Sichuan Airlines (3U) will begin three direct flights per week between Auckland and Chengdu from 13 June 2017.
The new 3U schedule will feature an A330-200 aircraft, with Business and Economy Class configuration and operate initially on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. The flight will take 13 hours direct from New Zealand to the Southwest part of China.
The flights – coded 3U8910/8909 – will depart Auckland at 20:30 to reach Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport around 06:00, with a 01:55 overnight return leg arriving into Auckland at 18:45.
Sichuan Airlines Company was founded on 19 September 1986. Currently it has more than 215 routes, a well-operating network integrating main, secondary, international, regional and branch routes, contributing to the transportation system of the regional comprehensive transportation hub.
Boeing has whipped the (very long) covers off the latest addition to the Dreamliner family. The 787-10 was launched during President Trump's visit to the Boeing factory in South Carolina, and blends the outstanding fuel efficiency of the existing 787-8 and 787-9 with room for even more passengers.
Compared to the existing 787-9, the 787-10 has gone through a fairly serious growth spurt. The new plane is 18 feet (5.5 meters) longer, which helps free space for 330 passengers in a two-class cabin, a 14 percent improvement over the 290-passenger 787-9. Boeing also says there's also room for 15 percent more cargo than before, giving airlines even more space to overcharge for baggage they'll inevitably break. ADVERTISING inRead invented by Teads
Maximum range is now pegged at 6,430 nautical miles (7,400 mi/11,910 km) which is a not-insignificant 1,205 nautical miles (1,387 mi/2,232 km) less than the 787-9 can manage. You can blame that on the extra capacity and size, both of which are the enemies of efficiency.
Although it can't match the smaller members of the Dreamliner family, the 787-10 is still much more efficient than planes of a similar size. Boeing says its new model uses up to 10 percent less fuel than its nearest competitor, and 25 percent less than the planes it's likely to replace. Not only does that represent a significant cost saving for airlines, it also should help cut emissions across the whole industry, something that benefits everyone. The 787-10 Dreamliner will seat 330 people
"This airplane, the most efficient in its class, is the result of years of hard work and dedication from our Boeing teammates, suppliers and community partners in South Carolina and across the globe," says Kevin McAllister, Boeing Commercial Airplanes president and CEO. "We know our customers, including launch customer Singapore Airlines, are going to love what the 787-10 will do for their fleets, and we can't wait to see them fly it."
The new Dreamliner will be arriving with airlines in 2018 and, given that Boeing has already received 149 orders, they shouldn't be hard to spot at the world's airports. The plane will make its maiden flight in the coming weeks.
Airbnb has snatched up Montreal-based vacation rental company, Luxury Retreats, which has 4000 homes in 100 destinations worldwide, including 14 properties over in New Zealand, although none in Australia yet.
As some of the more major competitors to big disruptors like Airbnb, Luxury Retreats offers high-quality listings, concierge service and a range of amenities to travellers.
Naturally, as Airbnb continues its steep growth, such a business not only complements Airbnb’s existing offerings, but an acquisition ensures competition becomes almost none existent.
Luxury Retreats CEO Joe Poulin will join Airbnb and lead luxury homes, reporting to Airbnb co-founder and CEO Brian Chesky, while the Luxury Retreats team will remain based in Montreal.
In the short-term, Luxury Retreats will continue to operate as a standalone entity, but over time, Luxury Retreats listings will be highlighted and integrated into the Airbnb community.
All of the approximately 250 members of Luxury Retreats team will join the Airbnb global family and continue to focus on bringing more high-quality homes to the Airbnb listings.
“From airbeds in an apartment to castles to villas, Airbnb has always been focused on providing a broad range of amazing experiences and trips,” said Chesky.
“I have spent countless hours with Joe and his team and seen firsthand their passion for delivering amazing hospitality and unforgettable experiences in spectacular places around the world. They share our values and I’m excited to work with the Luxury Retreats team to serve more travelers.
“The incredible energy and talent in these teams will help support our mission and grow our community and I’m confident that we will expand our team in Canada in the months and years ahead.”
“Montreal is known as an innovative city that is looking forward,” said Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre. “I’m pleased that a large company like Airbnb has chosen to invest in Montreal by their investment in Luxury Retreats and that its activities will continue to be based here.
