Monthly Archives: September 2014

Air China takes delivery of its first Boeing 747-800 Intercontinental

Air China (Beijing) has taken delivery of the pictured Boeing 747-89L B-2485 (msn 41191) yesterday (September 29), its first 747-800 Intercontinental.

Boeing issued this statement:

Boeing and Air China celebrated the delivery of the airline’s first 747-8 Intercontinental. Air China is the first carrier in Asia to operate the passenger version of the new, fuel-efficient 747-8. The new airplane is the first of seven 747-8 Intercontinentals Air China has on order.

“Air China has been operating 747s since the 1980s,” said Song Zhiyong, president of Air China. “This iconic airplane has played an important role in Air China’s international development and has also witnessed many milestones of the reform and opening-up of China. We are very proud to introduce the new 747-8 into our fleet to continue its tradition into the future.”

Air China, the flag carrier of the People’s Republic of China, will operate the new airplanes as it continues to expand its international routes.

The 747-8 Intercontinental will bring double-digit improvements in fuel consumption and emissions over its predecessor, the 747-400, while generating 30 percent less noise. The airplane’s interior, inspired by the 787 Dreamliner, includes a new curved, upswept architecture giving passengers a greater feeling of space and comfort, while adding more room for personal belongings. The 747-8 Intercontinental is powered by GE Aviation’s GEnx-2B engines.

Boeing’s partnership with Air China dates back to the 1970s. In addition to the 747-8 Intercontinental, Air China also has 15 787-9s on order. Air China has received all of its 20 777-300 ERs in the last three years and is one of the largest 737 operators in China.

Air China will deploy the new type on the Beijing-Frankfurt route starting daily on January 2, 2015 per Airline Route.

Copyright Photo: Brandon Farris/AirlinersGallery.com. B-2485 is pictured at Boeing Field in Seattle on a test flight.

Boeing 747-8 Customers (Boeing):

Boeing 747-800 Customers

Video: The National Geographic documentary on the Boeing 747-8:

Air China: AG Slide Show

 

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Joel Chusid’s Airline Corner – September 2014

Guest Editor Joel Chusid

Watch Your Vowels

Guest Editor Joel Chusid

Guest Editor Joel Chusid

With millions of passengers flying every day, some are bound to end up at the wrong destination. I’m not talking about diverted or cancelled flights, or even what airlines call “misboards” when someone board the wrong airplane by mistake which, despite all the security regulations and precautions, still occasionally happens. But booking the wrong destination can happen, especially with so many people booking online. There are multiple cities in the U.S. with the same name (Bloomington, Lafayette and Springfield come to mind), but globally there are Londons in Canada and England and Panama Cities in Florida and Panama, and many more examples. Spelling and pronunciation errors can cause someone going to Oakland, California to end up in Auckland, New Zealand or the wrong La Paz, in Mexico or Bolivia. Airline staff are used to this, but they make mistakes, too. An Australian couple bound for the World Cup in Salvador, Brazil this past summer, ended up in San Salvador in El Salvador due to an airline booking error and had to watch the game on TV instead. An American dentist and his partner, anxious to see the Alhambra booked a first class vacation trip to Granada, Spain through British Airways last year. Upon landing in London, they proceeded to their connecting flight to Grenada, with that single vowel causing the mixup. Twenty minutes into the flight, they noticed their flight on the inflight map was headed out over the ocean, at which point they were past the point of no return. Nine hours later they ended up on the island of Grenada in the Caribbean. Since the dentist had a conference in Lisbon, Portugal at the end of the vacation, they flew to Miami and on to London. The little vowel error caused them to be on seven flights over three days and spend over $34,000 in airfares and in lost salary, for which the dentist sued British Airways since their agent erred. The case was finally dismissed last month in a Washington court. Let this be a lesson to you: watch your vowels.

The Game Plane

Are you into game shows? Is your idea of a comfortable airline seat in your living room? Here’s a new one for you, courtesy of Allegiant Air. For the past few months, “The Game Plane”, with reality host by Mark L. Walberg has been filming with somewhat captive audiences live on scheduled flights. Broadcasts in syndication began September 20, with real passengers as contestants getting chances to win prizes such as hotel stays in Las Vegas, Orlando and Hawaii. Now if you haven’t heard of Allegiant, they are what can be described as a niche, yet successful, airline, serving smaller cities to leisure destinations usually a few times a week. Think Shreveport to Las Vegas, one of the chosen routes for the game. The games range from “Bye Bye Birdie” (an inflight putting contest), the “Barf Bag Challenge” (choose questions from an array of air sickness bags) to “How Smart is Your Co-Pilot” (one half of a couple is sent to the isolation booth- the airplane lavatory). For some sample pictures, see http://gameplane.herokuapp.com/. Now I have no idea how they deal with turbulence….

