Dec 15, 2017 - Air New Zealand has become the first airline in Australasia to launch on the Google Assistant, offering customers a convenient, hands-free way to talk to the airline on the go. The airline’s customers are now able to ask Air New Zealand about a range of topics via the Google Assistant, including check-in and baggage limits, using a range of devices. Air New Zealand Chief Digital Officer Avi Golan says launching with the Google Assistant opens up more options for customers to interact with the airline. “Voice is a growing channel and therefore it’s important that we offer this as an option for customers to interact with us. We see voice as playing a particularly useful role on the day of travel, giving customers who may have their hands full with last minute travel preparations, the ability to check travel information without having to manually look it up on a device.” The airline has been increasingly experimenting with Artificial Intelligence. Its chatbot Oscar has been assisting customers with commonly asked flight, baggage, lounge and Airpoints™ queries since his introduction in February. His performance has steadily improved with every interaction and today he as an average of 900 conversations per day with customers and boasts a conversation success rate of more than 70 percent. “Our Google Assistant app is backed by the same in-house developed Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology that powers our chatbot Oscar and we’ve applied learnings and insights gleaned from Oscar’s introduction to build our Google Assistant offering,” says Mr Golan. Air New Zealand will look to further develop its Google Assistant capability in the future, including introducing the ability to sign into a booking or Airpoints™ account to enable even more personalised responses. The Google Assistant is available across devices, including on eligible Android 6.0+ and iPhones, Android TVs and smart speakers like Google Home (in Australia).
| An Air New Zealand release || December 15, 2017 |||
16 Nov 2017 - Emirates and Thales have signed a new agreement to equip the airline’s Boeing 777X fleet with the next generation broadband inflight connectivity using Inmarsat GX global network. The partnership will give Emirates customers best in class connectivity with speeds of up to 50Mbps on its Boeing 777X aircraft due for delivery starting in 2020. Emirates and Thales already have an existing multi-million-dollar deal to fit its Boeing 777X fleet with a next generation Thales AVANT inflight entertainment system. The new agreement is part of the Emirates’ and Thales’ plans to develop and enhance the state-of-the-art inflight entertainment and connectivity (IFEC) on the 777X fleet.
Over the years, Emirates has invested over US $200 million to equip its aircraft with connectivity. Demand for Wi-Fi on board has been steadily increasing and today over 800,000 passengers per month connect while inflight, including travellers from New Zealand on Emirates’ daily A380 flights from Auckland and Christchurch.
Emirates offers all its customers 20MB of complimentary Wi-Fi data on board while Emirates Skywards members in First Class and Business Class enjoy unlimited complimentary Wi-Fi and discounted plans in Economy Class.
Emirates, Thales and Inmarsat have invested heavily in the new generation Wi-Fi solution and will work together to meet increasing demand for Wi-Fi on board. Broadband connectivity speeds coupled with Thales’ AVANT innovative and highly customisable IFE system will provide a further boost to Emirates’ award-winning inflight entertainment system, ice.
As well as operating a fleet of 100 A380s, Emirates is the largest operator of the Boeing 777 aircraft, one of the most popular and advanced wide-bodied aircraft in commercial operation today. The airline has 165 Boeing 777s in its fleet, and a further 164 on firm order, including 150 of the next generation Boeing 777X aircraft.
German's largest airlines, Lufthansa, is investing into an ICO pre-sale and teaming up with a Swiss startup on bookings on Ethereum.
One of Europe's leading airlines, Lufthansa, will be buying into an ICOs and teaming up with a startup on bookings on the blockchain. Winding Tree, a Swiss-based startup, is building a marketplace on the ethereum blockchain to connect businesses and suppliers. The deal between was announced today. Together with Lufthansa Group, the pair is exploring a decentralized booking platform.
The two companies met through Lufthansa's Innovation Hub. Both firms view this collaboration as an overall win-win. Lufthansa hopes to bring on board its expertise in customer experience from the airline industry while benefiting from Winding Trees blockchain development.
CEO of Winding Tree, Maksim Izmaylov shared their intentions to help the German airline build and deploy blockchain- powered travel apps on that align with the industry's standards. Lufthansa will provide Maksim's development team with access to APIs.
Markus Binkert, Senior Vice President Distribution & Revenue Management Lufthansa Group Airlines explained the goal of API integrations via press release:
"By integrating these APIs with Winding Tree's public blockchain, Lufthansa Group enables all innovative partners who develop cutting-edge travel applications to access these offers via a decentralized and intermediate-free travel marketplace."
