Iberia eyes international expansion

Iberia has announced plans to launch new services to destinations in Asia, Africa and the Americas over the next two years.

The Oneworld carrier is considering cities including Tokyo, Doha, Johannesburg and Toronto.

Following “profitability studies”, the Spanish airline will reveal the new routes later this year and “hopes” to begin operating them in 2016 and 2017.

Other destinations under consideration include Guadalajara, Managua, San Juan de Puerto Rico, Brasilia and Asuncion.

Luis Gallego, Iberia’s executive chairman, said: “This announcement is a confirmation of our commitment to global growth, though always under the premise that sustained profitability is the key criteria.”

IAG also said it plans to convert five A330-200 and eight A350-900 options into firm orders in order to expand and renew its long-haul fleet.

Earlier this year, IAG ordered 16 new long-haul aircraft – eight A330-200s to be delivered in 2015 and 2016, and eight A350-900s, due to arrive between 2018 and 2020.

During 2013 and 2014, eight A330-300 aircraft were added to Iberia’s fleet.

Iberia launched a four-times weekly Madrid-Edinburgh service in March and is due to begin a Madrid-Manchester service in September (see news, December 2014).


Graham Smith

Willie Walsh slams ‘too expensive’ Heathrow runway

British Airways’ parent company IAG has come out against the building of a third runway at London Heathrow.

Chief executive Willie Walsh said the costs of building a new runway would be exorbitant and would increase IAG’s expenditure.

His comments are a blow to Heathrow, where BA is the biggest airline.

He told Reuters: “We think the costs associated with the third runway are outrageous and certainly from an IAG point of view we will not be supporting it and we will not be paying for it.”

Walsh added: “We’re not going to support something that increases our costs.”

The Airports Commission published its report recommending a third runway at London Heathrow earlier this month (see news, July 1).

London Gatwick, which is campaigning to construct a second runway, has jumped on Walsh’s comments.

CEO Stewart Wingate: “One month on and the Davies Report is unravelling fast.

“It is no surprise British Airways have come out today against expansion. For the huge costs of a third runway at Heathrow you could build Gatwick, have all the benefits and billions left to invest around the country.

“We also learnt today that – buried deep in the report – is the revelation that a third runway would reduce rather than increase domestic connections to the UK. This blows a hole straight through the heart of Heathrow’s central claim to be the airport for the whole of the UK.

‘Taken together with Heathrow’s own rejection of the environmental conditions and the expert view that the Davies air quality consultation is fundamentally flawed it is clear that that the Heathrow hurdles are higher than ever.”


Graham Smith

Singapore Airlines reduces A350 order

Singapore Airlines has reduced its existing A350-900 order by seven aircraft.

The carrier’s A350 backlog now consists of 63 aircraft, down from 70, with purchase options for a further 20.

The order adjustment was made following a request by Airbus, the reason for which has not been made public.

An Airbus spokesperson told our sister publication Business Traveller Asia-Pacific: “We confirm that at our request Singapore Airlines has released seven A350 delivery slots back to Airbus. These have already been offered and allocated to another airline.”

Delivery of SIA’s first A350 at the end of this year will not be affected and the order reduction will not affect the airline’s fleet renewal or growth plans, the carrier said.

Instead, plans have been made to bring forward the deliveries of other A350-900s, while SIA also maintains extension options on several of its leased A330-300s.

SIA’s financial position remains healthy, with the group reporting an operational profit of S$111 million (£52 million) in the April–June 2015 quarter – S$72 million (£36 million) higher than the same period last year.

SIA recently unveiled a special livery celebrating the nation’s Golden Jubilee that will feature on two A380s until the end of the year (see news, May 28).


Clement Huang


Qantas doubles capacity of flights to Tokyo

Qantas is gearing up to significantly expand its presence in Japan with the launch of double daily services between Australia and Tokyo.

Flight QF25, which used to serve Toykyo Narita, will shift its B747 operations to Haneda Airport from tonight – 31 July.

Meanwhile, QF61, a brand new service, will depart Brisbane for Tokyo Narita tomorrow morning in a newly refurbished A330 aircraft (see here).

The new schedules represent almost a 100 per cent boost in capacity to Tokyo, which the Flying Kangaroo has attributed to the recent growth in the Australia-Japan travel market.

This significant capacity expansion has been extremely well-received by Qantas customers and especially by corporate travellers heading directly to downtown Tokyo, who can now save up to one and a half hours on their airport commute by flying into or out of Haneda,” said Qantas International chief executive Gareth Evans.

Qantas benefits from domestic travel within Japan through close ties with fellow Oneworld member Japan Airlines (JAL). The two are also joint majority shareholders in low-cost carrier Jetstar Japan – with an economic interest of 47.1 per cent each.

Customers travelling on the new Brisbane-Narita route can explore Tokyo or beyond with popular holiday destinations across Jetstar Japan’s extensive domestic network, like Sapporo, Fukuoka and Osaka,” said Evans.

To commemorate the launch of the new Japan services, customers will be able to look forward to Japanese-inspired menus during their flights, including tuna tataki nigiri in business, and green tea flavoured kit kats in premium economy and economy.

For more information, visit qantas.com.au

Clement Huang

Hyatt Place opens second hotel in Dubai

Hyatt Place Dubai Baniyas Square

The new Hyatt Place Dubai Baniyas Square is located in the centre of Dubai – referred to by locals as Nasser Square.