Airline Food, Grounded

Some international travelers prefer to eat their meal on the ground before a red-eye flight to maximize rest time, especially when heading eastbound where hours are lost. Indeed, some airline lounges offer premium travelers pre-flight fine dining, especially those in the Middle East where most long haul travel involves an overnight, and even on the U.S. East Coast where most flights to Europe are scheduled to leave in the evening and arrive early. On recent flights on Turkish and Qatar Airways I was blown away by the selection of food, with everything from chefs to olive bars. But now we’re talking about airline food on the ground when you’re not even taking a flight. LSG SkyChefs, in partnership with Allyouneed.com, a German delivery site, has just introduced a test of home airline meal delivery in Germany, Cologne and Dusseldorf, to be exact. The meals are designed after Lufthansa business class meals, are prepared fresh, not frozen, and delivered to homes once a week, on Wednesdays. The meals, however, can be frozen and eaten later and feature both vegetarian and regular entrees, whatever is being served aloft on that day.

Copycat Freeloader

On the other hand, you can do what a “wanna-be” passenger did at Munich, but got caught, similar to what a man did at a Chinese airport for months. The European traveler bought a one way business class ticket from Munich to Zurich. The distance of this flight is only 162 miles. I flew this segment some years ago, and it took longer to get the checked baggage than the flight itself. However, these tickets are relatively expensive, at $895 (yes, you read that correctly), but they permit unlimited cancellation and rebooking without penalty. They also permit access to the premium lounge at Munich, which the guy used 35 times, without ever flying. Each time he checked in, helped himself to the copious food and drink, and then had his ticket refunded and reissued. After a few months of this, airline staff got suspicious, and Lufthansa took the freeloader to court. He was fined $2700, equal to the daily lounge charge.

“Keep Calm and Watch”

With all the stories of “air rage” these days, British Airways has discovered some ways to calm passengers and mesmerize them to relax on long flights. Last spring the airline introduced what one could only call “boring” movies. How about watching a seven hour trail ride to Oslo, or hours of bird feeding or knitting? A British Airways spokesperson equated it with watching the moving flight map. Just recently, a new channel, “Paws and Relax” was introduced, featuring romping dogs and cats. Think “Puppy Bowl” – non-Super Bowl watchers know that at the same time the big game is on, the Animal Planet channel shows the “Puppy Bowl” with furry juvenile canines playing with toys and each other on a little sports field. British Airways also recently tested a “Happiness Blanket” on some travelers between New York and London. A headband worn by the traveler measures electrical fluctuations of the brain, and the blanket turns blue when the user is calm, red when they are anxious or stressed. The blankets were used during mealtime, entertainment and sleep. No idea if this idea is going to be expanded. Some pictures here: http://www.britishairways.com/en-gb/offers/partners/happiness-blanket

Virgin Atlantic is close to making a decision on 5 additional Boeing 787s, updates its fleet retirement plans

Virgin Atlantic Airways (London) is close to making a decision on its five Boeing 787 options according to this report by Bloomberg. The British carrier is updating its fleet plans as it retires its older aircraft types with the new generation aircraft.

According to the report, Virgin Atlantic will retire the last Airbus A340-300 (above) at the end of February 2015. The last five Boeing 747-400s will leave the fleet between September 2015 and July 2016.

Two Airbus A340-600s will be retired at the beginning of 2015.

Read the full report: CLICK HERE

Copyright Photo: SPA/AirlinersGallery.com. The older Airbus A340-300s will be the first to be retired in February. Virgin Atlantic Airways’ Airbus A340-313 G-VFAR (msn 225) climbs away from London’s Heathrow Airport.

Virgin Atlantic Airways: AG Slide Show

El Al and JetBlue Airways file with the DOT in order to codeshare

El Al Israel Airlines (Tel Aviv) and JetBlue Airways (New York) today filed with the United States Department of Transportation (DOT) seeking approval to codeshare.

