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.

Melbourne – Los Angeles announced as first Dreamliner route

Courtesy: Qantas.

The Qantas Dreamliner will carry 236 passengers in a three-class configuration and complement the daily Airbus A380 service already flying from Melbourne to Los Angeles. Operating six times per week, the Dreamliner will replace the 747 service that currently operates on this route alongside the A380.

Qantas International CEO Gareth Evans said the arrival of the Dreamliner would be a step change for the airline and for customers, both in terms of operational efficiency and passenger comfort.

“The Dreamliner is a game-changing aircraft that opens up a new era for Qantas, and it’s been designed with passenger comfort in mind,” said Mr Evans.

“The aircraft itself offers passengers larger windows, a smoother ride and better air quality to reduce jetlag.

“In Economy there’s more room and plenty of storage. In Business, our suites will offer a fully flat bed and direct aisle access. We’ll be unveiling our Premium Economy in the first quarter of next year and it will set new standards for the industry.”

Mr Evans made the announcement while visiting the Boeing Aerostructures Australia facility at Port Melbourne with Victorian Tourism Minister John Eren. The factory manufactures parts of the 787 wing, which are then shipped to the United States for the aircraft assembly.

“We’ll be working with Visit Victoria on joint marketing campaigns to highlight what Victoria and the Qantas Dreamliner have to offer,” said Mr Evans.

Today’s announcement (December 13th, 2016) follows Qantas confirming it will fly non-stop from Perth to London from March 2018. Travellers on the East Coast are expected to also use the service, cutting up to an hour off their total travel time.

The 787-9 Melbourne-Los Angeles service will operate six days a week. This takes the total number of Qantas services on the route from nine to 13 return flights per week and will give customers the convenience of a morning or afternoon departure from Melbourne on most days. As it replaces a larger, 364-seat 747 that operates twice a week, the net capacity increase is approximately 1,400 seats in total.

Fares will be on sale from Christmas Day 2016.

*: Subject to final government and regulatory approval.

Source: Qantas.

Qantas to fly non-stop Perth to London

Courtesy: Qantas.

Qantas is set to add to its list of aviation firsts, with the national carrier confirming it will operate non-stop flights from Perth to London using the 787-9 Dreamliner.

The 14,498 kilometre service will be the first regular passenger service to directly link Australia with Europe when it begins in March 2018.

Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said the history-making route would be a watershed for travel, tourism and trade.

“When Qantas created the Kangaroo Route to London in 1947, it took four days and nine stops. Now it will take just 17 hours from Perth non-stop.

“This is a game-changing route flown by a game-changing aircraft. Australians have never had a direct link to Europe before, so the opportunities this opens up are huge.

“It’s great news for travellers because it will make it easier to get to London. It’s great news for Western Australia because it will bring jobs and tourism. And it’s great news for the nation, because it will bring us closer to one of our biggest trade partners and sources of visitors.”

Mr Joyce said passenger comfort on the long flight was a key consideration.

“When we designed the interior of our 787s, we wanted to make sure passengers would be comfortable on the extended missions the aircraft was capable of.

“That’s why we have features in our Economy seats that other airlines reserve for Premium Economy. Our Business Suite has been nicknamed ‘mini First class’ by many of our frequent flyers. And we’re redesigning our on-board service to help reduce jetlag,” he added.

The enhanced Qantas cabin design is in addition to the comfort factors that Boeing built in to the Dreamliner – improved air quality, lower cabin noise and technology to reduce turbulence.

Mr Joyce said the direct route is expected to appeal to travellers on the East Coast as well as West Australians, helping to deliver a tourism boost.

“A direct flight makes travelling to Australia a much more attractive proposition to millions of people. We expect many travellers from Europe will start their time in Australia with a visit to Perth before going on to see other parts of the country.

“Our modelling shows that people from the East Coast as well as South Australia would fly domestically to Perth to connect to our non-stop London service. Some will take the opportunity to break their journey, whether it’s for business meetings in Perth, to holiday or to visit family.”

The new flight will operate through Qantas’ existing domestic terminals (T3/4), which will be upgraded to accommodate international flights. The airline’s current international services from Perth (to Singapore and to Auckland) will also move to this terminal, helping to simplify the journey for thousands of people every year. Qantas will move its operations to an expanded Terminal 1 at Perth Airport by 2025, pending a commercial agreement.

“We’ll be looking at the timing of our domestic flights through Perth to offer the best connections we can to our international flights, particularly given they will all be under the one roof,” added Mr Joyce.

“I’d like to acknowledge the support of the West Australian Government and Perth Airport in helping make this service a reality.”

Seats on the Perth-London flights will go on sale in April 2017 for the first services in March 2018. The Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners used on the route will carry 236 passengers across Business, Premium Economy and Economy cabins.

Source: Qantas.

British Airways: New French alpine route takes off from Stansted

Courtesy: British Airways.

Winter sports fans will have a direct gateway to some of Europe’s top snow resorts from Stansted tomorrow (December 17) with the launch of new British Airways flights to the French Alpine city of Chambery.

The well-timed weekend flights will give customers easy access to some of the top snow and ski resorts like Val d’Isere, La Plagne, Meribel and Courchevel.

Each way fares are available for £49 on www.ba.com. Other fares which include ski carriage are also available.

British Airways started flying from Stansted for the first time in May this year, adding a fourth London airport to its network.

The new twice-weekly service to Chambery will complement the British Airways service from London City Airport which operates three times a week increasing to a daily service over the Christmas and NewYear period.

Luke Hayhoe, British Airways’ general manager commercial and customer said:  “British Airways has enjoyed a very successful first summer at Stansted and we are delighted to launch Chambery, our first winter-only service offering skiers and winter sports enthusiasts a gateway to one of the best Alpine snow regions direct from their doorstep.”

Mats Sigurdson, Stansted’s Aviation Director, said: “It’s fantastic news for passengers that British Airways is launching an exciting new route to Chambery to serve the Alpine ski resorts of France. The announcement is a real vote of confidence in Stansted and recognition of the strong demand that exists across the region and will provide passengers with even more opportunities to fly from their local airport this winter.”

Source: British Airways.