Airline news

Airline Business: Brisbane to Japan battle, Dining on demand, New Boeing business class seats

From battles over new routes to new in-flight initiatives, this airline update brings you the latest industry news for business travellers.

Virgin Australia covet Japan route

In September, Qantas filed an application with Australia’s International Air Services Commission (IASC) to commence flights between Brisbane and Tokyo’s Haneda Airport. Now Virgin Australia has also submitted a proposal.

The Australian and Japanese governments have agreed to allow only two slots, so it’s no surprise that Qantas and Virgin Australia are both vying for this sought-after route between the two countries.

“The greatest public benefits are likely to be realised by splitting the available capacity between Virgin Australia and the Qantas Group. Such an outcome would facilitate increased competition, choice and more capacity than if both daily frequencies were allocated to the Qantas Group as it has requested,” Virgin Australia told Business Traveller.

If successful, Virgin Australia intends to start daily flights in March 2020 and will partner with All Nippon Airways (ANA). They have requested permission for a new partnership with ANA because it will enable Virgin passengers to access over 1300 flights per week to 38 destinations in Japan. There will also be reciprocal codeshare services and loyalty benefits.

The IASC will announce its ruling on which airline(s) will receive the available slots at the end of October, 2019.

Singapore Airlines trials ‘dine on demand’

In a recent interview with Executive Traveller, Singapore Airlines flagged its intention to trial ‘dine on demand’ meals service in Business class.

This new service will enable passengers to select menu items at any time during the flight. ‘Dine on demand’ would be offered alongside the airline’s ‘Book The Cook’ programme for pre-ordering meals, which will also enjoy a menu refresh to meet the demand for more health-conscious dishes.

Singapore Airline’s new approach is in response to passenger requests for flexible dining. Now the challenge for the carrier is to ensure that the cabin crew are able to execute the new concept, while maintaining a high level of passenger service. The trial is expected to commence at the start of next year.

Emirates new Boeing business class seats

Off the back of the airline’s successful Airbus A380s business class layout, Emirates will introduce the same business class seating across its new Boeing 777-9 and 777-8 fleet.

The current 2-2-2 configuration will be replaced by the improved 1-2-1 layout, to allow each passenger direct access to the isle. The business class seat also has its own personal mini-bar and advanced inflight entertainment system.

The Boeing 777-9 and 777-8 aircraft won’t have a cocktail bar. There will however be a comfort station in the middle of the business class cabin to offer a stand-up space with a small area for self-service snacks and drinks.

In addition to the business class upgrades, Emirates’ Boeing 777-9s will introduce an exclusive premium economy cabin, with new seating and improved food and beverage menu.

There’s still the question of when Emirates will take delivery of the new aircraft. It was originally contracted for mid-2020, but Emirates CEO Sir Tim Clark has suggested it’s now more likely to be later in the year.

Cover photo by Emirates.

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