Subject to government approval, El Al plans to place its “LY” code on select JetBlue-operated flights to/from New York (JFK/Newark).

El Al currently offers up to 22 weekly nonstop flights from Tel Aviv to New York (JFK/Newark) which easily tap into JetBlue’s growing network. With one stop in New York (JFK/Newark), customers may connect between Israel and 35 JetBlue destinations including Boston, Chicago/O’Hare, Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood, Houston/Hobby, Las Vegas, Orlando, San Francisco, San Juan, Washington/Dulles and West Palm Beach. JetBlue currently serves 86 cities across the United States, Caribbean, and Latin America.

El Al and JetBlue have been interline partners since 2010, allowing customers to purchase single-ticket itineraries, combining travel on both airlines.

Top Copyright Photo: SPA/AirlinersGallery.com. El Al’s Boeing 747-458 4X-ELB (msn 26056) climbs gracefully away from Heathrow Airport near London.

El Al Israel Airlines: AG Slide Show

JetBlue Airways: AG Slide Show

Bottom Copyright Photo: Fred Freketic/AirlinersGallery.com. JetBlue Airways’ Airbus A321-231 WL N923JB (msn 5960) with the Prism tail fin awaits its runway departure clearance at JFK International Airport.

QANTAS Airways launches the largest jetliner on the longest route to Dallas/Fort Worth

QANTAS Airways (Sydney) customers will now enjoy the luxury of the world’s largest passenger aircraft on the world’s longest route, with nonstop Airbus A380 services between Sydney and Dallas/Fort Worth which was launched on September 28.

QANTAS recently announced increased services to the USA, and will now offer customers 41 services per week to North America. About half of these services are operated by the pictured Airbus A380 aircraft and the other half by Boeing 747-400s with A380-style interiors.

QANTAS A380 First Class Suite (QANTAS)(LRW)

Copyright Photo: QANTAS Airways. The First Class Suite.

The new Airbus A380 service is the result of several scheduling changes designed to unlock more flying time of the QANTAS fleet, as part of the wider Qantas Transformation program.

QANTAS A380 Business Class cabin (QANTAS)(LRW)

Copyright Photo: QANTAS Airways. Business Class cabin.

QANTAS will operate the new Airbus A380 service six times per week (every day except Tuesdays). Flight QF 7 will depart Sydney at 1310 and arrive at DFW International Airport at 1345 local time (the same day).

The return flight QF 8, will depart DFW at 2215 local time and arrive in Sydney at 0605 two days later (due to an evening departure and the international dateline). Flying time from Sydney to DFW is around 14 hours 50 minutes, and flying time from DFW to Sydney is around 15 hours 30 minutes.

QANTAS A380 Economy Class seats (QANTAS)(LRW)

Copyright Photo: QANTAS Airways. The Economy Class cabin.

Through its codeshare partnership with American Airlines, QANTAS offers onward connections to more than 100 destinations across the USA, with more than 50 of those from Dallas/Fort Worth including Orlando, Boston, Houston, Chicago, Las Vegas, Miami, New Orleans, New York, Washington, Toronto, Vancouver, Cancun and Mexico City.

This new service comes in the 60th anniversary year of QANTAS services between Australia and the USA. In 1954, QANTAS operated a Lockheed Super Constellation from Sydney to San Francisco – its first trans-Pacific route to North America.

QANTAS A380 Texas hat tail (QANTAS)(LRW)

Copyright Photo: QANTAS Airways.

SPECIAL LIVERY:

To celebrate the milestone, QANTAS painted its Airbus A380-842 VH-OQL (msn 074) operating the route with a special livery; the kangaroo on the tail (above) features a traditional Stetson hat with a neckerchief in the American-stars print, with a “G’Day Texas” emblem next to the forward doors.

QANTAS A380-800 VH-OQL (G'Day Texas logo)(QANTAS)(LRW)

QANTAS Ambassador John Travolta was at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport to greet the inaugural Airbus A380 service from Sydney and said he was proud to help promote the new service (below).

“I’m thrilled to be part of this special and historic moment for QANTAS. It’s exciting news for Americans that the world’s biggest and one of the most luxurious passenger aircrafts is now flying between Dallas/Fort Worth and Sydney,” said Mr Travolta.

QANTAS John Travolta (QANTAS)(LR)

Top Copyright Photo: Antony J. Best/AirlinersGallery.com. Airbus A380-842 VH-OQD (msn 026) climbs away from London (Heathrow).

