News Briefs – 13th April 2017

Qantas releases new business class amenity kits

Qantas announced (11-Apr-2017) a new range of amenity kits will be offered for business class customers on international flights from 01-May-2017. The range includes eight new types for men and eight for women, with two designs launching every few months. The amenity kits include hand cream, lip balm, face moisturiser, a wrap-around eye mask, Colgate toothpaste, toothbrush, earplugs and  travel socks.

Air New Zealand: Weather update – Cyclone Cook

Air New Zealand advised (13-Apr-2017) forecast weather conditions are expected to cause significant disruption to flight operations across New Zealand today. Customers are to anticipate delays and cancellations across the entire Air New Zealand network. Road transport options will not be provided for passengers whose travel is disrupted. 

Virgin Australia pilot training to continue in 2017 at FTA

Virgin Australia announced (11-Apr-2017) it will be continuing the pilot training programme at Flight Training Adelaide (FTA) in 2017. All training will be delivered by FTA at Parafield Airport SA, with applications opening on 26-Apr-2017

Flight Centre acquires 24.1% stake in BibAm

Flight Centre Travel Group acquired 24.1% stake in Buenos Aires-based travel agency BibAm for USD7 million (Business Travel News, 12-Apr-2017). The deal allows Flight Centre access into the Latin American leisure, corporate and wholesale markets, as well as to BibAm’s e-commerce platform, Avantrip. 

Constellation Journeys charter Qantas Boeing 747 for global adventures

Constellation Journeys announced plans to charter a Qantas Boeing 747 from Apr-2018 for all-inclusive “global adventures” (Travel Weekly, 12-Apr-2017). The chartered aircraft will include two Qantas captains and a first officer, 18 cabin crew and team of seven support staff.

Tourism Industry Aotearoa commissions Deloitte to assess Tourism related facilities in NZ

Tourism Industry Aotearoa (TIA) released results from a Deloitte commissioned assessment of 20 tourism-related facilities needed across 31 regions in New Zealand (Stuff, 12-Apr-2017). The report identified key areas where improvement is required including airports, telecommunications, car parking, water and sewage systems, public toilets and road transport. TIA chief executive Chris Roberts stated the report provided “further evidence of the need for a substantial tourism infrastructure fund to help fill infrastructure gaps that could have a major impact on visitors and communities”.

Virgin Australia switches on WiFi prior to official trial

Virgin Australia launched inflight internet services prior to the official three month public trial which is set to begin the week commencing 16-Apr-2017 (Australian Business Traveller, 12-Apr-2017). Selected commercial services operated by the WiFi enabled Boeing 737 have had the system switched on and passengers allowed to use the free service during the flight.

Wellington Airport reports progress on new control tower

Wellington Airport, via its official Instagram account, posted (12-Apr-2017) construction of the new control tower “has gained a bit of height”. The infrastructure will be 32m high upon completion and is expected to replace the existing facility, which is nearing the end of its life.

Qantas flight stick shaker activation results in 15 passengers injuries

Qantas advised (13-Apr-2017) customers on QF29 Melbourne-Hong Kong experienced unexpected turbulence on 07-Apr-2017. The incident took place 110km SE of Hong Kong, however the service landed without issue. The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) was notified and a current investigation is underway. ATSB stated “while holding at flight level 220, the flight crew received a stick shaker activation and detected airframe buffeting. The flight crew disconnected the autopilot and manoeuvred the aircraft in response. Fifteen passengers received minor injuries”. A report from the ATSB is expected within several months. Qantas stated that their own teams are reviewing the event and investigations need to be completed before they can comment further.

Queenstown Airport completes runway grooving works, final phase of USD13.6m airfield upgrade

Queenstown Airport completed (13-Apr-2017) runway grooving works three weeks ahead of schedule, marking the completion of its wider NZD19.5 million (USD13.6 million) airfield upgrade project. As previously reported by CAPA, the NZD750,000 (USD524,252) grooving project was conducted by US based Cardinal International Grooving and Grinding. The airfield upgrade is part of the infrastructure required to introduce after dark flights.

Christchurch International Airport may extend crosswind runway

Christchurch International Airport proposed a 250m extension project towards the western end of its crosswind runway (Stuff, 13-Apr-2017). Airport GM strategy and sustainability Rhys Boswell stated the NZD12 million (USD8 million) project will allow fully loaded widebodies to take off from the runway during crosswind conditions. However Mr Boswell added the proposal is still under consideration and there is “firm decision” yet.

Sydney Metro Airports appoints new CEO to lead Bankstown and Camden Airports

Sydney Metro Airports appointed (11-Apr-2017) Lee de Winton as CEO of Sydney Bankstown and Camden Airports, succeeding Colin Grove. Ms de Winton is expected to lead a substantial development project that includes improving existing infrastructure, facilities and amenities as well as specific development for aviation and non-aviation users.

American Airlines suspends daily Los Angeles-Auckland service for eight weeks

American Airlines announced plans to suspend daily Los Angeles-Auckland service for eight weeks between 07-Aug-2017 and 06-Oct-2017 (NZ Herald, 13-Apr-2017). American stated the eight week suspension was in line with the carrier’s peak season in North America. American launched service to Auckland in Jun-2016 and according to CAPA – Centre for Aviation and OAG data for the week beginning 02-Apr-2017, had 1750 one way seats per week to Auckland International Airport.

American Airlines to introduce 787-9 aircraft on Los-Angeles-Auckland service

American Airlines announced plans to introduce Boeing 787-9 equipment on the Los-Angeles-Auckland route when it is reinstated on 30-Oct-2017 (NZ Herald, 13-Apr-2017). American Airlines GM Australia and New Zealand Simon Dodd stated “it would be the first time a US carrier had offered premium economy across the Pacific”. According to the CAPA Fleet Database, American has six 787-9 aircraft in operation and another 16 on order.