Malaysia Airlines joins the social bandwagon with Facebook Messenger

Posted by - September 24, 2018

Malaysia Airlines, together with Amadeus, has launched MHchat, a new feature which helps travellers’ book flights and pay through the social media app, Facebook Messenger.
Jointly developed with Malaysia Airlines as its pilot customer, the Amadeus chatbot for airlines is a new solution designed to make it easier for travellers to book flights, retrieve bookings, and ask questions through a platform customers are already familiar with.
On Facebook Messenger, Malaysia Airlines’ customers can use MHchat if they want to look up flights, or ask a question related to a booking, and it will search, locate and push offers or information. Travellers can even complete a transaction, make a secure payment and receive the travel itinerary all within the same app.
Designed to mimic human conversation, MHchat acts like a true ‘travel buddy’ that aims to understand what the traveller needs, 24/7.
“More personalised and integrated services”
Captain Izham Ismail, CEO, Malaysia Airlines said, “Customer experience is a key priority for Malaysia Airlines and we are deeply committed to constantly improving it. Our digital transformation strategy lies at the heart of this, as we continuously harness new and innovative technologies to enhance all touch points for our guests.
“We are pleased to partner with Amadeus on the launch of MHchat, and we are excited to be the first in Malaysia to bring this to travellers. We were very pleased with Amadeus’ ability to deliver this innovative solution within the short time frame of a few months. We look forward to further exploring how we can deliver more personalised and integrated services for our customers.”
“Turnaround transformation initiatives…. to improve the customer experience”
Cyril Tetaz, executive vice president, airlines, Asia Pacific, Amadeus, added: “We are very delighted to work with Malaysia Airlines on its digital transformation; MHchat is a testimony to the airline’s commitment to evolve its digital channels.
“Agility is crucial when working on innovative digital solutions, and working together with Malaysian Airlines, we have delivered this innovative platform in three months. Many airlines are embarking on turnaround transformation initiatives, driven by a real will to address competition but above all to improve the customer experience.”

Construction work on the second Sydney Airport finally takes off

Posted by - September 24, 2018

You could be flying into this new Australian airport in less than 10 years. Source: Shutterstock.
“WELCOME to the future of Sydney – that’s what we are seeing here,” jubilant Australian prime minister Scott Morrison told guests and reporters at Badgerys Creek this morning.
Morrison was attending the official opening of the construction of Sydney’s second international airport, Western Sydney Airport.
Sydney is expected to double passenger numbers within the next two decades, with low-cost airlines continuing to provide much of the growth.
Low-cost airlines, which have been driving down fares on long routes and making it easier for travelers to fly, have stimulated an incredible increase in demand. In fact, the number of air passengers globally is projected to nearly double to 7.8 billion by 2036.
The Western Sydney Airport, which will cost new US$3.6 billion to build, is part of an effort to deal with booming air traffic numbers.
It has been a long time coming for Sydney, which saw decades of debate on the location of another airport within the Sydney basin during the planning stages.
“It’s great to see this happening,” Morrison said at the opening. “This issue has been around for longer than I have been living on the planet,” he added, joking about long-running planning delays.
Breaking ground on construction for the new Western Sydney Airport. A long-awaited project in partnership with NSW Government.
Welcome to the future of Sydney.
— Scott Morrison (@ScottMorrisonMP) September 24, 2018
Located within the suburb of Badgerys Creek, it is situated only 44 kilometers west of the Sydney CBD and 41 kilometers west of the Sydney (Kingsford Smith) Airport.
In giving Sydney-bound holidaymakers more options to reach Australia largest city, it plans to have 24-hour and curfew-free operations.
It will initially operate with one runway handling international, domestic and freight flights. A second runway is likely to be added at a later time.
In the first phase, Western Sydney Airport will be able to accommodate around 10 million passengers a year, around a quarter of the current total landing at the present facility.
The first major airport to be built in Australia since Melbourne’s Tullamarine airport in 1970, Western Sydney Airport is scheduled to be open in 2026.

