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Qantas gives a new lease of life to their Boeing 747s

June 27th, 2012

Kinny Cheng

Yesterday, Qantas’s US-based account tweeted this:

@QantasUSA: Here’s a vid of our refitted 747s with A380 features. New seats, cabin mood lighting, espresso machines and more! http://bit.ly/MoNKlz #747

And here’s the video:

A rather convincing and informative video — and it’s all thanks to social media and the power of YouTube (publicising a two-and-a-half minute video wouldn’t have been feasible otherwise).

The video also raises some very interesting points:

  • Aircraft revitalisation through retrofitting: In short, Qantas has taken most of the retrofit hints from its Airbus A380 aircraft, which features the new cabin products. Along with a new paint job, those ageing Boeing 747-400s just got given a new lease of life!
  • Retaining existing aircraft (and retrofit) versus purchasing new ones: In the short term, the former option is probably more financially-viable, as opposed to introducing more new aircraft of similar capacity.
  • Frequent flyers’ familiarisation with product: As shared by select cabin crew in the YouTube video, passengers who flew on the retrofitted aircraft were happy to see the “new product” — whether it’s consistency with the A380 offering, or the doing-away with the old-and-tattery feeling of the previous cabins.

Most passengers wouldn’t be able to tell whether they’re on an Airbus or Boeing aircraft, but they might be able to differentiate between a single- or double-deck one.

My point is, being able to maintain consistency on a positive — and/or even improve upon the — passenger experience is pretty much key.

EDIT: @QantasUSA has provided me with a link to their site detailing the upgraded Boeing 747-400s and their operations.

Etihad takes food innovation up a notch, going down the organic road…

June 22nd, 2012

Kinny Cheng

Where most airlines concerned with their own meal offerings are trying to differentiate on variety, Middle-Eastern carrier Etihad is taking it one step further — reports Trade Arabia:

““Etihad Airways has a rich tradition of introducing world class in-flight dining innovations and we are thrilled to be the only airline in the world offering organic eggs and honey directly from our own locally raised hens and bees,” Shave added.”

While the eggs will be served to their Diamond First Class passengers, prepared fresh by the Etihad onboard chef, the honey from the bees will be used across an array of dishes offered to all its passengers.

The preparation of airline food is a very expensive exercise. Factoring the organic aspect into the overall equation does make it interesting, but how significant this will become — as an overall product differentiator for an airline — is yet to be truly seen.

ANA to Boeing: we need darker windows…

June 21st, 2012

Kinny Cheng

Reuters:

“The Japanese airline is looking to install pull down blinds on 787s already delivered, an industry source with knowledge of the matter told Reuters. That is one solution ANA is mulling for two Dreamliners operated on long haul routes, company spokesman Ryosei Nomura confirmed.

“For our passengers to have good sleep, we realised that it is important to offer appropriate darkness during flights especially for long haul,” Nomura said.””

You’re kidding, right?

UPDATE: Looks like ANA has come out and rebuked Reuter’s claims — @AirlineReporter has an exclusive on this.

China Southern attempts #PaxEx upsell with flagship aircraft

June 21st, 2012

Kinny Cheng

I have to admit that I’m not a fan of the China-based airlines, purely because of what I’ve heard and learnt about them over my many years of flying (as a passenger). Nor has there been a real need for me to visit mainland China anyway…

But for an aviation enthusiast who has a special love for the Airbus A380, the acquisition of the superjumbo by China Southern Airlines, Asia’s biggest airline, made me somewhat curious — specifically with how it will be deployed, and the kinds/types of products being offered to its passengers.

According to ‘yingxia’ of the Blue Sky blog, China Southern’s A380 aircraft has generated positive results translating to good ticket sales, operational improvements, and garnering valuable experience unattainable from working a fleet of primarily-smaller-sized aircraft.

The airline received its first A380 on 15 October 2011. It currently has three at their disposal (with another two on order), and is performing short-haul flights between Beijing, Guangzhou, and Hong Kong.

Recently, China Southern released a TV commercial which puts their A380 flagship aircraft under the spotlight. ‘yingxia’ explains:

“The commercial demonstrates the differences of the A380 service, from the on-ground safety checks, beautiful cabin staff and state-of-the-art in-flight entertainment system – to the spacious interior, excellent cuisine and pilots on the flight deck.”

Click here to view the TV commercial.

Pretty well done, I’d say. You don’t need to know any Mandarin to get the message here (although, it definitely would help!)

I would love to trial China Southern’s A380 product if given the opportunity, and look forward to the aircraft being deployed on their first long-haul routes (hopefully) in the very near future.

On Cathay Pacific’s hint of eventually killing seat-back TVs…

June 20th, 2012

Kinny Cheng

News — or all hell — broke out last week when Cathay Pacific’s CEO, John Slosar, dropped a bombshell.

From Business Traveller:

“John Slosar, CEO of the Hong Kong-based airline told HK Finance that “Given the popularity of tablet PCs, passengers no longer need some of the onboard entertainment facilities, like for example, the seat back personal TV screens [PTVs].””

The Hong Kong based airline goes on to describe how doing away with personal seat-back TVs can do away with between one and two tons of weight per aircraft, which can clock up substantial fuel savings over time.

But all this is still an “idea” for now:

“However, says Slosar stresses that “it remains an idea at the present time. The carrier would wait for another five or six years before tablet PCs became more popular with the travelling public at large before taking action.”

That is more of a safe bet. By 2017–2018, tablets will have become a far-more mature product, with a greater number of overall users. Plus, deployment of IFE-based systems utilising a passenger’s device (via Wi-Fi connectivity, for example) can bring numerous benefits to both parties.

And I’m pretty much in agreement with GhettoIFE’s take on this:

“Cathay Pacific’s idea is simple: Bring Your Own Device, and they’ll provide a power socket at seat so you can power it, be it a Laptop, Tablet or GhettoIFE Device.

The really clever move would be to introduce some sort of Wireless IFE device, so you use your own device, connect to a server on the plane, and stream content from it.”

Five years isn’t so close, yet not far. With constant advancements in the area of IFE (in-flight entertainment) and on-board communications, your guess is as good as mine come the kind of provisions made available to us on a flight.

I look forward, with great interest, to see how airlines choose to tackle this particular aspect of passenger experience. We won’t have to wait five years to see progress, because it’s already happening today in different segments of the commercial aviation marketplace (think AirAsia X, Emirates, Scoot, Virgin America — to name a few).

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