KLM welcomes latest Boeing 777-300 at Schiphol

Courtesy: KLM.

KLM’s Boeing 777 fleet now consists of 28 aircraft, 13 of which are type 300s. In June 2016, KLM welcomed its 12th Boeing 777-300, named Gunung Mulu National Park. KLM’s next Boeing 777-300, the last on order, is scheduled to arrive in September.

Located in Panama, Darien National Park is home to the Choco and Kuna peoples. The varied landscape includes sandy beaches, rocky cliffs, mangroves, swamps, lowlands and highlands with tropical rainforests. The park also boasts unusual wildlife such as giant anteaters, jaguars, tapirs and caimans.Darien National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Centre, which means it is officially recognised as unique, irreplaceable and important to the collective interest of humanity.

Source: KLM.

United’s Triple Seven(th) heaven

Courtesy: United Airlines.

United Airlines will add the Boeing 777-300ER to its 2017 flight schedules this weekend, with the airline’s newest aircraft type featuring the all-new United Polaris business class seats starting regularly scheduled service in February 2017. The aircraft’s entry into service will also mark the debut of United’s new wide-body cabin design.

With the flight schedule update this weekend, United will offer one round trip six days each week between Newark Liberty International Airport and San Francisco International Airport between Feb. 16 and May 4. The airline expects to begin 777-300ER intercontinental service between San Francisco and Hong Kong on March 25, with the aircraft replacing a Boeing 747-400 currently being used on the route. Flight and aircraft schedules are subject to change.

United expects to place into service all 14 aircraft in its 777-300ER order in 2017.

All-New Business Class Seat

“Our 777-300ER fleet represents a new era in premium air travel,” said Julia Haywood, Executive Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer of United. “With United Polaris business class we are providing reimagined inflight dining, new amenities, the first United Polaris lounge at Chicago O’Hare International Airport and now this custom designed seat, all of which make for a tailored experience that prioritizes comfort and sleep.”

United’s 777-300ER aircraft will offer a modern, spacious interior envisioned in partnership with design firm PriestmanGoode, including the airline’s all-new United Polaris business class seat. Each United Polaris suite-like pod will feature direct access to the aisle, a 180-degree flat-bed that measures 6’6” and 23 inches wide with infinite seat recline options and one-touch lumbar support, ample storage, multiple surfaces that enable passengers to dine while working, universal A/C power as well as 2-USB ports, a 16-inch high-definition entertainment screen, electronic privacy dividers for seats in the center of the cabin, mood lighting and an illuminated “Do Not Disturb” sign. Additionally, a new marble-topped bar unit offers customers in business class a place to grab a mid-flight drink or snack.

This new seat represents the latest in the continued roll-out of United Polaris, the airline’s most significant product transformation in more than a decade, featuring a reimagined, sleep-enhancing experience for intercontinental travelers.

The Boeing 777-300ER aircraft will feature 60 seats in business class in a 1-2-1 configuration with direct-aisle access from all seats.

Cabin Experience

Throughout the aircraft, the cabin interior is comprised of bespoke branding elements as well as carpets, fabrics and wall laminates – that, like the United Polaris seat, were specially designed for United, as well as redesigned lavatories which include modern finishings and farmhouse-style sinks. With a focus on providing a more tranquil journey for customers, the new cabin design features LED mood-lighting to complement sleep and assist with time-zone changes as well as textured and softer touch materials which not only provide a more premium feel, but will absorb aircraft noise and other sound within the cabin.

United Economy

Seats in United Economy will offer two United Private Screening options – personal on-demand entertainment with high-definition seat-back monitors and USB ports along with United’s personal device entertainment, enabling customers to play thousands of hours of movies and television programs on their electronic devices. Customers also will have access to in-seat power outlets and the opportunity to purchase satellite Wi-Fi.

The aircraft will feature 102 seats in United Economy Plus in a 3-4-3 configuration with 34 inches of pitch, and 204 United Economy seats in a 3-4-3 configuration with 31 inches of pitch.

Source: United Airlines.

Boeing, SWISS confirm additional order for 777-300ER

Courtesy: Boeing.

Courtesy: Boeing.

Boeing and Swiss International Air Lines (SWISS) today (October 26th, 2016) confirmed a new order for one 777-300ER (Extended Range), valued at $339.6 million at list prices. The Swiss airline had previously ordered nine 777s and taken delivery of six this year as it continues to establish the 777-300ER as its flagship.

