JULY 2023 ISSUE
AUSTRALIA’S AIRLINES have failed to make the top 15 of the world’s best carriers in the latest SKYTRAX awards.
Often regarded as the ‘Oscars’ of the aviation industry, the awards were announced in a ceremony at the Air and Space Museum at the Paris Air Show.
Singapore Airlines was voted world’s best airline, the fifth time the carrier has scooped the title in the 23-year history of the awards.
“This award is a testament to the indomitable spirit of our people, who worked tirelessly and made many sacrifices to ensure that SIA was ready for the recovery in air travel,” said Mr Goh Choon Phong, Chief Executive Officer, Singapore Airlines.
“Today, as we recover from the pandemic, we are firmly committed to innovating and investing in industry-leading products and services, and ensuring that SIA continues to offer our customers a world-class travel experience.”
The seven times winner of the main award, Qatar Airways, was ranked second for 2023, with ANA All Nippon Airways in third, Emirates fourth and Japan Airlines in fifth, out of more than 325 airlines included in the survey results.
Fiji Airways, named ‘Best Airline in Australia & the Pacific’, finished above Australia’s first carrier on the list, Qantas, who came in 17th, two spots ahead of Air New Zealand. Virgin Australia came in 44th with Jetstar 69th in the top 100.
“We may not have as many resources as larger airlines, but we have the Fijian spirit of hospitality and care,” said Andre Viljoen, Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director, Fiji Airways.
“As the national airline of Fiji, we embrace and champion these values in everything we do and this sets us apart as an airline.”
Qatar Airways took out the award for best business class, Singapore won best first class, while Kuwait Airways was crowned most improved airline. Air Canada was named most family friendly airline with AirAsia winning best low-cost carrier.
MAKE A CONNECTION ACROSS THE TASMAN
AUSSIES HAVE a new way to connect with their Kiwi cousins following the resumption of a direct international service across the Tasman.
Air New Zealand has just restarted its seasonal service until October 15 between Auckland and the Sunshine Coast.
Flights will depart from Queensland on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, leaving the Sunshine Coast at 12.40pm and arriving in Auckland at 5.50pm.
Jeremy O’Brien, Air New Zealand General Manager Short Haul, says bookings for winter getaways are always strong and the Sunshine Coast is no different.
“With more than 16,000 seats available between June 25 and 15 October, we’re already seeing strong demand as Kiwis and Aussies look for a getaway over the winter months.
“With more than 360,000 people residing on the Sunshine Coast, a holiday to New Zealand to enjoy our ski season or to visit whānau and friends is much more accessible now we have the direct services back in the skies.
“Seasonal services are important for us as an airline as they give us the flexibility to open up new destinations on our network when we know the demand for travel is there.
“We’ve had a long partnership with the Sunshine Coast Airport and Tourism and Events Queensland and we look forward to continuing to offer this service to both Kiwis and Aussies.”
PLANE ARRIVES IN TIME FOR SCHOOL RUN
JETSTAR HAS welcomed the latest delivery to its fleet as it gears up for school holidays.
The carrier’s eighth next generation Airbus A321neo LR (NEO) touched down in Melbourne recently as the airline prepares to fly nearly two million people over the four-week period.
The NEO will be used to fly to popular domestic destinations as well as supporting the growth of Jetstar’s network, with the recent launch of its new Sydney to Rarotonga service.
A total of 18 NEOs are set to join the Jetstar fleet by the end of 2024.
The new arrival comes as the airline continues to see significant improvements in its operational performance. Latest data shows its domestic cancellation rate almost halved in May to 4.2 per cent and its on-time performance increased by more than five percentage points to 62.4 per cent.
Compared to May, Jetstar’s cancellation rate almost halved again in the first three weeks of June, currently sitting at around two per cent and its on-time performance is tracking at more than 70 per cent.
“We know we’ve got more work to do but it’s really pleasing to see some of the initiatives we’ve introduced are starting to deliver results,” Stephanie Tully, Jetstar Group CEO.
“Everyone across Jetstar is committed to getting the airline to its best and ensuring customers have a great travel experience with us over the holidays.”
MORE WAYS TO GET TO LA LA LAND
DELTA HAS announced it will increase the frequency of its Sydney to Los Angeles routes aboard its flagship A350.
