China Airlines retires its A340

Taiwanese carrier China Airlines has officially retired its A340-300 aircraft from service, with its last A340 departing Taipei Taoyuan Airport for the US earlier this month for mothballing.

China Airlines first took delivery of the four-engine aircraft in 2001, and configured the aircraft in a two-class set up with 30 business class seats (2-2-2) and 246 economy class seats (2-4-2). The A340 was typically deployed on the airline’s long-haul routes to Europe, North America and Australia, and was the aircraft used to open a number of notable routes for the airline, such as Taipei to Houston via Seattle, as well as to Brisbane, Vienna and London.

That said, the A340 is not the most fuel-efficient of aircraft and many airlines have since begun retiring the aircraft from their fleets (Cathay Pacific fully retired its own A340s earlier this year).

Developer Airbus has positioned the A350-900 as the successor to the aircraft, and China Airlines expects the A350 to form the backbone of its long-range fleet, along with the B777-300ER. China Airlines took delivery of its first A350 in September last year.

[For a review of China Airlines’ A350-900 business class, click here.] 

[For a review of China Airlines’ B777-300ER business class, click here.]

And having been within the airline’s fleet for some 16 years, the retirement of the A340 also helps China Airlines significantly reduce the overall age of its fleet.

china-airlines.com

China Airlines upping Brisbane and Auckland service to daily

China Airlines is upping frequency on its current four-times-weekly Taipei-Brisbane-Auckland service to daily this December, as the airline looks to capitalise on a growing Taiwanese visitor market to Brisbane over the past four years.

According to Brisbane Airport Corporation’s CEO and managing director Julieanna Alroe, visitors from Taiwan to the city has gone from 10,000 new travellers every year in 2013 to almost 100,000 in 2016.

The additional flights on the A330-operated route will offer daily evening departures from Taipei, a schedule that Alroe described as being “attractive to Australian business travellers looking for options to conduct their work in Asia and return home on a convenient overnight flight”.

Speaking about the frequency increase, China Airlines’ general manager for its Brisbane branch, Ray Chang, noted the schedule boost provides Australian travellers with additional connections to Asia, Europe and North America.

“China Airlines also connects with 12 points in Japan, delivering travellers from Queensland right to the doorstep of the ski-fields in full-service comfort with baggage and meals all included,” said Chang. “Our evening departure from Brisbane to Taipei means travellers can relax overnight and make easy onwards connections the next morning.”

The move follows recent changes in China Airlines’ services to Sydney, which look set to be operated by its new A350 starting December 1.

However not all is good news – according to airline industry website airlineroute.net, China Airlines is moving forward its cancellation of its onward Auckland flights from Sydney to July 13, and the carrier’s schedule no longer lists the route from that date onward. China Airlines’ onward Sydney-Auckland flights were originally planned to be cut on December 1.

china-airlines.com

China Airlines debuts “Buddy Bears” aircraft livery

China Airlines' B737-800 "Buddy Bears Liveried Aircraft"

Eva Air may be among the most well-known airlines when it comes to cartoon-themed aircraft liveries sporting characters such as Hello Kitty, Gudetama and Bad Badtz-Maru, but fellow Taiwanese carrier China Airlines is not about to let Eva have all the fun, with the carrier debuting its new “Buddy Bears Liveried Aircraft” earlier this week.

As its name suggests, the livery design features three cartoon character bears – two from Taiwan (OhBear and Hero) and one from Japan (Kumamon). But the livery isn’t the only thing to feature the ursine characters, with on-board supplies such as boarding passes and pillows also sporting the designs. Meanwhile business class meals will include bear paw-shaped cakes, and economy class will offer paw-shaped dorayaki (red bean pancake).

The livery has been outfitted to one of China Airlines’ B737-800 aircraft and is being deployed on its Kaohsiung-Kumamoto route. A total of 158 seats are available on the flight – fewer than Eva Air’s A321 and A330 that feature its Gudetama and Bad Badtz-Maru characters respectively – and will operate three times weekly on Tuesday, Friday and Sunday.