“The 777-300ER will be the backbone of our long-haul fleet for many years to come,” said Peter Wojahn, Chief Technical Officer, Swiss International Air Lines. “As one of the largest operators of the 777-300ER in Europe we can offer our passengers unrivalled frequency and passenger comfort to a number of intercontinental markets thanks to this super-efficient long-haul aircraft.”

The 777-300ER is the most fuel and cost-efficient airplane in its class as well as the most reliable twin-aisle aircraft in the world. It also has the highest cargo capability of any passenger airplane.

“We value the continued confidence SWISS places in the 777 program and are honored that the 777-300ER will continue to play a prominent role in the airline’s expansion plans,” said Monty Oliver, Vice President, European Sales, Boeing Commercial Airplanes.

The 777-300ER has consistently won many accolades including “Best Aircraft Type” based on passenger preference polls, “Best in Class” based on fuel burn, passenger load cost and performance and “Best Residual Value for a Twin Aisle Airplane” among others.

Source: Boeing.

Air France-KLM signs a partnership agreement with Gogo to equip its long-haul fleet with WiFi

Courtesy: Air France - KLM.

Courtesy: Air France – KLM.

On 29 September 2016, Air France-KLM signed a partnership agreement with Gogo, a world leader in broadband Internet provision and entertainment in the airline industry, to offer its customers connectivity services on board its long-haul flights.

68 Air France Boeing 777 and 15 Airbus A330 as well as 29 KLM Royal Dutch Airlines Boeing 777 and 12 Airbus A330 will be equipped with WiFi on board starting from end 2017, a total of 124 long-haul aircraft.

With this new joint Air France and KLM agreement, the Group’s passengers will benefit from WiFi during their trip by staying connected around the world with their family, friends or business partners, on their smartphone, laptop or tablet. On the in-house Air France-KLM designed onboard portal a freely accessible environment is available where customers can find relevant information about their flight, arrange travel details and find entertainment beyond the state of the art seat-back inflight entertainment systems.

The 2Ku product from Gogo offers a future-proof platform based on the latest antenna technology, bringing flexibility to adapt to growing demands from our customers.

We want to offer our customers the best possible solution to stay connected. By installing the latest WiFi technology on board on more than 120 aircraft in our long-haul fleet, we are once again illustrating our ability to innovate and provide all our passengers with the best possible experience – Michel Pozas Lucic, Vice President Customer Innovation and Care at Air France-KLM.

Boeing 787 already equipped with WiFi
On Air France-KLM’s long-haul fleet, passengers already enjoy WiFi on board the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, with currently 8 aircraft operated by KLM and the first aircraft operated by Air France as from 9 January next year. The Group’s Boeing 787, which offer WiFi on board, are equipped by Panasonic Avionics, and offer the same portal and products as planned on the rest of the long-haul fleet.

Source: KLM.

Air France increases services on its Paris – Cancun route

Courtesy: Air France.

Courtesy: Air France.

To meet the strong market demand, Air France will fly to Cancun throughout 2017 from Paris-Charles de Gaulle, increasing the number of services to 4 weekly flights during the 2016-17 winter season, operated by Boeing 777-300 (468 seats) and 3 weekly flights during the 2017 summer season, operated by Boeing 777-200 (312 seats).

“By launching services by A380 on the Paris-Mexico City route in January 2016, Air France was the first airline to fly to Central and South America with the super jumbo. With today’s announcement of Paris-Cancun services throughout the year, which so far have been operated only in winter, Air France-KLM is confirming its development strategy on the Mexican market. These direct flights to Cancun all year round offer our French and European passengers direct access to the Riviera Maya, a very popular region with tourists”, said Patrick Alexandre, EVP Commercial, Sales and Alliances at Air France-KLM.

Flight schedules for the 2017 summer season (in local time):

AF650: leaves Paris-Charles de Gaulle at 12:15, arrives in Cancun at 16:05;

AF651: leaves Cancun at 18:20, arrives at Paris-Charles de Gaulle at 11:00.

Flights operated on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays.

Discover Cancun, gateway to Yucatan with Travel by Air France

Air France offers all curious, demanding and passionate travelers a digital and original travel blog: travelby.airfrance.com. With two new cities added each month, Cancun is one of the 104 destinations available. In this way, Air France customers can explore a wide selection of hidden restaurants, boutique hotels and scenic spots, drawn up by people who love their city (bloggers, e-influencers, journalists, etc.).

