Singapore Airlines to halve A380 first class accommodation?

Singapore Airlines first class suite on the A380

It now looks as though Singapore Airlines (SIA) will soon be offering 50 per cent fewer A380 first class ‘suites’.

According to Flight Global SIA will in future be providing just six first class suites on its fleet of A380s, as against 12 at present.

SIA’s present fleet of 19 A380s will be entirely refitted with new seating in all classes with updated in-flight entertainment and so on over the coming years. No timescale has yet been made available.

But the carrier’s five new A380s will be delivered from Airbus starting in October of this year.

They will have the new seating already installed. Details of what to expect remain a closely-guarded secret.

At the same time it is expected that SIA’s A380 refurbishment will see first class moved from the lower to the upper deck.

Why is SIA reducing first class on its A380s?

SIA is following many of its global rivals who have slimmed down their first class accommodation rather than remove it altogether.

A good example is Malaysia Airlines. It will be phasing out its A380s (which have first class) in favour of a small fleet of A350s.

It had been thought MAS would remove first class from these smaller aircraft. But in fact MAS has decided to retain first class but with just four seats (its A380s have eight seats).

Business Traveller reported on Malaysia Airlines’ A350s  some months ago, but this information was unavailable at that time.

Readers who are fortunate enough to fly SIA’s A380 first class speak highly of the suite experience. (The suites are offered only on the A380 and not other aircraft in the SIA fleet).

But unless using FFP redemptions, which I understand is not that easy with SIA regarding first class suites,  the cost for travelling in the suites can be prohibitive for most.

For example, a London-Sydney return with SIA first class for a one week stay in September would cost almost £8,500. That price is for travel in September and includes A380 flights on all four sectors: London-Singapore-Sydney-Singapore-London.

A return Zurich-Singapore first class return with the A380 would set you back a hefty Sfr 9,680  or £7,609.  This for a Monday-Friday working week in September.

Meanwhile a Frankfurt-Jakarta return also for a working week in September (and with A380 flights on the Frankfurt-Singapore-Frankfurt sectors) would cost €8,862 (£7,917).

Some critics claim today’s long-haul business classes are so good that first has become superfluous. Nevertheless some airlines will continue to offer this premium product for prestige and to meet the demands of their most exacting customers.

singaporeair.com

London City says Marmite “most seized food item”

Marmite swap at London City airport

London City says Marmite “most seized item”

The airport says that the popular spread is the number one prohibited branded food item confiscated from travellers’ hand luggage

London City is offering a Marmite amnesty at its security gates today (July 31), with the spread reported to be the number one branded food item confiscated from travellers’ hand luggage.

The airport is offering travellers the chance to swap any jars of Marmite over the permitted 100ml size, for a travel-friendly 70g miniature.

LCY says that Marmite is the most seized branded food product at the airport’s security gates, and in the top ten overall for confiscated food items.

The swap will be available for one day only, “from 6am until late in the evening”, but the airport says that “pending the success of the event, Marmite is considering rolling the initiative out nationwide for lovers”.

The airport is using the promotion to highlight what it says will be its busiest day of the year so far.

LCY says that confiscated jars of Marmite and other food products are donated to local charity Community Food Enterprises, who then distribute to smaller charities in local communities.

londoncityairport.com

Amsterdam Schiphol sets record for one-day traffic

Amsterdam Schiphol

Amsterdam Schiphol is set to break its record for passenger traffic today, with over 230,000 travellers passing through the airport.

Schiphol says that 78,000 departing passengers, 71,000 arriving travellers, and 81,000 transfer passengers will pass through the airport, beating the previous record of 224,000 people, set on June 30 this year.

The airport says that some 12.4 million passengers will fly via Schiphol this summer, and the facility has put on extra security staff and screening lanes in an attempt to keep queues to a minimum.

Around 38,600 flights have carried around 5.3 million passengers through Schiphol so far this summer holiday season, with “the majority” departing for, or arriving from the UK.

