Lufthansa to launch Singapore-Munich Airbus A350 flights

Lufthansa will restart direct flights between Singapore and Munich from March 27 2018, providing German-bound travellers with an alternative to the established Singapore-Frankfurt route.

The flights will run five days a week – on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday – on the Star Alliance member’s Airbus A350 jets with business class, premium economy and economy class, to the following schedule:

LH790 departs Munich at 10pm to reach Singapore at 4.05pm the next day

LH791 departs Singapore at 10.55pm to arrive at Munich at 5.25am the next day

Lufthansa already counts Australia as the largest market to which it doesn’t fly, with Aussie travellers making their way to Singapore, Hong Kong and Bangkok to connect to Lufthansa and its sibling Swiss.

“You leave Australia in the afternoon and the overnight flight (from Asia) is very convenient without losing time,” Heiko Brix, Lufthansa Group Regional Director for Southeast Asia, told Australian Business Traveller earlier this year.

“You go to sleep in a fully flat bed and you arrive in the morning able to get straight to work or you have (connections to) all of Europe in front of you.”

That share of the local market is expected to tick up even more when a joint venture between Lufthansa/Swiss and Singapore Airlines takes wing from July 1, in a move which will further bolster Singapore’s status as the major Australian feed for Lufthansa and Swiss.

The German flag-carrier will also fly its flagship Airbus A380 from Munich to Hong Kong and Beijing, as well as Los Angeles, starting in the northern summer.

Lufthansa’s A380 fleet is currently exclusive to Frankfurt flights, but the revised roster will see five of the airline’s 14 superjumbos relocated to Munich.


Source  : Australian Business Traveller

Singapore Airlines teases Airbus A350 for Brisbane and Perth

Singapore Airlines teases Airbus A350 for Brisbane, Perth


Singapore Airlines will bring another Australian city under the wing of its growing Airbus A350 network this year, with Brisbane and Perth both on the shortlist.

The Star Alliance member already has one year-round A350 flight slated for Melbourne’s SQ207/SQ208 from May 11, while a second A350 is currently running on SQ218/SQ217 until June 30, after which it will revert to the Airbus A380 superjumbo.

“We are now looking at an announcement later on which is the next A350 to Australia,” Singapore Airlines Regional Vice-President for South West Pacific, Mr TK Tan, tells Australian Business Traveller.

Sydney-siders shouldn’t get their hopes up for a ride in SQ’s advanced jetliner, however.

“It’s unlikely to be Sydney because we want a first class product for Sydney, as most of our flights for Sydney have a first class product,” Tan reveals, “so most likely it will be to another point in Australia.”

The coin toss is believed to be between Brisbane and Perth, both of which are strong parts of SQ’s Australian network and host several daily flights on Airbus A330 and Boeing 777-200 jets.

For either city the Airbus A350 would not only represent a jump in the quality of the experience – from a smoother, quieter and more relaxing ride to Singapore Airlines’ latest business class and economy seats – but also see premium economy added to the market.

As previously reported and exclusively to Australian Business Traveller, Tan also revealed that Sydney is likely to see the airline’s first new Airbus A380 superjumbo – sporting all-new first class suites and business class seats – in the fourth quarter of this year but ideally on October 25, to mark the tenth anniversary of the arrival of the world’s first commercial A380 service in 2007.



Australian Business Traveller

Thai to fly double-daily Airbus A350s to Melbourne

Thai to fly double-daily Airbus A350s to Melbourne

Thai Airways plans to upgrade both of its daily Melbourne-Bangkok flights to the airline’s sleek new Airbus A350 by September.

And business travellers will be in for a treat with the quiet and comfortable new jets including not only Thai’s latest business class seats but also a ‘dine on demand’ meal service and free inflight Internet.

Thai Airways president Charamporn Jotikasthira told Australian Business Traveller that he aims for both the TG465/466 and TG461/462 flights to move to an Airbus A350 on the same day.

However, delivery of the airline’s first A350 is likely to be pushed back by one month.

