Caledonian Sleeper unveils prototype cabins

The Caledonian Sleeper – the overnight sleeper rail service between London and Scotland – has unveiled new prototype cabins which will launch in 2018.

The new design will include double beds options, as well as en-suite toilets and showers in some rooms.

Other new features include “a hotel style key card entry system, more accessible rooms, and reclining seats, upgraded panels for phone and gadget charging and wifi”.

Owners Serco said that “The new design will ensure guests, whether on business or leisure, enjoy a hotel-style experience, waking at their destination refreshed and rejuvenated having travelled in luxury and comfort”.

Caledonian Sleeper

The revamp will also see the dining Lounge Car upgraded, “with more seating options and social space”.

The new carriages have been overseen by Scottish interior designer Ian Smith, “with the patterns reflecting a contemporary Scotland”.

Over £150 million is being invested in the new fleet, with £60 million of this coming from a capital grant from the Scottish government.

The new trains follow a series of improvements and investments in the Caledonian Sleeper service, since Serco took over the franchise on behalf of the Scottish government in April 2015.

These include new uniforms, toiletries, and a revamped food and beverage offering, all supplied by Scottish companies.

sleeper.scot

Mark Caswell

Caledonian Sleeper

GWR unveils new Intercity Express Train

Great Western Railway (GWR) has unveiled the first of its new Intercity Express Trains, which will begin operations from next summer.

The Hitachi built trains will feature “more seats, greater legroom, free wifi, power sockets at each seat, LCD seat reservation indicators and increased space in overhead luggage racks”.

They will start to operate on the Great Western Main Line from next summer, followed by services between London, Devon and Cornwall from 2018.

GWR Intercity Express Train

GWR unveiled the first of the new fleet of trains as part of the 175th anniversary celebrations of the first train running on the line between Bristol and London.

Guests are being invited to travel on the new Class 800 (800 004) Intercity Express Train today between Reading and Paddington.

In a press release GWR noted that “The Intercity Express Train is still in testing phase, and as such the interior layout of the train will change before going into full passenger service next year”.

The Hitachi built trains are the same as the Azuma-branded trains being introduced onto the Virgin East Coast line from 2018.

gwr.com

Mark Caswell

Decision on UK airport expansion faces more delays

Heathrow third runway rendering

The long-awaited decision on the expansion of London’s airport capacity looks set to be delayed again.

The BBC has reported this morning that it understands “The UK government is to defer a decision on airport expansion until the new Conservative Party leader is elected”.

The Airports Commission published its report backing a third runway at Heathrow back in July 2015, but in December Patrick McLoughlin, Secretary of State for Transport, said that further environmental research needed to be carried out before a decision was made.

At the time McLoughlin said that he anticipated a decision to conclude this summer, but the recent referendum vote to leave the EU and subsequent resignation of David Cameron looks to have delayed the decision again.

Boris Johnson has been a vocal opponent of a third runway at Heathrow, and has previously proposed a new airport to be built in the Thames Estuary, a plan dismissed by the Airports Commission as “unfeasibly expensive, highly problematic in environmental terms” and “hugely disruptive for many businesses and communities”.

Mark Caswell

Qantas selling day passes for lounge access

Qantas Hong Kong lounge

Qantas is trialling a new system that allows lower-tier members of its frequent-flyer programme to purchase single-entry lounge passes during off-peak travel periods.

Until now, access to the lounges has typically been reserved for high-status frequent flyers, Qantas Club members and business class travellers.

The lounge passes will be offered on an invitation-only basis. Eligible frequent flyers will be sent an e-invitation three to five days before their flights.

“We regularly monitor lounge capacity so invitations to purchase a lounge access pass will only be made available during what we know are quiet times,” a Qantas spokesman told Business Insider Australia.

Each lounge pass is valid for a single use, and is priced differently based on the type of lounge that a traveller wishes to visit: use of the airline’s domestic lounges costs A$49 (US$36) or 7,000 Qantas points, while international business class lounges will set you back A$69 (US$51) or 9,900 points. For premium international lounges in Hong Kong, a lounge pass costs A$99 (US$74) or 14,500 points.

For more information, visit qantas.com.au

Clement Huang

Asiana Airlines to launch second LCC

Air Seoul

New low-cost carrier Air Seoul is poised to begin domestic operations in early July, once it has received its air operators’ certification.

This is Asiana Airlines’ second low-cost carrier after Air Busan.

Air Seoul will initially operate four daily flights between Seoul’s Gimpo International Airport and Jeju International Airport.

