Asian aviation tidbits

TD Guest Writer

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China Eastern will soon be landing in Manila
China Eastern will soon be landing in Manila

China Eastern to launch Manila flights

China Eastern Airlines has announced that it will launch a new service to Manila. From 18 October, the Shanghai-based airline will commence a new daily service to the Philippine capital, direct from Pudong International Airport. Flights will leave the Shanghai hub at 2355, arriving in Manila at 0340 the next morning. The return flight departs Manila 0455, landing back at Pudong at 0815. Flights will be operated using an Airbus A320 aircraft.

ANA in Philippine Airlines talks – report

Japan’s ANA is in talks with Philippines Airlines (PAL) over a possible investment, the Manila-based carrier’s owners have said. Philippine newspaper Business World reported San Miguel as confirming the discussions, but said they were at an early stage, with no deals having been finalised. “By way of clarification, we advise that there have been preliminary discussions with All Nippon Airways on Philippine Airlines,” a San Miguel spokesperson was quoted saying.  “An appropriate disclosure shall be made… at the proper time.”

Mahan Air to add Shanghai flights

Iran’s Mahan Air is planning to increase the number of flights it offers to Shanghai. The Tehran-based carrier currently operates three weekly flights (Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays) to the Chinese city, but from 3 August 2013 this will rise to four flights per week, with the addition of a Saturday service. Mahan operates the Shanghai route using a 221-seat Airbus A300-600 aircraft.

Korean Air will fly a Boeing 737 to Nanjing
Korean Air will fly a Boeing 737 to Nanjing

Korean Air flies to Nanjing

Korean Air launches a new service to the Chinese city of Nanjing on 12 July. The new service connects China’s former capital direct with Busan, in southeast Korea, four times a week. Flights will operate every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday using a Boeing 737 aircraft.

Jet boosts Singapore flights

Jet Airways is increasing connectivity between Singapore and India, with the launch of a second direct daily flight from Chennai. From 1 August 2013, the Indian carrier will add a new daytime service on the route, complementing the existing night flight. Services will depart Chennai at 1215 and arrive at Singapore’s Changi airport at 1905. The return leg will leave Singapore at 2020, getting back into the Tamil Nadu city at 2205. Flights will be operated using a Boeing 737 aircraft.

Citilink expands payment options

Citilink, the low-cost subsidiary of Garuda Indonesia, has signed a new agreement that will allow passengers to pay for their tickets in Indonesian mini-markets. Following a recent tie-up with Indonesia’s post office, Citilink will now offer payments in Alfamart & Alfaidi mini-markets across the country. “We see that there is a need to an alternative ticket payment method, in addition to online and ATM,” said Citilink’s CEO, Arif Wibowo. “Through the partnership, Citilink’s customers can now easily make ticket payment at the nearest Alfamart & Alfamidi.”

Uzbekistan Airways unloads is cargo in Tashkent
Uzbekistan Airways unloads is cargo in Tashkent

Boeing delivers aircraft aid to Uzbekistan

Boeing has delivered a new Boeing 767 aircraft to Uzbekistan Airways, complete with a cargo-hold full of medical supplies. The new B767-300ER aircraft flew into Tashkent recently laden with 1,980kg of medical equipment, which the SAU Foundation will distribute to hospitals and clinics in the Uzbek capital. The delivery formed part of Boeing’s Humanitarian Delivery Flight programme, which began in 1992.

Air Tahiti adds NZ flights

Air Tahiti Nui is increasing its flights to New Zealand. From 10 December 2013, the French Polynesian national carrier will add a new Tuesday service to its existing Thursday and Sunday flights on the Auckland-Papeete route. These flights connect with the airline codeshare connections between Auckland and Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. Like the other two weekly flights, the third will be operated using an Airbus A340-300 aircraft.

United’s Asian traffic climbs

United Airlines saw a slight rise in traffic on its routes to, from and within the Asia Pacific region in 2013. In the first six months of the year, the airline’s traffic climbed 1.1%. This came despite a 2.4% reduction of seat capacity on Asian routes, allowing average cabin load factors to increase 2.9 percentage points to 83.2%. Globally, United carried 68.3 million passengers in the first half of the year, down 1.9% year-on-year, with load factors averaging 83.0%.

Ishigaki Island
Ishigaki Island

China Airlines adds new Okinawa route

China Airlines (CAL) has launched a new scheduled service to the Japanese island of Okinawa. The Taiwanese carrier will now connect twice a week from Taipei to the Okinawan island of Ishigaki – a journey of less than an hour. The route will operate every Wednesday and Saturday using a 104-seat Embraer ERJ190 aircraft. Ishigaki becomes CAL’s 14th destination in Japan and its second in Okinawa, following Naha.