The airport says that three additional security lanes are in operation, with all lanes in Separtures Halls 1 and 2 manned, and “flexible teams” on hand “to assist where necessary”.

The airport has also been trialling a new “small bags only” security lane, allowing passengers with “little or no hand baggage” to use a separate entrance. It says that “From initial results, it appears that 15 to 20 per cent more passengers can pass through these lanes in the same amount of time”.

Earlier this year forum users reported long queues at Amsterdam Schiphol – to join in the debate and let us know your experiences at the airport, click here.

schiphol.com

Air Berlin announces new US and Canadian services

Air Berlin

Air Berlin has announced two new transatlantic services from Dusseldorf to Canada and the US.

The carrier will operate four flights per week from the German city to Toronto starting on May 1, followed by five weekly services from Dusseldorf to Chicago from May 2.

The Toronto service represents the first Canadian route for Air Berlin, and the carrier says it is planning “the most extensive schedule in its history with around 100 long-haul flights per week”.

Air Berlin recently announced plans to boost US services this winter, with flights to San Francisco operating over the winter period for the first time, and services to Orlando expanding to year-round.

The carrier says it has increased its long-haul services from Dusseldorf airport by 13 per cent compared to last year, with a total of 57 weekly flights between Dusseldorf and the US.

Announcing the new routes Air Berlin’s CCO Gotz Ahmelmann said:

“”We are writing the first chapter in the new Air Berlin’s success story. We now have three additional long-haul aircraft in our fleet.

We are already the largest provider of US flights in North Rhine-Westphalia and Berlin. And we will continue to expand. Supplementing the US programme with additional flights to Canada is the next step on the road to success.”

airberlin.com

UK laptop ban lifted on flights from Istanbul’s Sabiha Gokcen

Department for Transport advice

The UK has lifted its carry-on ban for laptops and larger electronic devices on flights from Turkey’s Istanbul Sabiha Gokcen airport.

The Department for Transport said that that passengers may now “take large phones, laptops, tablets and accessories into the cabin with them”, when flying from Sabiha Gokcen to the UK.

However the restrictions remain on flights from Istanbul’s Ataturk airport, as well as on flights from the following airports:

Turkey

  • Izmir
  • Bodrum
  • Antalya
  • Dalaman

Egypt

  • Cairo
  • Hurghada
  • Marsa Alam
  • Luxor

Saudi Arabia

  • Jeddah
  • Riyadh

Jordan

  • Amman

Lebanon

  • Beirut

Tunisia

  • Tunis

The UK government introduced carry-on restrictions on larger electronics devices on flights from certain countries in March, shortly after the US had imposed a similar ban.

The Department of Homeland Security gradually lifted its restrictions following the introduction of new security procedures, and the US ban officially came to an end earlier this month.

In a statement the DfT said that “after working with the aviation industry and international partners to introduce tough additional security measures, the UK government has begun lifting these restrictions on some UK-bound flights.”

“Restrictions remain in place at other airports and will be lifted on a case-by-case basis once the UK government has verified that airlines have put in place alternative security measures, and that it is safe and proportionate to do so.”

It added that this page (last updated on July 28) “will be updated on an airport-by-airport basis, once restrictions have been lifted on all affected airlines serving the airport in question”.

gov.uk

Qantas to fly seasonally to Osaka

A new non-stop seasonal Qantas service between Sydney and Osaka is due to take off this December, marking the only flight directly connecting the two cities.

Due to take off on December 14, the thrice-weekly service is set to come almost an exact year after the launch of its most recent new route to Japan, which saw it connect Melbourne with Tokyo on December 16, 2016. The new Osaka service will join Qantas’s Melbourne flights to Tokyo as well as its other flights to the Japanese capital from Sydney and Brisbane.

Qantas low-cost subsidiary Jetstar also currently flies to Osaka and Tokyo from Cairns, as well as operating flights from the Gold Coast to Tokyo.

