Asian aviation briefs
Garuda profits surge
Garuda Indonesia achieved a strong set of financial results in 2012, with a sharp rise in net profits compared with the previous year. The national carrier generated net income of US$110.8 million last year, 73% more than the US$64.2m it achieved in 2011. The growth was achieved following a 20% rise in passenger traffic, to 20.4 million, driven by the arrival of new aircraft. Garuda took delivery of 22 new aircraft in 2012 – two Airbus A330-200s, four Boeing 737-800s, five Bombardier CRJ-1000s and 11 A320s for low-cost subsidiary, Citilink.
Hainan Air connects northern China hubs
Hainan Airlines has launched a new scheduled service connecting three of northern China’s largest cities. The airline will operate daily flights from the Shandong port city of Qingdao to Shaanxi’s capital X’ian, via Shenyang, the capital of Liaoning province. The new routing, which got underway this week, will be operated using a Boeing 737-800 aircraft.
Beijing plans new airport links
Beijing is planning to develop road and rail links to its new airport. The China Daily reported this week that a 40km urban rail link will be created to transport passengers between the airport and downtown Beijing in less than 30 minutes. Three expressways will also be developed. Construction on the new CNY70 billion (US$11bn) airport in the southern district of Daxing will start next year, with operations expected to commence in 2018.
Chinese airlines taken chicken off menu
Some Chinese airlines have started removing chicken and poultry dishes from their menus due to bird flu fears. China Southern Airlines, Spring Airlines and Xiamen Airlines all confirmed this week that they have already stopped serving poultry dishes to passengers on certain routes, replacing them with seafood or pork dishes. Xiamen Airlines was quoted saying the move followed “many complaints from passengers”. Taiwan-based China Airlines and Mandarin Airlines have changed their menus. The recent outbreak of bird flu in China has now claimed nine lives.
Air France’s Asian traffic rises
Air France-KLM saw a rise in traffic on its Asian routes in March 2013. Last month, the European carrier carried 5.1% more passengers to and from Asia than in March 2013. The increase in demand slightly exceeded a 4.9% expansion of available seat capacity, allowing average cabin load factors to increase to a strong 86.9%. Globally, Air France-KLM carried 6.45 million passengers in March 2013, up 1.3% year-on-year, with load factors averaging 84.2%.
SAS ends Bangkok service
Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) will stop operating its direct Copenhagen-Bangkok flights next week. As part of a cost-cutting programme, SAS will end its daily service on the route, instead choosing to codeshare on Thai Airways’ flights to Copenhagen, Stockholm and Oslo. SAS and Thai Airways are both members of the Star Alliance.
Etihad traffic continues to climb
Etihad Airways has recorded its strongest ever quarter in terms of passenger traffic. The Abu Dhabi-based carrier, which turns 10 in 2013, carried a record 2.8 million passengers in the first three months of the year, up 18% compared to Q1 2012. The airline was also able to raise its average cabin load factor by four percentage points to 80.5%. Passenger revenues for the quarter jumped 19% to a record high of US$900 million, with revenue from codeshare and equity partnerships increasing 34% to US$182, or 20% of total quarterly revenue.
Qantas frequent flyers get Jetstar discounts
Qantas has unveiled a new FFP initiative that will enable its loyal customers to book Jetstar tickets for around 20% less. The new Classic Award scheme will see members of the Qantas Frequent Flyer programme able to redeem points on Jetstar flights across Asia, including on the Jetstar Japan network. Under the new points structure, the Jetstar Classic Award seat redemptions start from 6,400 points – approximately 20% fewer than normal.
AirAsia X plans return to India
AirAsia X is planning to resume flights to New Delhi and Mumbai, just a year after pulling out of India’s two largest cities. The airline’s Group CEO, Tony Fernandes, revealed on social media this week that direct flights to the two cities from Kuala Lumpur will recommence “very soon”. “AirAsia X will be re-starting routes to India very soon. KL-Bombay and KL-New Delhi are around the corner,” Fernandes wrote on Facebook. The two Indian routes were axed last year, along with AirAsia X’s flights to Europe, due to high operating costs.
Vietnam Airlines launches new Russian route
Vietnam Airlines has inaugurated a new route that will boost the number of Russian tourists visiting the country. Direct flights between Cam Ranh International Airport and Moscow got underway on 6 April 2013 and will operate once a week until June, before increasing to twice weekly services from June to October. Cam Ranh airport is the main gateway to the beach resort of Nha Trang.
JAL offers meal ordering service
Japan Airlines (JAL) is enabling passengers to order their in-flight meals via a menu contained within their in-flight entertainment systems. Business class passengers flying between Tokyo Narita and London Heathrow aboard JAL’s latest ‘Sky Suite’ Boeing 777-300ER will be able select their meal from a picture menu and order it using the handset. Passengers in all classes will also be able to order duty free items from their in-flight entertainment systems.
Sriwijaya adds Indonesia route
Indonesia’s Sriwijaya Air will launch a new domestic route next week. The service will connect Surabaya in East Java with Palangka Raya, the capital of Central Kalimantan, four times a week (Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays). The route was awarded to Sriwijaya following the collapse of Batavia Air, which previously operated the sector.
Qatar Airways extends in-flight Wi-Fi
Qatar Airways has revealed that its fleet of new Airbus A350 and A380 jets will be line-fitted with in-flight mobile and internet services. The airline has already selected Switzerland-based OnAir to provide it with in-flight, and the latest move means that more than 150 Qatar Airways’ aircraft will now come equipped with voice and data services, including its Boeing 787s. The airline currently has orders for 10 A380s and 80 A350s, with deliveries of both models expected to commence in 2014.
Tianjin Airlines adds 20 routes
Tianjin Airlines will add 20 new routes to its network this summer. From now until 26 October the airline will fly to a series of new destinations from its Tianjin base, including Urumqi, Xi’an, Guiyang, Zhengzhou and Guilin. It will also fly to from Xi’an to Fuyang, Hangzhou, Yantai, Shenyang, Dunhuang, Turpan and Baotou. New international destinations include Jeju, Muan and Daegu in South Korea, all originating in Tianjin. More frequencies will also be added to the Tianjin-Dalian and Xi’an-Yulin routes.
ANA traffic dips in February
All Nippon Airways (ANA) has reported a drop in passenger traffic in February 2013, as its fleet of 24 Boeing 787 Dreamliners remained grounded. The Japanese airline carried 2.77 million domestic and 461,350 international passengers during the month – down 7.3% and 1.6% respectively. ANA’s Asian routes were severely affected, with traffic plunging 11.4% to 321,350. Load factors remained weak, at 72.2% on international flights and just 61.2% on domestic routes.
THAI to boost Asia Pacific routes
Thai Airways International (THAI) will add more flights to a range of Asia Pacific destinations this summer. From 1 June 2013, the airline will increase the frequency of its Bangkok-Lahore route from six to seven flights per week, and then on 16 June, THAI will boost its Bangkok-Perth and Phuket-Perth routes to daily and three weekly flights respectively. Then in October, THAI will raise the frequency of its Buddhist circuit route to Gaya and Varanasi from four to seven weekly flights.