Cathay Pacific launches bi-weekly Tokushima route

Posted by - September 24, 2018

The Cathay Pacific Group’s expansion continues as it launches a new two-times-weekly service to Tokushima in Japan. Tokushima is the gateway to Shikoku.
The route will be operated by Cathay Dragon and launches from Dubai, via Hong Kong, on 18 December 2018 until 29 March 2019 using Airbus A320 aircraft.
Details of the new Tokushima service from Dubai, via Hong Kong, from 18 December 2018 – 29 March 2019 are as follows (all times local):
Flight no From To Departure/Arrival Days of operation CX 746 DXB HKG 1755/0500 +1 Sunday – Saturday CX 738 DXB HKG 2335/1100 +1 Sunday – Saturday KA 322 HKG TKS 0930/1400 Wednesday, Saturday KA 323 TKS HKG 1630/2010 Wednesday KA 323 TKS HKG 1700/2100 Saturday CX 745 HKG DXB 0130/0700 Sunday – Saturday CX 731 HKG DXB 1655/2205 Sunday – Saturday This is not the first time that Cathay Pacific flew to Tokushima, the Group has operated charter flights to the island at peak holiday periods in the past. The introduction of scheduled service to Tokushima shows the Group’s commitment to Japan that has become popular among tourists worldwide.
Currently, Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon currently fly to six destinations in Japan, and the addition of Tokushima to the network gives customers a new region of the country to explore.
Cathay Pacific’s chief customer and commercial officer, Paul Loo, said: “Our routes to Japan are performing extremely well for us and we are very pleased to be able to offer our customers with a new destination in this most beautiful, dynamic and culturally-rich of countries.
“Growing our reach to places that aren’t already served from Hong Kong boosts the city’s status as Asia’s largest international hub and enables us to capture new and important sources of revenue.”
This new route is the 10th route the Group has launched in 2018. Cathay Pacific Group has launched services to Brussels, Copenhagen, Dublin, Nanning and Jinan. Other new routes to take-off this year include Washington DC (on 15 September), Davao City, Medan (both October) and Cape Town (November).

Hong Kong Airlines adds Macao to network with new TurboJET codeshare

Posted by - September 21, 2018

Hong Kong Airlines has announced the addition of Macao to its growing network, through a codeshare agreement with high-speed ferry services company, TurboJET.
Hong Kong Airlines, which currently maintains 79 interline and 18 codeshare agreements with multiple airline partners, announced a new codeshare agreement with TurboJET, the largest intermodal transport operator in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Bay Area.
The new partnership, which is the first of its kind for Hong Kong Airlines, will see TurboJET add the airline’s “HX” code onto its multiple daily ferry services between SkyPier at Hong Kong International Airport and Macao Outer Harbour Ferry Terminal.
Michael Ma, the commercial director for Hong Kong Airlines, said: “We are delighted to partner with Turbojet to offer convenient air-to-sea connections for our customers travelling to Macao via Hong Kong. With just one itinerary, visitors to Macao will enjoy a seamless connection to one of the world’s greatest entertainment centre in the Pearl River Delta region.”

Starting from 26 September 2018, passengers of the airline travelling to Macau, as well as those departing from Macao to other destinations will be able to travel on the codeshare ferry service. The schedule for ferry services out of Hong Kong is from 1100-2200 every day, while daily services departing Macao are from 0715-1945.
Tickets for the ferry service will be available from 20 September 2018 onwards and can be purchased globally through travel agents.
The director of Macao Government Tourism Office (MGTO), Maria Helena de Senna Fernandes, said: “We are always happy to see different tourism operators come together to present solutions to facilitate travelling to Macao.”
“More visitors will certainly be encouraged to come to Macao”
De Senna Fernandes added: “The smoother sea-air transport services brought by the new Hong Kong Airlines codeshare agreement with TurboJET will benefit visitors from near and far. With the convenience brought by this service, more visitors will certainly be encouraged to come to Macao – a destination recently designated a UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy – and experience our east-meets-west heritage listed by UNESCO, our state-of-the-art integrated resorts, the rich calendar of events, and more, as we pave the way to transform the city into a world centre of tourism and leisure”.