Flights will be served by three A321-200 aircraft on loan from Asiana Airlines. While seat details have not been confirmed, expect to find an all-economy layout with seats arranged in a 3-3 configuration as is typical for narrowbody LCCs.

Air Seoul is planning to serve international routes from October, although destinations have yet to be revealed.

For more information, visit flyasiana.com

Clement Huang

Four Seasons reopens in Jakarta

Four Seasons Jakarta PREMIERE SUITE

Luxury hotel group Four Seasons has reopened in Jakarta after a two-year period of renovation.

The 125-room, all-suite hotel has opened in Jakarta’s Capital Place development, designed by Cesar Pelli of Kuala Lumpur’s Petronas Towers fame. The hotel has four food and beverage outlets and is set to open a fifth later this year, Alto Restaurant and Bar, offering Italian cuisine.

Spa facilities include a fitness centre and outdoor pool on the fifth floor rooftop. A women’s beauty salon and barber shop are also soon to open.

Four Seasons Hotel Jakarta is the group’s third Indonesian property alongside two resorts in Bali. Meeting options include two salons on the second floor, the 700 sqm Grand Ballroom and an outdoor Pool Terrace.

fourseasons.com

Marisa Cannon

Iran Air places order for 100 Boeing aircraft

Iran Air logo

Iran Air has reached an agreement with Boeing to purchase 100 new aircraft as part of its fleet renewal strategy.

The US$25 billion deal consists of a mix of narrowbody B737 and widebody B777 aircraft, and comes months after Iran Air came to an agreement with Airbus for 118 aircraft.

Following the lifting of economic sanctions against Iran, the country has taken steps to modernise its aviation sector, with the aim of purchasing 400 to 500 aircraft over the next ten years.

Once rubber stamped, the Boeing deal will be the largest between a US business and Iran since the 1979 revolution.

For more information, visit iranair.com

Clement Huang 

Four Points Havana opens

Four Points Havana

Starwood Hotels & Resorts has opened its first hotel in Cuba – the Four Points Havana.

Four Points Havana

The 186-room hotel, formerly the Quinta Hotel, has been upgraded, with Starwood stating that it has made “significant life and safety upgrades to the property to ensure that it meets the company’s global standards.” The hotel will continue to undergo upgrades and improvements “over the next few months” according to Starwood.

Four Points Havana

The property has meeting facilities, the Don Quixote restaurant, a 24-hour fitness centre, a business facility and a spa. Wifi is available (at a charge).

The new Four Points is located in Havana’s Miramar district.

See also, Starwood to open three Cuban hotels

Wow Air offers Gatwick to New York return flights from £238

Wow Air Freyja2

Wow Air, the low cost Icelandic airline, has announced new services from the UK to New York beginning November 25, 2016, with one-way fares from £119 including taxes and charges.

The daily flights depart both London Gatwick and Bristol for Newark New York via Reykjavik.

The airline already flies to Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston, Washington D.C., Toronto and Montreal from both London Gatwick and Bristol, as of May 2016.

The flights from Reykjavik to New York will be operated using new A321 Extended Range aircraft. The airline’s Airbus A320 family aircraft will carry passengers from London Gatwick to Reykjavik on the first leg of the journey.

wowair.co.uk

Lufthansa moves closer to wifi on short and medium-haul

Lufthansa Munich Satellite 2

Lufthansa is moving ahead with fitting wifi to its short and medium haul fleet.

Lufthansa wifi

An aircraft fitted with the new antennae installation technology

As reported, Lufthansa to offer broadband on short/medium-haul flights, the airline says that by October 2016 the first Lufthansa short- and medium-haul aircraft will be operational with wifi onboard, and the entire A320 family fleet is expected to have the technology installed by mid-2018.

The first aircraft was equipped with the technology in June with testing continuing throughout the summer. Lufthansa says that other airlines in the Lufthansa Group will have wifi fitted “at a later date”.

Lufthansa wifi

The Ka-band wifi is a result of a partnership with Inmarsat and offers coverage through Inmarsat’s Global Xpress network. Passengers will be able to access the internet using their own mobile devices via Wi-Fi. In addition to basic surfing and email, video streaming will be possible. At a later date passengers will be able to use their cellphones for SMS and data transfer via their own mobile accounts.

Lufthansa carried out the world’s first scheduled flight with broadband internet access on January 15, 2003. The service was discontinued in 2006 because the Connexion by Boeing satellites ceased commercial operations. Since December 2010 Lufthansa has offered provide broadband internet access on intercontinental flights, and since June 2015 FlyNet has been available on all 107 long-haul aircraft in the Lufthansa fleet.

lufthansa.com