The hotel is minutes away from Dubai International Airport and key business districts of Healthcare City and Dubai Airport Free Zone. Nearby public transport options include the Dubai Metro and many bus stops.

For those looking to do something leisurely, the hotel is close to the city’s tourist attractions such as the Dubai Museum, the Dubai Creek, and many open-air markets. The hotel also offers free shuttle service to shopping malls and the Mamzar Beach Park.

All 126 rooms feature the brand’s signature Cozy Corner sofa-sleeper and a separate living and work space. There is complimentary wifi throughout the hotel, and guests have access to computers in the Gallery.

A complimentary hot breakfast is served every morning, while an á la carte menu is available for lunch and dinner, offering international cuisines such as Indian, Arabic and Italian. The Gallery Market serves freshly prepared salads, sandwiches, and other refreshments around the clock. Guests can also enjoy the outdoor swimming pool and 24-hour gym.

The development is a partnership between Hyatt and wasl hospitality & leisure, one of the largest real estate management companies in Dubai.

“The expansion of the Hyatt Place brand in Dubai is in line with the increasing demand for mid-range tourism in the years leading up to Expo 2020 [Dubai]”, commented Hesham Al Qassim, chief executive officer of Wasl Asset Management Group.

“The Hyatt Place brand fits perfectly into Dubai’s contemporary landscape of well-conceived development, modern comfort and cutting edge technology,” said Pablo Graf, senior vice president of operations, Hyatt, Southwest Asia.

“Hyatt Place hotels offer style, innovation, 24/7 convenience and every modern comfort to create a seamless stay. We look forward to the brand’s expansion across the Middle East, India and around the world.”

Hyatt Place is an upscale service hotel brand with more than 220 locations worldwide, catered to frequent travellers. The Hyatt Place brand is under Hyatt Hotels Corporation, whose portfolio consists of nearly 600 properties in 50 countries across six continents.

For more information, visit dubaibaniyassquare.place.hyatt.com

Joyce Lau

SIA drops seven A350s at Airbus’ request

In its latest financial report, Singapore Airlines (SIA) revealed it has reduced its existing order of A350-900s by seven.

The order adjustment was made following a request by Airbus.

SIA’s A350 backlog now consists of 63 aircraft, down from 70, with purchase options for a further 20 A350s.

Delivery of SIA’s first A350 aircraft (due at the end of the year) will not be affected, as the released A350s were only due to be delivered between 2017 and 2018. The airline also stated that the order reduction will not affect its fleet renewal or growth plans.

Instead, plans have been made to bring forward the deliveries of other A350-900s, while SIA also maintains extension options on several of its leased A330-300s.

The reason behind Airbus’ request hasn’t been made public, but speaking to Business Traveller Asia-Pacific, an Airbus spokesperson said: “We confirm that at our request Singapore Airlines has released 7 A350 delivery slots back to Airbus. These have already been offered and allocated to another airline.”

SIA’s financial position remains healthy, with the group reporting an operational profit of S$111 million (US$81 million) in the April–June 2015 quarter – S$72 million higher than the same period last year.

For more information, visit singaporeair.com

Clement Huang

China Airlines to fly Taipei-Melbourne-Christchurch

China Airlines will launch a seasonal Taipei-Melbourne-Christchurch route this winter.

From October 25, the carrier will fly the triangle service three-times weekly on Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays.

While flight times have yet to be confirmed, flights CI057/CI058 will be operated by an A330-300 aircraft offering 30 seats in business, and 277 in economy.

The service will complement the airline’s existing Taipei–Sydney–Christchurch route. Flights between Sydney and Christchurch began in December 2014.


Clement Huang

Emirates A380 heading to Kuala Lumpur

Emirates will add an A380 on to its Dubai-Kuala Lumpur route next year.

From January 1, the Gulf carrier will replace the B777-300ER that currently operates flights EK342/343 with a two-class superjumbo, reports airlineroute.net.

This A380 configuration carries a whopping 615 passengers, with 58 in business class and 557 in economy.

Flight EK342 will depart Dubai at 1015 and arrive in Kuala Lumpur at 2125, while return leg EK343 will leave Kuala Lumpur at 0110 and land in Dubai at 0430.

Emirates’ three other Dubai-Kuala Lumpur services — EK344/345, EK346/347 and EK408/409 — will all continue to be operated by B777-300ER aircraft.

From December 1, Emirates will fly a fourth daily A380 service to Bangkok (see news, July 29).


Graham Smith

Norwegian amends loyalty points claim

Norwegian has changed the way members of its Norwegian Reward frequent flyer programme can claim their points.

Previously, members have to claim their CashPoints at the time of booking. They can now collect them up to 30 days after departure.

CashPoints can be used as full or partial payment for flights, seat reservations or check-in luggage.

Norwegian Reward vice president Brede Huser said: “We are seeing increasing numbers of Norwegian Reward members gain the benefits of flying with us by taking advantage of their CashPoints.

“We now have over three million members… As such, the enhanced Norwegian Reward programme will help reduce costs and deliver great value for Reward members.”

Norwegian Reward members who fly 12 round trips between July 1 and December 31 can claim one free long-haul flight.

Earlier this month, Norwegian announced a new transatlantic route, from London Gatwick to Boston (see news, July 9).


Graham Smith