Brisbane Airport will trial live automated departures from July this year. The 12-month trial aims to identify the most effective and streamlined solution to automate passport control for outbound Australian travellers. eGates will be installed in the departures area offering similar benefits to those enjoyed by inbound Australian travellers. If successful the system will be deployed at all eight Australian international airports.
Qantas is upgrading its Sydney-Dallas Fort Worth route. The carrier is replacing its current B747 services with A380s from 29 September, thereby introducing a First Class cabin on the route. With the superjumbos extended range, the service will operate direct to Sydney rather than via Brisbane. Once the switch is made, Qantas plans to reduce frequency on the route from the daily to six times per week, dropping the Tuesday service, but with net capacity on the route remaining 10% above its current levels. As part of its network rejig, Qantas' Melbourne-Dubai-London flights will be retimed from 20 July and the airline will also adjust the mix of A380s and B747s used on its Sydney-Hong Kong route.
Etihad is offering revolutionary new premium products. The carrier's new A380 aircraft, which will debut in December, will offer 'The Residence', a three-room apartment in the sky. With only one available on each aircraft, The Residence features a living room with a two-seat leather sofa and a chilled mini bar, separate double bedroom, shower-equipped ensuite and personal butlers. The Residence is available for single or double occupancy.
The A380s will also offer nine new First Apartments with reclining armchairs and full-length ottomans that transform into flat-beds, an onboard shower for First passengers and 'The Lobby' for First and Business passengers, which offers a lounge-style atmosphere and large TV. The carrier's B787 Dreamliner will feature new First Suites offering a large seat, with the centre seat armrests able to retract to form a double bed. New Business Studios, which will be offered on both the A380 and B787 will be 20% larger, with a seat converting into a fully-flat bed of up to
Economy travellers will benefit from new Smart Seats offering fixed-wing headrests for greater comfort and more privacy between seats. The aircraft will also feature a larger area for economy passengers to stretch out away from their seats. The new A380 product will debut on the Abu Dhabi to London Heathrow route, with Sydney among the first to see the updated product in June 2015. Melbourne will follow in 2016, with Brisbane and Perth to be served by the Dreamliner, although no date for its introduction has yet been set. Etihad plans to retrofit its existing fleet with the new cabin products over the next four years
Virgin Australia continues to update its domestic lounge network. The carrier's Brisbane lounge will double in size with a Premium Entry option added, enabling guests to enter the lounge direct from the kerbside valet. Melbourne Airport will soon boast Premium Exit providing direct access to the departure pier from the lounge.
Qantas and Emirates have introduced a new travel surcharge. The new levy applies to international weekend travel for tickets issued in Australia. All outbound fares have increased by $25 on Fridays and Saturdays on routes across all destinations on the joint network, except Singapore, Thailand and Kuala Lumpur. Qantas also plans to add new peak season surcharges of up to $200 on selected international routes and cabins.
Meanwhile Qantas has also introduced new economy class fares and fare structures on its joint routes with Emirates. Services to Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, UK/Europe, Northern Africa and the Middle East are all affected by the changes that are effective immediately. The new fare structure sees the removal of Semi-Flex Fares and adjusted pricing on Saver and Flex Fares.
United Airlines has expanded its airside transfer service to include Los Angeles International Airport. The chauffeur service provides Mercedes-Benz tarmac transfers to select Global Services members and Global First customers with tight transit connections to their onward flight. United already offers the service at Chicago, Houston, Newark and San Francisco airports.
United Airlines plans to raise frequency on its upcoming non-stop service between Melbourne and Los Angeles. The new services start 28 October and will see a rise from its initial six times weekly services to daily flights from 12 March 2015.
Singapore Airlines is reducing its A380 services to Australia. From 30 May, the carrier will operate just one of its four daily Sydney-Singapore flights on an A380, with the other services operating on B777s. It will also withdraw A380 services on its Melbourne route from 26 October, with all four daily services operating on either B777 or A330 aircraft.