Welcome to the PaxEx Update, bringing you the top passenger experience news for the week ending August 23, 2019.
Qantas surprised the market this week by announcing its intentions to operate a few “Project Sunrise” flights earlier than expected. The carrier is due three new 787-9 aircraft from Boeing in the fourth quarter and will repurpose their delivery flights to help better understand what the inflight experience will be should it launch service from Sydney to London and New York City in the coming years. Only forty passengers will be on board, lightening the load enough for the planes to make these historic flights. Both passenger and crew research will be performed, helping to inform regulators and company policies. And, while those factors are important CEO Alan Joyce reminded the world that the financial viability of the routes will dictate the final decision on whether to launch. The significant carbon emissions impact of these ultra long haul flights is also likely to weigh on the decision to launch or not.
Spotting the financial viability in niche markets is part of airline network planning and United Airlines is making moves on that front. The carrier’s “High J” configuration 767-300s carry far more premium seats than a typical layout, making them ideal for routes where either business or premium leisure traffic is strong. Heathrow is always a candidate for such but there are less obvious places it can work, too. Newark to Nice for summer 2020 is one of several routes the carrier announced this week as it looks to maximize that premium revenue.
On the connectivity front SmartSky hit a milestone, beginning the installation of its air-to-ground inflight connectivity solution on the first JSX (formerly JetSuiteX) aircraft. Expect to see the system flying next month, with the company still targeting network activation before the end of the year.
Even as Delta Air Lines pilots voice concerns about imbalanced growth between the carrier and its transatlantic joint venture partners the airline is improving the loyalty offerings for small businesses with those airlines. The SkyBonus program added Virgin Atlantic as an earn and burn partner while also enabling redemption with Korean Air.
Finally, wet lease charter specialist Hi Fly took delivery of a brand new A330neo last week. The plane seats 353 passengers, with a very nice looking premium cabin and a very tight squeeze nine-abreast layout in economy.
Keep up with these stories and more all week long at PaxEx.Aero.