Lufthansa’s new Munich A380 flights go on sale

Flights for Lufthansa’s recently announced A380 services from Munich to Los Angeles, Beijing and Hong Kong are now available to book, with the first flights set to take off on March 25 next year.

The first new A380 flight to depart Munich will be LH452 to Los Angeles, which takes off at 1200, followed by LH722 to Beijing at 1915 and finally LH730 to Hong Kong at 2230.

The first A380 return flights from each of the three destinations, meanwhile, will fly at the following times: LH453 departs Los Angeles at 1715 on March 25; LH723 departs Beijing at 1250 on March 26; LH731 departs Hong Kong at 2330 on March 26.

All three routes operate daily.

Return-ticket prices from Hong Kong to Munich start from around HK$5,900 (US$755) for economy, HK$11,400 (US$1,460) for premium economy, and HK$31,800 (US$4,070) for business class.

Return prices from Beijing to Munich start at about 6,200 yuan (US$905) for economy, 10,900 yuan (US$1,590) for premium economy, and 24,000 yuan (US$3,500) for business class.

Lufthansa’s 14-strong fleet of A380s is currently based entirely in Frankfurt, however five of these are scheduled to be shifted to Munich ahead of the three March 2018 services. This is being done to better compete with rivals such as Emirates and Singapore Airlines, as well as mitigate rising operating costs at its Frankfurt Airport hub due to a new charging policy.

lufthansa.com

Airbus reveals enhanced A380plus aircraft

Airbus has unveiled details of an enhanced version of its A380 superjumbo, the A380plus, that will include the addition of winglets as well as its recently showcased “cabin enablers” that can create space for up to 80 additional seats on the A380.

Key among the enhanced aircraft’s offerings is an improved fuel efficiency – up to 4 percent with the addition of winglets – as well as a 13 percent cost reduction per seat compared to the current variation. The existing A380 model has an average capacity of 497 passengers, which could be upped to 575 in four classes with all cabin enablers utilised.

As previously reported, key among the new “cabin enabler” features for the double-decker superjumbo is a newly designed front staircase, which could free up space for 20 passengers.

Other “enablers” – some of which are already offered to airlines – include an 11-across (3-5-3) economy layout on the main deck (adding 23 economy seats), a nine-across premium economy layout on the main deck (adding 11 passengers), a redesigned rear staircase and aft-galley (adding space for 14 more passengers), and the removal of the upper deck sidewall stowage (increasing business class capacity by ten seats).

“The A380plus is an efficient way to offer even better economics and improved operational performance at the same time,” said John Leahy, Airbus’s COO of customers. “It is a new step for our iconic aircraft to best serve worldwide fast-growing traffic and the evolving needs of the A380 customers. The A380 is well-proven as the solution to increasing congestion at large airports, and in offering a unique, passenger-preferred experience.”

Airbus has struggled to attract new customers for its superjumbo aircraft, with 13 commercial carriers currently operating the A380, and Japanese airline ANA set to take delivery of its first superjumbo in 2019. In July last year, the airline attempted to rally passenger support for the airline with the launch of its “I Fly A380” website, aimed at showing passengers were willing to make an extra effort to fly on the aircraft.

Of the just over 200 superjumbos so far delivered, almost half of these are operated by one carrier – Emirates.

In a recent interview with Business Traveller, Malaysia Airlines CEO Peter Bellew said that airlines have “missed the point” of the A380, claiming that the sweet spot for the aircraft was between 640 and 720 passengers, serving high density flights between congested airports.

airbus.com

Lufthansa eyes Asia and US with new routes and A380 deployments

Lufthansa-A380

Lufthansa is tightening its focus on Asia and the US next summer with the introduction of two new routes along with three A380 deployments to destinations in both continents.

Notably for business travellers within Asia-Pacific, the German carrier’s summer 2018 schedule will see the resurrection of its Munich-Singapore service. Lufthansa had previously cut the route in October 2012 due to lack of capacity at Munich at the time and the high fuel costs of the A340 that it previously deployed on the route. 

The new service doesn’t have a set start date beyond “summer 2018” and the aircraft that will fly the route hasn’t been confirmed, but the airline has stated it will fly the route five times weekly.