The cartoony livery isn’t China Airlines’ only recent new livery design, however. In October last year, the carrier unveiled its new Syrmaticus Mikado livery to mark the delivery of its first A350 aircraft.

china-airlines.com

China Airlines brings A350 to San Francisco

China Airlines A350-900

China Airlines has added the US to its list of countries operated by its new A350, with the aircraft now being operated on the Taiwanese carrier’s Taipei-San Francisco route.

The airline had previously deployed the aircraft on its long-haul routes to Europe, notably Amsterdam, Vienna and Rome, however as of yesterday (May 14) the aircraft is now flying the carrier’s daily CI004/CI003 flights. China Airlines’ next long-haul route to see the A350 will be Taipei-Vancouver starting August, followed by Sydney in December.

The A350 is looking as though it will have a comprehensive run on China Airlines’ route between Taipei and San Francisco, however. In addition to the daily CI004/CI003 flights, an extra twice-weekly service is also being launched. Flying on Thursday and Sunday, these CI016/CI015 flights will also be operated by the A350, and will be increased to a four-times-weekly service starting June 28 when it begins also flying the route on Wednesday and Friday.

China Airlines received its first A350 back in September last year, and currently has 14 of the aircraft on order with 10 expected to be delivered by the end of 2017. The carrier configures its A350s with three classes, offering 32 Premium Business, 31 premium economy and 243 economy class seats.

A review of China Airlines’ A350 business class on its Taipei-Hong Kong route is available here. 

Details of the Taipei (TPE)-San Francisco (SFO) route are as follows (all times local):

Flight No.FromToDepartsArrivesDays
CI004TPESFO23352000Daily
CI003SFOTPE01400600+1
Flight No.FromToDepartsArrivesDays
CI016TPESFO18001425Thu, Sun
*Wed, Thu, Fri, Sun
CI015SFOTPE16502110+1Thu, Sun
*Wed, Thu, Fri, Sun

*Starting June 28, 2017

china-airlines.com

China Airlines to fly A350 to Sydney

China Airlines A350-900

Travellers between Taipei and Sydney can look forward to China Airlines’ A350 this northern winter, with the Taiwanese carrier looking set to deploy the aircraft on the route starting December 1.

Business Traveller was alerted to the news by industry website routesonline.com and confirmed the changes on the airline’s schedule.

In addition to the A350 deployment on its current CI051/CI052 service – currently operated by an A330-300 – China Airlines will be deploying a second daily service on the route also starting December 1. These new CI055/CI056 flights will similarly be operated by the airline’s A350.

According to the airline’s schedule, the new CI055/CI056 flights will depart Taipei and Sydney in the morning and early afternoon, respectively, providing a daytime alternative to the current overnight CI051/CI052 routes.

China Airlines recently took delivery of its first A350 (of a total order of 14) back in September last year, which it configures in a 306-seat setup with 32 business (1-2-1), 31 premium economy (2-3-2) and 243 economy (3-3-3) class seats.

The aircraft has initially been deployed on the airline’s Taipei-Hong Kong route (a review of China Airlines’ A350 business class on the route is available here).

Unfortunately, while China Airlines will be increasing its operations between Taipei and Sydney, the airline looks set to cut two of its services between Sydney and New Zealand. From October 29, the airline’s Sydney-Christchurch service will be dropped, while from December 1 its Sydney-Auckland flights will cease.

china-airlines.com

In-flight wifi on Asia-Pacific airlines: what you need to know

Cathay Pacific business class

Air New Zealand

Wifi?
Launching second half of 2017

Pricing
Expected to be announced in first half of 2017

In October last year, Air New Zealand announced it would begin introducing inflight wifi on board its flights starting from the second half of 2017. Flights between New Zealand and Australia are set to be the first to receive the service, with wifi progressively being made available aboard its Tasman, Pacific Island and long-haul jet fleets from the end of 2017. Domestic flights will the last to get the service, with introduction set for 2018.

