Aviation wrap: Qantas grows US network, Emirates reduces single-use plastics, Air Vanuatu’s new service + more

This week’s aviation wrap comes free of any mentions of flaperons, altimeters or horizontal stabilisers.

Qantas to expand US network, launches $5m regional grants program and partners with Tourism NT

Qantas is set to grow its network in the United States, with the national carrier confirming it will fly directly from Brisbane to Chicago and San Francisco upon approval of its joint business with American Airlines from the United States Department of Transportation.

The new routes, to be operated by Qantas’ Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft, are expected to launch by the end of April 2020 and will add more than 170,000 seats across the Pacific each year.

Seats are expected to go on sale in the coming weeks, pending final approval of the JV with American Airlines.

Directly linking Australia and the third-largest US city for the first time, Qantas would operate the flights four times per week between Brisbane and Chicago.

Qantas also recently announced a multi-million-dollar grants program, including free flights to support regional communities across the country.

The Qantas Regional Grants program will offer a total of $5 million in grants over five years – $1 million each year – to Australian-based not-for-profit community groups, individuals, charities, projects and organisations that are seeking funding to provide a direct service or benefit to regional Australia.

The grants will include a combination of flights, cash and marketing support (where relevant) and will be determined by a panel based on eligibility criteria.

The grant funding will be distributed each year and awarded to at least one recipient, or several, within each state and territory.

Finally, Qantas and Tourism NT have announced a new three-year marketing agreement aimed at attracting more tourists to the Northern Territory.

The joint agreement, worth up to $4.5 million, will focus on promoting the Territory across Australia and key international markets like the US.

The new agreement is an almost 20 per cent increase on the previous agreement signed in 2016 and the Northern Territory is the first state or territory that Qantas has re-signed.

The partnership will include advertising in key markets, collaboration on media and industry initiatives and promotion of special fares and major events including Parrtjima, the Darwin Festival, Bruce Monroe: Tropical Light and the Field of Light exhibition.

The NT will be promoted across Qantas’ marketing and digital platforms, including to the airline’s 12 million Frequent Flyers.


Emirates commits to reducing single-use plastic onboard

Emirates has made a network-wide commitment to reduce single-use plastics onboard its aircraft.

As of 1 June, eco-friendly paper straws have been introduced and all Emirates flights will soon be plastic straw-free.

The airline has been working on various long-term sustainability initiatives. In addition to plastic straws, plastic swizzle sticks and stirrers will also be replaced with eco-friendly alternatives by the end of the year.

From August, plastic bags used for inflight retail purchases will also be replaced with paper bags. These initiatives will remove an estimated 81.7 million single-use plastic items from landfill each year, according to Emirates.

Trials have been conducted on Emirates flights to explore various recycling initiatives on board and Emirates staff and cabin crew constantly give feedback and suggestions on other environmentally-friendly ideas.

As part of its long-term vision and fuelled by a cabin crew member’s suggestion, the airline has been segregating large plastic bottles on board to be recycled in Dubai and the rest of the world. This diverts an estimated three tonnes or about 150,000 plastic bottles from landfill in Dubai each month.

A full review of the plastics on board has been conducted and over the next few months, the airline will gradually implement other initiatives to tackle plastic waste.


Air Vanuatu to commence new non-stop service between Melbourne and Port Vila

Vanuatu’s national carrier is set to commence its new non-stop service between Melbourne and Port Vila on Thursday, with the inaugural flight departing Tullamarine Airport at 7am local time.

The direct route marks a new era in travel for Air Vanuatu, expanding the airline’s offering in Australia and bringing the South Pacific nation closer to Melburnians.

Air Vanuatu’s Boeing 737-800 is flying the route, providing eight business class seats and 162 economy seats.

The aircraft will depart Melbourne at 7am local time on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, arriving in Port Vila at 12:30pm local time, with a flight time of just over four hours.

The return leg from Port Vila will depart at 4:15pm local time on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, arriving in Melbourne at 8:15pm local time, with a flight time of just over five hours. Flight times are subject to change.


Finnair opens new Premium Lounge

Finnair has just opened its new Premium Lounge at Helsinki airport as part of its lounge renovation plan.

In true Finnish style, the Premium Lounge has a sauna!

You can check out all the photos of the new lounge here, but here’s a few below to whet your appetite:

Finnair Premium Lounge [1]

Finnair Premium Lounge [2]

Finnair Premium Lounge [3]


Air New Zealand uses drones to inspect aircraft

Air New Zealand has teamed up with ST Engineering to trial the use of drones to inspect aircraft.

ST Engineering’s Aerospace arm is the world’s largest airframe MRO (maintenance, repair and overhaul) service provider with an extensive global network of facilities in the Americas, Asia Pacific and Europe.

The drone inspection trials Air New Zealand is collaborating on with ST Engineering take place at its facility next to Changi Airport in Singapore where Air New Zealand aircraft undergo heavy maintenance checks.

ST Engineering has developed an unmanned drone system, known as DroScan, which sees a drone take a planned route around the outside of an aircraft to inspect its surface and produce high definition images.

These images are processed using a software with smart algorithms to detect and classify defects, which aircraft engineers can review and confirm, or carry out further inspection for defects if required.


American Airlines upgrades WiFi

American Airlines has completed installation of satellite-based WiFi connectivity on its entire long-term mainline narrow-body fleet of more than 700 aircraft.

Additionally, every satellite-equipped aircraft can now stream live TV, giving more customers access to 12 channels on their personal devices free of charge. American is already the only US airline to offer live TV on international flights.


British Airways’ ‘Flying with Confidence’ course to take off from London City Airport for first time

British Airways Captain Steve Allright

British Airways is celebrating its big birthday weekend in August with the first ever Flying with Confidence course at London City Airport.

The course, which has run for three decades and helped more than 50,000 people overcome their fear of flying, celebrates the airline’s centenary on 25 August when it takes off at the Docklands airport for the first time.

It is run by British Airways Captain Steve Allright (pictured above) and a specialist team, who will explain the technical side of flying, challenging regular areas of concern such as turbulence.

There will be expert advice from a clinical psychologist on relaxation techniques and managing anxiety and the day will finish with a flight on a modern Embraer 170 jet.


Qatar Airways set to welcome more visitors to Qatar with new electronic visitor authorisation system

Qatar Airways is looking forward to welcoming even more visitors from around the world to Qatar with the new electronic visitor authorisation system, launched recently by Ministry of Interior of the State of Qatar and Qatar National Tourism Council (QNTC).

The new electronic visitor authorisation system will enable residents of Qatar to invite family and relatives from around the world to visit Qatar during the exciting ‘Summer in Qatar’ program and obtain a free visa upon arrival after applying through the online portal.

Qatar Airways recently partnered with QNTC to offer passengers up to 25 per cent discount on airfares for all flights to Doha as a final destination from more than 160 destinations worldwide on bookings up to 15 August.


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