The largest German airline is exploring customer service applications on the blockchain including bookings, and itinerary travel information. Lufthansa is on the forefront of exploring use cases for the technology underpinning cryptocurrencies for its aviation business. The scalability and efficiency of blockchains are features it can explore both customer service and aircraft maintenance. Last year, the firm launched a Blockchain for Aviation (BC4A) initiative aimed at evaluating innovative technology for flight maintenance.Lufthansa Buys into Pre-Sale ICO
Winding Tree is in the process of launching an initial coin offering (ICO) to fund development. As part of their commitment to this partnership, Lufthansa will finance part of the token sale at the ICO pre-sale stage. Investors will receive native ‘Lif' cryptocurrency in exchange for their contributions.
More startups are turning to ICOs for capital, the latest cryptocurrency crowdfunding craze. Typically, investors make contributions via cryptocurrency and receive issued tokens representing some form of right or utility. But in more recent times, the model has opened up avenues for Hedge funds and private investors to participate at a pre-ICO stage.
Lufthansa's buy-in to Winding Tree's pre-sale is likely to contribute regular currency. Regulatory warnings on ICO funding have picked up over the course of the last few months. It is becoming harder for startups to skirt rules on securities laws.
The LIF crypto token will have utility on the marketplace. Businesses and suppliers will settle payments and transfer of data relating to accommodation, flights, and cruises on the blockchain using Lif.
Dr. Christian Langer, Chief Digital Officer of Lufthansa Group, said: "To us, Winding Tree is a strong candidate to turn today's understanding of distribution upside down."
Air New Zealand will fly daily to Houston for most of next winter as demand for travel between New Zealand and Texas continues to soar. Air New Zealand currently operates five services per week to Houston year-round. From 25 March to 27 October 2018 it will increase to a mix of daily services and six services per week, a capacity increase of 16,000 seats on the route over this period. The airline will deploy its newly configured 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft on Auckland-Houston from December 2017, the first time the Dreamliner will regularly service one of Air New Zealand’s North American routes. Air New Zealand’s Chief Revenue Officer Cam Wallace says the airline has steadily grown its Houston operations since it commenced services there in 2015 and it’s fantastic to see strong demand from both ends of the route. “A strategic gateway into America’s south, Houston is unlocking huge demand for travel to New Zealand from across the South, Mid-west and Mid-Atlantic regions, with annual visitor arrivals up 21 percent from Texas and 25 percent from New York. “As a transit hub, Houston also offers Kiwi travellers better onward connections to popular East Coast destinations like New York, Boston and Miami.” The newly configurated 787 offers more premium seating for customers, with 27 Business Premier seats – up from 18 on the existing Air New Zealand Dreamliner, and 33 Premium Economy seats, up from 21. Air New Zealand also offers its popular Economy Skycouch™ alongside the Premium Economy and Business Premier options on services to Houston. Air New Zealand recently launched its global marketing campaign A Better Way to Fly in North America, using a CGI kiwi named Pete in a bid to convince more Americans and Canadians to travel with the airline to New Zealand and Australia.
| An Air New Zealand release || October 11, 2017 |||
Dubai: Emirates has had to change its ultra-long-haul flight from New Zealand to Dubai following a fuel shortage that has impacted a number of airlines flying to and from Auckland Airport.
In a statement sent to Gulf News on Tuesday, the UAE-based carrier confirmed that Emirates flight EK449 will now make a stopover in Melbourne to re-fuel, instead of flying direct to Dubai.Route change
The route change is in effect between September 18 and September 24.
“[The flight] operating from Auckland to Dubai between 18-24 September, will stop in Melbourne for refueling due to the Auckland Airport fuel shortage which has affected most international airlines,” an Emirates spokesperson said.
Passengers affected, however, will not have to disembark in the Australian city.
“Customers holding tickets with onward connections during this time are advised to contact their local Emirates office and check the status of their flight. Connecting flights will be rebooked as required,” the spokesperson added.
The airline launched its first non-stop service between Dubai and Auckland, considered to be one of the world’s longest scheduled flights, in March 2016.
The non-stop journey had an estimated flight time of 17 hours, 15 minutes from New Zealand to Dubai and just under 16 hours from Dubai to New Zealand.Related Links
Thousands stranded due to jet fuel shortage New Zealand’s fuel shortage hits more flights Nepal fuel shortage disrupts Gulf flights
Thousands of flyers have had their trips disrupted due to a fuel shortage caused by a damaged pipeline that brings fuel to Auckland.
