QantasLink is increasing capacity on its Melbourne to Devonport and Launceston routes, and Sydney to Albury route with the move to a 74-seat Q400 turboprop aircraft from 17 August 2014. The carrier also plans to add three extra return services per week on the Sydney-Albury route between 22 June and 14 September.
Qantas will no longer offer a first class cabin on its Sydney-Hong Kong route. The route will be serviced by a three-cabin B747 with business, premium economy and economy class seating options. An A380 will still fly the route during peak periods and seats in the first class cabin will be offered to business class travellers who are frequent flyers – with business class service in the first class cabin.
Etihad’s new two-level premium lounge at Sydney Airport has been officially launched. Located near Gate 51 in the international terminal, the 798sqm area includes a spacious dining area with choice of a la carte or buffet dining as well as bathrooms with showers, a relaxation zone, multi-zone electric and USB power outlets and free wi-fi connectivity.
Mantra Group has rebranded two properties in Melbourne and Brisbane. Formerly managed by Mint Hotels & Apartments, the new Mantra St Kilda Road and Mantra on the Quay raise Mantra’s profile in CBD locations and bring the total number of properties in each city for Mantra to seven and three respectively.
Langham properties in Sydney, Boston, Shanghai and Melbourne are offering guests a new transport service for short trips in and around these cities. The Langham, Sydney has a specially imported pink London-style taxi, with similar style vehicles available at other properties. The Langham, Auckland will also offer the service in the coming weeks.
United Airlines is adjusting its frequent flyer program in line with changes announced by other major airlines. From March 2015, travellers will earn miles based on fare paid rather than distance travelled. Those with no MileagePlus status will earn five points per dollar spent, while Silver members earn seven points per dollar and top tier members earn 11 point per dollar. The change is seen as a better way of rewarding the highest paying frequent flyers.
Qantas has announced seasonal changes to its trans-Tasman services, with 98 weekly return flights to New Zealand in peak periods and 82 in the low season. The changes will see Qantas suspend one of its daily Melbourne-Auckland and Sydney-Auckland flights from 26 October 2014, and reduce frequency on its Brisbane-Auckland route to five per week during low season. To maintain service levels across the Tasman, Jetstar will pick up some of these dropped services.
Alliance partners Qantas, British Airways and Cathay Pacific have opened a new, joint Business Lounge at Los Angeles International Airport. The lounge, which will be managed by Qantas, incorporates signature elements from each airline. It features a dining area, cocktail bar, coffee station with barista service, faster wi-fi, shower suites and a menu designed by Neil Perry. The lounge currently caters for up to 400 passengers, but once all phases on construction are complete this will expand to 600.
Canberra has been chosen as the site for the first Peppers’ CBD hotel in Australia. In July, the Mantra Group will rebrand the newly acquired Diamant Hotel Canberra as the Peppers Gallery Hotel Canberra. There are also plans for Peppers to open its first Melbourne CBD property in the city’s Docklands precinct in 2016.
Qatar Airways has commenced five times weekly services from Doha to Edinburgh. Operating on B787-8 Dreamliner aircraft, the new service to Edinburgh brings the airline’s network up to 141 destinations. The new route represents significant time savings, reducing travel time from Melbourne to Edinburgh from around 26 hours with two transfers, to just 20 hours with one transfer.
Air New Zealand plans to restructure its New Zealand domestic airfares from July. The new four-tier pricing system will be based on booking flexibility rather than just inclusions, with the more expensive fares offering greater flexibility. New options include ‘Seat’ (seat only), ‘Seat + bag’ (including luggage), ‘Flexitime’ (users can change to an earlier or later flight on the day of travel) and ‘Flexiplus’ (allows date changes).
Qantas is increasing fuel surcharges on some parts of its joint network with Emirates, including services to Europe, the UK, North Africa and the Middle East. Effective for tickets issued in Australia on/after 8 July 2014 the international fuel surcharges for Europe/UK and North Africa will increase by $15 to $285 in economy class, up $30 to $385 in premium economy and increasing $45 to $540 one way in business and first class. Qantas said there were no changes for its trans-Tasman and Asia services, while fuel surcharges on other parts of the Qantas International network, such as the Americas or South Africa, also remain unchanged.