“This December we celebrate 70 years of flying to Japan and we’re delighted to add another destination to the growing list of services Qantas operates between the two countries at a time when travel to Japan is booming,” said Qantas CEO, Gareth Evans.

“Australia is a highly sought-after destination for Japanese tourists with many staying longer and spending more while they are here. And with the Free Trade Agreement in place, the new route opens up more opportunities for companies to explore and build business in new regions, further strengthening the trade relationship between the two countries.”

Qantas’s new Osaka route will be flown by its A330-200, which it configures in two layouts, both with business (36/28 seats) and economy (199/243) seats. The 28-seat business class is laid out 1-2-1 offering direct aisle access for each seat, while the 36-seat business class is configured 2-2-2. Economy on both is set up in a 2-4-2 layout.

While it will operate as a thrice-weekly service, flight times differ from Monday, and Thursday and Saturday.

Details of the service are as follows (all times local):

Flight No. From To Departs Arrives Days
QF33 SYD KIX 1325 2120 Mon
0930 1725 Thu, Sat
QF34 KIX SYD 2250 1040+1 Mon
1855 0645+1 Thu, Sat

It’s worth noting that fellow Oneworld member, Japan Airlines, recently announced that it plans to launch its second service to Australia in September connecting Tokyo and Melbourne.

Meanwhile, fellow Australasian carrier Air New Zealand began flying to Tokyo’s Haneda International Airport from Auckland earlier this month.

qantas.com

Dream Hotel Group announces expansion into India

Dream Hotel New York Meatpacking District

New York-based Dream Hotel Group has announced its expansion into India.

The boutique luxury hotel company will open its lifestyle offering – Dream Hotel – in New Delhi in 2019. The property will open in the Central Business District of West Delhi and will feature 187 guest rooms and suites, and five F&B venues including a Food Hall concept by renowned chef Todd English.

Dream Hotel Group has partnered with Sachin J Joshi, chairman of Viiking Ventures, for this opening.

“I am thrilled to expand our global footprint to India and bring the Dream Hotel brand back to my home country. With Dream Hotel Group’s unprecedented growth and high-velocity expansion, we are well positioned to triple our existing portfolio in less than five-years,” says Sant Singh Chatwal, chairman of Dream Hotel Group chairman

“We are delighted to be partnering with Dream Hotel Group and its dynamic team. India is among the fastest growing economies and we are excited to take the hospitality industry in this country to new heights with Chatwal himself, who is an inspiration to us all in India,” says Sachin J Joshi, chairman of Viiking Ventures

The hotel company has 16 hotels, with a pipeline of additional 26 hotels. The aggressive expansion strategy will be across its four brands – Dream Hotels, Time Hotels, The Chatwal and Unscripted Hotels.

dreamhotels.com

New York-based Dream Hotel Group has announced its expansion into India.

The boutique luxury hotel company will open its lifestyle offering – Dream Hotel – in New Delhi in 2019. The property will open in the Central Business District of West Delhi and will feature 187 guest rooms and suites, and five F&B venues including a Food Hall concept by renowned chef Todd English.

Dream Hotel Group has partnered with Sachin J Joshi, chairman of Viiking Ventures, for this opening.

“I am thrilled to expand our global footprint to India and bring the Dream Hotel brand back to my home country. With Dream Hotel Group’s unprecedented growth and high-velocity expansion, we are well positioned to triple our existing portfolio in less than five-years,” says Sant Singh Chatwal, chairman of Dream Hotel Group chairman

“We are delighted to be partnering with Dream Hotel Group and its dynamic team. India is among the fastest growing economies and we are excited to take the hospitality industry in this country to new heights with Chatwal himself, who is an inspiration to us all in India,” says Sachin J Joshi, chairman of Viiking Ventures

The hotel company has 16 hotels, with a pipeline of additional 26 hotels. The aggressive expansion strategy will be across its four brands – Dream Hotels, Time Hotels, The Chatwal and Unscripted Hotels.

dreamhotels.com

Security measures heightened at Australia airports

Melbourne Airport

Travellers flying within and out of Australia are being advised to arrive at airports early to compensate for increased security measures in the wake of the discovery of an alleged terror plot in Sydney that involved an aircraft.