Maldivian Air adopts new passenger system

Maldivian Air has moved to a new passenger IT system. The carrier has adopted Dubai-based Mercator’s Airline Reservation (MARS) and Airport Control (MACS) solutions, as well as the Mercator internet booking engine. The new IT forms part of Maldivian’s growth strategy; the airline recently added new international services to Chennai and Dhaka in Bangladesh.

Second runway planned for Nha Trang

A second runway is being planned for Cam Ranh International Airport, the gateway to the Vietnamese beach resort of Nha Trang. Local news portal VnExpress reported recently that authorities in Khanh Hoa province have are planning to expand the airport with a second runway capable of handling larger aircraft. The development is expected to cost VND1.3 trillion (US$61.3 million). Cam Ranh International Airport currently handles approximately one million passengers a year, but this is expected to rise to 2.5m by 2015.

Lufthansa’s Asian traffic dips

The Lufthansa Group has seen a dip in passenger traffic on its routes to and from Asia Pacific this year. In the first six months of 2013 the group, which comprises Lufthansa, SWISS and Austrian Airlines, carried 3.03 million passengers on its Asian flights, 1.8% fewer than the first half of 2012. Lufthansa did reduce its Asian seat capacity by 1.1%, but this wasn’t enough to stop its average load factors dipped under 80% (down 0.5 percentage points to 79.7%). Globally, the Lufthansa Group carried 49.46m passengers in the first half of the year, down 0.4%.

Etihad carried record passenger numbers in Q2
Etihad carried record passenger numbers in Q2

Etihad traffic surges

Etihad Airways has continued its rapid expansion with a strong rise in traffic and revenues. The Abu Dhabi-based carrier saw its traffic, measured in revenue passenger kilometres (RPK), increase 13.3% in the first half of 2013. This reflected a 13.0% expansion of the airline’s available seat capacity. Etihad’s passenger revenues increased 8% to US$921 million.

Air France’s Asian traffic climbs

Air France experienced a rise in traffic on their Asia Pacific routes in June 2013. The airline carried 529,000 passengers to and from Asia Pacific last month, up 2.3% year-on-year. This failed to keep pace with a 4.8% rise in seat capacity however, causing average cabin load factors to drop 1.4 percentage points, to 85.6%. Globally, Air France carried 7.02 million passengers last month, up 1.6% year-on-year, with average load factors of 85.2%.

China Southern adds second Dreamliner

A second Boeing 787 Dreamliner has been delivered to China Southern Airlines. The new aircraft touched down at Guangzhou’s Baiyun International Airport on 3 July 2013, just two weeks after the first Dreamliner arrived. And from today, the second B787 will replace the first on China Southern’s Guangzhou-Beijing route, operating twice a day to the Chinese capital. The other B737 will then be deployed on the Guangzhou-Shanghai route. Following the domestic roll-out, China Southern will fly the aircraft to European destinations such as Paris or London. China Southern has ordered 10 Dreamliners.


AirAsia X flies an A330 to Gold Coast
AirAsia X flies an A330 to Gold Coast

AirAsia to add Gold Coast flights

AirAsia has announced plans to increase the frequency of its Kuala Lumpur-Gold Coast flights. From 24 November 2013 the airline’s long-haul subsidiary, AirAsia X, add two more weekly services to it currently five-flights-per-week schedule, taking the total frequency to daily. “Passenger movements between the Gold Coast and Kuala Lumpur have been consistently strong with an increase on average passenger load year-on-year for the past three years. This has given us confidence to increase capacity to seven flights a week,” explained AirAsia X’s CEO, Azran Osman-Rani.

Tianjin Airlines Xi’an-Erdos flights

Tianjin Airlines will add another four weekly services on its route between on Xi’an and Erdos, in northern China’s Inner Mongolia region. Effective 15 July, the carrier’s existing daily service will rise to 11 flights per week, using an Embraer E145 jet.  The four new flights will operate on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. Apart from Tianjin Airlines, only Shanghai Airlines operate daily flights between the two cities.

TransAsia to add Palau flights

Taiwan’s TransAsia Airways has launched a new service to the Pacific island of Palau. The new route will operate twice a week (Wednesdays and Saturdays) direct from Taipei’s Taoyuan International Airport, using a 150-seat Airbus A320 aircraft. Palau is the second new destination TransAsia has launched this week, following the start of flights to Chiang Mai on Wednesday.

Doha, Qatar
Doha, Qatar

CEB eyes Qatar – report

Cebu Pacific Airways is planning to launch flights to Qatar. The Manila Times reported the Philippines’ Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) as saying that the low-cost carrier has filed for the reallocation of entitlements to Doha. According to the documents, CEB is applying for three weekly flights to the Qatari capital. CEB will commence its first flights to the Middle East this October, when it launches flights to Dubai.