The revival of the Munich-Singapore route likely ties in with Lufthansa’s joint venture with Singapore Airlines, which came into effect in April and aims to expand codeshare ties and align the airlines’ corporate programmes in response to growing competition from rival Gulf airlines.

The Star Alliance member has been particularly active on this front, even partnering with rival oneworld Alliance member Cathay Pacific on codeshare and frequent flyer programme services in order to enhance its connectivity between Europe and Asia-Pacific.

Both of these partnerships will allow Lufthansa (and its subsidiaries Austrian Airlines and Swiss) to feed travellers from Europe into its main Frankfurt and Munich hubs and onward to Singapore and Hong Kong, where travellers can then make use of Singapore Airlines’ and Cathay Pacific’s extensive Asia-Pacific networks.

Indeed, along with the revival of its Munich-Singapore route, Lufthansa will be deploying its A380 on three of its Munich services next summer – Hong Kong, Beijing and Los Angeles. The airline began flying its A380 to Hong Kong back in October 2015 on its Frankfurt-Hong Kong route. In total, five of Lufthansa’s 14 A380s will be transferred from Frankfurt to Munich in order to serve these routes.

“With the A380 we can offer our Munich customers a premium aircraft at a five-star hub,” said Harry Hohmeister, an executive board member of Deutsche Lufthansa AG who is also responsible for hub management. “In recent years, we have made great progress in steering our hubs. We harmonised and integrated processes and are now more flexible in utilising our aircraft at different locations. Quality, efficiency and growth will always remain our top priority.”

Meanwhile, the deployment of the A380 on its Munich-Los Angeles route will be joined next summer by the addition of a brand new route between Frankfurt and San Diego. As with the Munich-Singapore service, this new San Francisco route hasn’t got an exact confirmed start date at this time, and the aircraft it will deploy on the route hasn’t been specified. Lufthansa says it will operate the route five times weekly.

Finally, Lufthansa’s summer 2018 schedule includes another change to its US services, namely an increase of flights from Munich to Chicago. The airline’s current daily service is set to become a 10-times weekly one.

lufthansa.com

Singapore Airlines to add three weekly Paris flights

SIngapore Airlines A380 at Heathrow

Singapore Airlines will be upping its current daily Paris service to a 10-times-weekly one for the northern winter season.

Beginning October 30 this year and running until March 24, 2018, the new SQ333/SQ334 flights will operate on Monday, Thursday and Saturday, adding to the airline’s existing SQ335/SQ336 daily operations.

The new service will depart slightly later than the current flights, with the outbound SQ334 Singapore-Paris flight departing at 0230 and arriving at 0930 (just over two hours after SQ336). Meanwhile the return leg will depart and arrive in the afternoon, with SQ333 leaving Paris at 1800 and arriving at 1340 the next day, five hours later than SQ335.

However, while the service frequency on the route will increase this winter, the overall weekly capacity of the route will actually drop by 447 seats. That’s because Singapore Airlines will be deploying its B777-300ER on both the new thrice-weekly seats as well as its existing daily service, which is currently served by its four-class, 441-seat A380-800.

The carrier’s B777-300ER, meanwhile, is configured with just 264 seats across four classes by comparison. These include four in first, 48 in business, 28 in premium economy and 184 in economy class.

This would appear to mark the retirement of Singapore Airlines’ first and oldest A380 – a process the airline first announced would happen last September. The carrier has previously stated it would not be renewing the lease of its four oldest A380s, which are on a 10-year lease and will begin expiring this October.

Singapore Airlines has not stated whether the route will revert back to an A380 after the northern winter period or remain operated by the B777-300ER. Business Traveller Asia-Pacific has reached out to Singapore Airlines for comment.

Last month, Business Traveller reported that Singapore Airlines’ old A380s may be set for the private jet market.

singaporeair.com

Emirates to go all-A380 to Shanghai

Emirates

It’s been a busy couple of weeks when it comes to Middle-Eastern airlines shifting their A380s around, with more than a few notable routes slated to become served solely by the double-decker aircraft in the near future. Now, Emirates has added another destination to this list with its twice-daily Dubai-Shanghai service looking as though it too will become an all-A380 double-daily service this summer.