“We expect to get it in July but we got a note from Airbus saying it is probably August, because they have problem with a seat manufacturer” Mr Charamporn said. “It’s not our seat manufacturer but as a result the pipeline moved, everyone’s order moved.”

Speaking to Australian Business Traveller at a meeting of Star Alliance airline CEOs in Zurich, Charamporn indicated the delay would mean that after one month of regional A350 flights from Bangkok, the simultaneous twin A350 launch on the Melbourne-Bangkok route would likely take place in September.

Thai’s Airbus A350s will sport 32 of the airline’s latest Royal Silk business class seats.

This is a lie-flat design with direct aisle access for each passenger, with the cabin dressed in ‘Thai Contemporary’ style.

Thai will also roll out its improved business class service which has already debuted on European routes, with ‘dine on demand’ meals and free inflight Internet for business class passengers.

“We believe our business class can be one of the best business class in the world, but in the past we did not package its accordingly” Charamporn noted of the program’s individual elements.

Better connections at Bangkok

Another part of the platform: arrival gates at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport would now be as close as possible to immigration. “Before the gates (seemed) a little more random but we have managed to work with airport authorities so now it has to be right near immigration.”

Thai has also adjusted its schedules to provide better connectivity at its Bangkok hub for onward flights to Europe.

A dozen “minor adjustments of timing between five minutes and 35 minutes” has opened up an additional 28 new connections.

More significantly, Thai has changed the departure of its Sydney-Bangkok flight from an afternoon to an evening timeslot.

“This hooks into the midnight hub at Bangkok, and of course we have 11 direct destinations in Europe which is a sizeable network which we can now feed” explains Bryan Banston, Thai Airways’ Vice President of Sales in Australia.

“So in addition to focussing on the core market, which is Thailand and the region, we can also really compete in the European market.”

“We’re very keen in the Australian market to really leverage our network as best we can, and we have to have a look at Sydney and how we can grow that to double daily at some point,” Banston added.

David Flynn travelled to Zurich as a guest of Star Alliance


Source : Australian Business Traveller

Qantas considering ultra-long range Airbus A350-900ULR

Alan Joyce says he is "absolutely" looking at the A350-900ULR

Qantas is weighing up the ultra-long range Airbus A350 for its post-2020 fleet as the airline begins to redraw its network map around non-stop flights of 16+ hours.

Speaking on the sidelines of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) conference in Dublin this week, Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said he was “absolutely” looking at the A350-900ULR, which Asian competitor Singapore Airlines will begin flying in 2018 to relaunch non-stop flights from Singapore to Los Angeles and New York.

“You always look at all the options out there to make sure you’re picking the one with the right economics” Joyce said, stacking the long-legged A350 against the Boeing 777-8X.

“And we have a bit of time on this, the 8X is not going to be available until 2022-2023, maybe a bit later. And Boeing and Airbus always keep some slots back for big brands like Qantas, so we would be able to get availability when we need it.”

Discussions with Airbus, Boeing

Joyce and Qantas International CEO Gareth Evans said the airline is working with Airbus and Boeing to ensure that both of the next-gen jets are capable of flying the very long stretches required by Qantas.

“We’ve been in discussions with Boeing around the 777s for a while, and with Airbus on what they working on from a long-term perspective,” Evans said.

“Over the next five years, as these aircraft come in, we want to be in the forefront of that and ensure the aircraft arrive with the right specifications that let us develop the right network over the next decade.”

“We’re really interested in aircraft that can fly a very long way, and the 777-8X and 9X are very interesting aeroplanes for us in the long term” he added.

Both the A350-900ULR and Boeing 777-8X are engineered to fly non-stop for as many as 19 hours, although carrying fewer travellers than a regular jet.

hese routes,” he continues.

Joyce says this is “good expertise” to share with Airbus and Boeing “and hopefully be able to shape those products so that they work for the network that we can envisage in the future.”