Air France has designed this guide not only as a source of inspiration to help customers choose a destination, but also as a real travel guide during their stay.

Air France-KLM, European leader to Central and South America and the Caribbean

During the 2016-17 winter season, the Air France-KLM group will operate up to 18 weekly flights to Mexico:

4 weekly flights between Paris-Charles de Gaulle and Cancun, operated by Air France;

7 weekly flights between Paris-Charles de Gaulle and Mexico City, operated by Air France;

7 weekly flights between Amsterdam-Schiphol and Mexico City.

Air France, the first airline to serve Mexico City by Airbus A380, also offers services between Paris and Mexico City on a codeshare basis with Aeromexico, providing a wide range of connecting opportunities on the Mexican airline’s domestic network.

Leader in Central and South America and the Caribbean in terms of seat capacity, Air France-KLM serves 27 destinations* in this region, and offers more than 261 weekly flights on departure from Paris-Charles de Gaulle and Amsterdam-Schiphol.

*: Aruba, Bogota, Bonaire, Brasilia, Buenos Aires, Cancun, Cali, Caracas, Cayenne, Curacao, Fort de France, Guayaquil, Havana, Lima, Mexico City, Montevideo, Panama, Paramaribo, Pointe à Pitre, Port au Prince, Punta Cana, Quito, Santo Domingo, Saint Martin, Santiago, Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro.

Source: Air France.

Austrian Airlines invests in additional aircraft at the Vienna flight hub

Courtesy: Austrian Airlines.

Courtesy: Austrian Airlines.

Last Wednesday, the Supervisory Board of Lufthansa AG, as the final and highest corporate body in the company, approved large-scale investments in the Austrian Airlines fleet. The investments will serve as the basis for the first strategy package of Austrian Airlines entitled “Next Level Austrian“ at the Vienna flight hub as well as for the acquisition of one additional intercontinental and two additional continental aircraft. These three planes alone represent an investment value of more than EUR 100 million. As a result, more than 230 additional jobs will be created at the Vienna hub. The two Airbus A320 jets will already serve to enlarge the Austrian Airlines fleet this year, whereas the Boeing 777 aircraft is expected to first be deployed starting with the summer flight schedule 2018.

“I am pleased that the go-ahead has been given to the first package of the ‘Next Level Austrian’ strategy and thus the next step in the development of Austrian Airlines”, says Austrian Airlines CEO Kay Kratky. “The conclusion of the collective bargaining agreement for the flight crew and the positive signals from political decision makers with respect to Vienna as a flight hub ensure a good investment climate.” In the next step, Austrian Airlines is to make a decision regarding the modernization of the long-haul fleet, in light of the fact that, as is already well known, the existing fleet of long-haul aircraft will begin to reach the end of their useful economic lives starting in 2020. “In this case we will be talking about an investment sum which is clearly higher than EUR 1 billion”, adds CFO Heinz Lachinger.

Prospects for new direct flight connections originating in Vienna

The two additional Airbus aircraft from Lufthansa will mainly be deployed for bilateral German-Austrian flight traffic. In contrast, the wide-body jet in the package approved today will be used for new direct flight connections from Vienna. Destinations in Asia as well as America and Africa appear to be of particular interest. Recently, the Austrian flag carrier added new nonstop flights to Shanghai, Hong Kong and Los Angeles to its flight schedule. In addition to the expansion of the Austrian Airlines fleet the investment in a Premium Economy Class for the long-haul fleet was also approved. During the winter of 2017/18, this new class will be integrated in all intercontinental aircraft of Austrian Airlines. Already this year, the airline will begin installing Internet on board: The 31 Airbus jets will be successively equipped with WLAN as of November 2016 and subsequently tested. Starting in December 2016, Austrian Airlines passengers will be able to use Internet on board the first converted aircraft.

An overview of the Next Level Austrian Package:

