Melbourne Avalon Airport this week saw its first AirAsia X international flight take off. The new flight sees AirAsia X move its twice daily Kuala Lumpur – Melbourne Tullamarine flight as part of a 10 year deal with operator Linfox Airports, which the airline signed early this year.
As part of the deal, a new terminal was built to facilitate international operations (the airport had only previously catered to domestic operation) in partnership with the Commonwealth and Victorian governments. The new terminal features border processing facilities, two duty free stores, tax refund facilities, as well as a bar and cafe spanning across 6,370 square metres. The airport anticipates 500,000 passengers will pass through its newly built international terminal during its first year of operations.
AirAsia X is the only airline currently offering international flights from Avalon. Whilst the move from some in the sector feel that shift to Avalon is risky for AirAsia, the large subsidies from the Victorian Government will ensure that the move from Tullamarine to Avalon is at least cost effect. Combined with Geelong experiencing a large spike in population growth in recent years due to its close proximity to Melbourne and housing options, the move to me seems quite a smart one. I don’t envision that the move will pay dividends instantly but give it one to two years and I believe Avalon will be a viable option for price conscious flyers looking to fly between Melbourne and Asia.
After announcing via Twitter they’d be offering priority boarding to veterans in Australia, Virgin Australia has partially backflipped on their decision after strong public backlash. The airline has stated that “over the coming months, we will consult with community groups and our own team members who have served in defence to determine the best way forward. If this process determines that public acknowledgement of their service through optional priority boarding or any announcement is not appropriate, then we will certainly be respectful of that.”
The Virgin Australia announcement was an odd one to begin with. Perhaps they thought the gesture would earn them some good PR but then again Virgin needs to better understand its customer base, and it isn’t America. Having flown internally within the USA many times I find the gesture a little cringeworthy, if not smacks of commercialism. How can we put a price on death and war? Every ANZAC day commercial businesses are criticised if they utilise the dya for profit, so why is it any different here? Moreover if Virgin had done its research it would know that Australian veterans and our service men and women do not seek attention. Australians are more respectful and do not act patriotically around war like America. Whatever the case Virgin has dug itself in a deep hole and it is dangerous for an airline already on its knees.
What saddens me is that the announcement was done as part of a campaign by NewsCorp, the same lovely folk who brought you the campaign to fire Malcolm Turnbull,. NewsCorp don’t care about people, they care about their agenda and in this case are probably trying to cover their tracks from recent blunders. The organisation’s intent is tokenism at its worst and Virgin sadly fell into its trap.
Here’s hoping Virgin Australia learn from this tough lesson and consult before making surprise announcements.
Should Australia be going down the path of the USA and recognise veterans at the airport/ on the plane? Keen to hear your thoughts.
A couple of months ago Emirates announced it would be undertaking a large network reduction from now until June 2019 due to runway works at Dubai Airport. As a result of the airport operating out of one instead of two runways, flights have been impacted. Unfortunately, Australians haven’t been spared with the airline set to make changes to several Australian routes.
The biggest changes will affect Melbourne and Sydney with both cities set to be downgraded from the A380 to a B777. The daily Melbourne via Singapore route will be impacted during the period of 2-20 Nov and 15 Jan to 30 March 2019. Likewise, the Sydney via Bangkok (EK418/EK419) route will switch to a 777-300ER. Whilst this aircraft retains first class it loses the first class shower and more importantly the on board bar and lounge space. Note that the daily non-stop Dubai routes from Melbourne and Sydney will continue to operate on an A380.
Perth will be hit the hardest with the airline seeing a reduction in flights from 14 to 11 per week from 7-28 November 2018 and 7 Feb to 30 March 2019. In addition EK424 will not run on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays whilst EK425 won’t run on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays. Th aircraft type however won’t be affected.
As they always say there’s a silver lining in some of this news and that goes to Adelaide. The SA capital is the winner out of the changes with the route set to receive the newly reconfigured B777-200LR which possesses the brand new business class seat. A win for customers despite the aircraft still retaining the not so great 2-2-2 configuration. The dates Adelaide will be impacted is 8-30 October and 1 February to 30 March 2019.
All I can say is that I hope these reductions are what they claim ‘temporary’ and not a mere testing of the waters for something more permanent. The Australian market is a strong one for the UAE based airline and the A380 is the best aircraft to service that market from its Dubai hub. Anything less is really a slap in the face of customers, particularly the business class arrangement of a 2-2-2 configuration. As I stated before the only one benefiting here is the Adelaide route.
Consider this a downgrade and if you are on a business class ticket and have had the aircraft changed from an A380 to a B777, I would get in touch with Emirates as soon as possible to see if they can offer another A380 alternative.
Booked on a downgraded flight? Like to hear your thoughts on this.
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
In aviation you don’t often get ‘surprised’ as rumours seem to circle for months if not years about something newsworthy. So when Qantas announced its new codeshare deal with Air New Zealand, many (including me), were taken aback by the news.
This is a great win for both of the airlines. The deal would see QF coded onto 30 domestic AirNZ services across NZ, whilst Air NZ would see the NZ code on 85 domestic Qantas flight in Australia.
In addition the new deal would allow Qantas and Air New Zealand business class passengers and top-tier frequent flyers reciprocal airport lounges access as well as the ability to earn points and status on each airline’s loyalty program.
However it is understood that the new codeshare deal will not include Trans-Tasman and other international flights.
The biggest loser from the announcement is Virgin Australia who is still probably shell shocked by the announcement more than anyone else. Their partnership with Air NZ has tanked and is due to expire 28 October, the same day the QF and Air NZ alliance starts up. Talk about a kick in the teeth. John Borghetti must be fuming, yet again throwing another dart at his Alan Joyce dartboard in this office.
I am excited to see how this partnership will evolve but it does sound quite promising and even more reason for me to book a trip or two across the ditch.
What do you think of the new Qantas and Air NZ codeshare deal? Will you benefit or lose out from it? Keen to hear your thought.