Hong Kong Airlines has placed an order for 10 Airbus A380s with Airbus which makes the order worth $3.8 billion worth at list prices. Airbus plans to start the delivery to the airlines from 2015 onwards.
While the Hong Kong Airlines order still hasn’t appeared in Airbus’s order and delivery figures on the Internet, It will bring Airbus’s order tally for A380s to 27 won last year, when the manufacturer also signed contracts with Japan’s Skymark Airlines and South Korea’s Asiana Airlines Inc. for six each, and a further five for Qatar Airways Ltd. further strengthening its position in superjumbo market and also helping it overcome the recent bad press it has had to face due to a string of issues with the A380′s that belong to Qantas and Singapore Airlines. What remains to be seen is how and when will the program turn into a profitable version for Airbus given that right now it is heavily reliant on the large chunk of the orders from Emirates for the A380 which makes up a considerable percentage of the total.
Emirates has recently announced plans of providing in-flight internet on-board its superjumbo fleet of 11 of the 19 Airbus A380s already in service starting mid-2012. All future Emirates A380s will be rolled out pre-fitted with wireless Internet. Passengers will be able to connect their smartphone, tablet or laptop to wireless hotspots dotted around the superjumbo and tap into in-flight Internet service provided by OnAir, with prices ranging from US$7.50 to US$25.
The $7.50 plan, which will be available only to mobile device users will come with a 5MB data limit and is targeted for users looking for light surfing, checking emails and other social network activities, as Emirates puts it “ The US $7.50 package should be sufficient for the average Blackberry user to stay connected all the way from Dubai to Paris – a flight of over six and one half hours”.
The remaining plans are valid for laptops and mobile devices starting with the $15 plan which comes with a 25MB data limit which is for people looking to get some work done while on the flight and will surely appeal the business traveller. Lastly there us a $25 plan which is aimed at heavy users having a 100 MB data limit.
With the amount of time being spent in air increasing, in-flight internet options are becoming increasingly necessary for the frequent traveller to help stay connected with the world and for Emirates it provides a huge opportunity for growth given that they have one of the best long haul fleets and also the best service in the class.
Emirates, the world’s biggest international airlines plans to start serving the US cities of Dallas and Seattle from 2012 onwards.
As per the Bloomberg report, Emirates will begin daily services from Dubai to Dallas starting Feb. 2 and to Seattle from March 1 and may add cities including Atlanta,Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Philadelphia and Washington very soon. The airline plans to serve these routes using an A380 of which it has placed an order of nearly 90 and intends to add more in the Dubai Airshow to be held in November this year.
The airline seems to be betting bigtime on the A380′s which will add nearly 45,000 seats to its network, it recently started the first scheduled flight to Africas with a regular flight to Johannesburg.
Even in the slowing economy the airline is considering a ramp up as it is expecting demand to stay consistent or increase in the near future. The airline had scaled down its initial US expansion after the September 11 attacks but now seems to be back in action to target major cities in the US and also look for code-share partners after Continental scrapped the earlier agreement between the two in 2009.
The only factor limiting their current growth is current capacity limitation at their current hub at the Dubai airport which is currently undergoing a massive expansion to meet the growing demand. What remains to be seen is that what strategy it will employ to handle such a rapid growth trajectory in terms of employee base, capital requirements and other external factors. All in all from a passenger point of view it seems to be a very good news as Emirates is known to offer one of the best products in the market along with the most competitive fares on its routes. Its high time now that the Airline companies in the US fastened their seatbelt and improved their product offerings else risk their market share being eaten up by carriers of the like of Emirates which have raised the bar in terms of quality offering and better price value for its consumers.
Etihad Airways, the flag carrier of the UAE, announced changes to its Frequent Flyer program, Etihad Guest. The changes most of which come into effect from 9th October 2011 look to be fairly positive and are as follows:
- The mileage values for redemption and upgrades have been changed on a route-by-route basis, for example: redemption on flights between London and Abu Dhabi will be reduced from 120,000 miles to 110,452 whereas a First Class redemption between Abu Dhabi and Sydney will increase from 195,000 miles to 242,741, how they arrived on those wacky numbers is anybodys guess.
- From 21st September 2011 onwards one can upgrade to First Class using their Etihad Guest miles regardless of the tier level of membership. All Economy class tickets would now be eligible for upgrade to Business. As and how there membership grows, I am sure this will open up floodgates and sooner or later they will have get this thing off their list.
- Introduction of fees for dates changes on reward flights, over and above permitted free changes depending on tier status. For example: Silver members will be allowed two free changes, with subsequent changes charged at AED 100 or 2,000 miles.
- Reward ticket refunds will now be allowed, subject to a fee of 15 per cent of the miles redeemed for the ticket. This fee will not apply to Gold Elite members.
- This one is a bit odd one out, Etihad has moved to a calendar year system meaning that membership eligibility and miles expiry would be determined based on the 31st December of each year according to the membership level. Etihad Guest members, miles will be valid for 2 years now as compared to 3 years earlier and for Etihad Guest Silver members it becomes 2.5 years. The criteria does not change for Gold and Gold Elite. It just adds complication to the whole system by having different expiry timeline.
- They have included 5 kg excess baggage allowance even for base members now, elite members will keep getting their baggage allowance as defined.
Etihad has a very close partnership with Virgin Australia, American Airlines and many more which opens quite a lot of opportunities for redemption and upgrades. These changes will surely help them attract more frequent flyers on their routes and also help it in competing much better with next door giant Emirates. More details about the changes can be found here.