British Airways

BRITISH AIRWAYS UNVEILS £7BN TRANSFORMATION PLAN

  • 600+ modernisation initiatives are being rolled out as part of the airline’s £7bn transformation plan, as it invests in every part of its business
  • A new website, mobile app, free onboard messaging, new short-haul seats and a new First suite are among the airline’s latest plans
  • Multi-million-pound leading-edge technology systems, AI and machine learning will help flights depart on time, along with 350 new jobs at Heathrow and the first ever bespoke Microsoft Connected Teams ground-to-air customer care solution
  • The BA network continues to grow, with two of the airline’s most popular Asia destinations to return from October and November
  • The airline is also investing in a new lounge space in Dubai, as well as the previously announced refreshes for Lagos, Seattle, Heathrow and Edinburgh

British Airways has announced an array of new initiatives to transform the airline, unveiling a £7bn transformation plan at its first ‘In the Skies’ showcase event in London. Chairman and CEO Sean Doyle outlined his modernisation plan, committing to delivering a world class customer experience, modernising IT, growing pride among colleagues and focusing on sustainability, as well as driving on-time performance.

“We’re on a journey to a better BA for our people and for our customers, underpinned by a transformation programme that will see us invest £7bn over the next two years to revolutionise our business,” Sean Doyle, British Airways’ Chairman and CEO, said. “We’re going to take delivery of new aircraft, introduce new cabins, elevate our customer care, focus on operational performance and address our environmental impact by reducing our emissions and creating a culture of sustainability. We’re also heavily investing in the development of a new ba.com website and app and are laser-focused on transforming our business and fixing any pain points for our customers.”

WiFi enhancements for customers 

With more customers looking to remain connected with the world from their seats, from April 3, British Airways Executive Club Members will start to be able to send messages free of charge on a single device using the airline’s WiFi – whatever cabin they’re travelling in. The service will be available on every WiFi-enabled aircraft within two weeks of the rollout date*.

The airline has also become the first to offer a WiFi-enabled inflight customer care solution to solve issues in the moment – even at 35,000ft. Created especially for British Airways by Microsoft, customer care teams on the ground are now able to connect with cabin crew colleagues across more than 300 flights a day. The functionality allows crew to help solve any unexpected issues before a flight lands at one of the airline’s more than 200 destinations.

Operational excellence 

The airline is investing £100m in machine learning, automation and AI across its operation, driving improvements from bookings to baggage handling and helping to revolutionise its operation, speed up departures and respond to disruption. Innovative new tools are helping to predict delays (prompting pre-emptive action to reduce disruption) and analyse real-time weather, aircraft capacity and customer connections data to help teams make better decisions. Since the introduction of the systems, alongside a number of new processes and ways of working, the airline has seen improvement to its on-time departures.

British Airways is also creating around 350 new roles at Heathrow to improve customer experience at its home and hub airport, and is investing in new equipment, such as baggage tugs and towing vehicles.

The airline is also investing £750m in its IT infrastructure to move 700 systems and thousands of servers to the cloud by early next year.

New lounge design concept 

The airline is proud to announce that it is set to open another brand-new lounge, this time in Dubai, which is relocating to a new larger space at Dubai Airport later this year. This lounge will be the first to feature British Airways’ new lounge design concept, followed by the opening of its Miami lounge in 2025. The new Dubai lounge will replace the existing lounge facility at the airport, offering more space and more features for customers. The airline has also announced lounge refreshes in Lagos and Seattle, these follow recent lounge refurbishments at Heathrow Terminals 5 and 3, as well as Edinburgh.

New cabins and seats 

New short-haul seats and cabin interiors will feature on the next generation of British Airways’ Airbus A320neo and A321neos, with eight aircraft set to arrive from May this year. The airline is working with the best of British suppliers from England, Scotland and Northern Ireland, with the new short-haul Euro Traveller and Club Europe seats reflecting a modern yet classic British interior. The re-designed cabins will also be fitted with extra-large bins for overhead luggage.

