Embrace change and brand your product, that was the message airline representatives heard when they attended a Travelport function earlier this week.
Travelport’s product manager, Daniel Rowley introduced a new platform, Rich Content and Branding, at a function attended by about 30 people in central Auckland.
In doing so he says airlines have to differentiate their products and drive it through all channels. ‘Airlines need to extend their sales and market reach. With Rich Content and Branding airlines load their own content, they control it and can tailor to specific agents if necessary.
Hong Kong Airlines is expanding its international routes into Vancouver, London and New York for 2017. This comes just after the airline commenced daily services from Auckland to Hong Kong, positioning itself alongside two well-established airlines on the route.
General manager NZ, Daniel Yuen says HX sees New Zealand as a huge growth market, not only for travellers to Hong Kong, but beyond. ‘We currently fly to popular Kiwi travel destinations including Taipei, Seoul, Chengdu and Bangkok and are in the process of securing future routes to key cities.’
Yuen adds that Hong Kong Airlines will take delivery of eight new aircraft next year including an Airbus A350 midway through 2017 that is expected to operate Hong Kong - London.
An additional Hong Kong Airlines lounge will be operational early next year for passengers departing from the midfield concourse in Hong Kong. The new lounge will be three times larger than the current lounge in Terminal One and be closer to the majority of Hong Kong Airlines’ departing flights.
Trade can expect ongoing price stimulation between Auckland and Hong Kong now that Hong Kong Airlines has become number three on the route along with Air New Zealand and Cathay Pacific, says Andrew Clark, regional director Australia, New Zealand, and South Pacific with Hong Kong Tourism Board.
‘As I’ve seen in other markets, once you get a third carrier on a route air fares become somewhat more competitive, ‘ he says.
Clark was one of the dignitaries at Auckland International Airport following the arrival of the inaugural HX021 service at 7.17am (13 minutes early) on Friday. It departed at 10.30am as HX022.
Hong Kong Airlines is now flying daily between the two cities but recently announced that the frequency will increase to 10 times a week between 9 December 2016 and 27 February as a direct result of forward bookings.
The number of Kiwi passengers using United Airlines’ fledgling Auckland to San Francisco service has far surpassed the carrier’s expectations.
United director Australia and New Zealand Julie Reid says the airline thought the configuration of passengers would sit at about 35% Kiwis and 65% Americans, but the split has settled to around 50/50.
Reid puts the success of the service, which kicked off on 3 July, squarely at the feet of the New Zealand trade.
‘I am just blown away by the support of the Kiwi travel agents. They have really stepped up to help us,’ she says.
United this week upped the service from three times a week to daily, upgrading the aircraft from a 787-8 to 777-200. This has increased the weekly seat numbers by 1226 to 1872.
Cathay Pacific’s new A350-900 XWB aircraft was welcomed with hoopla when touched down in Auckland on Friday.
Minister of Transport, Simon Bridges acknowledged Cathay Pacific’s 33-year commitment to New Zealand and said the A350 will offer outstanding standard of comfort and luxury for travellers. ‘Cathay Pacific is a premium airline taking passengers to Hong
Kong, Asia and beyond. This new aircraft takes passenger experience to a new level with its LED lighting, spacious cabins, and lower cabin pressure.’
Auckland Airport’s general manager people and safety, Anna Cassels-Brown noted three key points of the A350: its environmental performance, substantial carbon fibre content and that it is 50% quieter than other planes.
Asia Pacific travellers are among the least likely splash out for airline ancillary services – and they take a little while longer to plan their travels too.
That is according to a Sabre Corporation survey looking into how much people are willing to pay for services such as seats, bags and food when travelling.
The survey, which covered travellers from 20 countries, revealed 80% of travellers purchased air extras on their last trip, spending an average of US$62. When asked if they would spend more to personalise their trip, the answer was ‘yes’ – up to US$99 if it improved the travel experience.
But that didn’t include Asia Pacific travellers, it seems. The region currently spends US$63, but passengers were only willing to spend up to US$76 – the lowest among all areas.