“Airbnb has revolutionized global hospitality, connecting a vibrant community of hosts and guests to deliver a tremendous amount of unique travel experiences,” said Luxury Retreats founder and CEO Joe Poulin.
“Brian’s vision, values and approach mirror what Luxury Retreats has been focused on in the luxury market since 1999. We are thrilled to join the Airbnb family with a continued commitment of delivering quality, luxury travel experiences.”
Auckland Airport and Tainui Group Holdings have announced an agreement to develop a new 5-star hotel adjacent to Auckland Airport’s international terminal and the existing 4-star Novotel hotel. The new premium 250-room hotel will be operated by AccorHotels under the Pullman brand.
While the additional hotel development has long been a feature of Auckland Airport’s ‘airport of the future’ vision, Mark Thomson, Auckland Airport’s general manager - property, says the timing has been influenced by unprecedented demand for hotel accommodation in Auckland. Building the hotel now also responds directly to strong demand for accommodation that provides easy access to the airport terminals.
“Auckland Airport plays a key role in New Zealand’s growing tourism industry and in connecting Auckland to New Zealand and New Zealand to the world. This hotel, which will benefit from its premium location adjacent to the international terminal and the current Novotel, will provide more choices for travellers looking for high quality accommodation within walking distance of both terminals,” says Mr Thomson.
“Being able to walk to the terminals, rather than drive, has considerable appeal to hotel patrons and will also help reduce vehicle movements on our roads.”
The new hotel will trade as the Pullman Auckland Airport and will be developed in a 50:50 partnership with Tainui Group Holdings. As part of this agreement, Auckland Airport has increased its ownership stake in the Novotel hotel to 50%.
“The partnership with Tainui Group Holdings and AccorHotels has been very successful and we are pleased to be extending this relationship to another hotel project,” says Mr Thomson.
The hotel building will carry the name ‘Te Arikinui’, which is the chiefly title that the Late Maori Queen Te Atairangikaahu chose when she ascended to the Te Wherowhero (throne) at the time of her Coronation. The chiefly associations of Te Arikinui are in keeping with the 5-star premium experience to be offered at the hotel.
Chris Joblin, Chief Executive of Tainui Group Holdings, says that this agreement reflects the strength of the relationship that has been established between Tainui Group Holdings and Auckland Airport.
“This is an exciting project that will result in two complementary assets located in an exceptional position at New Zealand’s main gateway. This creates tremendous scope to create a unique, authentic New Zealand experience for airport visitors and hotel guests including through unique cultural elements incorporated in the design,” says Mr Joblin.
Construction is expected to start by the end of this year, with the hotel scheduled to open by late 2019. By this time, Auckland Airport’s international terminal will have undergone significant expansion and work will already be underway on the domestic section of our future combined domestic and international terminal.
Auckland Airport is currently investing more than $1 million every working day on infrastructure improvements, and expects this level of investment will likely continue into the near future.
Air Canada has unveiled a bold new livery inspired by Canada for its entire fleet, elegant new uniforms for its employees, and a taste of some of the new on-board menu offerings that its customers can look forward to.
“Air Canada’s new livery signals a pivotal inflection point in our 80-year history,” said Benjamin Smith, president, passenger airlines.
“On the occasion of Canada’s 150th anniversary year, with our new livery, new uniforms for our employees, the award-winning international cabin standard introduced with the launch of our Boeing 787 aircraft, and enhanced on-board offerings, the future Air Canada represents the strength of our nation and the future-looking spirit of our airline.
“On behalf of our 30,000 employees world-wide, it is a privilege to fly Canada’s flag, and we are proud to showcase some of the best of this nation’s talent as we continue to expand Air Canada’s horizons to fly to more than 200 destinations on six continents.”
Air Canada’s fleet of 300 mainline and regional aircraft are being repainted in a bold black and white design that highlights its iconic red maple leaf encircled ensign, or “rondelle,” that returns to the tail of the flag carrier’s fleet after an absence of 24 years.
With the new livery providing a sleek, contemporary backdrop, Air Canada premiered elegant charcoal grey and black employee uniforms with red accents and accessories by Canadian designer Christopher Bates.
