Welcome to the PaxEx Update, bringing you the top headlines for passenger experience in the week ending August 16, 2019.
The top story this week comes from Hong Kong, where protests have disrupted flight operations at the airport and mainland regulators are cracking down on hometown carrier Cathay Pacific. With the stock trading near 10-year lows and Beijing still applying pressure CEO Rupert Hogg is out. It remains a very fluid situation on the ground in Hong Kong and at the airline.
Two airlines expanded their fleet types during the week. AirAsia X Thailand added the A330neo to its fleet, with a very small premium cabin and 365 economy class seats squeezed in the back. With double-digit fuel efficiency increases versus the classic A330s the carrier is eyeing a return to Europe in the near future. Virgin Atlantic‘s first A350-1000 sits at the other end of the spectrum. The carrier is only showing off the exterior so far, however. Images of the new Upper Class cabin or the rest of the aircraft interior have not been released. The carrier did announce that the second destination for the type would be Los Angeles in early 2020, following Newark later this year.
Air Canada‘s new A220-300 will open two new transcon routes in 2020. The first frame is moving through the final assembly line in Mirabel, featuring Panasonic Avionics IFE and Gogo 2Ku WiFi for the 137 seats on board, with delivery expected before the end of the year. The carrier hopes the new type will bring relatively long, relatively thin routes to life, similar to what the 787 did for longer but still relatively thin demand city pairs.
Staying with routes news, Norwegian is dropping its single-aisle transatlantic flights mid-September, blaming the 737 MAX grounding as a key factor in the decision. Southwest Airlines, on the other hand, is resuming its growth into Hawaii come January, even with the MAX unavailable. The carrier sacrificed its Newark station to free up the planes headed to the islands.
Virtual reality got a boost on the inflight entertainment front this week. Inflight VR closed a 2.5 million euro funding round while SkyLights announced a small trial program with British Airways.
Finally, Air France is angling to improve checked baggage handling with a commitment to add RFID tracking systems at its Paris hub in 2020 and throughout the rest of its network beyond that. The move follows the efforts of partner Delta Air Lines from a couple years ago and is in line with IATA’s recently adopted resolution endorsing the technology.
Keep up with these stories and more all week long here at PaxEx.Aero, and have a great trip!