Hong Kong Airlines and Virgin Australia enter partnership

The next step of Virgin Australia’s previously proposed alliance agreement with HNA Aviation, Hong Kong Airlines and HK Express has come into effect, with the Australian carrier now forming a codeshare agreement with Hong Kong Airlines. The agreement comes ahead of Virgin Australia’s planned Melbourne-Hong Kong flights, which are due to take off next month.

Under the codeshare, Virgin Australia will place its code on Hong Kong Airlines’ five weekly return services between Hong Kong and the Gold Coast and Cairns, with onward travel to mainland China available for Virgin Australia travellers.

Hong Kong Airlines’ code, meanwhile, will be placed on 11 of Virgin Australia’s services, including its upcoming July 5 VA87/HX3001 Melbourne-Hong Kong route, as well as certain domestic and trans-Tasman routes.

These include:

  • Between Gold Coast and Auckland
  • Between Melbourne and Christchurch, Auckland
  • Between Melbourne and Adelaide, Brisbane, Cairns, Perth, Sydney, Gold Coast, Darwin
  • Between Sydney and Gold Coast, Cairns
  • Between Brisbane and Cairns
  • Between Gold Coast and Adelaide

Sales for the codeshare flights will begin in late June.

As it currently stands, members of both airlines frequent flyer programmes – Fortune Wings Club (Hong Kong Airlines) and Velocity Frequent Flyer (Virgin Australia) will be able to accrue miles and earn status on codeshared flights starting July 5. In the future, additional benefits including lounge access, priority check in, priority boarding and additional baggage allowances are expected to be introduced later this year.

“The alliance with Virgin Australia is one of the major steps of Hong Kong Airlines’

globalisation strategy in turning ourselves from a regional airline to an international carrier,” said Hong Kong Airlines co-chairman, Zhang Kui. “Following our launch of Gold Coast and Cairns routes in Australia, Auckland in New Zealand and Vancouver in Canada, we strive to expand our network coverage to a wider region and strengthen our overall competitive edge in the Oceania and the North America region, for the benefits of our customers who are looking for more travel options and seamless connectivity.”

hkairlines.com; virginaustralia.com

Virgin Australia and Air Canada codeshare kicks in

Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) stays busy under a setting sun as nighttime lights start to turn on.

Virgin Australia and Air Canada’s codeshare agreement has begun, with travellers now able to purchase tickets for codeshare flights on select routes operated by the two carriers.

The agreement enables Virgin Australia travellers to book flights from June 1 onwards on Air Canada’s flights between Los Angeles and Toronto, Calgary and Montreal. Virgin Australia operates some 18 weekly return services to Los Angeles from destinations in Australia, including its recently resumed service from Melbourne.

While Vancouver isn’t covered directly as part of the current codeshare agreement, Virgin Australia’s code will be placed on Air Canada’s direct flights between Australia and Vancouver at a later stage of the partnership. These include its recently announced seasonal non-stop flights to Melbourne, which are set to take off starting this December, along with its year-round daily non-stop flights to Sydney and Brisbane.

Air Canada travellers, meanwhile, will now be able to connect with Virgin Australia’s regional flights to destinations across Australasia, notably Adelaide, Canberra, Cairns, Melbourne, Perth, Christchurch and Auckland. Virgin Australia’s services from Sydney to Brisbane and the Gold Coast, and its Brisbane to Wellington service are also covered by the codeshare.

Arguably most notably, these codeshare flights enable reciprocal mileage accrual for the two airlines. This is particularly important for Virgin Australia, which relies heavily on leveraging its agreements with individual airlines to compensate for it not being a member of a major airline alliance. Air Canada, meanwhile, recently announced its Aeroplan programme is scheduled for replacement in 2020 with its own, new scheme.

The initial memorandum of understanding that led to the codeshare agreement was signed back in December 2016, with further phases of cooperation set for the future.

virginaustralia.com; aircanada.com

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

Cathay Pacific business class

Air New Zealand

Launching second half of 2017

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.




Available to all classes

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

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.


Cathay Pacific



Available to all classes

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.


China Airlines


Available to all classes

B777-300ER, A350

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.


Eva Air


Available to all classes

B777-300ER (select aircraft)

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.


Garuda Indonesia


Available to all classes (complimentary for first class passengers)

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

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.


Japan Airlines


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

Available to all classes (complimentary for first class passengers)

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.


Korean Air


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.”


Malaysia Airlines


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.


Philippine Airlines


Available to all classes

Select aircraft on international flights

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.



Domestic trials began April 7, 2017

Available to all classes on domestic flights

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


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.


