Ah Etihad Airways you’ve done it again! The Abu Dhabi based airline of late has been putting the knife into his product offerings, slowly killing off its ‘premium’ experience in a bid to fast track its way back to profitability after posting losses the last two years in a row.
What I thought was a cash cow for Etihad, the Sydney – Abu Dhabi leg, is not safe from its cost cutting measures. This month the airline announced it would remove the crowd favourite A380 with a downgrade to a B777 on one of its two daily Sydney-Abu Dhabi flights from October 2018 to late May 2019.
The flight affected is EY451 which departs Sydney 3pm and the returning EY450 leg back. The downgrade will take place 20 October 2018 to 4 December 2018, and then again from 7 February 2019 to 30 May 2019. Between the December-February dates listed above, EY451/EY450 will get a reprieve with the return of the A380.
The airline’s other daily service (EY454/455) will continue to feature the superjumbo, so if you are planning on flying the superjumbo note this before making a booking.
The change particularly isn’t great for passengers across the board with the B777 displaying the last gen seats for all classes. Moreover the B777 lacks the A380s lobby social lounge/bar area.
Etihad Airways announced that the change of aircraft was due to routine maintenance and has said it’ll notify guests booked on these services of the changes.
Whilst disappointed by the news (I’m an avid A380 fanboy), it sadly isn’t unexpected. My concern is how much further or for that matter low can the airline go in order to cut costs?!
Thank you Boeing (that’s all I can say)! The US airline last week has stepped in to rescue Ukrainian plane maker Antonov, who are best known for producing the world’s largest aircraft, the An-225.
Hamstrung after years spent heavily relying on Russian imports, Antonov production collapsed following Moscow’s annexation of Crimea in 2014. Enter Aviall the parts, equipment and services unit arm of Boeing. They plan to build eight Antonov aircraft yearly from the end of 2019.
I’m really pleased to see Boeing come to the rescue here. I feel in love with the world’s largest aircraft when it blasted onto the big screen in the Bond film Die Another Day. Up to that point in time I had never seen an aircraft so monolithic, so imposing. It made even the B747 at the time seem tiny in comparison. It’s a shame that the plane maker’s fortunes took such a hit but I am hopeful that the Boeing venture will ensure it continues to fly the world’s skies for many years to come.
Honkers on a 787-9 from Australia, are you bonkers? Qantas doesn’t think so with the Australian airline announcing they would fly their first 787 service to Hong Kong from Melbourne on 13 December 13 this year. The aircraft will replace the Airbus A330 on Qantas’ daily Melbourne-Hong Kong service 5 x flights a week, increasing to six flights from 28 January 2019 to 29 March 2019 (due to seasonal demand).
Brisbane-Hong Kong, which Qantas flies daily will get one 787 service a week to Hong Kong from 19 December 2018 with 787 flights set to double to two flights a week from 30 January 2019.
Sydney hasn’t been left out either with Qantas operating the 787 six times a week between Sydney and Hong Kong from 30 March 2019. As Qantas flies this route twice daily, the remaining services will be operated with either a A330 or A380.
Whilst the 236 seat capacity Dreamliner has fewer seats than the A330s and 747s it’s replacing on the HK route, there’ll be a greater opportunity for frequent flyers to nab a premium seat with 42 business class seats in a 1-2-1 configuration and 28 premium economy seats on offer. This is a win for business travellers with the current A330-300 offering only 28 seats in the business class cabin and no premium economy option.
Currently the Qantas Dreamliner now flies to Los Angeles, New York, London and San Francisco. It was anticipated last year that the new 787 aircraft would be used to increase operations between Brisbane and the USA. That option looks currently dead in the water with this announcement particularly as Qantas is still waiting on a decision from the United States Department of Transportation (DoT) on its proposed expanded alliance with American Airlines on trans-Pacific routes.
Personally I feel a bit baffled by the decision as the capacity for Hong Kong would actually be reduced on a 787 compared to the A330 and A380 which currently fly there. Sure they’ll be more premium seats to sell/ offer on reward redemption but the economy cabin capacity will be reduced and the layout, especially for those like myself who enjoy the 2-4-2 A330 (which feels quite roomy) will be replaced with a tight and almost suffocating 3-3-3.
Considering Qantas track record of changing things up so quickly (heck the announcement around the B747 flying domestically in Australia last month came as a surprise), this 787 route might be short lived as the airline expands its international long haul aspirations. Until that time, this announcement has me divided.
Are you happy with the new Qantas 787 announcement on flying this livery to HK?
From August, Etihad will introduce a range of exclusive Acqua Di Parma amenity kits and toiletries for its customers travelling in The Residence on its Airbus A380 as well as on their long-haul First Class and Business Class services.
The new amenity kits feature the iconic yellow of the luxury Italian fragrance brand. First Class unisex kits will host an array of luxury items including a miniature bottle of Colonia, a 40ml body lotion and lip balm. whislt toiletries include Colonia hand wash and hand cream. Shower gel, body lotion, hair shampoo, and hair conditioner will also appear as part of the Colonia bathroom amenity kits.
It won’t be business as usual for Business Class with the premium cabin also set to get a flashy unisex wallet bag, which can be buttoned to create a stylish and useful valet tray. They will feature a Colonia sampler and hand cream, which will also be dispensed in the Business Class washrooms.
