Beijing’s new mega airport will challenge Air China’s dominance

Like ancient warlords, China’s three biggest airlines have dominated their regional cities: Air China Ltd. controlling Beijing, China Eastern Airlines Corp. holding sway in the financial center of Shanghai, and China Southern Airlines Co. ruling the roost down in export gateway Guangzhou. Until now.

Rising on a plain south of Beijing is a mega airport that is about to change the balance, bringing all three head to head in the capital as it becomes the world’s biggest aviation hub.

The new airport, due to open in 2019, has been designated by authorities as the hub for members of the SkyTeam alliance, a global group of airlines that includes China Eastern and China Southern. The two Chinese carriers will each be allowed to capture 40 percent of the airport’s passengers, gaining coveted time slots to Europe and the U.S. in Air China’s backyard.

“This is an absolute game-changer for China Eastern and China Southern,” said Corrine Png, chief executive officer of Crucial Perspective in Singapore. “Having all the SkyTeam alliance members under one roof will enable seamless flight connections.”

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The invasion of Air China’s regional rivals has repercussions beyond China. As well as dominating their home bases, the big three Chinese players have each carved out a position abroad. Air China, through its Star Alliance ties with Deutsche Lufthansa AG and United Continental Holdings Inc., commands many of the routes to Europe and North America. China Eastern is the biggest carrier to Japan and South Korea. And China Southern is strong in Australia and Southeast Asia.

With access to more slots in Beijing, China Southern and China Eastern would potentially get more access to lucrative North American routes while their SkyTeam partners would get better access to the Chinese capital. In addition, China Southern, the nation’s biggest airline, would be able to draw traffic from its Southeast Asian links to fly via Beijing to the U.S.

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#Qatar Airways extends network with new #Dublin route

Qatar Airways landed in Dublin on Monday, inaugurating a new daily service connecting the Irish city to the airline’s growing network, according to a statement.

The flight, with its next-generation Airbus A350, marked the special occasion, as Qatar Airways’ daily Dublin service would continue to operate with a Boeing 787 Dreamliner, which has a two-class configuration that includes 22 seats in Business Class and 232 seats in Economy Class.

Qatar Airways Group CEO Akbar Al Baker welcomed the new route as an “important milestone” for the airline.

“The new service will connect the Irish people with more destinations globally and provide them the opportunity to experience our five-star service,” Akbar said in a statement on its website.

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The Dublin route marks the airline’s first service to Ireland, which connects passengers to its network to the Middle East, Asia and Australia, as well as easing connections to Australia and Hong Kong.

The route also provides Qatar Airways Cargo customers 80 metric tons of belly-hold capacity each week, a service that boasts temperature-controlled facilities, including for perishables, the statement further said.

Following the Dublin launch, the carrier is set to add flights to more destination through 2017 and 2018, including Abidjan, Ivory Coast; Accra, Ghana; Canberra, Australia; Chiang Mai, Thailand; Chittagong, Bangladesh; Mombasa, Kenya; and Utapao, Thailand.

Read also: Qatar Airways to loan laptops to passengers

Source – TheJakartaPost

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#AirAsia opens new routes from Indonesia to Mumbai, Macau

AirAsia has opened new international routes to Mumbai, India, and Macau, China, to tap into high demand among tourists from the two countries.

“The growing number of Chinese and Indian tourists coming to Indonesia boosts our spirit to launch the new routes,” said AirAsia Group CEO for Indonesia Dendy Kurniawan on Wednesday, as quoted by tempo.co.

Dendy added that the company was committed to supporting the government’s efforts to develop Indonesian tourism by extending its route network and offering services at affordable prices.

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AirAsia Indonesia is set to operate the direct flight from Jakarta to Macau three times per week in a first phase starting on Aug. 7 and four times per week starting on Sept. 1 for the second phase. With promo fares starting from Rp 888,000 for the period of Aug. 7 to June 5, the new service will use an Airbus A320-200 that can accommodate 180 passengers.

