Skytrax: Finnair awarded “Best Airline in Northern Europe” for the 8th year in a row

Courtesy: Finnair.

Finnair has been named, for the eighth consecutive year, as Northern Europe’s Best Airline at the World Airline Awards at the Paris Air Show.

Organised by Skytrax, the results are based on an independent survey of more than 19 million passengers from 105 countries that took place between August 2016 to May 2017 covering 325 airlines.

“We are proud that Finnair has once again been recognised by Skytrax and passengers from across the world as the Best Airline in Northern Europe. We are committed to providing the very best experience to our passengers throughout their journey and we constantly develop our service both on the ground and in the air while staying true to our renowned Nordic hospitality”, said Piia Karhu SVP, Customer Experience at Finnair.

Finnair has invested significantly in their growing A350 fleet and customer experience from the point of booking through to check-in and on board service.

Piia Karhu continued: “Finnair will continue to enhance our great personal customer service by innovating the travel experience by using the latest digital solutions to enhance the customer experience. We now have our Nordic Sky Wi-Fi portal installed on every long haul aircraft and the use of our mobile app has continued to grow.”

Continuing the digital trend, in 2017 Finnair was the first airline in the world to launch Alipay onboard, in addition, successful face recognition trials were conducted at Helsinki Airport check-in with Finnair frequent fliers.

“Digital transformation is one of our core strategic targets, however, we continue to develop all areas of the customer experience such as our well-received collaboration with top chefs in our long-haul Business Class cabins and our enhanced lounge experience in conjunction with new partnerships”, notes Piia Karhu.

The World Airline Awards by Skytrax are regarded as the primary benchmarking tool for passenger satisfaction levels of airlines throughout the world. The passenger survey analyses customer satisfaction for the overall airline passenger experience, at both the airport and on board the aircraft: check-in to boarding, seat comfort, cabin cleanliness, food, beverages, in-flight entertainment and staff service.

Source: Finnair.

British Airways: Customers love to join the Club on domestic flights

Courtesy: British Airways.

British Airways’ new business class cabin on domestic UK flights is proving a real hit with nearly 70,000 customers choosing the premium service in the first six weeks of its operation.

Alex Cruz, British Airways’ chairman and CEO, said: “Club Europe is proving incredibly popular with our customers on domestic services. In just a month-and-a-half we’ve had nearly 70,000 take to the skies with us and the feedback we’re getting is great.

“Customers are telling us that they love the new consistency throughout their travels with us. They are getting the smooth, easy experience they want, particularly for those transferring on to our European and long-haul networks. They’re also enjoying the additional benefits, and the improved catering and service that we launched across all our Club Europe services at the same time.”

Customers can take advantage of all the benefits related to the cabin, including lounge access, more personal space to work or relax, complimentary food and drink, dedicated check-in desks and priority boarding and a generous baggage allowance of two cabin bags and two checked bags.

The cabin features a 2:2 configuration with the middle seat free. The seats are bridged with a stylish ‘central console’ table, providing Club customers with a broad, functional space for drinks, snacks and personal devices, freeing up the main table for work or a meal.

The airline has also enhanced the catering for all Club Europe services across its short-haul network, including a new service style, a new crockery design and improved menus more closely tailored to the length of flight and time of day.

The airline’s domestic services around the UK and Ireland with Club Europe include flights between:

  • London Heathrow – Aberdeen, Inverness, Leeds Bradford, Manchester and Newcastle
  • London Heathrow/Gatwick – Belfast
  • London Heathrow/Gatwick/London City – Edinburgh and Glasgow
  • London City – Isle of Man

Prices start from £199 return.

Four hundred million pounds will be spent on Club World with an emphasis on improved catering and sleep, and a new seat in the future. At Heathrow a First Wing check-in area with direct security and lounge access has launched, and lounges around the airline’s network are to be revamped and improved. The Club Europe cabin has also been introduced on UK domestic services and all customers can look forward to the latest generation Wi-Fi across British Airways’ long-haul and short-haul fleets over the next two years.

Source: British Airways.

Airbus demonstrates regular customer delivery flights with sustainable jet fuel

Courtesy: Airbus.

Showing its strong commitment towards eco-efficiency, Airbus becomes the first aircraft manufacturer to offer its customers the option of delivering new jets using a blend of sustainable jet fuel.

The 15th A350-900 for Cathay Pacific departed Toulouse on June 1st, bound for Hong Kong, with a 10 percent blend of sustainable jet fuel in its tanks. Since the first delivery in May 2016, all of Cathay Pacific’s A350s have been delivered in this configuration.

The biofuel delivery flight concept, originally devised by Cathay Pacific in 2015 is now in full operation and this latest delivery flight confirms that the supply chain set up a year ago by Airbus and Total is functioning correctly, from the fuel production, through an integrated management at its Saint-Martin Toulouse site and to the customer delivery.