Singapore Airlines


A380, A350, B777-300ER (progressively)

Available to all classes

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.


Thai Airways


Available to all classes

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

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.


Virgin Australia

Domestic trials began April 20, 2017

Available to all classes

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

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.


Virgin Australia begins domestic inflight wifi trials

Virgin Australia EconomyX inflight wifi

Virgin Australia has begun trialling inflight wifi on select domestic services operated by one of its Boeing 737-800 aircraft.

Set to run for three months, the testing period will allow passengers onboard the aircraft to make use of the wifi, which also supports film, TV and music streaming services Netflix, Stan and Pandora.

“We are thrilled to commence customer testing of our inflight wifi today,” said John Thomas, group executive at Virgin Australia Airlines. “We want to ensure that guests can stay reliably connected in the air while also enjoying the fantastic entertainment and customer service for which Virgin Australia is well known.”

During the trial period, the inflight wifi will be free to use, though a final pricing model for the service when it officially rolls out has yet to be announced. Customer feedback gathered during the trial period will be factored into the airline’s eventual business model.

Passengers travelling on board the wifi-enabled B737-800 will be notified that wifi is available. While the aircraft will be flying Virgin Australia’s domestic network during the trial period, according to a spokesperson for the airline, the exact routes it will be travelling on are subject to change, and so passengers will be unable to specifically book a flight on the trial aircraft ahead of time.

Virgin Australia plans to install inflight wifi across its fleet of B737-800s, Airbus A330s and B777s for domestic and international services following the testing period.

Last week, fellow Australian carrier Qantas launched a beta mode of its inflight wifi on board its own B737-800s flying on its domestic routes. The launch marked the start of wifi rollout across Qantas’ 80 aircraft, due for full completion by the end of 2018.


Virgin Australia: what you need to know

Virgin Australia VH-VPH Aircraft Takeoff


In 2000, the Virgin brand entered the Australian aviation market for the first time, becoming the new competitor in the leisure sector of the market. Virgin Australia was launched as Virgin Blue in August 2000. The low-cost carrier started operating domestic flight from Brisbane to Sydney, followed by Melbourne and Adelaide routes, by using B737s. In 2011, it was transformed to a full-service airline and changed its name to Virgin Australia.


The airline had sold 13 per cent of stakes to HNA Aviation group. The A$159 million (US$114 million) deal will see direct flights launched between China and Australia, as well as codesharing routes and offer reciprocal frequent flyer benefits for customers.


Home base

Based in Brisbane. It also sets up hubs in Melbourne and Sydney.


Fleet size

Model Numbers in fleet
A320 2
A330-200 6
ATR 72 14
B737-700 2
B737-800 73
B777-300ER 2
Embraer 190 17
Fokker 100 14

*As of June 2016


Route network

Virgin Australia has a wide air network, and is still expanding to many destinations. Virgin Australia resumed non-stop service between Melbourne and Los Angeles this month, operated by a 339-seat B777-300ER. The airline is also launching a new route to Hong Kong in July this year, which will be served by an A330-200, featuring a new “The Business” suite.


Loyalty program benefits

The airline’s Velocity Frequent Flyer members will enjoy a frequent flyer partnership with Fortune Wings Club, including the opportunity to earn Points and Status Credits on alliance routes, and reciprocal access to tier status benefits including lounge access, priority check-in, priority boarding and additional baggage allowances. Further details of the frequent flyer partnership will be released in coming months.




The airline codeshares with many airlines to reach destinations such as in China and Europe. Subject to regulatory approval, Virgin Australia will implement codeshare (VA*) on services operated by Hong Kong Airlines, Hainan Airlines and other HNA Aviation airlines on journeys between Australia and mainland China and between Australia and Hong Kong. Customers of Beijing Capital Airlines, Hainan Airlines, Hong Kong Airlines and Tianjin Airlines will be able to book travel on Virgin Australia’s domestic and trans-Tasman network.


Other airline partners

Air New Zealand, Delta Air Lines, Etihad Airways, Singapore Airlines, Airberlin, Alitalia, Hawaiian Airlines, South African Airways, Virgin Atlantic, Virgin America, Virgin Samoa, Aeromexico, Air Serbia, Bangkok Airways, Garuda Indonesia, Silkair and Westjet






Virgin Australia to connect Melbourne with Hong Kong

Virgin Australia A330-200 "The Business" Business Class

Virgin Australia has confirmed that its previously announced new route connecting Hong Kong with Australia will fly from Melbourne.

The new direct route – the airline’s first to Hong Kong – is part of a wider alliance agreement Virgin Australia has entered into with HNA Aviation, Hong Kong Airlines and HK Express, which received Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) approval yesterday. Flights will go on sale following final regulatory approval from the ACCC and other relevant approvals.