Among the new measures include additional cabin and checked luggage checks, according to Transport Minister Darren Chester. These are being implemented across major airports in Australia.

Melbourne Airport issued a statement yesterday advising departing passengers to arrive two hours before their scheduled departures to allow time for the ramped up screening measures.

“The travelling public can expect to experience an increased level of security scrutiny at the airport but they should not be concerned about these precautionary measures,” it said.

Passengers have also been advised to limit the amount of carry-on and checked baggage in order to streamline the security process, though there have been no changes to what passengers may bring on board.

Hong Kong Airlines confirms new A350 will fly to Los Angeles

Hong Kong Airlines A350

Hong Kong Airlines’ recently announced route to Los Angeles is the first that the airline has confirmed will be flown by its new A350 aircraft.

The Hong Kong carrier has up until now been tight-lipped about where its new aircraft will first fly, though Los Angeles has been speculated. Hong Kong Airlines is expected to receive delivery of its first A350 this August, which will also feature its new business class seat product. While this is the first route the airline has confirmed will feature the new aircraft, it remains to be seen whether it will be the first route period.

The new Los Angeles route follows the launch of Hong Kong Airlines’ debut North America service to Vancouver at the end of June, which is currently operated by the airline’s A330-200.

“Following the success of the Vancouver route, we are excited to set up the first destination in the continental United States to further expand our international network,” said COO Li Dianchun. “The launch of the Los Angeles route will strengthen the connection with our well-developed Asia Pacific network, thus providing more travel options for business, leisure, academic or family travellers.”

Further details of the route have also been unveiled. The service has been given a December 18, 2017 commencement date and a full schedule has been confirmed.

Previous reports that flight HK068 will depart Hong Kong at 1210 and arrive at Los Angeles at 0855 local time, and return flight HK069 will leave Los Angeles at 1045 and arrive back in Hong Kong at 1820, have shown to be correct. Exceptions to this are from March 11 onwards, where arrival at and departure from Los Angeles will be one hour later due to daylight savings (0955 arrival and 1145 departure, respectively).

The schedule also shows that the initially four-times-weekly service will become a daily operation starting January 16 next year.

Hong Kong Airlines first announced its intentions to fly to Los Angeles earlier this month, when it also celebrated the launch of its new codeshare agreement with Virgin Australia, following the Antipodean carrier’s launch of its new direct Melbourne-Hong Kong flights.

hongkongairlines.com

Heathrow auctions off entire contents of T1

Heathrow T1 Auction

The entire contents of Heathrow T1 is being put up for auction, in what is being described as an “unprecedented” sale.

The terminal originally opened in 1968, and closed on June 29, 2015, with plans for it to be demolished to make way for future expansion at the airport.

But for now CA Global Partners  – an industry leader in the disposal of assets for wholesale and industrial clients – has been tasked with liquidating the entire contents of the terminal, in what it is described as “a sale of epic proportions”.

Everything from entire luggage reclaim carousels, escalators, airbridges and business lounges, down to airport signage and over 2,000 security cameras and 4,000 seats will go on sale over the coming weeks.

Commenting on the sale, Daniel Gray, Managing Partner of CA Global Partners Europe  said:

“A sale such as this, comprising the entire contents and infrastructure of an entire major airport terminal is unprecedented, to say the least.

“Not only does this represent a rare opportunity for a young airport to fully equip a new terminal, but many of the items in this sale could be refurbished or repurposed for a variety of uses in other industries – Let alone some of the historical value to many of the items.”

Items will be offered by private treaty and through a series of auctions, with more information and a brochure available at cagp.com/events/heathrow-airport-terminal-1.