Here is FCM’s summary of some of the top news from the Air Travel industry this month.
Delta takes delivery of first A350 and introduces new business-class suite
Delta Airlines has unveiled a new business-class suite on its freshly received A350 aircraft. The carrier used the new plane to debut both its new Premium Select economy-cabin offering and its Delta One business-class suite. The newly-arrived latest generation dual-engine widebody craft will be assigned to the Detroit-Tokyo Narita route, with later arrivals to take up the Detroit-Soul service. The 32 Delta One suites will feature sliding doors, privacy dividers, lie-flat seats with memory foam padding, dedicated stowage compartments, 18 inch television screens and passenger-controlled ambient lighting.
Singapore Airlines unveils huge First-Class accommodation
Singapore Airlines has also announced a new offering in the increasingly competitive on-board suite space, unveiling a massive new apartment-style cabin for its 19 existing A380s as well as five more currently on order. Available in December these will be 60% larger than their current offering and will include a single bed and leather recliner as well as sliding doors, adjustable blinds and lighting as well as a 32-inch monitor. The new cabins will be appearing first on the Singapore-Sydney service.
Etihad to cut Dallas service
Gulf-based carrier Etihad has announced that it will halt services between Dallas and its Abu Dhabi hub. This decision comes on the back of a June move by American Airlines to end their code-sharing agreement, making the service unsustainable. Etihad’s other services to New York, Washington Dulles, Chicago and Los Angeles will remain. The decision will take effect on March 25th 2018 and follows the cancellation of the Abu Dhabi-San Francisco service which ceased in late October this year.
More airlines are joining TSA Pre-Check
The number of airlines participating in the TSA Pre-Check program has increased this month, with the Transportation Security Administration announcing the addition of 11 carriers to the 19 existing members. PreCheck allows travelers to eliminate the need to remove their light jackets, shoes and laptops at security screenings at participating airports. This expedited security comes at the cost of $85 for a five-year membership and registration to enable the TSA to perform security checks before arrival. The new airlines joining the program include Emirates, Cathay Pacific, Korean Air, Avianca, Virgin Atlantic and Spirit Airlines.
Emirates to add 100th A380
Emirates will receive its 100th Airbus A380 this month. The airline is already the world’s largest operator of the aircraft, having introduced it in 2008. Since then the cabins have been consistently upgraded and now feature an on-board lounge, 20 inch flat-screens and mini-bars for business class and a shower spa for first class passengers. News of the purchase of the 100th aircraft comes amidst expansion by the company worldwide.
United resumes New Zealand route
United Airlines has announced the resumption of its route between Auckland and San Francisco. The U.S. legacy carrier will operate six flights per week until December 17th, increasing in frequency thereafter to one per day until March 22nd next year. The service will be provided by United’s fleet of Boeing 777-300ER aircraft, with a new cabin design featuring United’s Polaris business class flat-bed seating.
Virgin Atlantic enables free Wi-Fi for Heathrow Express
British carrier Virgin Atlantic has recently announced that passengers will be able to access the website for Heathrow Express for free so they can buy tickets for the airport rail service while onboard. This is part of the airline's on-going rollout of free Wi-Fi across their fleet of aircraft. Free access will let passengers book online and view fares from Wi-Fi enabled devices on Virgin's Panasonic and Gogo powered network.
Delta tops BTN airline survey
Delta Airlines has claimed the top spot in BTN’s annual survey of airlines for an unprecedented seventh consecutive year. The survey of corporate agents and travel managers identified three other carriers with enough votes to make it to the final round of the survey: American, United and Southwest Airlines. But Delta made a clean sweep of all ten categories measured, such as transient pricing, meetings travel pricing, services and amenities, distribution and more.