Meanwhile, the Mumbai route will start on May 19 and connect to Bali – with a transit of 65 minutes in Kuala Lumpur. AirAsia X Indonesia plans to serve the flight seven times per week using aircraft that can accommodate 377 passengers.

Source – TheJakartaPost

Read also: AirAsia to launch Denpasar-Tokyo route

Enchanting Europe

With the southern hemisphere countries already saturated in sunshine, Booking.com introduces interesting seven destinations to provide the ultimate retreat during the summer months.

Surrounded by volcanoes and geysers, Iceland’s capital Reykjavík attracts tourists with its scenic Hallgrímskirkja Church said to have been designed to resemble the rocks, mountains and glaciers of Iceland’s landscape, as well as Nautholsvík Beach where bathers can plunge into the geothermal water.

In Italy, Naples is edgy thanks to effusive locals, scooters zooming past and a tangle of tumbledown streets. The birthplace of pizza, it has plenty of attractions to visit from Castel dell’Ovo to the Archaeological Museum.

There’s an extra something to life in the Spanish capital Madrid. Start your day in the leafy Retiro Park on your way to a morning at the Prado then have a late lunch and afternoon siesta, before rising late to join the locals for dinner.

Budapest in Hungary bewitches every visitor. Houdini’s hometown is full of unfading beauty that holds you captive. A gentle soul emanates from within this city built on imperial strength, and people engage in a high-stakes hustle to claim their own piece of happiness.

Standing behind towering city walls, Dubrovnik beach town in Croatia has stunning, panoramic views over the emerald Adriatic Sea. Promoting itself as the world’s design powerhouse, Sweden’s capital Stockholm is a serious contender for Scandinavia’s friendliest citizens. You’ll be welcomed with open arms to this urbane city, where medieval alleys, majestic parks and an awe-inspiring Royal Palace will leave you eager to explore.

Porto in Portugal is home to the sleepy Douro River, where boats have dropped anchor for centuries as travellers tumbled forth into Porto’s lattice of sun-drenched streets. Today, cellars stocked with sweet wine vie for attention among studios, cafes, and baroque buildings strung with colourful washing lines.

Find out more at Booking.com

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Source – TheNation

#Shanghai may build new airport for business flights

Shanghai is considering building a new business aviation airport to meet the rising demand for business jets in the city, an official from the Shanghai Airport Authority said on Tuesday.

“In addition to the existing business aviation bases, Shanghai is also planning a new business aviation base elsewhere in the city,” said Jing Yiming, president of the Shanghai Airport Authority, at the opening of the three-day Asian Business Aviation Conference & Exhibition.

“The market potential of Shanghai’s business aviation is huge, where we’ve seen more than 20 percent year-on-year growth in the sector during the past few years. So far, a total of 67 general aviation enterprises and 371 general aviation aircraft have been registered with the Civil Aviation Administration of China’s East China Regional Administration,” Jiang Huaiyu, an official from the administration was quoted as saying by the Shanghai Observer.

“So it is necessary for Shanghai to have an independent airport handling business and general aviation,” Jiang added.

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Currently, the second business aviation base at Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport is under construction, and is expected to become operational in 2018.

There were 900 turbine helicopters and 450 business jets in China as of 2016, with compound annualized growth rates of around 6 percent and 9 percent, respectively, over the past decade, said Charles Park, director of marketing analysis and planning of Honeywell Aerospace.

Read also: Top 10 world’s busiest airports

Wang Qi, vice-president of China sales and chief representative of ATR, said the development of general aviation will create opportunities for less populated airports.

“About 92 percent of passengers are concentrated in the top 50 of the nation’s 219 airports, while the bottom 100 airports only handle 1.6 percent of the total passenger flow, where general aviation can play their role,” said Wang.

The concept of general aviation is not limited to business needs, said Liao Xuefeng, chairman and CEO of China Business Aviation Group. “A variety of non-commercial actives including agricultural aviation and rescue can benefit from it.”