QANTAS Airways: AG Slide Show

Video:

Lufthansa is facing another pilot’s strike tomorrow

Lufthansa (Frankfurt) meanwhile is facing another day of strikes tomorrow (September 30) by its pilots, represented by the Vereinigung Cockpit union. The strike revolves around a dispute concerning retirement benefits.

The union issued this statement (translated from German):

The Vereinigung Cockpit (VC) 2014 plans industrial action at Lufthansa for tomorrow Tuesday, September 30.

Lufthansa pilots are on September 30, 2014 from 8.00 – 23.00 local time will strike on long-haul flights with the aircraft types Airbus A380, Boeing 747, Airbus A330 and Airbus A340 will not perform any departures from Frankfurt Airport. With this strike, a new collective agreement transitional care will be achieved.

Since Lufthansa management has not submitted any compromise or competitive offer, we are forced to take these other measures.

The Vereinigung Cockpit declares that it is always ready to avert strikes. We regret any inconvenience to the customers of Lufthansa.

Copyright Photo: Ton Jochems/AirlinersGallery.com. Airbus A380-841 D-AIMB (msn 041) arrives back at the Frankfurt hub.

Lufthansa: AG Slide Show

The pilot’s strike against Air France ends, the airline attempts to return to a full schedule

Air France (Paris) is attempting to get back to a full schedule after the strike by its pilots has ended. The airline issued this statement yesterday (September 28):

Air France welcomes the end of the strike action, which it called for firmly and repeatedly. The strike has been costly and damaging. It has lasted too long.

The Company deeply regrets that despite lengthy negotiations since the beginning of the conflict, enabling much progress to be made, the balanced and reasonable protocol to end the conflict proposed by Management has not been signed by the unions. Air France regrets that the pilots’ unions have not seized these opportunities.

Air France confirms its decision to continue the accelerated development of Transavia in France, one of the Group’s key growth factors. This development will take place in the planned competitive economic and social conditions (in particular: development beyond 14 aircraft, a single fleet of Boeing 737, Transavia France operating and remuneration conditions, transfer of Air France pilots on a voluntary basis). As announced, this project will quickly create 1,000 jobs in France (including 250 pilot jobs).

The end of the conflict strengthens the Company’s determination to develop its business model to reinforce its leadership in the context of constructive and balanced social dialogue. The strategic interest of the Company must remain the top priority.

Air France is now totally mobilized to regain its customers’ trust, restore serenity among staff and promote corporate cohesion.

Alexandre de Juniac, Chairman and CEO of Air France-KLM, declared: “The management team, Frédéric Gagey and I are well aware of the trauma that our customers, our employees and our partners have just experienced with this long strike. Our priority is now to join forces around the Air France-KLM group’s growth and competitiveness project, Perform 2020. I would like to thank all those who, in the belief that growth is within our reach if we provide ourselves with the necessary means, have supported our development projects. I would also like to thank all the staff at Air France who, over the past two weeks, have done a remarkable job in extremely difficult circumstances. To all our customers and our staff, I want to express our confidence and our commitment to restore the links and regain momentum”.

The company issued this statement about returning to a full schedule and today’s flights:

Following the end of strike action, Air France is gradually resuming its flight schedule.

Flights already cancelled for Monday September 29 will remain cancelled. Air France operated 45% of its scheduled flights yesterday.

For today, Monday September 29, 2014, Air France is planning to operate almost 60% of its scheduled flights.

The situation will gradually return to normal over 2 to 3 days due to operational and regulatory constraints.

As aircraft have not flown for several days, mandatory checks are required before operations resume. In addition, aircraft and crews must be repositioned at all Air France stations throughout the world and flight crews must be given their legal rest periods before carrying out return flights.

Last-minute changes and disruptions may still occur.

Air France advises its customers to check flight information before going to the airport and not to go to the airport if their flight is cancelled.

The strike, which still did not resolve the underlying issues, may have cost the company over $600 million. Read the analysis by Bloomberg Businessweek: CLICK HERE

Read the analysis by the New York Times: CLICK HERE

Copyright Photo: Jay Selman/AirlinersGallery.com. Boeing 777-228 ER F-GSPD (msn 29005) completes its final approach to the runway at John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK).

Air France: AG Slide Show