Starting July 1, the carrier’s EK304 and EK305 flights will be served by an A380 instead of the current B777-300ER, according to Emirates’ current schedule. Flights EK302 and EK303 are already operated by the aircraft.

Emirates configures its A380 with 489 seats, including 14 private first class suites, 76 fully flat business class seats and 399 economy seats. First and business class passengers can also have access to the Onboard Lounge on the upper deck– which Emirates announced earlier this year that it would be revamping.

This development comes after news that the carrier is expected to make its Melbourne service an all-A380 route also, aimed at complementing Qantas’s upcoming Melbourne-Perth-London “Kangaroo Route”, which is launching in March. The Australian airline is set to drop its own Melbourne-Dubai-London flights as part of the new route launch, but will continue to offer codeshare services on Emirates’ flights between the cities.

Meanwhile in related news, fellow Middle-Eastern carrier Etihad is expected to make its Abu Dhabi-Sydney service an all-A380 double-daily service starting this October, after removing the aircraft from its Melbourne route.

emirates.com

Emirates’ Melbourne service to go all A380

Emirates A380

Emirates’ Dubai-Melbourne route is set to go all A380 next Spring when the airline will replace flight EK408/EK409’s B777-300ER with the higher-capacity Airbus.

The upgrade to the A380 is planned to come into effect from March 25, 2018 at which point the route will gain an additional 945 seats per week. The upgrade is set to complement Qantas’ upcoming Melbourne-Perth-London “Kangaroo Route” – set to launch on March 24 and for which tickets went on sale on Thursday – in providing a greater number of options between Australia and Europe.

Travellers on Emirates’ Melbourne upgraded route will also be able to have “A380 to A380” connections with 18 other destinations in the UK and Europe from Dubai – good news for fans of the aircraft.

Emirates configures its A380 with 489 seats, including 14 private first class suites, 76 fully flat business class seats and 399 economy seats. First and business class passengers can also have access to the Onboard Lounge on the upper deck – which Emirates announced earlier this year that it would be revamping.

Emirates’ announcement comes as fellow Middle-Eastern carrier Etihad looks to remove the aircraft from its own services to Melbourne from Abu Dhabi starting this October, and instead making its twice-daily Sydney service all A380.

According to routesonline.com, Etihad’s winter schedule from October 29 will see a capacity drop of nearly 200 seats on its Abu Dhabi-Melbourne service when it downgrades both of its Melbourne flights to smaller aircraft.

emirates.com

SIA to carry Lalique items in suites and first

Singapore Airlines Airbus A380

Suites and first class passengers aboard Singapore Airlines’ (SIA) new Airbus A380s will soon be served using co-branded Lalique crystal ware, following a new partnership between the airline and the French crystal maker.

SIA will begin carrying the objects on its next batch of A380s – the airline is set to begin receiving the aircraft in the second half of 2017, which will also feature SIA’s new cabin products. Currently, SIA has five A380s are on order from Airbus, which will add to the existing 19 in its fleet.

In addition to crystal ware, Lalique also develops products that range from interior décor and art to jewellery and perfumes. The two companies aim to offer glassware aboard the new A380 flights along with amenity kits, toiletries, loungewear and bedding. Lifestyle products and crystal objects will also be offered to customers as part of the amenity kits on selected flights, though SIA has not yet confirmed which flights these will be.

“Both SIA and Lalique have a long heritage,” said SIA’s senior vice president product and services, Marvin Tan. “Leveraging the strengths of both companies, we look forward to bringing the finest travelling experience to our customers through this co-brand initiative.”

Passengers will also be able to purchase Lalique items from the airline’s Krisshop Magazine, while offers and benefits including Lalique’s manufacturing site and restaurants also form part of the new partnership.

Full details of the offerings will be announced in the near future, according to the airline, while additional joint projects will also be considered down the line.