And the Acqua Di Parma doesn’t just stop on the plane, with the Italian brand also set to feature in the airline’s flagship First Class Lounge & Spa in Abu Dhabi.
The announcement comes after Etihad announced earlier this month the introduction of caviar and sleepwear to the First Class cabin. For an airline that’s been doing a lot of cut backs of late this announcement is a welcome change. I personally love the Acqua Di Parma brand. and view the new partnership between the airline and the Italian fragrance giant as a huge step up on the current Luxe kits that are handed out in the Etihad cabin.
Like anything in life time will tell if the product matches the hype and look of the promo product that Etihad is spruiking.
Virgin Australia has had a bit of a rough trot of ate with the New Zealand market after one time ally Air New Zealand decided to bin their partnership and get into bed with rival Qantas. The move left Virgin in shock and probably a little ill prepared in terms of a response. Now Virgin has found a trick up its sleeve by announcing this week it would commence flights from Newcastle to Auckland from November this year.
The new seasonal route which will tap into summer passenger demand will feature a Boeing 737 with eight business class seats, 30 Economy X seats and 138 standard economy seats. The flights will run every Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday from 22 November 2018 to 17 February 2019.
Departing from Newcastle Airport at 7.30pm on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday is VA199, which will reach Auckland at 12.25am the following day. VA198 will depart Auckland at 5.10pm and arrive into Newcastle at 6.45pm.
The news from Virgin comes on top of the airlines recent announcements that it was launching new routes between Sydney and Wellington and between Melbourne and Queenstown from October this year.
It’ll be interesting to see the demand for these new routes and whether the investment was worth it considering no other airline is flying a direct Newcastle – NZ option. Like all ambitious ideas time will tell if the gamble was a success.
What do you think of Virgin’s lastest routes to NZ? Will you be using the new Newcastle – Auckland route?
Flight: TT247, Sydney-Melbourne (17 July 2018)
Loyalty Scheme: N/A
Frequency: Multiple flights daily
Duration: 1 hr and 20 mints
For years Tiger Airways had a shocking reputation, often seen as more pleb than budget compared to its competitor Jetstar. Heck Jetstar feels like a premium airline in comparison. When I first flew the airline it was a nightmare and vowed never to fly them again but here I am five years later and giving the airline another chance. Is this airline tiger still toothless or has it found the bite to be successful? TAT got onboard to find out.
The flight was delayed by half an hour from an incoming Tiger aircraft from Adelaide. The lack of announcements left many people baffled as to when they were going to start boarding. A positive unlike Jetstar is that the ground staff weren’t going out with a measuring tape and weights to assess passengers’ bags before boarding.
Initial impressions count and stepping onto the plane for the first time I found the interior was fresh with newly fitted leather black seating with orange headrests throughout the cabin. I was flying one of the newly refitted Tiger aircraft and can confidentially say it has come a long way since it grey and beige interior days.
The cabin is all economy seating. One thing I noticed immediately when I sat down was how roomy the seats and leg space was. This was a pleasant surprise. Unlike Jetstar which usually had my knees touching the seat in front, Tiger offered enough room to stretch out the legs comfortably for a short flight.
Nothing to see here unless you find your weird fellow passengers some form of entertainment.
Wine and dine me (the food)
Tiger being budget is a buy on board airline. There are no thrills unless you’re willing to put up the dollars. I had pre-purchased during the booking stage online a pie and sausage roll dish. All meals on Tiger include a free drink. When the cabin crew came round with the cabin service I was the first to be served my meal. The service was swift, relatively friendly but sadly not personalised.
The food itself was tasty and simple and did the trick for the short plane ride. Pricing for the meal was on par with Jetstar but the bonus of the free drink was a nice extra that is sadly missing with most Jetstar meals.
The short flight was more than enough for me on Tiger. The experience overall was a hell of a lot better than my first flight with them years ago. The interior of the cabin, seating and little food extras definitely added a bit of spark to what would have been a rather dull flight. Would I fly them again? They wouldn’t be my preferred option but if I had to look at options for a short haul 1-2 hour flight then Tiger would definitely be on my list of choices.
Service: 3 Stars
Seating: 3 stars
Food: 3 Stars
Etihad has been going down a very sad and slippery slope the last year or two. After so much gloss and grandeur, the shine is really taking a beating on the airline. Like I have stated in the past and continue to say, Etihad to me wowed as a new kid on the block. Their premium product I felt was one of the best out there in aviation market. Fast forward and Etihad is cutting and slashing like crazy to get itself back in the black. The latest cut is the Flybuys and Etihad Guest partnership with the three year old relationship set to dissolve on 31 July 2018.
The news comes after cardholders who had experienced issues being unable to convert their Flybuys points into Etihad Guest miles since December 2017. At the time the two claims it was down to ‘technical issue’.
From July 31 2018 linked members will no longer be able to redeem their Flybuys points for Etihad Guest Miles, collect Flybuys points via the Flybuys-Etihad booking portal or link their Flybuys and Etihad Guest memberships.
All outstanding Tier Miles from Flybuys will be credited to a traveller’s Etihad Guest account by the end of August 2018.
I’m not sure this is one of the smartest moves by Etihad as it had the potential to reach out to new audiences but then again I am not across the logistics of the partnership and whether the cost was worth the reward for Etihad at the end of the day.