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News Roundup – 31st May 2017. A Summary of Airline News from the Past Week

News Roundup – 31st May 2017. A Summary of Airline News from the Past Week

News Roundup – 31st May 2017. A Summary of Airline News from the Past Week

Emirates has finally announced what many industry commentators have speculated upon for ages – A new First Class suite for the airline’s Boeing 777 aircraft.  And the date has been set.  The new product and a refreshed Business Class and Economy cabin will be unveiled at the Dubai Air Show in November.

Meanwhile, rival Gulf carrier, Qatar Airways may be launching its brand new QSuite Business Class seat, just two months after officially unveiling the product at ITB Berlin.  If the rumour is true, expect to see the revolutionary seat debuting June 10th on the airline’s Doha to London route.

Elsewhere, Australian-carrier Qantas is mulling direct flights between Europe and Sydney, Alaska Airlines will keep Virgin America’s Airbus fleet (for now at least) and Etihad may be about to sell its stake in Airberlin.

A full summary continues below.

Emirates to Unveil Brand New First Class Suite in November.  New Look Economy Cabin for the Rest of Us.

30th May 2017 – Courtesy Emirates

We predicted a couple of weeks back that Emirates would unveil a new First Class suite at some point this year.  In fact, a new First Class product has been speculated about for quite some time now.  Then a leaked seat map for the Emirates Boeing 77fleet showed a new seating configuration in the cabin – reduced from 8 suites to 6 in a 1-1-1 setup.

And now it’s official.  Yesterday, Emirates revealed that a brand new First Class suite would be unveiled at the Dubai Air Show that runs in the city between 12th – 16th November.  The new seat will be debuted on the airline’s new Boeing 777 aircraft.

“Our products and services across cabin classes are continually improved and enhanced. But what our customers will see on Emirates’ new 777s starting from November, will be a much bigger revamp that takes our onboard experience to the next level,” commented Tim Clark, the airline’s President.

But that’s not all.  Emirates also plans to unveil a refreshed and enhanced Economy and Business Class cabin on the new jet.  Although the airline has been particularly coy about what treats they have in store.

The Emirates First Class product is already one of the most luxurious airline suites out there so the new seat will no doubt be a very exciting proposition.  As yet, the destinations that will feature the new First Class product have not been made public.


The New Qatar Airways QSuite Business Class Seat will Make its Debut on June 10th

25th May 2017 – Courtesy The Points Guy

It’s only been a couple of months since Qatar Airways unveiled a revolutionary new Business Class seat that they dub the QSuite.  The brand new product was first shown to the public at aviation trade show ITB Berlin on 09th March and was very well received by industry experts.

Now we hear from unnamed ‘inside sources’ that Qatar Airways plans to launch the new seat on June 10th.  It looks like London will be the first destination to get the upgraded Business Class product with flight QR7 and QR8 the first flights to feature the QSuite.

The new seat features the industry’s first-ever double bed.  A group of four centre seats can also be made into a social area for passengers travelling together.  If this rumour is true, Qatar will steal a march on Delta Air Lines by debuting a Business Class product with sliding doors before the new Delta One product launches this fall.


Could Qantas Fly from London to Sydney Direct?  The Airline’s CEO Thinks So

26th May 2017 – Courtesy The Independent

When Qantas launches it’s direct service between London and Perth in Western Australia, the airline will take the crown for operating the longest flight in the world.  But if the 17 and a half hour flight time isn’t long enough for you, then Qantas might have an idea that you’ll like.

Reports suggest that the airline is seriously considering direct flights between Europe to Melbourne and Sydney.  The Independent reports that the quickest way to currently get between London and Sydney is a connecting flight in Dubai with Emirates – a journey that takes 22 hours.  The direct flight would shave 2 hours off that.

Both Airbus and Boeing are currently developing ultra-long-range models of their 787 and A350 aircraft that would make this epic journey possible.  Alan Joyce, told Reuters: “These aircraft, we think, are potentially real goers on these routes.” He said such a service could begin by 2022.


Alaska Will No Longer Be a One Aircraft Model Airline

29th May 2017 – Courtesy FlightGlobal

Alaska Airlines has been a ‘proud’ all Boeing 737 aircraft airline – up until now, that is.  With the acquisition of Virgin America, the Seattle-based carrier has suddenly found itself with a much more diverse range of aircraft and the decision whether to keep the Airbus aircraft that Virgin America operates has to be made.

“The Airbus airplanes will be with us for a long time,” commented Brandon Pedersen, Alaska’s Chief Financial Officer.  At least until 2024 when the leases on the 63 A319’s and A320’s expire.  If the leases are allowed to expire, Alaska would operate just 13 of the Airbus aircraft that are owned by Virgin.

And it looks like Virgin America will still take delivery of 10 Airbus A321neo aircraft that it has on order by the end of 2018.  Alaska is yet to make a decision of whether to keep a further order for 30 A320neo aircraft destined for Virgin America.  By 2024, the combined airline’s fleet is set to grow from 297 to 497 aircraft.


Is Etihad About to Sell Airberlin?

26th May 2017 – Courtesy Bloomberg

Etihad Airways continues to review its equity investment strategy and with it, a potential sale of the stake it holds in Airberlin.  At least, that’s according to unnamed sources quoted by Bloomberg.  The Abu Dhabi-based aviation group is said to be on the brink of hiring financial advisors to review ‘strategic options’ for its Airberlin stake.

Etihad’s stake in Airberlin is currently valued at approximately €30 million but its total exposure to the struggling German carrier is said to be much higher – about €2 billion.

The CEO of Lufthansa, Carsten Spohr, recently hinted that his airline would be willing to buy Airberlin to help expand Lufthansa’s low-cost business – but only if Airberlin can improve its cost base and financial stability.

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