The damage, which was discovered last Thursday, has prompted oil companies to ration the amount of fuel they are supplying to airlines operating out of Auckland.
“We are working with the airlines operating out of Auckland to minimize the impact on passengers. We are doing all we can to help people manage through this period of disruption,” Auckland airport said in its public advisory.
As of Tuesday, the fuel shortage caused the cancellation of 28 flights, six of them international, according to Reuters.
Emirates is set to introduce a fourth daily service between Sydney and Dubai from March 25, 2018, complementing its existing three daily A380 services.
The new service will be operated by Emirates’ iconic A380 aircraft and will increase passenger capacity on the route by 6,846 seats a week, inbound and outbound between Sydney and Emirates’ hub in Dubai, and represents a 7.3% increase in capacity for Emirates’ Australian services.
It also builds on Emirates’ partnership with Qantas, meeting continued demand for services to Dubai and complementing Qantas’ re-routing of its current Sydney to London service via Singapore (instead of Dubai).
From Auckland Emirates has three daily A380 services to Dubai – non-stop, via Melbourne and via Brisbane – and also a daily A380 flight from Christchurch.
Emirates’ new Sydney-Dubai service will offer passengers an afternoon departure from Sydney and a convenient arrival in main European cities the following morning. It also introduces a new option for passengers to depart London and main European cities in the morning with an afternoon arrival in Sydney the next day with a short connection in Dubai.
Emirates customers will also be able to enjoy seamless “A380 to A380” connections to 48 destinations within Emirates’ global network via its hub in Dubai.
Earlier this year Emirates announced plans to enhance its Australian services, with a third daily service set to be introduced between Dubai and Brisbane from 1 December 2017 and operated by a B777-200LR. Emirates will also upgauge its third daily flight between Dubai and Melbourne from a B777-300ER to an A380 from 25 March 2018. This change will ensure all three of Emirates’ daily flights to Melbourne will be serviced by A380 aircraft.
All passengers can enjoy over 2,500 channels on Emirates’ award-winning inflight entertainment system ice, gourmet food and wine across all classes and generous baggage allowances. Emirates recently improved its onboard connectivity with up to 20MB of complementary onboard Wi-Fi.
Between 26 March to 31 March 2018, the outbound service EK417 will depart Sydney at 17:05, arriving in Dubai at 00:25 the following day. Due to daylight saving changes from 1 April, the outbound service EK417 will depart Sydney 16:15, arriving the same time the following day. All services will be operated by an A380 aircraft.
Between 25 March and 30 March 2018, the inbound service EK416 will depart Dubai at 20:40, arriving in Sydney at 17:20 the following day. Due to daylight saving changes from 31 March 2018, the arrival time changes to 16:30 the following day.
The A380 aircraft offers 489 seats in a three-class cabin configuration with 14 private suites in First Class, 76 flat-bed seats in Business Class and 399 spacious seats in Economy.
Currently, the daily Sydney-London A380 service goes via Dubai, but from March 2018, it will change to stopover in Singapore.
The change is one of a few to come out of Qantas extending its Emirates partnership for another five years, to reflect customer demand, new aircraft technology and each airline’s respective network strengths.
Meeting in Sydney to finalise the extension, both airlines agreed the first five years of the partnership had lived up to the promise of serving their customers better, together. Changes to the joint network are designed to reinforce this for the next five years.What the heck are these changes?
The key change will see the airlines better leveraging each other’s networks, by providing three options to Europe – via Dubai, Perth and Singapore.
Qantas will re-route its daily Sydney-London A380 service via Singapore rather than Dubai and upgrade its existing daily Melbourne-Singapore flight from an A330 to an A380. As previously announced, Qantas’ existing Melbourne-Dubai-London service will be replaced with its Dreamliner service flying Melbourne-Perth-London.
A detailed summary of the changes, including effective dates, is provided at the end of this release.
Customer demand for flights between Australia and Dubai will remain well served by the 77 weekly services that Emirates operates from five cities – Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney – including seven daily A380 flights.
Qantas passengers will still be able to fly on Emirates to Dubai, where they have access to over 60 onward connections on Emirates to Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
The airlines will shortly seek re-authorisation from relevant regulators, including the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, to continue coordination of pricing, schedules, sales and tourism marketing, under an expanded partnership.