Thailand suffers slow Chinese arrivals based on flight booking data

Posted by - September 21, 2018

Thailand is suffering a huge blow with the slowing down of Chinese arrivals following the tragic boat accident in Phuket on 5 July that left 41 dead – all of which were Chinese nationals.
In the first six months of 2018, Thailand enjoyed record success in the Chinese outbound tourism market. With over 5.9 million Chinese arrivals in the first half of the year and a year-on-year growth rate of 25.9%, Thailand ranked ahead Japan, Vietnam, and South Korea as the most popular destination for Chinese tourists. This growth reflected on the increase in flight bookings.
However, from the day after the incident, until 4 September, ForwardKeys reports that there was a marked 52.3% decrease in purchases of flights from China to Thailand, while booking data also shows that travel to the country to be made during the coming Golden Week holidays between 18 September and 8 October will be down 27% year-on-year among Chinese customers. With bookings clearly taking a negative turn among the Chinese outbound market, a coming reversal of recent arrivals growth from China can be anticipated in the third quarter of 2018.
As bookings to Thailand among Chinese outbound travellers have declined, ForwardKeys’ data has shown concurrent increases in the purchase of flights to other regional destinations among Chinese consumers; in the two months following 6 July, small increases have been seen in the purchase of Chinese trips to the Philippines and Singapore, marked growth in those to Vietnam and Cambodia and a 39.4% year-on-year increase in flight bookings to Malaysia.
Malaysia’s current success in attracting Chinese visitors, however, offers a cause for optimism for the Thai market amid its anticipated struggles. Malaysia suffered a similar fate following the two airline disasters that struck the country in 2014. However, the skies looked brighter in 2015 and 2016 when the number of Chinese visitors spiked.
As of the first half of 2018, Malaysia has replaced Taiwan as the eighth most-popular destination among Chinese outbound travellers. In spite of perceptions of danger for certain destinations, tourists’ memories can prove to be short.

Oman Air jets in to Athens for Summer 2019

Posted by - September 20, 2018

Oman Air’s B737 MAXOman Air has announced details of the latest addition to its schedule of global network this week, with the introduction of a new daily flight to and from Athens, set to fly as of June 2019.
Announcing the news, Eng. Abdul Aziz Al Raisi, Oman Air’s chief executive officer, observed the diplomatic ties between Greece and the Sultanate of Oman: “We are extremely proud and happy to add Athens to our rapidly growing network, as the first of several new routes to be launched in 2019.
Oman has strong bilateral relations with Greece and the introduction of this new flight will certainly help strengthen relations even further. The new route will also enable Oman Air’s guests to explore a remarkable city with an ancient civilization, steeped in history and amazing landscapes.”
Flight WY 191, will leave Muscat at 1445 and arrive Athens at 1950. The return flight will depart Athens at 0020 and touchdown at Muscat at 0635, with a flight duration of about five hours and will operate by Oman Air’s new state-of-the-art Boeing 737 MAX aircraft.
[embedded content]
Dr. Yiannis Paraschis, CEO, of Athens Airport, commented:“We are very pleased with Oman Air’s decision to add Athens to its continuously growing network! This significant network addition is great news for travellers on both ends of the route, offering them the possibility to discover Athens and Muscat, two historic and exciting destinations.
Furthermore, it is also an important development that enhances Athens connectivity towards strategic markets beyond Muscat. We wish all the best to Oman Air and we are committed to supporting our new airline partner towards a highly successful presence in the Athens market.”
The Oman to Athens service comes as part of the airline’s expansion goal to take their existing fleet of 51 aircraft up to 70 and pushing coverage up to 60 destinations within the next four years.

Oops! Who stole Cathay Pacific’s ‘F’?

Posted by - September 20, 2018

Probably the only airline in recent history to spell its own name wrong. Source: Cathay Pacific via HKADB.
“YOU had one job.”
Hong Kong flag carrier Cathay Pacific just flew right into a giant blooper. A blooper so huge, it is the size of its Boeing 777-367.
Photos of the livery surfaced recently with words “Cathay Paciic” freshly painted on its fuselage instead of “Cathay Pacific”.
It appeared that the plane was on the ground at Hong Kong International Airport at the time.
The photos, which were originally published by Hong Kong Aviation Discussion Board (HKADB), quickly went viral and got the attention of the airline.
Cathay Pacific took it in good humor, however, sharing the photos on its Twitter account captioned, “Oops this special livery won’t last long! She’s going back to the shop!”
Oops this special livery won’t last long! She’s going back to the shop!
(Source: HKADB)
— Cathay Pacific (@cathaypacific) September 19, 2018
According to The Guardian, the plane had been flying overnight from Xiamen in China, arriving in Hong Kong in the early hours of Wednesday morning.
“We did not intend to make it a big fuss in the first place, but photos went viral within the aviation enthusiastic groups, so we just shared the hilarious moment with everyone,” a Cathay Pacific spokesperson told CNN Travel. We are not having many chances to have such ‘limited edition,’ right?”
According to an engineer for Haeco, a sister company of the airline, the mistake which could cost thousands of dollars to correct.
It is not known how the giant typo could have been made. Perhaps someone lost the “F” stencil?
Meanwhile, Cathay Pacific and Boeing donated the first-ever Boeing 777 airplane to the Pima Air & Space Museum in Arizona yesterday, one of the world’s largest facilities devoted to celebrating aerospace.
The iconic 777-200 airplane flew from Cathay Pacific’s home airport in Hong Kong to the Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, Arizona