Investment in First  

As the only European carrier to offer First Class between the UK and US, British Airways is to introduce a brand-new and exclusive First suite. The airline expects the new seat to make its debut at the end of 2025 into early 2026 as part of its A380 aircraft refurbishment.

New Routes 

British Airways’ flights from London to Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur are set to return. The services will re-start in October and November respectively, further demonstrating British Airways’ commitment to expanding its network to Asia post pandemic.

The airline will operate daily flights between the Malaysian capital city and London Heathrow on a 787-9 aircraft, as well as three flights a week between the Thai capital and London Gatwick on a 777-200ER.

British Airways is also returning to Abu Dhabi on April 20, as well as welcoming Agadir in Morrocco on March 31 and adding Izmir in Turkey to its network on May 18.

Sustainability 

Taking significant and urgent action to address aviation’s impacts is critical to make the industry much more sustainable in the long term. Through the BA Better World programme and its commitment to People, Planet, and Responsible Business, British Airways continues to innovate to drive continual improvement in its environmental, social, and governance business performance and meet its net zero target by 2050 or sooner.

Last week the airline’s parent company, International Airlines Group (IAG) announced its largest SAF purchase agreement to date with e-SAF (power-to-liquid) producer ‘Twelve’, which will supply advanced e-SAF made from carbon dioxide, water and renewable energy to support IAG’s five European airlines, including British Airways. The next-generation fuel will reduce lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions by up to 90% versus conventional jet fuel. IAG is the first European airline group to announce an e-SAF deal, and the agreement will enable it to continue increasing its SAF use towards the goal of 10% by 2030.

Virgin Launches Industry-Leading Baggage Tracking Tool

VIRGIN’S INDUSTRY-LEADING BAGGAGE TRACKING TOOL

  • Virgin Australia has expanded its industry-leading baggage tracking tool to service all domestic and international routes*, including Queenstown, Bali, Fiji, Samoa, Vanuatu and Japan.
  • In an offering not comparable to any other Australian airline, Virgin Australia guests will now receive notifications when their bag is ready to fly, loaded onto the aircraft and again when the luggage has arrived at the baggage carousel.
  • The first-to-market technology which first launched on two-thirds of the airline’s domestic network last year, has since been used approximately 1.3 million times by Australian travellers, with Virgin Australia having seen a 12 per cent increase in app downloads.
  • To use the tool, guests can simply download the Virgin Australia app and enable push notifications.
  • The announcement forms part of Virgin Australia’s more than $400 million investment in digital innovation, technology, and customer experience initiatives, which includes newly launched websites, apps, digital systems, reduced call-wait times and Rapid Rebook – a tool for guests to self-manage their bookings end-to-end in the event of disruption.
Radisson Hotel Group Auckland

RADISSON DEBUTS ‘RED’ HOTEL IN AUCKLAND

Radisson Hotel Group will introduce its first brand to Auckland, New Zealand with the playful and dynamic Radisson RED. Located in the heart of Queen Street, the purpose-built 322-key Radisson RED Auckland will offer a modern lifestyle experience to its guests and add to the cosmopolitan ambiance of New Zealand’s largest city.

Radisson RED offers stylish spaces with standout designs where guests can feel inspired, engaged and connected to the heart of the destination. The new launch draws inspiration from Aotea’s surrounding arts and entertainment venues, creating social spaces designed for guests to unwind and relax in the informal and inviting hotel environment.

Since the reopening of the country’s international borders in August 2022, New Zealand’s tourism industry has enjoyed robust growth, with 2.96 million overseas visitor arrivals in the year ending December 2023, up by 1.52 million from the previous year. The property is owned by Stonewood Group, a prominent developer with a robust track record in New Zealand’s property sector. This underscores Radisson Hotel Group’s commitment to engaging with owners through various diverse business models within the Auckland and New Zealand hospitality market.