In 2016, Air Canada significantly increased its global footprint with the launch of 28 new routes including 15 new international and 12 US trans-border routes.
With new service to Morocco, the airline joined the elite club of global carriers serving all six continents.
In 2017, Air Canada and Air Canada Rouge will continue its global strategic expansion.
To date, Air Canada has taken delivery of 23 new Boeing 787 Dreamliners with 14 more planned by 2019 – all offering the new international cabin standard.
Find out more about the design overhaul in this Air Canada guide.
DoubleTree is set for WellingtonThe Hilton is opening its first property in Wellington this year under the DoubleTree by Hilton brand.
The seven-story hotel, expected to open late 2017, will be located in the T&G Building on Lambton Quay.
When complete it will have 108 rooms (including 21 suites), a restaurant, bar, boardroom and gym.Dianna Vaughan, senior vice president and global head, DoubleTree by Hilton says: ‘The hotel boasts an ideal location for both the business and leisure traveller with close proximity to the central business district and walking distance to Te Papa Museum and the cable car as well as numerous shops and cafes.
’The property is operated by Sarin Investments, which has signed a franchise agreement with DoubleTree by Hilton.
In an encouraging announcement, US President Donald Trump has revealed plans to rebuild America’s airports to make travel a more pleasant experience.
In Chicago, Trump told United Airlines chief executive Oscar Munoz and representatives of Delta, Southwest, JetBlue and airports from around the US, of his plans to revitalise America’s airports.
America led the world in airports and air travel but has paid the price for establishing infrastructure early. Some of its airports are tired and dated. They have been eclipsed by gleaming new facilities in places like Guangzhou and Mumbai.
President and chief executive of Airports Council International – North America, Kevin Burke, told the Chicago Tribune that Trump focused on ways to enhance the travel experience.
At Chicago’s massive O’Hare International Airport, airlines have already agreed to build up to nine new gates to help improve on-time performance. The only downside: the cost (about USD 300 million) is likely to be met through fees added to the cost of plane tickets.
New York LaGuardia Airport is also set to be redesigned and largely rebuilt, at a cost of about USD 4 billion.
Trump reportedly did not disclose exactly how he proposed raising the money for his airport improvement scheme, but it is a good signal and will no doubt be discussed at this year’s IPW travel mart, due to be held this year in Washington DC.
Trump added that he thought the US Federal Aviation Administration would function better if run by a pilot.
On Tuesday, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco heard arguments from the Department of Justice and opposing attorneys from the states of Washington and Minnesota before they decide the fate of President Trump’s executive order banning travel to the United States from seven Muslim-majority countries.
They can ultimately choose to reinstate the travel ban or uphold the lower court’s ruling on the temporary stay, which would likely result in an appeal to the Supreme Court. However, both scenarios result in a loss for the travel industry and the economy.
Last week GBTA polled both its U.S. and European members to assess the impact of President Trump’s travel ban. In Europe, nearly half of travel professionals reported expectations for their company to reduce business travel over the next three months and 31 percent of U.S. respondents agreed.
Based on the most recent industry data available as of February 8, 2017, the following is the estimated impact:
USA system-wide business travel transaction levels month-over-month (January 2017 vs. December 2016) decreased by up to 8 percent depending on industry and sector
USA system-wide business travel transaction levels were increasing by +1.2 percent the week before the travel ban but decreased by -2.2 percent the week after the travel ban for a net negative industry impact of -3.4 percent in one week
In that week, approximately $185 million in business travel bookings were lost as the uncertainty surrounding travel in general had a rippling effect on traveler confidence
In 2016, 87.3 percent of USA business travel was domestic travel, 12.7 percent was international travel. This action had a significant disproportionate impact on international travel
For every 1 percent impact on business travel spending annually, the United States gains or loses 71,000 jobs, nearly $5 billion in GDP, $3 billion in wages and $1.2 billion in tax collections
We say it time and again. Business travel drives lasting business growth and is a leading indicator for jobs and the economy at large. Upholding the travel ban will clearly cause a rippling effect through the travel industry, ultimately hurting the economy. It also unleashes travel disruption like we saw when the order was first implemented. While the White House’s stated goal was acting in the interest of national security, it did not give the civil servants responsible for implementing the ban any chance to do so effectively. There was too much uncertainty and a lack of clarity around the executive order, leading to general confusion. The net effect was that business travel bookings were delayed or canceled.
