                       

Two Star

Afghan Airways               

Daallo Airlines                

Eritrean Airlines              

Lion Air                         

Merpati Airlines              

Susi Air                         

Air Bagan                      


Ten Best Airlines *


Air New Zealand            



Cathay Pacific              

Singapore Airlines        

Virgin Atlantic              

EVA Air                       

All Nippon Airways                 

Royal Jordanian          

* Rated seven stars for safety and product.


Boeing sets records

Boeing has set a company record in 2013 for the most commercial aircraft delivered in a single year with 648. And company’s unfilled commercial orders stood at a massive 5,080 at the end of the year – also a new Boeing record.

Boeing also booked 1,531 gross commercial orders in 2013, a new company record and 1,355 net commercial orders in 2013, the second-largest number in company history.

“With solid execution on our numerous production rate increases, the Boeing team performed extremely well in 2013,” said Boeing Commercial Airplanes President and CEO Ray Conner. “We delivered more advanced, fuel-efficient aircraft to our customers than ever before, and it’s a great example of what our team can accomplish.”

In 2013, three aircraft programs set records for deliveries in single year:

  • The 737 program delivered 440 737NGs
  • The 777 program delivered 98 aircraft
  • The 787 program delivered 65 Dreamliners, now flying with 16 customers

With the higher production rates achieved in 2013, all three Boeing Commercial Airplanes production sites in Everett and Renton, Washington, and North Charleston, South Carolina, also delivered a record number of aircraft.

During 2013 Boeing also launched two new aircraft programs. The 777X was launched in November at the Dubai Air Show with 259 orders and commitments worth more than US$95 billion at list prices. Many of those orders are yet to be signed and thus do not go into the backlog. Boeing also launched the 787-10 Dreamliner the second stretch of the 787 at the Paris Air Show in June.

This year Boeing will deliver 787-9s to airlines and the first delivery will be to Air New Zealand the launch customer. “The year ahead will be exciting as we prepare to deliver the first 787-9, continue the design work on our newest programs – the 737 MAX, 787-10 and 777X – while increasing our production rates on the 737,” said Mr Conner.

As of December 31 Boeing had sold for 2013 net of cancellations; 1046 737s; 12 747s; 2 767s; 113 777s and 182 787s.In unfilled orders the numbers read; 3680 737s; 55 747s; 49 767s; 380 777s; 916 787s.


Can you take duty free alcohol back to Australia from Indonesia when traveling on Jetstar?

For a long time Jetstar was the only airline flying between Indonesia and Australia that would not allow passsnegers to carry duty free alcohol with them on the flight. To the joy of many travelers Jetstar have recently changed this policy joining the other carriers in allowing alcohol to be purchased and carried on board.

Jetstar claims the reason for the restriction for so many years was “When you purchase liquids over 100ml they can’t be taken through the security check point as they will be confiscated as per the liquid and gel restrictions enforced for flights into and out of Australia.”  Jetstar stated “we don’t allow any liquids or gels that haven’t been screened onto the cabin, so we don’t allow duty-free alcohol on board. Other airlines may offer a service where they deliver your purchases to the boarding gate, therefore bypassing all screening.”

Thankfully Jetstar too now offer this delivery service meaning you can purchase your duty free alcohol and collect it at your boarding gate before boarding the aircraft. 

Disrupted travel in 2014

Fewer frequent-flyer perks, less choice and more consolidation are on the radar for travellers. That is the gloomy forecast from Colorado based aviation consultancy Boyd Group International.

In its new white-paper Ten Disruptive Realities to Prepare for in 2014, Boyd Group International lays out things air travelers should beware of in the year to come. Here are the ones that are closest to home:

-As far as airline consolidation is concerned, there’s going to be more of it – and it won’t merely be a matter of mergers. Watch for some carriers to go under. The report quotes International Airline Group (the holding company for British Airways and Iberia) CEO Willie Walsh as saying over the next few years consolidation will be largely in the form of non-viable airlines going out of business. The report says, “The real dynamic Mr. Walsh is referring to will be seen in Asia and India.” As for would-be mergers, Disruptive Realities asserts, “The only merger on the vague horizon [in the US] is Alaska.” Delta could be the suitor.

– So-called Global Portals, megahubs where one carrier dominates, could eclipse airline alliances. “Airline alliances are starting to fray,” contends the white paper. This “as major players build their own Global Portals that have less need for intra-alliance feed.” Disruptive Realities cites Korean Air, which “is building a second Dubai at Incheon.”

– NextGen, the Next Generation air traffic control system being built in the United States remains an uncertain promise, one in which “The [specific completion] dates and goals will continue to shift into the miasmic future.” Disruptive Realities predicts, “The US air traffic control system will remain pretty much where it is today.”

– Small and medium-size US cities will feel the pinch now that there are just four network carriers in the country. Some of them will lose local flights. The white paper says, “The US airline network is not going to expand in 2012. Restructure route systems, yes. But the Air Service Cavalry is not coming to save small and mid-seize local airports.”

– Bid goodbye to frequent flyer programs as we’ve known them in the past. They’ve “outlived their original purpose,” maintains Boyd Group International. Instead of being efforts to entice flyers to switch airline brands, as they were back in the 1980s, “Today they are vehicles where consumers prove their loyalty to the airline, in exchange for receiving the right to earn “non-inconveniences” such as priority boarding, seating in the front portion of economy and the like.

The white paper concludes: “The coming year will be one of major and sometimes wrenching changes.”

Interestingly the changes that have occurred – of major consolidation – and those forecast, are the exact opposite of what was predicated by the father of US de-regulation Alfred Khan in 1978.

Khan argued that de-regulation would break up the major airline groups and allow more airlines to enter the market. Initially many small airlines did start up but over time have disappeared as the harsh reality of airline economics hit home while major airlines have merged.

-With Geoffrey Thomas


Saudi crash – 29 hurt

A Saudi Arabian Airlines Boeing 767-300 on lease from Thai Orient Airlines, operating flight SV-2841 from Mashad in Iran to Madinah in Saudi Arabia has made a partial wheels-up landing injuring 29.

According to Aviation Herald flight SV-2841 had 299 passengers and 16 crew on board and was on approach to Madinah when the pilots received an unsafe indication for the right hand main gear and aborted the approach at 03:30 local time.

The pilots put the 767 into a holding pattern while they tried unsuccessfully to resolve the issue. They also received a visual confirmation from the control tower during a slow fly by.

The crew then performed a partial gear up landing and the 767 came to a stop on the runway resting on left main and nose gear and right hand engine.

During the subsequent evacuation 29 passengers received injuries and 11 of them were taken to hospital.


The only place in the world to get ALL Airline Safety Ratings in one place! The ONLY airline rating that includes Safety, Product and COVID-19 safety ratings! Visit our Ratings Now!


View our special section announcing the 2021 AirlineRatings Safest Airlines in the world!


Subscribe to have Newsletter delivered to your inbox!