The airline will run 10 flights per week from October 31 with a further increase to double daily beginning on December 17.
Delta will operate two flights per day on its flagship Airbus A350-900 aircraft, featuring Delta One suites, Delta Premium Select, Delta Comfort+ and main cabin services.
“Delta is committed to the Australia market as it led the recovery from the pandemic and drives the growth in the Asia Pacific region,” said Kelly Clive, Country Manager – Australia and New Zealand at Delta Air Lines.
Delta will add to its growing portfolio of Oceania operations with never-before-operated service from Auckland to Los Angeles, beginning on October 30.
DEBUT FLIGHT IS A BRISSIE BOOST
VIETJET HAS celebrated its debut service between Ho Chi Minh City and Brisbane, the first-ever direct flights from Vietnam and Queensland.
The new connection comes 50 years since the Australian Government established diplomatic relations with Vietnam.
The arrival of Vietjet in Brisbane will create an estimated 370 local jobs, with the airline investing more than $100 million into the Australian economy over the next three years.
In its first year of operation, the airline expects to offer more than 39,000 seats between Ho Chi Minh City and Brisbane, providing a significant boost to bilateral trade.
A special ceremony was held at Brisbane Airport to mark the inaugural flight, with attendance from Hon Stirling Hinchliffe, Queensland’s Minister for Tourism, Michael Hickey, Vietjet Chief Operations Officer, Ryan Both, Brisbane Airport Executive General Manager Aviation, and other senior tourism officials.
“Vietjet’s inaugural Brisbane services coincide with Vietnam’s booming economy and surging demand among its citizens for world-class international holiday experiences,” said Minister Hinchliffe.
The carrier now has eight weekly return flights servicing Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, with flight frequency between Sydney and Melbourne to increase from September.
THE RIGHT KIND OF CABIN FEVER
QANTAS HAS unveiled the remaining cabins of its specially designed Airbus A350s that will fly direct from Sydney to New York and London from late 2025.
The airline showcased its luxe first and business cabins in February and has now unveiled the rest of the aircraft interior, including a unique dedicated Wellbeing Zone, premium economy and economy cabins.
“We have spent just as much time on the second half of the aircraft as we did the front, in fact we started studies on the Wellbeing Zone before any other area of the A350,” said Alan Joyce, CEO of Qantas Group.
“The new Project Sunrise flights give us the opportunity to re-think long-haul travel in its entirety, from aircraft cabin design to what ingredients we include on the inflight menu.”
Work on the cabin design began in 2019 and took tens of thousands of hours to create Qantas’ intuitive A350 cabin of the future which will fly 238 passengers for up to 22 hours non-stop from Australia to almost any destination in the world.
The 40-seat premium economy cabin and the 140-seat economy cabin will have the most generous seat pitches of any Qantas aircraft, ergonomic leg and foot rest systems and personal storage options.
The Qantas Project Sunrise flights will cut down point-to-point travel time by more than three hours compared to routes with one stop.
Plane arrival. From left to right: Luis Ayala, Erika Pearson, Stuart Aggs and Ed Clark
FORGET MAMMA MIA. WELCOME MONKEY MIA
VIRGIN AUSTRALIA has taken delivery of the first Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft which will kick start the airline’s fleet renewal initiative.
The new plane arrived on the same day as the airline’s inaugural Cairns-Tokyo (Haneda) service, which will operate on the 737-8 aircraft from the end of July.
The Max aircraft are fitted with next generation seats which include device holders and in-seat power and are 40 per cent quieter and at least 15 per cent more fuel efficient per flight compared to the 737-800 NG fleet.
Known as ‘Monkey Mia’, it is one of 33 Max aircraft that will join the VA fleet in the next five years, delivering an elevated customer experience while supporting sustainability related targets.
“These new aircraft will allow us to grow capacity and support more efficient jet services,” said Stuart Aggs, Virgin Australia Chief Operating Officer.
“And importantly, they will reduce emissions by at least 15 per cent per flight compared to the 737-800 NG fleet, supporting our commitment to targeting net zero emissions by 2050.”
Virgin Australia’s fleet currently comprises 84 primarily Boeing 737 aircraft, up from 58 when the airline was relaunched in November 2020 – or one new aircraft every five weeks.