There is no question that security is of the utmost importance. However, instead of closing our borders, the United States should continue to pursue and focus on expanding security programs like the Visa Waiver Program, which facilitates information-sharing among governments to ensure properly vetted travelers, making us all more safe and secure.
Upholding the lower court’s ruling is also a losing situation for the business travel industry. The initial impact has already been felt and the uncertainty it will create as we await an appeal to the Supreme Court will continue to make its mark. Advanced bookings will likely slow as travel professionals cannot be sure if and when the ban will be reinstated. Meetings and events may be cancelled altogether.
The cloud of uncertainty could leave a lasting economic impact. Large corporations and small businesses alike will suffer. The biggest driver of our economic recovery of the past seven years from the most recent downturn was international outbound travel. U.S. businesses found top line growth and business opportunity from new markets all over the world.
We urge the Trump administration to pause this travel ban action, reassess its path forward with key stakeholders and preserve both our national security AND our economy for the future.
| A Global Business Travel Association release | February 9, 2017 ||
Trade Minister Todd McClay today welcomed the inaugural daily flight of Qatar Airways direct Auckland – Doha service at Auckland International Airport saying the world's longest flight was set to boost New Zealand trade and tourism.
“Qatar is a member of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and the air link will continue to gain importance when New Zealand concludes a Free Trade Agreement with the GCC,” Mr McClay says.
The new service is the world’s longest commercial flight, taking 17 hours and 30 minutes and covering a distance of 14,535 kilometres.
“The new Auckland – Doha service will not only provide more options and connections for business and leisure travellers, but will also provide an additional 116 tonnes of freight capacity every week. This increased freight capacity will support New Zealand exporters getting their fresh product to the Middle East and beyond,” Mr McClay says.
Qatar is a significant trading partner of New Zealand, with annual two-way trade exceeding $330 million.
“As a trading nation, New Zealand relies on effective air services to create much needed connections with the rest of the world. The estimated economic impact of this new service will be well in excess of $50 million,” Mr McClay says.
Qatar Airways has an extensive global network of more than 150 destinations. The new service from Auckland improves access to cities in Europe, Central Asia, Africa and the Middle East.
Air New Zealand has made its first foray into the field of artificial intelligence (AI) unveiling its new chatbot, Bravo Oscar Tango – Oscar for short.
Oscar will initially assist customers with commonly asked queries, saving them time and offering a more personalised experience than searching a traditional Frequently Asked Questions section online. As with other AI technology, Oscar will learn based on the conversations people have with him, becoming more user friendly and more helpful the more he interacts.
Air New Zealand Chief Digital Officer Avi Golan says Oscar has been launched as a beta product allowing customers to play an active role in training him.
“This is a new approach for us, getting Oscar out fast and in the early-development stages so that we can build and co-create with our customers. Given Oscar learns natural language it makes sense he learns directly from our customers the types of information they want to know and the language they use, rather than airline jargon.
“The world’s best digital companies foster a culture of customer-led design and collaboration and for the airline to meet its big digital ambitions we must embed this culture of thinking, acting and doing as leading digital companies do.”
Oscar has initially been launched as a help chatbot to assist with Air New Zealand Lounge, Airpoints™ and baggage queries but the airline has big plans for him, including integration with the Air New Zealand Mobile app, via both voice and text, and with other chat platforms and in-home digital assistants.
“Over time we want Oscar to become a virtual travel assistant helping customers across every stage of the journey, with the ability to recognise who you are, inform you about your flights, make or change a booking, select seats, check you in, and offer to help sort you a taxi to the airport,” says Mr Golan.
“There’s no doubt that AI is the future, allowing customers to better self-serve within their channel of choice, further improving the customer experience.”
Customers with queries about Airpoints, baggage or Air New Zealand lounges are encouraged to put Oscar to the test. He can be found in the Help & Contact section of the airline’s New Zealand website.
| An Air New Zealabnd release | February 2, 2017 ||