According to Bill Schultz, senior vice-president of business development in China for Textron Aviation, China’s general aviation market offers diversified jet demand.

The 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-20) has a similar supportive trend in areas including tourism, air mapping and emergency rescue, he said.

According to the guiding rules of the State Council on promoting the development of the general aviation industry, issued in 2016, China plans to build around 200 new general aviation airports between 2016 and 2020, bringing the nation’s total to about 500.

This article appeared on The China Post newspaper website, which is a member of Asia News Network and a media partner of The Jakarta Post

#Indonesia – Ministry wants travel agencies to create ‘New Bali’ package tours

The Ministry of Tourism wants travel agents to come up with 10 new package tours that they will call the “New Balis” in order to entice international tourists to visit not only the Island of the Gods but also other places of Indonesia.

As the ministry enters the second year of its three-year business plan for the promotion of tourism outside Bali, the focus has shifted from branding, which was executed last year, to advertising. In 2018, the government aims to reach the selling stage.

“If branding is catching people’s attention, advertising aims to persuade people to come to Indonesia, while selling includes giving discounts and price cuts,’ said Tourism Minister Arief Yahya.

“Both airlines and travel agents need to be creative. Perhaps they can do joint promotions or hard-selling promotions to attract tourists to come to Indonesia,” he added.

The ministry is also hoping that the promotion of less popular destinations will distribute air traffic more evenly, alleviating congestion at the airports serving Bali and Jakarta. “The air connectivity problem is an urgent matter for us, since most tourists come to Indonesia by airplane,” said Hiramsyah Sambudy Thaib, who heads a team at the Tourism Ministry tasked with accelerating the development of new tourism hot spots.

The ten promoted destinations include Solo, Medan and Lombok, all of which have their own airport operating 24 hours a day. Airports that are currently being upgraded to accommodate large planes are Silangit Airport in North Sumatra and Leo Wattimena Airport in North Maluku.

“This is a huge opportunity for both airlines and travel agents. They can reverse the tour offerings from two days in Bali and one day in Lombok, for example, to one day in Bali and two days in Lombok, so that it won’t all be concentrated in Bali,” he added.

Construction work to extend the runway of Silangit Airport is slated to conclude by September. Meanwhile, Leo Wattimena Airport currently can only accommodate ATR 72 planes. An upgrade will enable the airport to accommodate Boeing 737s to attract tourists to Morotai. The runway extension is targeted for completion by June next year.

To support continued growth in air traffic, the government is in a process of deregulation to make it easier for airlines to add more flights to Indonesia.

Source – TheJakartaPost

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Garuda Indonesia names Ida Fiqriah first female pilot to attain captain’s rank

National flag carrier Garuda Indonesia has inducted Ida Fiqriah as its first female pilot to reach the rank of captain of Boeing B737-800 NG planes, a narrow body-style aircraft, after she successfully recorded 10,585 flight hours.

It is hoped Ida can later also become the first female pilot captain for wide-body aircraft.

Garuda Indonesia operational director Capt. Novianto Harupratomo personally pinned a Boeing B737-800 Bar Captain rating emblem on Ida in a ceremony on Wednesday.

“It’s not by chance that the induction ceremony coincides with Kartini Day, which will be celebrated across the nation on April 21. This moment clearly shows that Garuda Indonesia gives equal opportunities to anyone who shows top work performance in their profession,” said Novianto in a press statement.

He further said that attaining the position of pilot captain was not easy and took a lot of hard work, adding that Capt. Ida Fiqriah’s achievements had made her an Ibu Kartini of the modern era and it was hoped that her career developments would inspire all women in Indonesia.

Ida has also had the longest career at Garuda of any of the company’s female pilots. She has now flown for Garuda for around 18 years. Her career began in 1999 as a first officer or co-pilot. Graduating from aviation school PLP Curug in Tangerang, Banten, in 1999, Ida has piloted various Garuda Indonesia aircraft, starting with the Boeing B737-300/400/500 series and the wide-body Airbus A330-300/200.