Tickets for Qantas’ new services will be available from tomorrow.
Customers with existing bookings impacted by the changes will be re-accommodated onto the new services or will be given the option to change their flights.
Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said the changes reflect a strong alliance between the two airlines.
“Emirates has given Qantas customers an unbeatable network into Europe that is still growing. We want to keep leveraging this strength and offer additional travel options on Qantas, particularly through Asia,” he said.
“Our partnership has evolved to a point where Qantas no longer needs to fly its own aircraft through Dubai, and that means we can redirect some of our A380 flying into Singapore and meet the strong demand we’re seeing in Asia.
“Improvements in aircraft technology mean the Qantas network will eventually feature a handful of direct routes between Australia and Europe, but this will never overtake the sheer number of destinations served by Emirates and that’s why Dubai will remain an important hub for our customers.”
Sir Tim Clark, President Emirates Airline, added, “The Emirates-Qantas partnership has been, and continues to be, a success story. Together we deliver choice and value to consumers, mutual benefit to both businesses, and expanded tourism and trade opportunities for the markets served by both airlines. We remain committed to the partnership.
“We see an opportunity to offer customers an even stronger product proposition for travel to Dubai, and onward connectivity to our extensive network in Europe, Middle East and Africa. We will announce updates in the coming weeks.
“Customers of both airlines will continue to benefit from the power of our joint network, from our respective products, and reciprocal frequent flyer benefits.”
The small airline known for its innovations and kooky safety videos is taking its first big swing at the fast-growing U.S. and Canadian market writes Melissa Locker for Fast Company.
Air New Zealand has a thing or two to teach Americans. First and foremost: that a kiwi is a type of bird, it’s not extinct, and despite being flightless, it is capable of flying perfectly well—at least when strapped into one of Air New Zealand’s coach seats.
In the plucky airline’s first global brand campaign aimed at U.S. and Canadian residents—starring a talking kiwi named Pete who is voiced by Jurassic Park’s Sam Neill—Air New Zealand will teach travelers all about the wonders of the kiwi bird and encourage them to follow their dreams to New Zealand (hopefully, on a certain airline).
The campaign is part of a concerted push for a growing number of American visitors. “Air New Zealand is probably the premium airline that you’ve probably never heard of living in America,” says Air New Zealand’s CEO, Christopher Luxon. “I would argue it’s the most successful airline in the world, by commercial results, customer results, and cultural results.” Some numbers may back him up: In 2016, Air New Zealand posted record profits of $663 million (which it shared with its staff in the form of bonuses) and the airline has been named Airline of the Year for the last four years in a row by the review website AirlineRatings.com.
Air New Zealand has today announced earnings before taxation for the 2017 financial year of $527 million, compared to $663 million in the prior year - the second highest result in the airline’s history. Net profit after taxation was $382 million.
Chairman Tony Carter praised the strong result, acknowledging the airline’s staff for their continued focus on driving profitable network growth during a period of significant new competition.
A 2017 final fully imputed dividend of 11.0 cents per share has been declared, an increase of ten percent on the prior year, bringing the full year declared ordinary dividends to 21.0 cents per share.
“Based on the airline’s strong financial position, future capital commitments and improving trading environment, the Board felt it appropriate to increase the dividend,” says Mr Carter. The final dividend will be paid on 18 September 2017 to investors on record at the close of business on 8 September 2017.
In recognition of the result, the Board has awarded a Company Performance Bonus of up to $1,700 to be paid next week to approximately 8,500 Air New Zealanders who do not have other incentive programmes as part of their employment agreement.
Chief Executive Officer Christopher Luxon says 2017 has been an exciting and productive year and credits the airline’s staff for their outstanding contribution.
“This year Air New Zealand faced an unprecedented increase in the level of competition from some of the world’s largest airlines and effectively rose to the challenge. The impressive way our team responded to the new competition while at the same time achieving commercial, customer and cultural excellence, helped to deliver our second highest profit ever,” says Mr Luxon.
The airline’s loyalty programme, AirpointsTM, continues to grow at an impressive rate, with more than 2.5 million members, up 16 percent on the prior year. Australia is the largest offshore market for Airpoints members, and has grown by more than 17 percent in the past 12 months.