Qantas switches off volume for in-flight entertainment options

Posted by - September 20, 2018

Qantas flyers aren’t happy about the airline’s decision to scrap in-flight music options. Source: Shutterstock
WHAT’S your in-flight entertainment go-to? Films, audiobooks, games, music or just sleeping?
Well, if you’re someone who uses their flight time to explore the music charts, you’ll be sad to know Qantas is axing its in-flight music options.
The Australian-based airline has decided to scrap its in-flight music and radio entertainment on domestic Boeing 737 and Airbus A330 flights.
The airline recently reviewed its onboard entertainment options and found that fewer than 10 percent of its passengers listened to the on-demand music and radio channels.
So if you’re in that 10 percent, you’ll need to load up your personal devices with your favorite playlists before flying.
In fact, those who have already done this are the reason behind Qantas’ decision to reduce audio options.
A Qantas spokesperson said in a statement that the majority of passengers were using personal audio devices to listen to music and only relying on seatback screens for movies and TV shows.
According to the airline, audiobooks and podcasts will still be available on the flights and earlier this year, Qantas announced it has plans to roll out onboard WiFi across its fleet by 2021.
But these appeasements aren’t good enough for some of the airline’s loyal flyers, with many taking to Twitter to vent their frustrations.
One flyer asked the airline to reconsider its decision:
Hey @Qantas, I just heard you're getting rid of in-flight music. I've actually discovered some great albums/artists on your flights over the years. I find music far more relaxing than watching screens. Please reconsider!
— Michael McVeigh (@mjmcv) September 19, 2018
Some people wanted to know whether the savings from not buying music would be passed onto passengers:
Will @Qantas pass the Savings to the #Passengers now, since #Qantans decided to axe #Music from its in-Flight Entertainment System?#Media #Flying
— Med (@Medicayy) September 19, 2018
Then there are those who doubted Qantas has fact-checked its claim that only 10 percent of passengers listen to music on board:
So @Qantas have axed music from in-flight entertainment because “nobody listens”. I would like to fact check this because actually, 6 people (including myself) do! Bring back the muuuuuusic QF!!!!
— Bridget Hustwaite (@BHustwaite) September 17, 2018
This Twitter user thinks people aren’t listening to Qantas’ music because it lacks quality:
Qantas says no-one listens to their music channels/selections. The lack lustre curation of music focused audio/video could be the cause! @Qantas we'd love to talk to you about taking Aussie music to the world – get onboard! via @AustFreqFlyer
— Dean Ormston (@deanapra) September 17, 2018
But neither the opinions of these netizens nor being named as having the world’s fourth best in-flight entertainment has swayed Qantas’ decision.
Spotify, anyone?

Where to find the world’s very first Boeing 777

Posted by - September 20, 2018

It is the age of the average university graduate. Source: Shutterstock.
Cathay Pacific and Boeing have donated the first-ever Boeing 777 airplane to the Pima Air & Space Museum in Arizona, one of the world’s largest facilities devoted to celebrating aerospace.
The iconic 777-200 airplane (line number WA001 and registered B-HNL) flew from Cathay Pacific’s home airport in Hong Kong to the Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, Arizona on Sept 18, 2018.
B-HNL will be displayed permanently at the museum alongside more than 350 other historic aircraft.
The Boeing 777, often fondly referred to as the “Triple Seven”, is the world’s largest twinjet and has a typical seating capacity of 314 to 396 passengers.
Its distinguishing features include the large–diameter turbofan engines, long raked wings, six wheels on each main landing gear, fully circular fuselage cross-section, and a blade-shaped tail cone.
Boeing’s first fly-by-wire airliner, it has computer-mediated controls. It was also the first commercial aircraft to be designed entirely with computer-aided design.
It ranks as one of Boeing’s bestselling models.