Traditionally low satellite service quality across oceanic areas (over which many of Air New Zealand’s flights travel) has meant the airline has held back on introducing an inflight wifi offering until a service of suitably high quality became available. The airline’s wifi will be provided by Inmarsat’s global GX satellite constellation, and integrated with the Air New Zealand’s Panasonic Avionics system.

airnewzealand.com

ANA

Wifi?
Yes

Class
Available to all classes

Aircraft
B777-300ER, B767-300ER (only those configured with 202 seats), B787-9, B787-8 (only those configured with 240 seats), A320neo

Pricing
B777-300ER and B767-300ER:

US$4.95 – 30 minutes, 15MB limit
US$8.95 – one hour, 30MB limit
US$19.95 – full flight, 100MB limit

B787-9, B787-8 and A320neo:

US$6.95 – 30 minutes
US$16.95 – three hours
US$21.95 – full flight (max 24 hours)

All Nippon Airways’ (ANA) inflight wifi offering gives access to functions such as web browsing and email functions. Video streaming is not supported, and image loading is likely to burn through your data quite quickly.

For travellers flying on ANA’s B777-300ER and B767-300ER, the service is only available when flying over transoceanic airspace and countries that permit the use of satellite activity, while B787 and A320 inflight connectivity is available in all airspaces.

ana.co.jp

Cathay Pacific

Wifi?
Yes

Aircraft
A350

Class
Available to all classes

Pricing
US$9.95 – one hour continuous use on all flights
US$12.95 – flights of six hours or less
US$19.95 – flights of six hours or more

Cathay Pacific currently offers wifi only on its fleet of A350s, the first of which it deployed to Auckland in October 2016. A few services are available complimentary – including the airline’s own website, its duty free catalogue, and destination information – though for functions such as general web browsing and email, a fee is required.

cathaypacific.com

China Airlines

Wifi?
Yes

Classes
Available to all classes

Aircraft
B777-300ER, A350

Pricing
TW$350 (US$11.6) – one hour
TW$500 (US$16.5) – three hours
TW$650 (US$21.5) – 24 hours

Inflight wifi on China Airlines has no data limit and while the overall speed may make certain functions difficult, this does provide reassurance for those that tend to quickly eat through data that they won’t be prematurely cut off from the service.

Purchasing wifi can be done on the flight or ahead of time via the airline’s website.

china-airlines.com

Eva Air

Wifi?
Yes

Classes
Available to all classes

Aircraft
B777-300ER (select aircraft)

Pricing
US$11.95 – one hour
US$16.95 – three hours
US$21.95 – 24 hours

It is worth noting that Taiwan-based Eva Air’s service provider is currently applying for an operating permit with the Chinese Government, however until then internet connectivity gets temporarily disconnected when flying over mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau with the carrier.

On the plus side, however, for longer journeys across multiple segments, travellers can re-connect to Eva Air’s wifi network using the same account information, provided the ensuing leg is also operated by an Eva Wifi-enabled aircraft.

evaair.com

Garuda Indonesia

Wifi?
Yes

Class
Available to all classes (complimentary for first class passengers)

Aircraft
B777-300ER, A330-300, A330-200

Pricing
US$11.95 – one hour, 30MB limit
US$16.95 – three hours, 50MB limit
US$21.95 – 24 hours (whole flight on A330-300 and A330-200), 100MB limit

Garuda Indonesia’s wifi offering is provided on a time-based system with varying caps depending on the duration. In addition to the service being complimentary to all first class passengers, those in other classes travelling on Garuda’s wifi-equipped Airbus aircraft are able to get 15 minutes’ free wifi connectivity.