“This is why we bought the 787-9, because it has that long haul capability, and why we’d like to have the 777x and the A350 long haul eventually… it completely changes the game for Qantas because it allows us to have a network we could only have dreamed of in the past, and offer our customers more direct destinations.”

“The opportunity to open up something like a Sydney-New York direct or a Sydney-London direct would be fantastic,” Evans adds.

But there’s no rushing such a crucial decision, nor an investment in buying multiple aircraft with a list price as high as US$400 million each.

“We want to make sure the aircraft is fully spec’d to where we want, and that takes a bit of time and a bit of work” Joyce says. “There’s a bit of tweaking to the aircraft in order to get it there, but we’ve got plenty of time.”


Source : Australian Business Traveller


Cathay Pacific gets its first Airbus A350 on May 27

Cathay Pacific gets its first Airbus A350 on May 27

Cathay Pacific will take delivery of its first Airbus A350 model on May 27, with the advanced jet arriving into Hong Kong Airport on May 29.

The A350s will sport new-look seats fitted from tip to tail, starting with 38 business class seats based on the airline’s current highly-regarded business class (shown below) and in the same 1-2-1 layout – but with an updated design which CX is carefully positioning as a ‘refresh’ to improve the existing seat, based on extensive passenger surveys and in-person workshops.

Travellers can expect to see improvements in storage space, the ability to slide the meal table forward and back, and a degree of tilt for the large HD video screen.

The refreshed business class seat has been widely blamed for delays to the A350’s delivery, which was originally slated for March, with claims that seat supplier Zodiac fell far behind the schedule set by Airbus and Cathay Pacific.

There’s also a compact premium economy cabin of 28 seats in a 2-4-2 arrangement and an all-new design, followed by 214 new economy seats ranked in a 3-3-3 grid.

The Airbus A350 will also be fitted with inflight Internet, which is a first for Cathay Pacific’s international fleet and an overdue catch-up to competitors such as Singapore Airlines, Emirates and Etihad.

Cathay Pacific will showcase the A350 to members of the media on Monday May 30, with the aircraft’s first commercial flight as CX907 to Manila on June 1.

it will then run a daily basis to Manila and Taipei until the second aircraft arrives in July, when fights will also commence to Bangkok, Singapore, Ho Chi Minh City and Kansai.

Cathay Pacific will swing the fuel-efficient jet onto longer-range international routes to Europe from September, beginning with Dusseldorf and London.

A350 flights between Hong Kong and Auckland will commence in the second half of the year.

Other likely starters for the A350’s route map include Barcelona, Dusseldorf, Milan and Zurich.

11 more A350-900s are due to be delivered this year, and another ten in 2017, to be followed by 26 of the larger and longer-range A350-1000s from 2018.

The A350-1000 fleet will feature an updated business class along with all-new premium economy and economy seats, although Cathay Pacific hasdecided against installing first class on the Airbus A350-1000, opting instead for a larger premium cabin featuring its new international business class seats.

Australian Business Traveller will travel to Hong Kong for the May 30 launch of the Airbus A350 as a guest of Cathay Pacific.

Source : Australian Business Traveller

Can Singapore Airlines’ Airbus A350 redefine long-range flying?

Airbus A350-941 aircraft picture

A spree of “world’s longest flights” is on the way, powered by the globe-spanning Airbus A350-900 Ultra Long-Range jet which will allow airlines to launch new time-saving routes without a halfway stop-over to refuel.

And, if travellers are lucky, we’ll see those aircraft and their seating geared to suit those seemingly endless hours above the clouds.

Today’s extensive treks which share the podium for the world’s longest flights – such as Qantas’ Airbus A380 from Sydney to Dallas, and Qatar’s Boeing 777-200LR between Doha and Auckland – operate on conventional aircraft with standard seating.

In the case of Qantas, that means everything from 14 private first class nooks and 64 business class pods to some 400 seats across premium economy and economy.

None of these seats are any different to the Flying Kangaroo’s other A380s which sometimes make a trip barely half the length of the Dallas marathon, such as the lazy eight hour lope from Sydney to Hong Kong.

