Aviation wrap: Air NZ to get new Dreamliners, Alliance Airlines’ new service, Qantas adds seats + more

This week’s aviation wrap is full of new planes and flights, while Travel Weekly’s editor is full after completing the 1kg steak challenge down at the local pub.

Air New Zealand makes multi-billion-dollar investment in new fuel-efficient Dreamliners

Kiwi airline Air New Zealand has announced it will purchase eight Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner aircraft powered by GE Aviation’s GEnx-1B engines.

The agreement is worth $3.9 billion. However, as is usual with such orders, Air New Zealand has negotiated a significant discount on current list prices and the parties have agreed not to disclose the actual purchase price.

The first of these highly fuel-efficient aircraft will join the Air New Zealand fleet in 2022 and together they will have the potential to save 190,000 tonnes of carbon per year.

Air New Zealand currently operates a fleet of 13 787-9 Dreamliners.

In addition to the eight orders, the agreement includes options to increase the number of aircraft from eight to up to 20.

These new long-haul aircraft will replace Air New Zealand’s fleet of eight 777-200 planes, which will be phased out by 2025. Combined with GE’s GEnx-1B engines, they are expected to be 25 per cent more fuel efficient than the aircraft they’re replacing.


Alliance Airlines announces direct service between Melbourne and Kununurra

Alliance Airlines, the Shire of Wyndham East Kimberley and the East Kimberley Marketing Group have announced a direct seasonal scheduled service linking Melbourne and Kununurra in the heart of Western Australia’s iconic Kimberley region.

Between May and August 2020, Alliance Airlines will operate three return services per week, utilising Alliance’s Fokker 70 aircraft seating 80 passengers.

Flights between Melbourne and Kununurra are expected to go on sale in the coming months through local travel agents and via Virgin Australia’s website.


Qantas adds more seats to Hamilton Island, launches activation with Airbnb

Qantas-Airbnb partnership

Qantas is adding more flights and putting on bigger aircraft to Hamilton Island in response to increased customer demand.

Close to 300 additional seats will be available for customers travelling from Brisbane and Sydney to Hamilton Island between July and September this year.

The extra seats have been made possible by adding one extra return service from Brisbane and upgrading to larger aircraft on some days, including Qantas using its 737 aircraft on most flights from Sydney in the first week of August.

Qantas has also launched a Queensland sale for bookings until 3 June, including flights from Brisbane to Hamilton Island over the July to September period, with fares starting at $139 one-way.

Additionally, Qantas and Airbnb are letting members sleep in a bed at 35,000 feet as part of a unique partnership promotion.

For a limited time, Qantas Frequent Flyer is registered as a host and secretly posting a number of opportunities to secure first and business class redemption seats on Airbnb – disguised as accommodation listings.

Only Qantas Frequent Flyer members are able to access the significantly discounted seats, because you can only secure the booking with Qantas Points.

Members on the hunt can expect to find dozens of flights across the Qantas International network including London, Los Angeles, Hong Kong, Santiago and more. Listings include seats in pairs and groups of four.


Virgin takes passengers to a galaxy far, far away with Star Wars activation

Virgin Australia's Star Wars activation

Virgin Australia has joining forces with Star Wars and The Walt Disney Company Australia and New Zealand in a year that marks the opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland Resort in California and the blockbuster release of Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker.

To celebrate, Virgin Australia surprised passengers boarding flight VA1 from Sydney to Los Angeles on Sunday with Stormtroopers patrolling the Sydney Airport check-in area, before R2D2, BB8 and the Resistance Pilots greeted them at the boarding gate with Star Wars-themed snacks.

Shortly after VA1 departed, passengers took part in an exclusive lightsaber competition with the winner receiving Virgin Australia flights to LA, five nights’ accommodation at the Disneyland Resort in California and access to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.