“This is a major step for Airbus and a first for the regular delivery of new production aircraft. It enables us to demonstrate that aviation biofuels are today a reality. We now target to expand this initiative to all our delivery sites, close to our customers,” said Frederic Eychenne, Head of New Energies at Airbus.

The first delivery flights from Hamburg, Germany and Mobile, US, using this type of biofuel are planned as of 2018. Since 2016, Airbus has offered this option for its delivery flights from Toulouse.

The aim is to continue reducing the carbon footprint of each flight starting with the aircraft delivery. Eychenne said: “Right from the first day of operation, an airline can clearly demonstrate its aim of reducing carbon dioxide emissions, thus helping to meet the commitments of the international civil aviation community.”

Through its brand new design with the latest cutting-edge technologies, the A350 XWB has a lower fuel burn and therefore lower CO2 emissions than the aeroplane it replaces, so when sustainable jet fuels are included as part of the operation, the net CO2 emissions reduction factor becomes even greater.

 As part of its environmental strategy, Airbus intends to continue its efforts by collaborating with all stakeholders in the biofuels sector. “Through this partnership with Cathay Pacific and Total, we have demonstrated that it is possible to set up supply chains for fuels with a low carbon footprint,” Eychenne added. “This initiative confirms Airbus’ commitment to environmental efficiency and its support toward international aviation’s emission reduction targets.”

Source: Airbus.

Finnair and Finavia test face recognition technology at Helsinki Airport check-in

Courtesy: Finavia.

Finnair and Finavia, together with Futurice, will test the use of face recognition technology for the check-in process of Finnair flights at Helsinki Airport. During the test period taking place between May 2 until May 23, the companies will gather information on the applicability of face recognition technology to the airport environment and the systems and processes used by the airline. Finnair has invited a group of 1,000 frequent flyers to take part in the test.

“Face recognition technology could offer possibilities for smoothening the departure process from the customer’s point of view, and eliminate the need for a boarding pass,” says Sari Nevanlinna , Head of Ground Experience and Ancillary at Finnair. “This test will give us information on the applicability of face recognition technology for our processes, and the impact it has on the customer experience.”

Finnair customers taking part in the test will use a test application to send their face portraits to the test system. When checking in to their flights, customers will use a designated check-in desk, where the face recognition technology will be installed. A customer service agent will then check the customer’s travel information and indicate in the test system if the face recognition was successful.

“We want to make air travel flow even smoother and be involved in further developing the customer experience,” says Heikki Koski , Vice President of Helsinki Airport for Finavia. “Facial recognition is part of the larger megatrend of biometric recognition, and it will enable “Hands in the pockets” travelling, where you no longer need any travel documents. When all travel-related information is digitized, it takes less time and is easier to get through the checkpoints at the airport. Last year, we tested facial recognition technology at the employee security control and the results were very encouraging.”

The system used in the test is provided by Futurice, and built using widely available hard- and software as well as cloud-based services, and with a strong view to the customer experience.

“We use face feature based face recognition technology, which turns facial images into untraceable biometrics IDs,” says Tuğberk Duman , Project Manager at Futurice. This enables us to identify registered passengers on the go without having to store images. This test will provide useful information on the use of this solution for environments with large customer flows and tight security needs.”

Source: Finnair.

British Airways: Launch of Milan flights from two London airports

Courtesy: British Airways.

British Airways is launching new year-round services to Milan, Italy from two London airports in April.

The new routes to Milan’s Linate Airport will start from London City Airport on April 24 and from Stansted Airport on April 29.

There will be two flights a day on week days and one a day at weekends from London City and two a week from Stansted.

Luke Hayhoe, British Airways’ general manager customer and commercial, said: “Milan is a very exciting route for us as it will appeal to both business and leisure customers. The new services gives the choice of two alternative London airports with well-timed flights to Linate, which is Milan’s most convenient airport.”

Earlier this month British Airways announced new summer-only routes from London City to Skiathos, Greece and to Manchester, which together with Milan means flights to 30 destinations will operate in British Airways’ colours from the Docklands airport this summer.

At Stansted British Airways is launching three new destinations, including a second Italian city Florence, and increasing frequency on some existing routes. The new service to Milan will be the airline’s ninth route this summer.

All flights will operate on modern Embraer 190 jet aircraft, with spacious cabins and two abreast seating so every customer can have an aisle or window seat.

Basic each way fares from London City and Stansted to Milan from £45 are available to book on www.ba.com

Customers flying in Euro Traveller benefit from allocated seats, a generous hand-baggage allowance and loyalty points which can be used to buy food and drink on board flights or towards other trips

Club Europe customers receive complimentary food and drinks on board, a generous free baggage allowance and free seat selection and on-line check-in.

Italian airline Meridiana, who currently codeshare on the British Airways services between Linate and Heathrow, will in future also codeshare on the new services from London City and Stansted.

Source: British Airways.

British Airways flights return to Birmingham and Bristol

Courtesy: British Airways.