“The signing of the Radisson RED Auckland marks a key milestone in our Australasia development strategy. As one of our fastest growing lifestyle brands, Radisson RED offers an attractive value proposition for hotels in key urban locations like Auckland, making the brand a great fit for owners and partners looking for a pragmatic, yet differentiated and innovative solution to their real estate,” said Elie Younes, Executive Vice President and Global Chief Development Officer at Radisson Hotel Group.

“This is the perfect time to join forces with Radisson Hotel Group to introduce Radisson RED to Auckland. The Radisson RED brand is an ideal brand that diversifies our real estate portfolio, with a strong commercial and operational value proposition with a distinct design concept that helps guests immerse themselves into Queen Street’s thriving arts district. With Radisson Hotel Group’s strong network of loyal guests, and wide appeal to the modern-day traveller, we’re looking forward to opening the doors of the property in 2025,” said Michael Chow, Co-founder and Director, Stonewood Group.

Guests can choose from stylish Standard Rooms to spacious two-bedroom suites, and enjoy access to an all-day dining restaurant, a wellness facility as well as four function rooms for meetings and events. The hotel forms an integral component of a mixed-use commercial development, incorporating dining establishments including a rooftop specialty restaurant, and retail outlets. With close access to Auckland’s key attractions, guests can take a 10-minute walk to the Auckland waterfront which is surrounded by upscale shops, restaurants and bars. Moreover, the hotel boasts proximity to popular tourist attractions, including casinos, art galleries, parks, and museums.

The new Radisson RED hotel in New Zealand marks the latest expansion for the brand with nearly 80 hotels in operation and under development including recent openings and signings in Berlin, Tbilisi, Belgrade, Liverpool, Lagos, as well as upcoming openings in Phuket and Cebu.

Hyatt Andaz Pattaya

OUR HEAD OF EVENTS AND LEISURE VISITS HYATT ANDAZ, PATTAYA

Sarah Bush, our Head of Events and Leisure, was lucky enough to tag on a couple of days to her busy Bangkok trip and check out the Andaz Jomtien Beach, Pattaya as a special guest of Hyatt Resorts & Hotels.

Just 2 hours by road from Bangkok, this was the perfect place to unwind after a busy week. Tucked away from the hustle and bustle of the town, Andaz resort is built on established grounds with beautiful landscaped gardens. Staying in a Lagoon Access Room meant waking up at 7am dipping into the lagoon pool by 7.05am. Bliss! There are also 2 other pools to chose from too.

A very family friendly resort, but also caters very well for “grown-ups” as many rooms are quite private and have thier own lagoon access. Opt for a private pool or beach suite or for that celebratory occasion, or take a few friends and family and stay at a 3 bedroom House. There are so many choose from https://www.hyatt.com/andaz/utpaz-hyatt-andaz-pattaya-jomtien-beach/rooms .

Four restaurants on site make dining easy and varied. The food was indeed top quality and the chefs were able to select ingredients from the beautiful herb garden just near the main restaurant .  A beach which felt very private is a 3-minute walk from reception, due to the proximity of the beach area it was only frequented by Andaz guests (no hawkers) the beachfront infinity pool and beachside restuarant Fish Club are the perfect places to watch the beautiful sunset.

The light filled Garden Pavillion Event space with it’s own kitchen is fantastic for groups, meetings and incentives. Why not contact my team australia.corporateevents@atpi.com  for a quote for your next meeting, conference or incentive?

Qantas A220

QANTASLINK AIRBUS A220 TAKES FLIGHT

QantasLink’s two new Airbus A220 aircraft are today taking off for their first commercial flights, heralding a new era of domestic and regional travel for Australians.

The airline has taken delivery of the first two of 29 A220 jet aircraft, which will steadily replace its long-serving fleet of Boeing 717s as part of the Qantas Group’s domestic fleet renewal program.

The inaugural Melbourne to Canberra service, QF1266, departed this morning. The A220 will also today commence operating select flights on the Melbourne-Brisbane route.

The aircraft is significantly more fuel efficient than previous generation aircraft. Its ultra-modern light and bright cabin design with large windows and overhead lockers, specially designed seats and greater sense of space offers a more comfortable flight for customers.