  • The long-haul fleet grows by an additional Boeing 777:
    The wide-body Boeing 777 aircraft approved today will be leased from the Irish aircraft lessor AerCap for a period of about eight years. This represents an investment value of about EUR 60 million, including conversion costs. The original value of this jet, the world’s largest twin-engine passenger aircraft, is about EUR 200 million. Around 150 employees are required to operate such an aircraft (110 flight attendants, 30 pilots, five station employees and five technicians). Depending on the seating design, the aircraft boasts seating capacity for about 300 people, and will transport about 150,000 passengers per year. At present, Austrian Airlines operates six Boeing 767 and five Boeing 777 aircraft.
  • Expansion of the medium-haul fleet by two Airbus A320:
    The additional two Airbus A320 aircraft approved today were leased from the Lufthansa Group for a period of approximately eight years as well, representing an investment value of about EUR 50 million, including conversion costs. The original value of an A320 aircraft is close to EUR 90 million. A total of 42 employees are needed to operate such an aircraft (28 flight attendants and 14 pilots). Depending on the seating design, the jet features seating capacity for about 174 people, and will transport some 225,000 passengers annually.  The additional capacity of the two aircraft will be deployed for the Innsbruck-Frankfurt, Salzburg-Frankfurt, Graz-Frankfurt and Vienna-Munich routes. Austrian Airlines currently operates 29 aircraft of the Airbus A320 family (seven A319, 16 A320 and six A321). On balance, Austrian Airlines operates a fleet of 78 aircraft.
  • Austrian Airlines introduces Premium Economy on all long-haul flights as of 2018:
    Building upon the positive experience of Lufthansa, Austrian Airlines has decided to introduce a Premium Economy Class between the Economy and Business Class rows on all its B767 and B777 long-haul aircraft. “Premium Eco” will offer passengers individual seats featuring a larger reclining angle, more seat spacing and broader seating surface. In addition, the screen for on-demand entertainment will be bigger than for Economy Class passengers, and catering will be upgraded. In terms of pricing, the Premium Economy tickets will be offered at an attractive entry level ranging between Economy Classic and Business Class rates. The aircraft will be adapted in the winter of 2017/2018 and will be ready to be deployed starting with the 2018 summer flight schedule. A total of 18 Premium Eco seats will be installed on B767 jets and 24 Premium Eco seats on B777 aircraft at the expense of Business and Economy Class. Depending on the current seating configuration, the seating capacity on the B767 aircraft will be reduced by three or fourteen seats to 211, and the number of seats on the B777 jets will decline from 308 to 302. Nevertheless, the airline expects higher proceeds. Total investments for Premium Eco will amount to about EUR 15 million.
  • Austrian Airlines will offer Internet on board as of mid-December 2016:
    Internet on board Austrian Airlines flights will represent a further impetus for innovation. In November 2016, the first Airbus will already be equipped with Inflight Connectivity (IFC) and tested. Following successful tests, Austrian Airlines passengers will be able to use Internet on board the first aircraft as of mid-December 2016. The entire Airbus fleet is scheduled to be upgraded by the 2017 summer flight schedule. Investments for the project will amount to about EUR 5 million. The future offering of Austrian Airlines and a technology partner is based on the latest broadband satellite technology (Ka band) and offers seamless, reliable coverage on the Airbus fleet. Passengers will be able to make use of Internet access via WLAN with their own mobile devices. In addition to simple e-mail services, it will also be possible to access more demanding applications, including streaming. Austrian Airlines will announce details on the fee model for this service at the time it is introduced. Due to the fact that many passengers consider making phone calls on board to be annoying, it will continue to be forbidden on Austrian Airlines flights.

The above-mentioned measures only represent part of the Next Level Austrian strategy package. After the restructuring, the Austrian flag carrier is expected to play a more decisive role within the Lufthansa Group in the future. Key issues will include the expansion of the long-haul network, investments in a new aircraft technology and upcoming cooperation with system partners.

“We want to more strongly exploit the cost advantages of Austrian Airlines in the Lufthansa Group, and play a bigger role in product developments”, explains Austrian Airlines CCO Andreas Otto. Austrian Airlines has already set an example in terms of innovations based on products such as á la carte catering, business class online auctions and social gifting.”

Source: Austrian Airlines.

KLM flies Paralympic medal winners back to the Netherlands

Courtesy: KLM / Marco Spuyman.

Courtesy: KLM / Marco Spuyman.

On reaching Dutch airspace, the KLM aircraft was again flanked by two F-16s of the Royal Netherlands Air Force, as was the case after the Olympic Games. The aircraft was given a festive “shower of affection” by the fire brigade on its arrival at Schiphol. The athletes were welcomed by René de Groot (Chief Operating Officer of KLM) and Harm Kreulen (Managing Director of KLM The Netherlands).

On arrival at Schiphol, the athletes passed through an honour guard of KLM personnel in uniform on their way to the busses that brought them to Tivoli/Vredenburg in Utrecht for the official reception ceremony. The Netherlands won a total of 17 gold medals, 19 silver medals and 26 bronze medals at the Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

Source: KLM.