Guests on the flight were also treated to their own lightsaber, Stormtrooper or Yoda pillow, and a special Star Wars-inspired menu. To share their onboard Star Wars moments with their friends and family back home, guests were also provided with an hour of complimentary WiFi.


Emirates invites Australians to fly together and save

Emirates’ latest sale is offering Australians savings on fares when they fly together.

Through the Emirates Companion Offer, Australians travelling in pairs or with groups of up to nine can save on fares when booked together by 11 June 2019.

There are competitive fares to over 50 destinations, including $1179 to Dubai, $1299 to Manchester and $1379 to Amsterdam.

For more information, click here or call 1300 303 777.


American Airlines eliminates oversize bag fees for sports and music equipment

As the busy summer travel period quickly approaches in the US, American Airlines has announced changes to its policies regarding oversize sports and music equipment.

The airline has eliminated oversize bag fees for common sports and music equipment, effective for travel on or after 21 May.

The updated policies, which will be music to the ears of musicians who fly on American, will also ensure that customers can more easily pursue active and healthy lifestyles wherever their travels may take them, without having to pay additional oversize bag fees.

Customers can check common oversize sports and music equipment as standard baggage, up to the maximum allowed dimensions and within the weight requirements.

For more information, click here.


Tigerair Australia’s six new cabin crew graduates help Melbourne Storm unveil Indigenous Round jerseys

Tigerair Indigenous cabin crew graduates

Following their milestone graduation from Tigerair Australia’s Cabin Crew Ground School earlier this month, the airline’s newest Indigenous cabin crew members helped Indigenous NRL stars including Josh Addo-Carr and Will Chambers unveil Melbourne Storm’s special Indigenous Round jerseys ahead of their match last Sunday.

Tigerair, the official airline of Melbourne Storm, partnered with the NRL club over the weekend to auction off the 17 specially designed jerseys, with all proceeds going to the Dardi Muwurrow charity which focuses on Indigenous family violence support.

It comes one week after Tigerair celebrated the graduation of six new cabin crew members – more than a quarter of the latest Cabin Crew Ground School – who identify as Indigenous.

It represents the largest intake of Indigenous cabin crew members ever recorded in one Tigerair Ground School.


United Airlines expands commitment to biofuel

American carrier United Airlines has strengthened its reputation as an environmentally conscious airline by renewing its contract with Boston-based World Energy, agreeing to purchase up to 10 million gallons of cost-competitive, commercial-scale, sustainable aviation biofuel over the next two years.

The biofuel, which United currently uses to help sustainably power every flight departing its Los Angeles hub, achieves a greater than 60 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions on a lifecycle basis.


Qatar Airways’ inaugural flight to Izmir touches down

Qatar Airways debut direct Izmir flight

Qatar Airways’ first flight from Doha to Izmir landed last week at Izmir Adnan Menderes Airport, marking the addition of airline’s seventh Turkish gateway.

Qatar Airways flight QR 347, operated by an Airbus A320, was welcomed to Izmir Adnan Menderes Airport by a celebratory water cannon salute.

The Turkish Ambassador to the State of Qatar, H.E. Fikret Özer, was joined by Qatar Airways senior vice president for Europe, Sylvain Bosc, on board the airline’s inaugural flight to Izmir.

VIPs present to greet the aircraft upon arrival included the Deputy Governor of Izmir, Aydın Memük; DHMİ deputy chief manager of Adnan Menderes International Airport, Necmi Karakoç; DHMİ deputy chief manager, Hasan Çıracı; and TAV Ege general manager Erkan Balcı.


Vietnam Airlines signs new agreement with Sabre

Vietnam Airlines has announced a new long-term agreement with Sabre, having adopted the travel tech company’s Sabre AirVision In-Flight solution.

In line with a recently announced memorandum of understanding describing Vietnam Airlines’ intention to significantly expand their existing strategic relationship with Sabre, In-Flight is expected to drive substantial efficiencies and cost savings for the airline.


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