The new route is the carrier’s first to Greater China and will commence on July 5 this year. Virgin Australia will operate the route five times weekly using a dual-aisle Airbus A330-200 aircraft featuring its “The Business” business class suite. Meanwhile its 255 economy class seats will be set up in a 2-4-2 configuration.

“Virgin Australia’s entry into Hong Kong and Greater China is a key pillar of our international strategy, allowing us to tap into Australia’s fastest-growing and most valuable inbound travel market,” said John Borghetti, Virgin Australia Group CEO.

“Melbourne is an international city in its own right and hosts some of Australia’s biggest and most spectacular events. We look forward to showcasing this great city to inbound visitors from Hong Kong and beyond.”

The Virgin Australia flights will connect with a further 13 destinations in mainland China, while travellers in China on board Hainan Airlines, Hong Kong Airlines, Capital Airlines and Tianjin Airlines will be able to connect onto Virgin Australia’s domestic and trans-Tasman network.

Along with Velocity frequent flyer members being able to accrue Velocity Points and Status Credits on the route, reciprocal frequent flyer benefits and lounge access are also set to be introduced, with details due to be announced in the near future. Codeshare agreements on the route are also to be confirmed.

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

Flight No. From To Departs Arrives Days
VA89 Melbourne Hong Kong 0035 0815 Tue, Thu, Sat
VA87 1025 1805 Mon
0940 1720 Wed
VA86 Hong Kong Melbourne 1950 0720+1 Mon, Tue, Wed, Thu, Sat


Virgin Australia creates wine blended for high-altitude consumption

Virgin Australia "The Duo" wine

With Cathay Pacific having recently launched its own “Betsy” craft beer specifically brewed to be consumed at 35,000 feet, Virgin Australia has joined the club of airlines that have created beverages designed for high-altitude consumption with the unveiling of a new wine.

Together with Barossa Valley winery St Hallett, Virgin Australia has developed a wine called The Duo that has been tailored for high-altitude consumption. According the carrier, the two companies developed the Virgin Australia wine over a number of months in order to balance the characteristics of the wine specifically for when it is consumed at high altitudes, along with complementing the airline’s existing business class menu.

“We played around with a lot of different options to ensure the acid and texture balance was right,” said St Hallett winemaker, Shelly Cox. “It was a great experience and we are confident the wine will deliver in both taste and aroma on the plane at altitude.”

According to Cox, The Duo is a blend that was sourced from the Barossa and Eden Valleys. “The drier air in the cabin can make it hard to really capture a wine’s aroma. This is where the Eden Valley component comes in. The higher altitude of the Eden Valley means cooler conditions and creates Shiraz with lovely overt floral aromas.”

The Duo was rolled yesterday (March 1) and is available to business class passengers on Virgin Australia flights and at Virgin Australia lounges.

To find out which airlines offer the best in-flight wines, take a look at the winners from the Business Traveller Cellars in the Sky 2016 Awards.


Virgin Australia eyes flights to Hong Kong

Hong Kong skyline

Virgin Australia will begin flying direct to Hong Kong starting mid-2017, following the announcement of a proposed alliance agreement with HNA Aviation – which operates the mainland Chinese carrier Hainan Airlines – Hong Kong Airlines and low-cost carrier HK Express. The airlines today submitted an application for authorisation to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to gain approval for the alliance.

The agreement will also see the introduction of codeshare agreements on flights between Hong Kong and Australia, as well as mainland China and Australia. Virgin Australia also announced it plans to begin operating direct flights from Australia to mainland China “in further stages of the agreement”.

Currently, all Virgin Australia flights to Hong Kong and mainland China travel via Singapore and are operated by its flag carrier, Singapore Airlines.

Virgin’s new direct Hong Kong flights will be operated by Airbus A330 aircraft, which are currently equipped with its “The Business” business class offering. Travellers flying to Hong Kong will then be able to connect with Hong Kong Airlines’ mainland China flights.

Meanwhile, customers travelling with Beijing Capital Airlines, Hainan Airlines, Hong Kong Airlines and Tianjin Airlines will be able to connect to Virgin Australia’s domestic and trans-Tasman flights.

“This new alliance will be a game changer for travel between Australia and China, providing significantly more competition and choice for travellers,” said Virgin Australia group CEO, John Borghetti. “The alliance will accelerate and support our access to the Chinese market, which is Australia’s fastest growing and most valuable inbound travel market.

“HNA Aviation fly nearly 100 million passengers each year and we look forward to working collaboratively with them to drive inbound visitation to Australia, resulting in significant benefits for the Australian tourism industry and broader economy.”