British Airways is to start flying from Birmingham and Bristol airports again with the launch of four new summer-only routes to popular European sunspots.

From May the airline will begin direct flights from both Birmingham and Bristol to the popular Spanish destinations of Malaga, Ibiza and Palma and to the Italian city of Florence.

They will operate on modern Embraer 190 jet aircraft, with spacious cabins and two abreast seating so every customer can have an aisle or window seat.

The new return flights from both airports will operate once a week at weekends.

British Airways last flew from Birmingham and Bristol in 2007 when the regional airline business was sold to Flybe.

Since then Vueling and Iberia Express, subsidiaries of British Airways’ parent company, International Airlines Group (IAG), have started up services to Barcelona, Malaga, Alicante, Tenerife, Paris Orly and Madrid from Birmingham, while Aer Lingus has continued to operate to Dublin from Birmingham since 1984.

Aer Lingus Regional operate from Bristol to Dublin.

The news comes just a week after British Airways announced it is to resume European flights from Manchester Airport and increase destinations and frequencies from both London City and Stansted airports this summer.

Luke Hayhoe, British Airways’ general manager commercial and customer, said: “We are very excited to be returning to Birmingham and Bristol with four very popular routes. Customers can once again enjoy competitively priced flights to the sun direct from their doorstep with British Airways to those destinations they tell us they want to fly to. We look forward to a busy summer at both airports.”

David Winstanley, Chief Operating Officer for Birmingham Airport, said, “Having British Airways return to Birmingham is not only great news for the airport but also the Midlands region and we are confident this is the beginning of a long-term growth plan with the airline. Launching these four routes, of which Florence is currently unserved, means British Airways and Avios card holders as well as leisure travellers looking for a two-class cabin product can travel from their more convenient airport than those further afield. We look forward to welcoming one of the world’s most recognisable and trusted brands back to Birmingham in May.”

Robert Sinclair, Chief Executive Officer, Bristol Airport said: “We are delighted with today’s announcement which will see the iconic British Airways brand returning to Bristol Airport.  It will be the first time an airline has operated a scheduled service between Bristol and the Italian historic city of Florence which we are sure will prove very popular. These additional flights to Palma, Florence, Ibiza and Malaga offers passengers in the South West and Wales region further choice of scheduled flights for the summer season. We look forward to working with British Airways on the new routes and further enhancing the services available from Bristol. “

Source: British Airways.

Qantas Sydney – Beijing flights take off in time for Chinese New Year

Courtesy: Qantas.

Qantas’ new flights to Beijing take off today (January 25th, 2017), helping power the Australia-China travel boom and marking the next step in the national carrier’s Chinese growth strategy.

Beijing is Qantas’ third destination in Greater China, joining Shanghai and Hong Kong.   The new service gives the capital’s 21 million residents a direct gateway to Australia, representing a huge opportunity for the Australian tourism industry and Australian companies doing business in China under the Free Trade Agreement.

Inbound flights on the new route are timed to connect with Qantas’ domestic network to popular onward destinations such as Melbourne, Brisbane and Hobart, as well as the airline’s Tasman services to Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Queenstown.

Qantas will be working with Tourism Australia, Destination NSW and across its own marketing channels to showcase Australia for a Chinese audience, as well as jointly selling the route with its joint venture partner China Eastern.

Flights will operate to Beijing Capital International Airport Terminal 3, using a 235 seat Airbus A330-200 aircraft.  Overall, the service adds 3,300 seats to the market per week.

CEO Alan Joyce said the 12 hour route takes Qantas’ long history of serving China into a new era.

“It’s the perfect time for Qantas to fly to Beijing. The China-Australia Free Trade Agreement is hitting its stride and China is on track to become the number one source of visitors to Australia within the next year or so,” said Mr Joyce.

“What’s really exciting is the potential we see for the future.  We now have the Qantas Group’s biggest ever network in Greater China, and our goal is to make our Beijing route a flagship corridor for tourism and trade.

“For Chinese travellers, our message is that there’s no better way of getting to know Australia than with the national carrier.  In the business market, this route gives our companies the ability to win new business and get their products and services into the market. And it’s a positive for the Australian travel industry.  So whichever way you look at it, this is a good news story.”

The new Beijing service is part of Qantas’ growth strategy for China and the broader Asian region, increasing its total capacity on routes to Asia by seven per cent.

Together with its partners China Eastern and China Southern, Qantas customers can now choose from 130 weekly return flights between Australia and China, plus close to 256 connecting services to domestic destinations within China.  The Jetstar Group of airlines offers more than 30 return flights a week into eight Chinese cities from Singapore and Vietnam.

Today’s route launch follows the beginning of Melbourne-Tokyo Narita flights before Christmas and the announcement last week of a new Jetstar service between Melbourne and Ho Chi Minh city, to begin in May 2017.

Launch celebrations will take place in both cities, including the traditional Chinese Lion Dance and the gifting to passengers of chocolates inside red packets to celebrate Chinese New Year.

Source: Qantas.