In 2018, Air New Zealand will continue growing its comprehensive domestic network. The airline sees opportunity coming from inbound tourism as well as strong domestic tourism. Following the rollout of last year's Northland marketing campaign, A Summer of Safety, a key element of Air New Zealand's growth strategy will involve continued support to regional stakeholders in developing attractive tourism propositions.
Internationally, the airline’s strategy to enter key markets with the help of revenue-sharing alliance partners and strong market development plans has helped drive successful expansion. In the coming year, Air New Zealand’s offshore growth will focus on the Japan market with the addition of Haneda, as well as increasing services during peak season across routes in the Pacific Islands and North and South America.
Mr Luxon says that recent announcements regarding competitor capacity rationalisation support the airline’s view of a stronger revenue environment in the coming year.
Looking forward to the year ahead, the airline is optimistic about the overall market dynamics. Based upon current market conditions and assuming an average jet fuel price of US$60 per barrel (which represents the average over the past two months), the airline is aiming to improve upon 2017 earnings.
Earnings before taxation of $527 million
Net profit after taxation of $382 million
Operating revenue of $5.1 billion
16 million passengers carried during the year
Capacity increased 6.3%
Operating cash flow of $904 million
Pre-tax return on invested capital of 15.3%
Total annual shareholder return of 88.6%
Fully imputed final dividend of 11.0 cents per share, a 10% increase on the prior year, bringing the 2017 full year fully imputed ordinary dividends to 21.0 cents per share
Expected aircraft capital expenditure of $1.5 billion over the next 4 years
Company Performance Bonus of up to $1,700 paid to all permanent employees who do not participate in a Short Term Incentive programme
Top rated corporate reputation in both New Zealand and Australia
Record customer satisfaction levels, with increases in all major areas
Awarded New Zealand’s Most Attractive Employer for 2017
Air New Zealand customers at Sydney Airport will get to experience the role robots may play in future travel journeys this week. Click here to watch Air New Zealand’s Chief Digital Officer Avi Golan and CommBank’s Tiziana Bianco explore the future of travel with social robots.
The airline is partnering with CommBank in a five-day experiment utilising Chip CANdroid, the bank’s social humanoid robot, which will interact with and assist Air New Zealand customers checking in and at the gate prior to boarding.
Air New Zealand Chief Digital Officer Avi Golan says “this partnership and experiment with Commbank and Chip is another way we are pushing the boundaries to ensure we remain at the forefront of technology which will allow us to further enhance the experience we offer our customers.”
Air New Zealand has worked with a range of technology partners to introduce innovations which are enhancing the experience it offers customers. For example, Oscar, the artificial intelligence–backed chatbot has been introduced to assist customers with a more personalised online experience or biometric bag drops which identify customers using face-to-passport recognition.
“We are also experimenting with potential enhancements of the future, including the idea of our cabin crew one day using Microsoft’s HoloLens augmented reality viewers onboard our aircraft,” says Mr Golan
Commonwealth Bank established a social robotics team within its Sydney Innovation Lab in late 2016, with the intention of partnering with leading corporates and research institutions to better understand the opportunities and challenges that physical robotic technologies present in a variety of commercial contexts.
Tiziana Bianco, General Manager Innovation Labs, Commonwealth Bank says “this experiment is a great example of why we invested in social robotics; working collaboratively with an innovative client like Air New Zealand, while also engaging some of the brilliant minds from UTS’s Centre for Artificial Intelligence. It is a wonderful opportunity to explore the possibilities of a horizon technology such as social robotics, and what it might enable in the future.”
Ms Bianco says social robots can bring to life information that is not particularly engaging when delivered by a screen.
“People interact with them in a very social and sometimes emotional way, which means they can enhance experiences in ways that other technologies are unable to do,” Ms Bianco says.
“Chip is one of the most advanced humanoid robots in the world, and is perfect for our work aimed at understanding how humans and robots interact in dynamic social spaces.
“The opportunity to experiment with a robot like Chip in a real world environment such as Sydney Airport is unique, even on a global scale. It is also incredibly valuable, as it allows both corporates and academics to contribute to the growing field of research in social robotics and ensures that both CommBank and Air New Zealand remain at the forefront of disruptive technologies.”
Air New Zealand customers can meet Chip at the Air New Zealand check-in counter and at selected departure gates at Sydney International Airport from Monday 21 August until Friday 25 August.
Click here to watch Air New Zealand’s Chief Digital Officer Avi Golan and CommBank’s Tiziana Bianco explore the future of travel with social robots.
| An Air New Zealand release || August 22, 2017 |||