In addition to new routes and codeshares, the alliance will see members of Virgin Australia’s Velocity Frequent Flyer and Hong Kong Airlines’ Fortune Wings Club loyalty programmes able to accrue miles on alliance routes, along with receiving reciprocal access to tier benefits. These include lounge access, priority check in and boarding, and additional baggage allowance.

The past few months have seen a slew of new routes connecting Hong Kong and mainland China with destinations in Australasia, including Hainan Airlines’ new Shenzhen-Auckland service, Hong Kong Airlines’ flights to Auckland and the planning of a new Tianjin Airlines Chongqing-Melbourne route.

China Eastern also recently launched flights between Sydney and Wuhan, and Shanghai and Brisbane, while Qantas’ Beijing-Sydney route took off in late January.

virginaustralia.com; hkairlines.com; hkexpress.com; hainanairlines.com

What are Asia-Pacific’s most punctual airlines?

Delayed traveller

Each year, air travel intelligence company OAG publishes its Punctuality League report assessing the on-time performance (OTP) results for the world’s airlines and airports.

This year’s report – tracking the punctuality of flights across the world throughout 2016 – drew upon the largest-ever number of flights tracked in a single year. Approximately 54 million flight records using full-year data from 2016 were used in the compilation of OAG’s 2016 assessment.

What constitutes an on-time flight? According to OAG, any flight that departs or arrives within 14 minutes and 59 seconds of its scheduled time is considered on time. Cancellations are also included in the report.

With that in mind, here’s a look at OAG’s findings and the most on-time carriers from across Asia-Pacific in 2016.

1. Qantas

Main hubs: Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney Airports
OTP in 2016: 87.56 per cent
2015 ranking: 4
OTP vs. 2015: +0.52 percentage points

Taking the number one spot this year, Qantas managed an impressive climb from fourth to first versus its 2015 ranking. Its OTP score of 87.56 per cent also saw it rank fourth among all airlines in OAG’s assessment, behind Hawaiian Airlines, Copa Airlines and KLM – itself an impressive increase from its 2015 position as 15th most punctual airline in the world.

2. Japan Airlines

Main hubs: Tokyo (Haneda and Narita International Airports)
OTP in 2016: 86.74 per cent
2015 ranking: 1
OTP vs. 2015: -3.7 percentage points

The top Japanese airline in OAG’s 2016 report, Japan Airlines slid this year from the number one best Asia-Pacific airline spot that it had secured in 2014 and 2015. That said, the Japanese carrier remains a highly reliable airline, taking the number five spot just below Qantas when looking at all airlines globally. And according to independent aviation performance tracker Flightstats Inc., the carrier achieved an on-time arrival rate of 87.33 per cent in 2016, a figure that cemented its position as Asia-Pacific’s best major international airline in both mainland and network by Flightstats.

3. Singapore Airlines

Main hub: Singapore Changi Airport
OTP in 2016: 85.19 per cent
2015 ranking: 7
OTP vs. 2015: +0.88 percentage points

Singapore Airlines (SIA) achieved the largest OTP increase of any returning top-ten Asia-Pacific airline from 2015, improving its punctuality by 0.88 percentage points. This increase resulted in an impressive jump from seventh to third among Asia-Pacific carriers for reliable arrival and departure times – an impressive feat.

4. All Nippon Airways
Main hubs: Tokyo (Haneda and Narita International Airports)
OTP in 2016: 84.71 per cent
2015 ranking: 2
OTP vs. 2015: -4.94 percentage points

Of all the airlines to make it to the top ten list in 2016, All Nippon Airways (ANA) operated the highest number of flights – though OAG notes that, while there are other Asia-Pacific airlines that are larger, none had a high enough OTP to make it into the top ten. Overall, ANA had a capacity of 73,444,281 (arrivals) and a frequency of 359,075 (arrivals), with Singapore Airlines coming second with over 20 million less capacity and about 80,000 behind ANA in terms of frequency.

5. Virgin Australia
Main hubs: Auckland, Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney Airports
OTP in 2016: 84.52 per cent
2015 ranking: 3
OTP vs. 2015: -4.04 percentage points

The second Australian carrier to make the top ten Asia-Pacific airlines list, Virgin Australia slid in the rankings this year slightly, dropping from three to five. And while the carrier had a lower capacity and frequency than its fellow Australian carrier, Qantas, the airline’s 84.52 per cent OTP makes it among the most reliable for on-time departures and arrivals, achieving the number 14 rank among the top 20 airlines globally by OTP.