Cathay Pacific will add a new route to network – Hong Kong to Tel Aviv, from March 2017.
Cathay Pacific Airways will expand its global network with the launch of a new four-times weekly service between Hong Kong and Tel Aviv from 26 March 2017 (subject to government approval).
New Zealand passengers can conveniently connect with the flight via CX198 from Auckland to Hong Kong, arriving at 9:00pm, with CX675 departing Hong Kong for Tel Aviv at 1:00am.
Cathay Pacific chief executive Ivan Chu says Tel Aviv has established itself as a culturally rich and technologically-advanced business capital. ‘As an important market in the ‘One Belt, One Road’ initiative, Israel offers tremendous potential for business and leisure travel. Together with the recent launch of our Madrid and Gatwick operations, this new service to Tel Aviv reflects our commitment to growing the Cathay Pacific network and further strengthening Hong Kong's position as one of the world's great international aviation hubs.’
Cathay Pacific’s Airbus A350-900 aircraft will operate the new service.
Continuing low fuel costs are both good and bad news for airlines, according to Peter Harbison, executive chairman of CAPA – Centre for Aviation. Speaking at the New Zealand Aviation & Corporate Travel Summit in Auckland, Harbison pointed out airlines have been under pressure in recent times to really tighten up their operations and get back to profitability.
‘To do that, airlines need their employees believing they need to cut costs. It is hard to do that when you are announcing big profit.’ Harbison says the problem for airlines is that there is ‘always bad news just around the corner’ – be it terrorism, volcanoes, a health epidemic or the economy in general. ‘We are in this bubble of low fuel prices, but airlines have still got to get their costs down.’ He says fuel, which can amount to 40 to 50% of a carrier’s total costs, obviously has a huge influence on current operations. ‘There is a lot of old capacity staying in the air that otherwise might not have and there are plenty of new routes being opened up.’
Air New Zealand has reiterated that it is up for the challenge of increased competition, both domestically and internationally. Speaking at the New Zealand Aviation & Corporate Travel Summit at The Langham in Auckland in October the airline’s chief sales and commercial officer, Cam Wallace, pointed out that some of the competition actually came ‘later than expected’.
He says there are many reasons to be positive about flying to, from and within New Zealand and these have prompted the competitive situation. ‘New Zealand’s tourism proposition is strong and enduring and there is a structural change in demand as more and more people get healthier and live longer. The reduction in fuel price means New Zealand is effectively closer to the world and our (Air New Zealand’s) own financial performance has acted as a lightning rod.’
As inflight wifi becomes more prevalent, travel agents and their clients are being warned that extra care should be taken when going online in the air.
October is Cyber Security Awareness Month and international company NordVPN has released a document outlining issues with inflight internet.
‘The dangers of public wifi are already well known but the security issues of inflight internet connection are still somewhat obscure. In 2015, there were already 52 airlines worldwide offering in-flight internet,’ the company says. (Air New Zealand has signalled its intention to introduce the service next year.)
It points out there is no password protection on the wifi connection so anyone can intercept all data that is being transmitted on the wireless network.
The rapidly expanding aviation world spells good times ahead for secondary airports as the globe’s megacities reach capacities, says JG Aviation Consultants owner John Grant.
Speaking at the PATA Global Insights Conference in Auckland on Friday, Grant says IATA statistics show there are 3.6 billion passengers each year or 9.9 million a day. ‘It took more than 80 years to get to the point we are at now but in just 15 years we will double that,’ he says. ‘And this industry hasn’t made an accurate forecast since it started – we’ve always undershot our estimations.’
Grant says there are 55 megacity airports around the world – Sydney and Melbourne are among them and Auckland ‘just sneaks in. But many of these megacities, geared for ultra long haul, wide-body aircraft, are reaching their physical limitations such as London and New York.’
Singapore Airlines’ Capital Express service, linking Wellington for the first time with Singapore via Canberra, is being heralded a game changer.