While SIA has a further five A380s on order, the carrier opted late last year not to extend the lease of its first A380, which it received in 2007 on a ten-year lease. The Singaporean carrier was the launch customer for the world’s largest passenger aeroplane.

singaporeair.com; lalique.com

Air France postpones A380 refurbishment

Air France A380

The A380 is Air France’s flagship. The carrier’s superjumbo plies some of its busiest and most prestigious routes.

But Air France’s A380 cabin interiors remain unchanged from when these aircraft entered service some years ago.

So it’s disappointing to learn that Air France has, yet again, postponed any updating.

According to a report in France’s La Tribune the original plan was for Air France to have completed refurbishment of the first A380 fleet next year.

That programme was then postponed until 2018 but the latest news, is that it has been put back until 2019.

At a recent trade fair Air France publicised its latest premium products now being retrofitted to many of its long-haul planes.

The carrier stated the new products have already or will be fitted to its A330s, B777s.  Air France’s new B787s, the first of which arrives in January 2017, will of course have them installed.  And so too will the A350 when it arrives.

But, and it’s a big “but,”  buried at the very end of the media release comes the news that “the company is studying the refurbishment of its Airbus A380 with possible [note: possible] deployment starting in 2019.”

Air France simply needs to update its ten-strong A380 fleet.

One reason is that business class (located on the upper deck) is still disposed with the old-fashioned angled lie-flat seating configured six across 2-2-2.

By comparison most, if not all, rival A380 operators now feature flat-bed seating in business class.

Indeed three of Air France’s rivals, namely Emirates, Qatar Airways and Singapore Airlines (SIA), provide both flat beds and a roomier four across (1-2-1) layout.

It would appear Air France is devoting its energies to updating its other long-haul aircraft at the expense of its A380 flagships.

airfrance.co.uk

Emirates’ A380 to serve Glasgow?

Emirates A380 at London Heathrow

This morning Emirates again raised the possibility of the Glasgow-Dubai route being upgraded to an A380 operation.

As reported by The Scotsman, Emirates’ UK vice president Laurie Berryman said “I think it’s a question of when rather than if.”

“The A380 is more likely but I could not put a timescale on it.”

Emirates has already operated an A380 into Glasgow as part of its “one-off” series of flights.

So the main runway can cope with the superjumbo. Any improvements at Glasgow would involve issues like the taxi-ways and passenger air bridges.

According to Emirates there are now 410,000 passengers (in the year ending March, 2016) taking its twice daily flights from Glasgow, which represents a growth of 326 per cent since the Dubai-based airline first served the Scottish city in 2004.

Another solution for expansion would be for Emirates to operate a third daily flight with a B777-300ER.

But despite all its years in service the A380 still carries a wow factor with passengers and, at the time of writing, none of the Gulf carriers currently operates any services A380 to Scotland.

Emirates does well at Glasgow because its Gulf counterparts have decided to concentrate their operations at Edinburgh (rather than Glasgow) so the Dubai-based airline has the market all to itself.

In addition, as our readers have reported on many occasions, a good number of Glaswegians flying long-haul to Asia and Australasia are avoiding London and opting to change planes elsewhere, either in the Gulf or mainland Europe.

No Asian airline currently operates scheduled flights into Glasgow.

(Note: This month Korean Air will operate a few charter services into Glasgow but these are reserved for Korean holidaymakers)

emirates.com

Emirates to go all-A380 on Manchester route

Emirates A380 at London Heathrow

Emirates is to offer an all-A380 service to Manchester from January 2017.

The Gulf carrier currently operates two daily A380 flights on the Dubai-Manchester route, with the third being served by a B777-300ER.

But from January 1, 2017 the Boeing aircraft will be replaced with Emirates’ Airbus superjumbo, resulting in an 11 per cent increase in capacity on the route.

In addition the carrier is to swap its current two-class A380 service from Birmingham from the afternoon to the evening service, “in order to offer customers even more connections beyond Dubai to other Emirates A380 destinations”.

From January the superjumbo will be rostered onto flight EK38 (departing Birmingham at 2045). The A380 currently operates on flight EK40, departing Birmingham at 1420.

Emirates says it expects to break the one million passengers carried mark on its Dubai-Manchester route during this financial year.

The carrier recently announced plans to add a tenth daily service between Dubai and London from October.