With almost double the range of the 717s, the A220 can fly between any two points in Australia and to several offshore destinations, creating new route options in future.

QantasLink CEO Rachel Yangoyan said the A220 would change the way people travelled around the country.

“These next-generation aircraft are going to make a real difference for customers travelling across our network so it’s great to see it launch commercial flights from today,” Ms Yangoyan said.

“The A220 is more comfortable, offering a greater sense of space and fast and free Wi-Fi for every customer.

“The aircraft are also quieter and generate up to 25 per cent fewer carbon emissions, which is critical as we work towards our net zero target.

“We know many of our customers have been waiting for the opportunity to travel on the new aircraft, just as our QantasLink teams have been looking forward to flying them.

“We saw a spike in bookings on these routes when we identified them as the first A220 flights last week. It was a great response from many customers who clearly wanted to be among the first to experience our new A220.”

The third A220 is currently in production at Airbus’ facility in Mirabel, Canada, and is due to be delivered in June. Another four A220s are scheduled to be delivered by mid-2025. As more aircraft are delivered, the A220 will be deployed across other existing routes including Melbourne-Hobart from July, Melbourne-Coffs Harbour from October and Melbourne-Launceston from November.

Key features of the A220 experience include:

  • Space for 137 passengers across two cabins, with 10 Business seats in a 2-2 configuration and 127 seats in Economy in a 2-3 configuration.
  • The largest windows of any single aisle aircraft and a cabin with a greater sense of space.
  • Fast, free Wi-Fi, allowing customers to stay connected, as well as the improved Qantas Entertainment App for streaming content to their own device.
  • An integrated personal device holder and USB A and C charging in both Economy and Business; additional wireless charging pad in Business.
  • More comfortable Economy seat with extra padding compared with the 717.
  • Around 20 per cent more overhead locker space for all customers.
  • Reduction in noise footprint of up to 50 per cent and reduction in carbon emissions of 25 per cent.
Virgin Australia Pets

VIRGIN AUSTRALIA ANNOUNCES INTENTION TO BE COUNTRY’S FIRST AIRLINE TO ALLOW PETS ONBOARD

Virgin Australia has announced its intention to be the country’s first airline to operate flights with pets onboard under a plan unveiled today.

The Australian-first service, which will have pet-lovers rejoicing around the nation, is subject to regulatory approval, and is expected to launch within 12 months.

In a social media survey of Virgin Australia’s Facebook followers in 2021, 85 per cent of respondents voted in favour of the airline launching pets in cabin flights. In more recent research conducted by Virgin Australia with Australian pet owners, nearly 70 per cent of respondents advised they would travel with their pet in the cabin, with 57 per cent saying they would fly more regularly if the service was a reality.

Almost all major carriers in North America offer a pets onboard service for domestic flights, including United Airlines and Air Canada.

Proposed pets in cabin in-flight experience

For the comfort of all guests, Virgin Australia has today announced a number of parameters for pets in cabin flights:

The service will be limited to small cats and dogs on specific domestic routes;

Pets will be restricted to a limited number of designated rows and will not be allowed to roam freely or sit on laps;

Pets must also be carried in a Virgin Australia approved pet carrier under the seat in front of the owner for the duration of the flight.

CEO Commentary

Speaking at a press conference at Melbourne Airport, Virgin Australia Group CEO, Jayne Hrdlicka, said Virgin Australia is thrilled to finally reveal its plans to be the first Australian airline to offer pets onboard flights.

“Our love for animals has always been in the Virgin Australia DNA and we are excited at the prospect of taking off with Australia’s first-ever pets in cabin flights,” said Ms Hrdlicka.

“Overwhelmingly, our guests tell us they want to travel with their pets, and we are now on a journey to make that a reality. It’s something that commonly happens overseas and is proven to work well.

“Almost 70 per cent of Australian households have a pet, so this announcement is really significant for a large proportion of the country. It’s also a great thing for pet-friendly accommodation providers who will benefit greatly from increased connectivity and the ease for travellers to fly with their pets. It really will be a whole new economy for pet travel in Australia.