While the service is suitable for social media as well as general web browsing, regular image loading will likely drain your data quite quickly.

garuda-indonesia.com

Japan Airlines

Wifi?
Yes

Aircraft
B777-300ER, B777-200ER, B767-300ER, B787

Class
Available to all classes (complimentary for first class passengers)

Pricing
US$10.15 – one hour
US$14.40 – three hours
US$18.80 – 24 hours

Japan Airlines offers inflight wifi based on overall duration used, with its 24-hour offering also including connecting flights for 24 hours from the initial log in. Data caps are also not present regardless of payment category.

A full list of the routes on which Japan Airlines offers wifi can be found here, with many only being available until and from certain dates. The airline’s fleet of B787s is also not fully equipped with wifi, so connectivity is not guaranteed, though travellers on these aircraft can check whether inflight wifi will be available on their flight the day before they travel.

jal.co.jp

Korean Air

Wifi?
No

Korea’s national carrier currently doesn’t offer inflight wifi across any of its aircraft, and has not issued plans to do so in the forseeable future.

In an interview with the Airline Passenger Experience Association (APEX), Korean Air’s senior innovation technology manager, Dante Dionne, shed some light on why this is the case: “In Korea, the wireless infrastructure is so advanced (significantly faster than the US average) that in-flight internet services based on existing commercial satellite technology would be disappointing to them. That is a primary reason why Korean Air has not implemented in-flight internet.”

koreanair.com

Malaysia Airlines

Wifi?
No

Malaysia Airlines also doesn’t offer inflight wifi on its flights at present. That said, the airline plans to introduce the service onboard its new A350s, the first of which it is expecting to take delivery of this year. Auckland is currently scheduled to be the first long-haul route served by its new A350. Details of the inflight wifi service have yet to be announced.

malaysiaairlines.com

Philippine Airlines

Wifi?
Yes

Class
Available to all classes

Aircraft
Select aircraft on international flights

Pricing
US$10 – 35MB/one hour
US$40 – 150MB/flight duration

Up until February 28, 2017, Philippine Airlines offered the first 30 minutes of inflight wifi (limited to 15MB) free of charge to all passengers. The hourly rate and data offered is also reasonably priced, compared to other airlines in Asia-Pacific.

The full-flight bracket, however, is particularly expensive. While it does offer 150MB of data (caps for full-flight/24-hour purchases typically stand at 100MB), the US$40 price is noticeably more expensive than most other carriers in the region.

Purchases can be made either by credit card or by purchasing a scratch card from cabin crew.

philippineairlines.com

Qantas

Wifi?
Domestic trials began April 7, 2017

Class
Available to all classes on domestic flights

Aircraft
One wifi-enabled B737-800 aircraft; to be rolled out to 80 aircraft by end of 2018

Pricing
Free

Qantas launched a beta mode of its new Viasat and Nbn’s Sky Muster-enabled inflight wifi service earlier this month. Outfitted on a single B737-800 aircraft that will be flying domestic routes during the trial phase, the high-speed wifi is being offered free of charge for travellers on board the aircraft (due to likely last-minute changes, the specific routes the aircraft will be flying are subject to change, and passengers won’t be able to select a flight on board the wifi-enabled aircraft at this time).

Perhaps the most notable two features of Qantas’ new wifi offering are its speed and its price. Qantas claims that the new offering will be ten times faster than conventional onboard wifi, enabling functions such as video and music streaming (services such as Netflix, Spotify, Stan and Foxtel will be available through partnerships). The other is that the airline aims to keep the service included as part of the ticket fare.

Qantas expects to roll out wifi across 80 of its aircraft, for completion by the end of 2018. The airline is also currently in discussions with suppliers to develop a product for its international fleet.

qantas.com.au

Singapore Airlines

Wifi?
Yes

Aircraft
A380, A350, B777-300ER (progressively)

Class
Available to all classes

Pricing
Volume-based (all A380 and select B777-300ER)

US$6.99 – 15MB
US$12.99 – 30MB
US$19.99 – 50MB

Time-based (All A350 and select B777-300ER)

US$11.95 – one hour
US$16.95 – three hours
US$21.95 – 24 hours

Singapore Airlines has a somewhat confusing pricing structure regarding its inflight wifi, owing largely to its partnership with two different providers, Onair and Panasonic. As such, price plans come in two variations, depending on provider and the type of aircraft – volume based or time based.