The inaugural flight arrived at Wellington Airport on Wednesday to a celebration and much fanfare, attended by officials, industry representatives and excited passengers. The flight was ushered in with a water cannon salute and powhiri. Singapore Airlines executive vice president commercial Mak Swee Wah, Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown and Wellington Airport CEO Steve Sanderson then made speeches before a cake-cutting ceremony.
Singapore Airlines general manager New Zealand Simon Turcotte, who has driven the project, was at the celebration, and admits pride at having helped bring the service to the capital. ‘Not many get to do this – I feel very privileged.’
Emirates A380s will fly between New Zealand and Dubai five times daily from 30 October with the introduction of the airline’s double-decker flagship aircraft on Christchurch services.
Emirates will be the first airline to offer regular scheduled A380 services to and from Christchurch with the upgrade of the current daily Christchurch service from Boeing 777-300ERs, along with the removal of the en-route stop in Bangkok which will enable passengers to travel all the way between Christchurch and Dubai, with just one stop in Sydney.
The launch of the Christchurch A380 flights will coincide with the introduction of the A380 on Emirates’ daily non-stop route between Auckland and Dubai. Emirates currently also operates three other daily A380 services between Auckland and Dubai and beyond via Australia (Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane).
Air New Zealand and Singapore Airlines have extended their alliance to include travel between Wellington and Singapore. From 21 September Air New Zealand will be able to codeshare on Singapore Airlines’ new Wellington-Singapore service and Singapore Airlines on Air New Zealand’s domestic network beyond Wellington.
The two carriers first launched an alliance in early 2015, which included the Singapore Airlines’ Singapore-Christchurch service and enabled Air New Zealand to resume operating the Auckland-Singapore route, delivering greater access to Singapore from New Zealand.
Air New Zealand chief strategy, networks and alliances officer Stephen Jones says the launch of our alliance with Singapore Airlines delivered capacity growth of 15% in its first year helping to not only grow visitor arrivals benefiting our tourism industry but also provide convenient travel options to Singapore and beyond.
Singapore Airlines general manager, New Zealand, Simon Turcotte says the extension of the alliance agreement to include the new service will deliver a greater choice to customers looking to travel to and from New Zealand.
The new Wellington-Singapore service will operate four times a week departing Wellington at 20:15 on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sundays, arriving in Singapore at 05:50 the next day following a short 85 minute stop-over in Canberra.
Fares for the new service under the alliance agreement will be available on a progressive basis from 1 September in New Zealand, Singapore and Europe.
Air New Zealand is to spend more than $100 million increasing the number of premium seats on its Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners and refurbishing its Boeing 777-300 fleet in response to customer trends.
Increasing demand for premium travel means the three Dreamliners, scheduled to be delivered from October 2017, will arrive with a fresh new cabin configuration that will increase the number of Business Premier seats from 18 to 27 and Premium Economy seats from 21 to 33.
From February 2017, all seven of the airline’s Boeing 777-300s will also progressively complete a refurbishment programme, including the installation of the Panasonic eX3 in-flight entertainment system customers already enjoy on the Dreamliner fleet, and refreshed seating options.
Each of the 777-300s’ interiors will be refurbished. The refurbished aircraft will feature refreshed Business Premier and Economy seats as well as Air New Zealand’s luxury leather Premium Economy seat, which debuted on the 787-9 Dreamliner in July 2014. These will replace the Spaceseat and take the number of Premium Economy seats on this aircraft from 44 to 54. The Boeing 777-300 refurbishment programme is expected to be completed by late November 2017.
Air New Zealand’s general manager customer experience Carrie Hurihanganui says since its introduction on the Dreamliner, the new ink coloured luxury leather Premium Economy seat has become extremely popular with customers.
New Zealand remains underserved by airline capacity from around the word in spite of an influx of new services, according to Auckland Airport. At a press conference marking Sunday’s inaugural United Airlines service between Auckland and San Francisco, Auckland Airport chief executive Adrian Littlewood said the US market remained ‘underserved by about 30% even taking the new capacity into account’.