6. Fiji Airways

Main hub: Nadi International Airport
OTP in 2016: 81.77 per cent
2015 ranking: N/A
OTP vs. 2015: N/A

One of 2016’s newcomers to the top-ten list, Fiji Airways soared in the rankings to enter at number six in Asia-Pacific. While its OTP of 81.77 per cent is only marginally lower than 2015 newcomers Jet Airways (81.98 per cent) and Skymark Airlines (81.94 per cent), the Fijian carrier’s debut on the top ten list has seen it exceed the number nine and ten positions achieved by last year’s newcomers. Of the ten most punctual airlines of 2016, Fiji Airways operated the lowest capacity (1,922,663 arrivals) and had the lowest frequency (20,492 arrivals) of flights, a fact that has undoubtedly helped the airline maintain a high standard of OTP.

7. Silkair

Main hub: Singapore Changi Airport
OTP in 2016: 81.28 per cent
2015 ranking: N/A
OTP vs. 2015: N/A

The second newcomer to the top ten list this year, regional Singapore Airlines subsidiary Silkair managed an impressive OTP just 3.91 percentage points below its parent carrier. As with fellow newcomer Fiji Airways, its OTP of 81.28 per cent is lower than that of its 2015 newcomer counterparts, though its coverage is the highest among Fiji Airways, Jet Airways and Skymark Airlines.

8. Air New Zealand

Main hubs: Auckland Airport, and Wellington and Christchurch International Airports
OTP in 2016: 79.20 per cent
2015 ranking: 5
OTP vs. 2015: -8.13 percentage points

Despite seeing the largest decrease in OTP from its 2015 performance of all top ten airlines in Asia-Pacific this year, Air New Zealand nevertheless managed to hold on to its position as one of the top ten airlines in Asia-Pacific for punctuality. That said, its 2016 OTP of 79.20 per cent did see it drop out of the top 20 airlines globally this year, having previously managed to achieve the number 18 spot in 2015.

9. Thai Airasia

Main hub: Don Mueang International Airport (Bangkok)
OTP in 2016: 78.60 per cent
2015 ranking: 8
OTP vs. 2015: -5.68 percentage points

While Thai Airasia did drop in the Asia-Pacific rankings by one place, the budget carrier has managed to hold on to its title as the most on-time low-cost carrier in Asia-Pacific. In 2016, Thai Airasia secured the position of ninth most-punctual low-cost airline in the world.

10. Skymark Airlines

Main hub: Tokyo Haneda International Airport
OTP in 2016: 78.32 per cent
2015 ranking: 10
OTP vs. 2015: -3.62 percentage points

One of two newcomers to OAG’s 2015 top ten list (the other, Jet Airways, came ninth), Skymark Airlines was also the only one of the two to retain its top-ten position in 2016 and the only top ten airline to hold on to the same rank it achieved in the previous year’s rankings. Skymark Airlines is a low-cost carrier based out of the Japanese capital’s older Haneda International Airport that flies domestically across the country, and is the third Japanese airline to break into OAG’s top ten this year.

Virgin Australia and Air New Zealand to launch ski season night flights

Virgin Australia Crew

Snow-sports enthusiasts travelling Down Under for the 2017 ski season will have increased flight frequency between Australia and New Zealand with Virgin Australia and Air New Zealand planning to introduce night flights.

Virgin Australia will operate night services from Queenstown (ZQN) to Brisbane (BNE) on Fridays, from June 23 to July 21, and Sunday, from June 25 to September 17.

Meanwhile, Air New Zealand will introduce night services from Queenstown to Sydney (SYD) on Saturday and Sunday from July 1 to July 30.

The increased flight frequencies will bring the number of return services between Australia and Queenstown during the ski season to 38.

“As the popularity of Queenstown grows, particularly during the ski season, we are excited to be offering even more flexible scheduling options for our guests with these new night time Ski Shuttle services,” said Virgin Australia Airlines group executive, John Thomas. “Our new night flights from Queenstown to Brisbane enable Virgin Australia guests to enjoy a full day of skiing or snowboarding before travelling home.”

The enhanced services come following the introduction of the first domestic evening services between Auckland and Queenstown by Air New Zealand in May this year.

Tickets for the new services are currently available.

Details of the additional night flights are as follows:


Flight No. From To Departs Arrives Days
VA 118 BNE ZQN 1450 2020 Fri, Sun
VA 119 ZQN BNE 2115 2305


Flight No. From To Departs Arrives Days
NZ 0838 SYD ZQN 1155 1700 Sat, Sun
NZ 0839 ZQN SYD 1800 1920

virginaustralia.com; airnewzealand.com