Of Garuda Indonesia’s 1,380 pilots, only 30 of them are women. “We hope the induction of Ida Fiqriah as a pilot captain can motivate all female pilots in this company,” said Novianto.

Source – TheJakartaPost

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Iran, Russia agree on visa-free stay for tour groups

Iran and Russia have eased visa requirements for Iranian nationals visiting Russia and vice versa, following an agreement signed by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Russian President Vladimir Putin in late March.

Tehran Times reported on Monday that “based on the agreement, tour groups of 5 to 50 people heading to Russia from Iran or vice versa will be granted a visa-free stay of up to 15 days”.

The move is expected to increase tourism between the two countries.

Russia’s Tour Operators Association executive director Maya Lomidze said that Russia was welcoming more Iranian visitors following the launch of direct flights from Iran to St. Petersburg, Moscow and Sochi.

Source – TheJakartaPost

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Five innovations that could transform air travel

Aircraft interiors have long been a battleground for luring passengers with plusher cabins, bigger seats and fancier food. The fight for a new generation of travelers is intensifying as a dearth of upcoming new jetliner models forces airlines to get creative.

Among developments this year, Qatar Airways revealed a business berth which can be swiveled to form a meeting area for four, or even a double bed. Dubai-based Emirates is giving its flying bars a saloon-style redo with table seating targeted at passengers who prefer to linger over their Bloody Mary. Its A380s already offer airborne showers, while those operated by Etihad Airways of Abu Dhabi boast a three-room suite with personal butler. At the same time, Airbus Group says it may shrink the double-decker’s so-called grand staircase to add capacity and improve the model’s mass-market appeal.

The next generation of gizmos, on show at the 2017 Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg starting Tuesday, includes innovations aimed at boosting seat density, automating in-flight service (watch out cabin crew!) and keeping passengers entertained. Alongside the more practical advances are others that may not ever see the light of day. Bloomberg picks out five innovations worth a look.

Cyborg server

Tired of losing the beverage-cart lottery? Paris-based Altran has invented a robotic waiter that takes your drink and snack order in advance and rolls it up to your row. The self-driving trolley also collects garbage at the end of the flight, which leaves more time for human attendants to focus on important issues like safety. And fashion violations. Alas, the robot lacks arms, so the job of passing hot coffee to window-seat passengers will be outsourced to the lucky aisle-seat occupants.

Germ killer

Using technology that’s already in action to disinfect hospitals and municipal water supplies, the GermFalcon will zap ultraviolet light across the cabin to sanitize armrests, tray tables and even toilets. It looks like a beverage cart with arms and can destroy bacteria and viruses on 54 seats in 1 minute. There’s already so much radiation at airports and in planes, who’s going to be bothered by a few rays more?

Flying gourmet

If your steak’s overdone you can soon send it back. Deutsche Lufthansa is making flight-safe cookers that fry eggs, toast bread and steam rice at 30,000 feet. Don’t worry about your freshly pressed suit smelling like a greasy spoon by the time you land for your meeting: the science-lab look-alike comes with a fume hood. And a lock meant to prevent a skillet full of sizzling sirloin from flying down the aisle during turbulence.

Window surfing

You’ve secured the window seat, popped in your earbuds and nestled your travel pillow into place. Now for a relaxing view of, err, stock prices. Vision Systems, based in Lyon, France, wants airlines to turn their windows into pane-shaped infotainment screens that passengers can swipe through to see flight details, order drinks and — naturally — buy stuff. If you want to unplug, the screens can be dimmed so you can see the clouds through tinted glass.

Space maker

Sliding seats are the way of the future. That’s what Molon Labe Designs wants you to believe. Its pitch for reconfiguring cabins includes an aisle seat that slides over the middle seat to widen the corridor during boarding. The Denver-based startup also boasts middle seats that are the industry’s widest at 21 inches, and positioned farther back and slightly lower than the neighboring spots, creating less scope for armrest battles.

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