Business Class Only
15 December 2011 | GDP growth, increased trade flows, the rise of a new middle class, and market liberalization are the main drivers behind the rapidly growing demand for air travel in Asia Pacific over the coming decade. Airbus, for example, projects that by 2030 the region will account for 33 percent of worldwide revenue passenger kilometres, up from 28 percent today.
The growth in the region’s aviation market is resulting in a large number of new airline launches. In the past year, full-service airlines such as ANA (Peach, AirAsia Japan) and JAL (Jetstar Japan) have announced their own low-cost initiatives in order to take advantage of market deregulation in Japan, while the region’s largest LCC’s – AirAsia, Jetstar and Lion Air – continued their expansion. Singapore Airlines, meanwhile, has launched a low-cost long-haul subsidiary, called Scoot.
At the other end of the spectrum, the region’s booming economies and the resulting growth in business travel have led ‘challenger airlines’ such as Skymark from Japan (low-density A380) and Hong Kong Airlines (Hong Kong – London ‘Club’ service) to announce all-premium long-haul flights, while in Southeast Asia, Qantas, Malaysia Airlines and AirAsia founder Tony Fernandes have all revealed plans to set up their own regional premium carrier.
Qantas ‘Red Q’
Because of intense competition from Gulf-based and Asian carriers, Qantas’ international market share in Australia has fallen from 39 to 14 per cent over the past decade. The airline’s cost base for its international operations is said to be 20 per cent higher than that of its competitors. With its dominance at home eroded, Qantas in August 2011 announced a plan to establish an Asian hub, which is is expected to reduce its operating costs with tens of millions of dollars.
Says Qantas CEO Alan Joyce: “Our aim is to position ourselves in the Southeast Asian marketplace in advance of planned aviation liberalisation. In five years we plan to have a hub in the world’s fastest growing aviation region, feeding traffic into both our Qantas and Jetstar networks. This is how we will end the disadvantage of being an end-of-the-line carrier.”
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8 July 2010 | Passengers on BA’s all-business ‘Club World London City’ service from London City to New York JFK can use their mobile device to send and receive text messages and emails in-flight and access the Internet. The in-flight connectivity service is provided by OnAir. Adding a new feature to the service, BA has become the launch customer for OnAir’s new in-flight mobile portal, which has been branded ‘Club Mobile’ by BA.
BA’s ‘Club Mobile’ is a wireless in-flight Internet portal that gives passengers access via their cellphones to real-time flight information, live sport results, and local information on events, weather and traffic. Passengers can also book concierge and chauffeur services (offered by Quintessentially) through the portal. To get access, passengers only have to switch on their phone, once the ‘no mobile’ sign is switched off, and receive a text message with a link to the portal. OnAir says the mobile portal is the first of its kind. For a demo of the service, see this video. Read full article »
21 June 2010 | British Airways has teamed up with CitationAir, the private jet charter subsidiary of Cessna Aircraft, to offer its passengers a private jet connection within North America and the Caribbean. The new PrivateConnect service pitches itself as a ‘no-frills’ private jet service. Passengers can book online and ‘pay and go’ with a credit card, avoiding the need for upfront fees and long-term commitment that is usually associated with fractional ownership of private jets.
The service is available to anyone who has flown with BA in the past 12 months, members of BA’s frequent flyer programme, as well as employees of the airline’s corporate clients. BA customers can also use PrivateConnect to fly within North America if they haven’t arrived on or are due to depart onto another flight. Costs range from USD6,000 to USD10,000 per jet per hour depending on the type of aircraft. Chauffeured transport will be on hand after clearing customs to drive customers between their British Airways flight and CitationAir private jet. BA currently flies to 19 destinations in America.
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In a home region where Gulf Gullivers Emirates, Qatar Airways and Etihad are rapidly becoming major global players, Kuwaiti carrier Wataniya Airways takes a no-frills chic approach towards flying. Launched in January 2009, the airline’s fleet of A320 aircraft are configured with premium economy and business class seats only, while prices are kept low. The airline says its A320’s are configured with the lowest seat density (122 vs. 145 seats on most airlines) of any A320 used on scheduled routes in the world.
Billing itself a ‘premium service airline’ Wataniya has its own dedicated terminal at Kuwait International Airport, and passengers have Wi-Fi access as well as USB and power ports in every seat. The airline’s premium economy class offers 96 seats with a 34-inch seat pitch and the 26 business class seats have a seat pitch of 44 inch. Wataniya currently operates five A320’s, a sixth aircraft is scheduled to be received in June 2010 and a seventh later in 2010. The airline is listed at the Kuwait Stocks Exchange.
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17 February 2010 | Despite the economic recession and the subsequent fall in business travel, the business class-only niche is holding up surprisingly well. Initiated by private start-ups such as eos, Silverjet and l’Avion in the pre-recession boom in premium travel, the model has been incorporated by airlines such as Lufthansa, British Airways, Singapore Airlines and ANA. Now with premium travel recovering slightly, airlines are considering growing their premium-only services again.
British Airways recently said it may expand its ‘Club World London City’ service to other U.S east-coast locations, such as Boston and Washington. BA says its flights from London City to JFK, which started in September 2009, reached 75 percent seat occupancy in December. The carrier also revealed it looked at starting flights to Dubai that would be refueled in mainland Europe, but decided against the plan. While BA’s westbound flight to JFK has to refuel in Shannon (Ireland), the ability to clear U.S immigration controls at Shannon enables the layover time to be put to use. However, such a stop could not be justified for many other potential routes from London City.
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