Boeing first flew the aircraft on June 12, 1994 and continued to use it as a test airplane for several years.
It joined the Hong Kong flag carrier’s fleet in 2000 and was retired in May after 18 years of service.
During its time with Cathay Pacific, B-HNL operated 20,519 flights, recording 49,687 hours of flying time.
Cathay Pacific CEO Rupert Hogg said in a statement, “As the world’s very first 777, B-HNL holds a very special place in the history of both our airline and that of commercial aviation, and we are very pleased it will soon bring enjoyment to enthusiasts at its new home in Arizona.

“Our 777-200 aircraft have served us exceptionally well over the last two decades, and as we progressively retire these over the months ahead, we eagerly look forward to welcoming the state-of-the-art 777-9 aircraft into our fleet from 2021.”
In the 1990s, Cathay Pacific was one of a handful of airlines to provide input for the 777 at the design stage, which gave Hong Kong’s home airline a unique opportunity to refine the aircraft’s features to suit its needs.
Among the requests were a cabin cross-section similar to the 747 Jumbo Jet, a modern ‘glass’ cockpit, fly-by-wire system, and, crucially, lower operating costs.
Today, Cathay Pacific operates one of the largest 777 fleets in the world.
Nearly ready for the off. B-HNL and her crew. #first777
— Alex Jenkins (@alexjenkins88) September 18, 2018
A new addition! Pima Air & Space Museum received the first-ever #Boeing 777 (WA001) today by way of @cathaypacific, one of the largest operators of 777s and a launch customer for another addition—the all-new #777X. RELEASE:
— Boeing Airplanes (@BoeingAirplanes) September 18, 2018
Goodbye and see you soon, B-HNL
— Cathay Pacific (@cathaypacific) September 18, 2018
Boeing Commercial Airplanes President and CEO Kevin McAllister said, “Cathay Pacific has been instrumental in the tremendous success of the 777 programme. The airline contributed greatly to the airplane’s original design and has been one of its biggest ambassadors ever since. And now they are a launch customer for our new 777X airplane.”
“We are thrilled to partner with Cathay on this donation to the museum as a way to share the remarkable story of the Boeing 777 for years to come.”
According to AirlineGeeks, there’s not much left inside B-HNL besides a few rows in the middle. It is now with the Pima Air and Space Museum’s restoration team.

Going Dutch: KLM and Tata celebrate 25 years of innovation

Posted by - September 19, 2018

Dutch airline KLM and tech partner Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) marked the quarter century of working together this week.
The airline, which will celebrate its 100th anniversary next year, was the Indian company’s first customer when it opened for business in the Netherlands in 1993.
Since then the partnership has seen the two companies work together on numerous projects together including, BlueBot – the airline’s AI-powered social media chatbot, further enhanced with Google Assistant voice implementation; a smart digital queue, which allows all KLM customers to queue “digitally” in the airport lounge; a suite of booking and reservation management mobile apps – and the ability to collect boarding passes through social media such as WeChat, Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp.
“A new standard for the airline industry”
Rajesh Gopinathan, CEO and MD of TCS, said: “We are proud to celebrate 25 years of partnership with KLM and congratulate them on the way they have used technology to innovate and further strengthen the customer experience. It’s an area where they have set a new standard for the airline industry. We look forward to continuing our work with them in this inspiring journey.”
Currently TCS is working with KLM to help it tap into additional ecosystems, enabling the company to partner with new travel, aviation and hospitality services. By leading KLM’s API strategy, TCS has implemented a connected API network with over 30 open APIs, offering 24/7 support and opening the door to a wide range of potential new customers for the airline.
“The best possible customer service now, and in the future”
Pieter Elbers, CEO of KLM, said: “The aviation industry is going through significant change as a result of digital technology and in order to ensure we can continue our success and remain an industry leader in customer satisfaction, we need to be constantly developing the ways in which we improve our services.
We believe that technological innovation plays a key role in this, and by working with TCS for the past 25 years we’ve been able to further strengthen our business to ensure we are set up to deliver the best possible customer service now, and in the future.”