“Pets on flights is another example of Virgin Australia leading the way with new and improved service offerings and first-to-market experiences for our guests.

“Innovation has always been a hallmark of Virgin Australia. We were the first airline in the country to offer online check-in. This year we were the first Australian airline to launch baggage tracking and a fully integrated self-service disruption management tool. It’s this innovation and first-to-market drive that underpins who we are in the market,” she said.

Melbourne Airport CEO, Lorie Argus said the airport was looking forward to helping Virgin Australia deliver the Australian-first.

“We’ve been investing significant effort into providing relief areas for assistance animals and these facilities have ample capacity to serve Virgin Australia’s new guests,” she said.

“Animals being carried on board Virgin Australia flights will be required to remain in their approved pet carriers at all other times within the terminal.

“We expect the pets in cabin concept will prove a popular offering and we look forward to working with Virgin Australia to make it a reality.”

More details on pets in cabin flights, including available routes, and the cost for bringing a pet onboard, will be announced in due course.

No changes to assistance animals

The proposed pets in cabin flights will not result in any change to approved assistance animals being able to travel in the cabin of Virgin Australia aircraft at no additional cost. The existing procedure for assessing the eligibility of these assistance animals to travel onboard will not change. Additionally, Virgin Australia will continue to offer pets to be transported as cargo through approved pet carrier services, as this remains an important part of the Virgin Australia pet offering.

Qatar Airways

QATAR AIRWAYS INTRODUCES NEW FIRST CLASS CABIN

A new era of innovative growth including exciting product reveals are in the pipeline.

In a major development, the GCEO said a new First Class cabin will be introduced by Qatar Airways.

His strategy for Qatar’s national carrier includes pioneering innovation in digital technologies, products, fleet growth and employee engagement as Qatar Airways continues its global expansion.

Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive Officer, Engr. Badr Mohammed Al-Meer, has revealed several major new developments in line with his vision for the future of Qatar Airways. Designed to invigorate the global airline and its group of businesses, his roadmap for success includes innovation as the key pillar, which is reflected in Qatar Airways’ upcoming products and services – including the introduction of new First Class cabins on some of its fleet.

In an exclusive interview with CNBC – his first since being appointed Qatar Airways’ Group Chief Executive Officer in November 2023, Engr. Badr Mohammed Al-Meer stated: “This is a new era.”

The far-ranging interview touched on the overall positive outlook for the Group as Engr. Al-Meer detailed his approach to developing a high yielding concept for Qatar Airways’ new First Class cabin.

Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive Officer, Engr. Badr Mohammed Al-Meer, stated: “Based on the demand from certain sectors, we see a high demand for First Class, and as such, have decided to introduce a newly-designed First Class cabin unique to Qatar Airways. No one can develop a First Class cabin better than us – we are combining the experience of flying commercial and executive jets to develop something new. We are 70 to 80 per cent ready and are only finalising colours. We are hoping to announce it soon.”

Engr. Badr Al-Meer further revealed Qatar Airways’ redesign of its premium Qsuite set to debut at the Farnborough International Airshow in July 2024. Qatar Airways’ award-winning Qsuite Business Class challenged industry norms when it was launched in 2017, and continues to be a benchmark for the aviation industry.

Qatar Airways GCEO also stated that the competitive aviation landscape in the GCC region is helping raise the bar when it comes to customer experience.  He stated that the pressure is on for potential rivals, and he welcomes any challenge for Qatar Airways. He remains confident in Qatar Airways continuing to hold onto its market leading position in the future to outshine any competition.
He also underlined the ways in which digital innovation is helping drive organisational efficiencies, as the airline continues to announce exciting new routes in growth markets including China and India, further enhancing Qatar’s position as a gateway to the world.
Qatar Airways currently serves over 170 global destinations, and will soon launch inaugural flights to Hamburg and Tashkent, and resumed flights to Lisbon and Venice. Qatar Airways will also resume several summer seasonal routes, including Adana, Antalya, Bodrum, Marrakesh, Mykonos, Sarajevo, and Trabzon.