Singapore Airlines’ launch of the Airbus A350-900 Ultra-Long Range jet in 2018 could change that for the better.

The A350ULR – created as a bespoke build for Singapore Airlines but now under consideration by several other airlines – will let the Singaporean flag-carrier resume non-stop flights between Singapore and the USA, potentially including a 19 hour stretch to New York.

(The Star Alliance member currently flies to Los Angeles and San Francisco via Hong Kong, Seoul and Tokyo, New York via Frankfurt, and Houston with a stop in Moscow.)

‘Executive economy class’

Singapore Airlines previously ran non-stop flights from Singapore to Los Angeles and NY-adjacent Newark on older Airbus A340 jets but axed the service in 2013 due to rising fuel bills.

Those A340s were initially fitted with 64 of SQ’s Airbus A380-style business class seats and 117 ‘executive economy class’ seats, the later being more akin to domestic business class in width and legroom, although in their final years of flying the jets were upgraded to an all-business class 100 seat layout.

In a nod to those early New York and Los Angeles flights, Singapore Airlines CEO Mr Goh Choon Phong has previously told Australian Business Traveller that he is looking beyond the A340’s ‘all business class’ model, saying “It will probably be more than just business class, I think it will be a mix of cabin classes.”

Singapore Airlines’ long-legged A350 will have around 170 seats – approximately 80 less than its new standard-issue A350-900s which begins flying to Amsterdam in early May, to be followed by Düsseldorf from July.

SQ’s A350ULR mix

But could some of those 170 seats be standard economy class benches?

When Singapore Airlines’ launch order for seven of the A350-900ULRs was announced last year, Airbus Executive Vice-President for Strategy and Marketing Kiran Rao said “I can’t go into details on the type of layouts they’re looking at, but it would be a premium service.”

However, speaking with Australian Business Traveller on the sidelines of an Airbus media briefing in London last month, Rao revealed that “during the evaluation Singapore Airlines did ask for a regular economy class seat.”

“They have the option to put regular economy in (but) will they or won’t they… what they will do I’ll let them decide, that’s a question you need to ask them.”

When Rao says “regular economy” on the A350 he’s talking of a different and far more generously-proportioned seat than most people would picture – it’s a comfy 18 inches wide, and on our A350 flights there’s much-appreciated room around the knees.

That said, Rao expects that airlines flying the new extended-range A350-900 from 2020 – which from 2020, will see its range extended by 500 nautical miles over the debutant jet launched just last year, for a maximum range of 8,100 miles – will not shy away from economy seating.

Airlines buying the revamped A350-900 will “start to do not 19 hour flights but maybe 17 or 18 hour flights, and when you’re doing 17 -18 hours, for sure  those customers will have the normal 18 inch economy class seat in the aeroplane.”

A spokesperson for Singapore Airlines tells Australian Business Travellerthat “at this stage no decision has been made on the cabin layout for our A350-900ULR aircraft that will enter service in 2018.”

“We are continuing to analyse all options to ensure the most suitable configuration is chosen for the world’s longest flights.”

New business class

What seats, then, are travellers likely to see on Singapore Airlines’ epic 19 hour flights?

There’s little doubt that business class will occur the larger part of the A350ULR.

The route from Singapore to Los Angeles and New York is a well-monied one and in the days of SQ’s non-stop A340 flights attracted more than its share of high-flying executives, especially from the financial sector.

On the A350ULR those passengers will be ensconced in Singapore Airlines’ next-generation business class seat – a design due to be launched in 2017 and moving one generation beyond the current and already exceptional model.

First class suites?

And beyond business class?

As Airbus’ Rao admits, Singapore Airlines has certainly considered economy class – but whether the carrier eventually opts for 18 inch wide economy seating (ideally matched with a little more than standard legroom) or raises the baseline to its well-regarded premium economy seat (below) remains to be seen.

First class will also factor into SQ’s equations, potentially using theairlines’ forthcoming suites design now under development and set to launch in 2017.