Prices tend to be more expensive than the majority of other Asia-Pacific airlines – most notably its highest-volume 50MB bracket offering about half as much data as that offered by most other airlines’ top bracket (100MB), but still costing a similar price.

What’s also worth noting here is that volume-based plans are only valid for the leg on which they are purchased. An onward journey, even if it is on the next sector of the same flight, requires another purchase. Time-based purchases, however, can be transferred across multi-sector flights.

singaporeair.com

Thai Airways

Wifi?
Yes

Class
Available to all classes

Aircraft
A350-900XWD, A380-800, A330-300

Pricing
US$4.99 – 10MB
US$8.99 – 20MB
US$12.99 – 30MB
US$34.99 – 100MB

Thai Airways offers inflight wifi on a number of its aircraft, with its A350s powered by Panasonic and its A380 and A330s provided by Sitaonair. The airline’s six wifi-enabled A380s currently operate flights to Paris, Frankfurt, Tokyo Narita, London and Hong Kong.

Meanwhile its seven wifi-enabled A330s fly to Tokyo Narita, Taipei-Seoul, Hong Kong, Taipei, Yangon, Beijing, Hanoi, Dubai, Ho Chi Minh City, Tokyo Haneda, Kuala Lumpur and Fukuoka.

The airline’s data-based rather than duration-focused pricing structure may confuse some flyers less familiar with average data-consumption rates. As a rough guide, 10MB will likely get you through roughly 30 minutes of general web browsing and email. Similarly to Singapore Airlines, Thai Airways’ prices are also quite expensive compared to many other Asia-Pacific airlines, with its US$34.99 for 100MB top-tier price being noticeably pricier than most other carriers’ highest wifi brackets.

thaiairways.com

Virgin Australia

Wifi?
Domestic trials began April 20, 2017

Class
Available to all classes

Aircraft
One wifi-enabled B737-800; to be rolled out across B737-800s, A330s and B777s

Pricing
To be confirmed after trial period completes

Less than two weeks after rival Australian carrier Qantas began trialling a new domestic inflight wifi offering, Virgin Australia launched its own domestic three-month testing period using the same aircraft, a B737-800. During the testing period, passengers will be able to use the wifi free of charge, though the final pricing of the service has yet to be announced and will be determined following customer feedback during the trial.

As with Qantas’ wifi offering, Virgin Australia’s will support video and music streaming, notably through Netflix, Pandora and Stan. Unlike Qantas’, however, Virgin Australia’s wifi is expected to be rolled out across its fleet of B737-800s, A330s and B777s for both domestic and international flights.

virginaustralia.com

China Airlines expands codeshare flights with Japan Airlines

China Airlines A350

The expansion of China Airlines and Japan Airlines codeshare flights has begun today, the result of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that the two codeshare partners signed in January.

The expanded agreement sees Japan Airlines and China Airlines codeshare on all flights operated by both carriers between Japan and Taiwan. This will increase the number of China Airlines and Japan Airlines codeshare flights from 28 weekly flights to a maximum of 240 flights a week (depending on seasonal schedules).

The two airlines first began codesharing on their respective flights between Tokyo Haneda and Taipei Songshan in 2010.

Reservations and ticket sales for the new codeshare flights are available starting today. Japan Airlines will also begin Ishigaki-Taipei Taoyuan flights on March 29 this year.

According to a press release from Japan Airlines, the enhanced cooperation between the carriers will enable the Japanese carrier to “continue to enhance its network and provide business and leisure customers with more convenience and enjoyable experience on every journey”.

The expansion adds to a number of other recent codeshare partnerships the two airlines have established with other carriers. Japan Airlines expanded its codeshare partnership with Finnair in January and began codesharing with Iberia on its Madrid-Tokyo flights in September last year.