This follows an analysis entitled Growing Travel Markets, presented by the airport’s general manager, aeronautical commercial Norris Carter. It asserts the massive China market is underserved by 39%, Japan by 28% and South Korea by 53%. Even Australia is underserved by 32%, the report claims. ‘This is not a forecast, rather a modelled view of market possibilities which we’ve based on a mix of public and proprietary data,’ says Carter. ‘The modelling we’ve done indicates the US is a strong market for passenger growth. New Zealand is an attractive destination for US travellers. This is why we have seen United and American come on board, and we see room for further growth.’
Cathay Pacific's new A350 aircraft will start flying on the Auckland-Hong Kong route from October 31 2016. The A350-900XWB will service the daily CX198 flight departing at 2:30 pm between 31 October - 1 December 2016 and then the daily CX118 flight, departing at 9 am between 2 December – 1 March 2017.
Cathay Pacific’s specified model of the extra wide aircraft has new Business Class lie flat beds that are now three inches longer than current seats. Both the business and premium economy class seats were designed by Studio F.A.O Porsche for optimal comfort. In economy class, a seat configuration of 3-3-3 provides passengers with more space. In both economy and premium economy a dedicated mobile/tablet dock designed at eye level makes it easy to enjoy entertainment from a passenger’s own device.
A new airline was unveiled in Sydney on 3 May. The Oceania launch of LAN and TAM's consolidated global LATAM brand revealed new livery, logo, signage, counter design, website and uniforms that will be progressively rolled out over the next three years.
‘More than 50 aircraft are expected to be rebranded before the end of the year,' Patricio Aylwin, managing director Asia Pacific, LATAM Airlines Group told guests at the event. 'We have an ambitious dream: We want to be between the three best airlines in the world. With an additional value of being the first Latin-American one.'
LATAM's new inflight magazine, Vamos, is already in seat backs and a new South America wine list will be introduced.
By Lisa Bradley in Kota Kinabalu
The Air Asia X flight connecting Auckland to Queensland and Kuala Lumpur is up and running, but work is ongoing to ensure the service is ingrained in the hearts and minds of the industry and travelling Kiwis.
Tourism Malaysia and the airline are this week ran a famil in early April for eight wholesalers, agents and media so they not only experience the low-cost flight option, but get a feel for the country as a destination – not just a transit point.
‘It is important the industry knows it has other options than direct flights with Malaysia Airlines and Singapore Airlines, which codeshares with Air NZ,’ says Tourism Malaysia’s Auckland director Zalina Ahmed.
Air New Zealand will launch direct flights to Manila in the Philippines from December. The new year round service will operate three times a week using Boeing 767-300 aircraft with a flight time of around 10 and a half hours in each direction.
Air New Zealand chief executive officer Christopher Luxon says the airline expects the service to be popular at both ends of the route. ‘The Filipino population in New Zealand has more than tripled since 2001 and is now the third largest Asian ethnic group, with around 40,000 Filipinos resident in New Zealand. The number of visitors from the Philippines is also continuing to grow rapidly, up more than 20% in the past year alone so we’re anticipating that demand for this service will be steady in both directions.
‘As the only non-stop service between New Zealand and the Philippines, our flight will be quicker and more convenient for travellers than the fastest current option which flies indirect, potentially saving up to two and a half hours each way,’ says Luxon.
Budget airline AirAsia X made its official daily entry into New Zealand yesterday with a promise to form a solid relationship with those at the coalface of the travel trade.
Airline chief executive officer Benyamin Ismail, speaking at a function at Auckland Airport after the inaugural flight, says the company was looking to further bolster ties with New Zealand travel agents. ‘We are a FIT organisation, but we also rely on agents. They will be the winner for us and so we want to be there by assisting them with attractive fares.’
Ismail says the airline opened up around 120 routes for outbound travel through Asia, giving agents a lot more choice for clients using Malaysia as a travel hub – a point hammered home by the airline’s chairman Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz.Ismail and the chairman also agreed the airline would be looking to operating