MAS raises baggage limits

Malaysia Airlines (MAS) has increased its carry-on baggage limits for all domestic and international flights. Economy class passengers will now be allowed one piece of cabin baggage weighing up to 7kg, up from 5kg. Those in first and business class will be permitted to carry two pieces of cabin baggage with a maximum weight of 7kg each. All passengers will also be permitted to bring a laptop bag or briefcase onboard, in addition to their carry-on bag. The new rules came into force this week.

Emirates to fly to Stockholm

Emirates will launch flights to Sweden. The Dubai-based airline has announced that a new direct daily service to the Swedish capital Stockholm will begin on 4 September 2013. Flights will operate using a three-class Boeing 777-300ER aircraft with eight seats in first class, 42 in business class and 304 in economy. The flight times will also enable passengers to connect to several destinations in Asia Pacific.

AirAsia adds Bali-Darwin flights

AirAsia has launched flights between Darwin and Bali. The new route will be operated four times a week (Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sunday) using an all-economy, 180-seat Airbus A320 aircraft. The new service will run in direct competition to the existing Jetstar service on the route.

The new Miles & More Chinese logo
The new Miles & More Chinese logo

New Chinese name for Lufthansa FFP

Lufthansa has launched a new Chinese name (飞常里程汇) and logo for its frequent flyer programme, Miles & More. Currently Miles & More has more than 500,000 members in China, and German national carrier is aiming to build on this with the new Chinese branding. Chinese members can earn miles when they fly with Star Alliance members including Air China and Shenzhen Airlines.

Thailand plans to raise airport tax

Thailand’s state airport operator, Airports of Thailand (AoT), is pressing for an increase in the country’s passenger service charge (PSC). The Bangkok Post report the company’s chairman, Sita Divari, as saying that AoT has requested that Thailand’s Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) increase the charge from THB700 to THB800 (US$22.50 to US$25.70), enabling it to boost its revenues by an extra THB2 billion. Thailand’s PSC, which is absorbed into the price of air tickets, has not been increased since 2007.

Hotels to open at NSW airport

Two new hotels are expected to open at Newcastle Airport in New South Wales. The AU$8 million (US$7.3m), four-storey Mercure Newcastle Airport is scheduled to open late next year with 95 rooms, a restaurant and conference facilities for 200 people. Meanwhile a 50-room motel will also be built in Williamton, close to the airport, as part of a new AU$11m development. Newcastle Airport is the 12th busiest in Australia and serves the Newcastle and Port Stephens area.

Malindo to India?
Malindo to India?

Malindo to fly to Delhi – report

Malindo Air will launch flights to New Delhi this summer, an airline official has revealed. Speaking to Malaysia’s Bernama news agency on condition of anonymity, the official said the new Kuala Lumpur-Delhi service “should be operational” from 15 August 2013. Flights will be operated using a Boeing 737-900ER, but the frequency of the route was not revealed. If launched, Delhi would become Malindo’s first destination in India.

Tianjin Airlines to add Shandong flights

Tianjin Airlines has launched flights to the coastal city of Weihai, in eastern China’s Shandong province. The airline now operates four weekly flights (Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays) on the 70-minute route between Tianjin and Weihai, using an Embraer E145 aircraft. It becomes the first direct flight between the two cities, which are currently connected by a 13-hour train ride.

Langham partners Virgin Australia FFP

Langham Hospitality Group has formed a new partnership with Velocity Frequent Flyer, Virgin Australia’s loyalty programme. From today onwards, Velocity members will be able to earn three Velocity Points for each AU$1 (approx. 93 US cents) qualifying spend at The Langham hotels in Melbourne and Sydney, and 1000 points for each stay at all the other hotels in the Langham portfolio.

BA offers Sydney chauffeur service

British Airways has launched a new chauffeur service for its first class passengers in Sydney. From today onwards, BA’s first class customers travelling to and from Sydney International Airport will be able to book a complimentary chauffeur-driven Jaguar transfer. The move follows the recent upgrade of BA’s Sydney-London service to the airline’s new Boeing 777-300ER aircraft, which includes its BA First cabin.

Garuda now flies to Perth
Garuda now flies to Perth

Garuda, Etihad codeshare to Perth

Etihad Airways and Garuda Indonesia have commenced a new codeshare service between Jakarta and Perth. The new daily service started on 28 June 2013 and will be operated by the Indonesian national carrier using a two-class Boeing 737-800 aircraft with 12 seats in business class and 144 in economy. Flights depart Jakarta at 1030, while the return leg will leave Perth at 1740.

Firefly to launch Johor-Pekanbaru

Malaysian regional carrier Firefly is launching a new service connecting Johor Bahru with the Indonesian city of Pekanbaru. The carrier’s CEO, Ignatius Ong, told Bernama last week that the new service will operate four times a week using a 72-seat ATR72-500 turboprop aircraft. Ong said the service would be launched in time for the busy Hari Raya holiday period.
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