News Briefs – 10th April 2017

    Qantas inflight WiFi expected to improve efficiency and passenger experience

    Qantas announced (07-Apr-2017) new inflight WiFi will also provide Qantas pilots and cabin crew with real time information that will improve efficiency and the passenger experience. Inflight WiFi is expected to provide Qantas pilots and cabin crew with real time information regarding live weather, which will help them steer clear of turbulence as well as making better use of tailwinds to reduce flying time. Cabin crew will have more options to better manage customers’ onward journeys while still in the air and the potential to reduce medical diversions. 

    Qantas releases customer research on inflight WiFi

    Qantas released (07-Apr-2017) customer research to coincide with the launch of beta testing for inflight WiFi. According to Qantas the most popular uses for WiFi on domestic flights will be: a mix of emails (52% of all respondents); general internet browsing (46%); streaming music/TV/movies (31%); social media (30%); and news (30%). Up to 15,000 Qantas customers per month are expected to utilise in-flight WiFi during the initial beta period, increasing to around 15 million per year once the rollout to 80 domestic aircraft is complete. 

    Qantas switches on beta testing for inflight WiFi

    Qantas launched (07-Apr-2017) inflight WiFi for customers travelling on board its internet-capable Boeing 737-800 for select Australian domestic flights. in partnership with broadband service provider, ViaSat, and the nbn Sky Muster satellite service, WiFi will now operate in beta mode on a single Boeing 737 aircraft for passengers to test. The beta phase is expected to be completed by mid-2017, and then installation of the technology is expected to begin on Qantas’ domestic fleet of Airbus 330s and Boeing 737s to be completed at the end of 2018. Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce hosted a charter flight over New South Wales, with passengers invited to test the system before it’s switched on for selected commercial flights from 07-Apr-2017. Mr Joyce stated “Inflight WiFi has been on our wish list for quite a while, but the sheer size of Australia meant it was hard to offer a service that was fast and reliable.” 

    Air New Zealand service diverted due to suspected nose gear issue

    Air New Zealand advised (09-Apr-2017) flight NZ5075 Auckland-Nelson was diverted to Palmerston North with a suspected nose gear issue. The aircraft reportedly landed safely, with all 64 passengers and five crew disembarking without issue. Passengers were transported by road to Wellington to continue their journey. Air New Zealand advised the aircraft will remained on the runway until to be inspected by engineers, therefore the nine remaining Air New Zealand services into and out of Palmerston North were cancelled.

    Qantas declines to pass passenger levy to fund upgrade to Townsville Airport

    Qantas reportedly refused to pass on an AUD3 (USD2.25) passenger levy to fund upgrades to Townsville Airport (townsvillebulletin, 08-Apr-2017). The passenger terminal upgrade is expected to include expanded retail, upgraded check-in systems and improved seating, however is currently on hold as the airport and local government seek to persuade Qantas to pass on the cost to passengers. Qantas stated that Townsville Airport should fund the upgrade itself and that the carrier would always avoid driving up costs and damaging their ability to attract passengers.

    Jetstar committed to new Vietnam services and confident of success

    Jetstar reinforced its commitment to new services to Vietnam, which are set to launch in May-2017 (thesaigontimes, 07-Apr-2017). Jetstar Group global head of sales Paul Rombeek stated the response has been extremely promising since launching ticket sales in Jan-2017 and the carrier is confident in the success of the new routes. The service will utilise Boeing 787 equipment and be the only Australian carrier to fly nonstop between Australia and Vietnam, with three times weekly service Melbourne-Ho Chi Minh City and four times weekly Sydney-Ho Chi Minh City.

    Townsville Airport commences demolition works ahead of major expansion project in Jun-2017

    Townsville Airport commenced demolition work for its terminal expansion project, with major construction to commence in Jun-2017 (Townsville Bulletin, 07-Apr-2017). As previously reported by CAPA, the AUD42 million (USD31.9 million) project will expand the apron area by 18,000sqm and terminal space by 3300sqm to include two new airport lounges, upgraded check-in systems, additional seats and expanded retail offerings. The project is expected to complete in late 2017.

    Auckland Airport introduces new loyalty programme ‘Strata Club’

    Auckland Airport introduced (07-Apr-2017) “Strata Club” a new app based loyalty programme designed to recognise customers’ travel choices with personalised services and benefits. The programme is free-to-join and is available to travelling and visiting customers across all terminals. Strata Club Benefits are offered in tiers based on a customer’s purchases over a year. These benefits include longer access to free and improved WiFi, parking upgrades and discounts, special offers from participating general, duty free and food and beverage retailers, and discounted entry to the airport’s Emperor Lounge. As part of this new initiative, the Emperor Lounge will be refurbished and rebrand as Strata Lounge. Airport GM marketing and technology Jason Delamore commented “Unlike other recognition schemes, Strata Club is only accessed via mobile devices and online”, it also “complements other travel rewards programmes.”

    Airservices Australia does not meet submission deadline for Perth Airport ground toxicity report

    Airservices Australia failed to meet the 1Q2017 submission deadline for Perth Airport‘s ground toxicity report in regards to the discovery of hazardous chemicals in foams used by firefighters (Canberra Times. 08-Apr-2017). The submission deadline was previously pushed back from Dec-2016 to 1Q2017.

    Launceston Airport and council plan to seek advice from AMAC regarding tax rate dispute

    Launceston Airport and Northern Midlands Council plan to seek advice from the Australian Mayoral Aviation Council (AMAC) and Council of Australian Governments in regards to their ongoing tax rate dispute (Examiner, 08-Apr-2017). As previously reported by CAPA, the council believes the airport is subject ex‐gratia rate equivalent payments however the airport stated it conducts its own maintenance and upgrades to roads, footpaths, waste disposal, street lighting and sewerage and storm water systems therefore it should only pay rates that apply to its circumstances.  

    Townsville Airport commences demolition works ahead of major expansion project in Jun-2017

    Townsville Airport commenced (07-Apr-2017) demolition works as part of a AUD10 million (USD7.4 million) apron expansion project, paving the way for the major construction work scheduled in Jun-2017. The project will create 18,000sqm of extra apron space for large aircraft, raising the airport’s capacity by 33%. Australia‘s Federal Government will fund AUD9 million (USD6.7 million) with the airport to supply the remaining. The project will be conducted in stages to accommodate all scheduled aircraft movements and is expected to complete in late 2017.