But the luxe suites will certainly face a squeeze, and not only from uncertain economic conditions – exactly how much loose change will be jangling in A-list and C-level pockets take by the time the A350ULR is flying and into the years beyond?

The continued improvement of business class – SQ’s own Boeing 777-300ER business class seats being a stellar example – makes it harder for airlines to define and differentiate first class, and justify its much higher price tag.

For what it’s worth, Singapore Airlines’ A350-900ULR is also expected to deliver the full Airspace experience of Airbus’ new-wave cabin design (show below).


Australian Business Traveller

Airbus considers split-level layout for A350-1000

Airbus considers split-level layout for A350-1000

Airbus is considering adding a small lower deck to the forthcoming A350-1000 jet to accommodate lavatories and kitchens.

Shifting these ‘service areas’ off the main deck would free up significant amounts of space for more seats in both business class and economy class, Airbus says.

“The average passenger doesn’t want to sit next to a lav and doesn’t want to sit next to a galley” explains Kiran Rao, Airbus Executive Vice-President for Strategy and Marketing.

“As we move these service areas out of the passenger cabin we create space for more seats without compromising on comfort.”

“So we are looking to utilise the under-floor area of the A350-1000 for galleys and lavs,” Rao told Australian Business Traveller at the launch of the aircraft manufacturer’s Airspace cabin concept in London.


The space beneath the passenger deck is typically used for cargo but “on long aircraft you can’t fill it all with cargo” Rao said, adding that this could mean larger galleys which would “give the cabin crew a nicer area to work in.”

It’s understood that some larger lavatories would remain on the main deck for reasons including accessibility by disabled travellers.

Airbus is already experimenting with relocated loos on the new A330neo, in which economy lavatories shift from the main cabin into a single service area alongside the galley kitchens, such as at the rear of the A330neo.

The A350-1000 is a larger and longer-range version of the A350-900, which most recently added Singapore Airlines to its growing list of customers.


Qatar Airways is the launch customer for the A350-1000, which is expected to take wing in the middle of 2017.

The A350-1000 will typically carry 366 passengers compared to 325 in the A350-900, although the actual passenger count depends on each airline’s seat design and overall layout.

However, freeing up space occupied by galleys and lavatories could boost the seat count closer to the 400 mark – a measure with substantial appeal to airlines.


Australian Business Traveller


Finnair brings Airbus A350 to Hong Kong, Singapore

Finnair brings Airbus A350 to Hong Kong, Singapore

Finnair will begin daily Airbus A350 flights between Hong Kong and Helsinki this week, with Singapore slated to see the next-gen jetliner later this year.

Asia is a growing market for Finnair, and both of those business hubs double as gateways for Australians booked on the Oneworld airline and Qantas partner.

“Australia is by far Finnair’s largest ‘offline’ market,” says Geoff Stone, Finnair country manager for Australia and New Zealand. “In fact it generates more traffic and revenue than some countries to which Finnair flies directly.”

This underscores a continued preference by Australian business travellers to transit via Singapore or Hong Kong, with some travellers booking a route which takes in both cities.

“We have some customers who like to go up via Singapore and come back via Hong Kong, or vice versa” Stone recounts. “There are many companies that have offices in both cities, so this allows customers to visit those in each direction.”

Hong Kong “is becoming increasingly popular” as Finnair’s Aussie launching pad, Stone adds, driven by the higher number of flights between Australia and Hong Kong compared to Singapore.

“We have both Qantas and Cathay Pacific connecting through Hong Kong,” Stone says, with Cathay Pacific offering multiple daily flights from most major Australian cities, “whereas to Singapore we only have Qantas, so there is more availability.”

Finnair will expand its Hong Kong footprint to double daily flights across northern summer, with the A350 joined by an Airbus A330, while Singapore will switch from an Airbus A340 to the modern A350 “in the third quarter.”

“The two oldest A340s have also exited out fleet, so we have fully flat business class seating in all of our aircraft now,” Stone says.


Australian Business Traveller