Meanwhile China Airlines began cooperating more closely with Dutch carrier KLM as part of an expanded codeshare agreement that came into effect in January when the Taiwanese airline began non-stop Airbus A350 flights between Taipei and Amsterdam.

china-airlines.com; jal.com

China Airlines and Japan Airlines drastically increase codeshare flights

China Airlines A350-900

Taiwanese carrier China Airlines and Japan’s flag carrier Japan Airlines (JAL) signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) yesterday aimed at significantly increasing their passenger and cargo cooperation.

Beginning in the second half of February, the two airlines will start codesharing on all routes operated by both China Airlines and JAL between Taiwan and Japan. This enhanced cooperation will see the number of weekly flights on the carriers’ Taipei (Songshan)-Tokyo (Haneda) route increase dramatically from 28 to 240. These figures will vary based on seasonal schedules.

The agreement comes as Japan’s popularity as a destination among Taiwanese travellers has grown. In a statement announcing the new route, China Airlines said: “[The codeshare] will provide our customers with better access between Taiwan and Japan, and encourage more Japanese visitors to travel to Taiwan, as well as providing Taiwanese travellers with more options to choose from.”

China Airlines will begin accepting reservations on codeshared flights in the second half of February.

china-airlines.com; jal.com

China Airlines unveils new A350 livery

China Airlines' new A350 Syrmaticus Mikado livery

Taiwanese carrier China Airlines unveiled a new Airbus A350 Syrmaticus Mikado livery to mark the commissioning of its first new A350 aircraft. The livery features the Syrmaticus Mikado bird, a species endemic to Taiwan, and was unveiled to the public with a demonstration flight on Friday. Meanwhile, an online vote to decide the Chinese font for the new aircraft livery has also been launched, with all members of the public able to participate.

The aircraft is the first of a total of 14 A350-900 XWBs the carrier plans to introduce to its fleet between now and 2018 as part of a move to revitalise its fleet. China Airlines took delivery of the aircraft earlier this month, and the introduction of the new A350 makes China Airlines the first airline in Taiwan to fly the aircraft.

The A350 initially will be deployed on the carrier’s European routes, with direct flights from Taoyuan to Amsterdam, Vienna and Rome beginning next year. The new routes will bring China Airlines’ number of direct flights to Europe to two per day and 16 per week.

Customers who purchase tickets from Taipei to Amsterdam, Vienna, Roma and Frankfurt, or on connecting flights to other parts of Europe before November 30, will receive a discount of TW$3,500 (US$110.9). The offer is available for all classes and all return flights departing from Taoyuan before December 31, 2017.

chinaairlines.com

Typhoon Meranti causes flight disruptions

China-Airlines-A350-900_RR-

As Typhoon Meranti approaches Taiwan today, China Airlines and Mandarin Airlines have adjusted their international flight schedules based on the typhoon’s movements.

A number of flight cancellations have been announced, and are listed as follows:

September 14:

CI7867/7868Tainan–Hong Kong
AE981/986Kaohsiung–Hong Kong
CI134/135Kaohsiung–Sapporo
CI757/758Kaohsiung–Singapore
CI947/948Kaohsiung–Hong Kong
CI593/594Kaohsiung–Chongqing
CI132/133Kaohsiung–Okinawa
CI937/938Kaohsiung–Hong Kong
CI308Kaohsiung–Taoyuan
CI301Taoyuan–Kaohsiung

Meanwhile, flights that have been delayed are displayed below:

September 14:

CI712Manila–Kaohsiung
CI165Incheon–Kaohsiung
CI167Osaka–Kaohsiung
CI103Narita–Kaohsiung
CI948Hong Kong–Kaohsiung

September 15:

CI102Kaohsiung­­–Narita

Passengers are advised to check the China Airlines website or mobile app to receive the latest updates to their flights.

Business Traveller Asia-Pacific will update this space accordingly to provide up-to-date details of flight disruptions.