Engr. Badr Mohammed Al-Meer was appointed Group CEO in November 2023, and he immediately focused on introducing innovative programmes to benefit both passengers and the airline’s global 60,000 strong workforce. In his first message to employees, he stressed the importance of cultivating trust and empowerment in the work culture. Under his leadership, various workplace initiatives have been successfully introduced that continue to improve employee satisfaction.

Singapore Airlines Premium Economy

SINGAPORE AIRLINES ENHANCES THE PREMIUM ECONOMY EXPERIENCE

This month Singapore Airlines unveiled its revamped Premium Economy Class in-flight experience, which includes an improved and expanded selection of food and beverage options, as well as a new amenity kit. These will be available on flights from 31 March 2024.

Premium Economy Class customers will now be offered a glass of Charles de Cazanove Brut Tradition NV champagne shortly after take-off. They can peruse a hard copy menu card that lists the wide variety of meal, snack, and beverage options that are available on their flight. Their selected meals will be served in elegant custom-made porcelain Premium Economy Class serviceware.

On flights that are at least seven hours long, an all-new Out of the Woods amenity kit, designed exclusively for Premium Economy Class customers, will also be available.

These mark the first comprehensive revamp of SIA’s Premium Economy Class in-flight experience since this cabin class was introduced in 2015, allowing the Airline to continue delivering a distinctive level of service to customers.

Mr Yeoh Phee Teik, Senior Vice President Customer Experience, Singapore Airlines, said: “Since its introduction in 2015, Premium Economy Class has become popular with our customers. They appreciate the added amenities, heightened comfort, and the extra personal space it offers, all at an excellent value.

“At Singapore Airlines, though, our philosophy is to never stand still. We regularly gather customer feedback and conduct market research, learn more about the evolving value drivers for travellers, and find innovative ways to continue delivering a personalised and world-class in-flight experience.

“Based on these insights, we have undertaken this comprehensive revamp of our Premium Economy Class in-flight offerings, which we believe will delight our customers. The result reflects Singapore Airlines’ dedication to enhancing the Premium Economy Class experience to a class of its own.”

Christchurch scenery

ONE OF ATPI’S OWN INVITED ON EMIRATES PREMIUM ECONOMY

Our very own Claire Winnel, Manager ATPI Cruise & Travel at our flagship store in Terrigal, NSW was lucky enough to fly Emirates Premium Economy class to Christchurch recently.

She is delighted to report back “The cabin is lovely, very spacious with lots of room to move around. You have your own bathrooms at the front of the aircraft and dedicated cabin crew.  The leather seat is very comfortable with plenty of leg room, a footrest and decent recline of 8 inches.”

“There are only 56 seats in the cabin with 2 cabin crew looking after you. The meals are more similar to business class served on china plates with cutlery wrapped up in a linen napkin.”

“Unfortunately, there are only certain destinations that operate the premium economy seats, but we are very lucky out of Australia with Sydney and Melbourne offering fabulous connections to London.”

A smooth, sophisticated experience for Claire.

Turkish Airlines to launch in Australia

TURKISH AIRLINES TO COMMENCE FLYING FROM AUSTRALIA

Turkish Airlines, the airline flying to more countries than any other, is now incorporating Melbourne, Australia, into its flight network.

Turkish Airlines, which consistently expands its unique flight network as one of the most significant cornerstones of its growth strategy, is strengthening this performance by adding Australia, a destination of considerable interest and long on its agenda, to its flight network.

The flag carrier, which will schedule 3 flights a week to Melbourne, its 346th destination in 130 countries starting from 15 March 2024, will thus contribute to the tourism and trade volumes of both countries by carrying thousands of visitors on the Istanbul-Melbourne route every year. With the flights relayed via Singapore, Turkish Airlines will also have the distinction of being the only European airline to currently operate flights to Melbourne Airport.

Access the special launch price for this exciting new route.

  • The special launch price for Turkish Airlines’ Melbourne to Istanbul flights is $1,499.00.