Qantas’ first Perth to London flight has taken off, marking the start of the only direct air link between Australia and Europe – and the fastest way of traveling between the two continents.
The history-making QF9, carrying more than 200 passengers and 16 crew, pushed back just before 7pm on Saturday evening and will land in London at 5am on Sunday.
Operated by a Boeing 787-9, the flight reduces total travel time by eliminating stopovers and taking advantage of the most favourable winds on any given day without having to factor in a mid-point in the Middle East or Asia when choosing a flight path.
Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce, who was one of the passengers on the inaugural flight, described it as a major milestone for Australia as well as global aviation.
“This is a truly historic flight that opens up a new era of travel. For the first time, Australia and Europe have a direct air link,” said Mr Joyce.
“The original Kangaroo Route from Australia to London was named for the seven stops it made over four days back in 1947. Now we can do it in a single leap.
“The response to the flight has been amazing, both for the attention it’s received since we announced it and the bookings we’ve seen coming in. It’s great for Australian tourism, for business travellers and for people visiting friends and family on both sides of the world.”
Mr Joyce said a huge amount of work had gone into improving the experience for customers taking the 17-hour journey.
“This is hands-down the most comfortable aircraft that Qantas has ever put in the sky.
“Boeing designed the Dreamliner with features to reduce jetlag, turbulence and noise. We’ve taken that a step further with our cabin design, giving passengers more space in every class as well as bigger entertainment screens and more personal storage.
“We’ve worked with the University of Sydney and our consulting chef Neil Perry to create a menu that helps the body cope better with jetlag and adjusted the timing of when we serve food to encourage sleep.”
The daily QF9 begins in Melbourne, flying to Perth before then flying non-stop to London. Qantas has adjusted the timing of some domestic services into Perth so that passengers from Adelaide, Sydney and Brisbane can join the flight to London.
Today’s first flight coincided with the opening of the airline’s new Perth International Transit Lounge featuring jetlag reducing lighting as well as pre-flight stretching classes, and relocating all of the airline’s domestic and international flights into a single terminal at Perth Airport for faster, smoother connections.
Mr Joyce added: “I’d like to specially recognise the support and cooperation of the Federal Government, the West Australian Government and Perth Airport. Without their help this flight, and all its broader benefits, wouldn’t be happening.”
Qantas chose its newest Dreamliner ‘Emily’ to operate the inaugural service, which features a striking livery by Balarinji based on the artwork Yam Dreaming by Indigenous artist Emily Kame Kngwarreye. The initiative is part of the national carrier’s commitment to promoting the best of Australia to the world.
From today, Qantas customers can choose from three routes between Australia and London – the direct Perth-London service on the Dreamliner; a reinstated Sydney-Singapore-London service on the A380; and via Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth to London via Dubai with partner Emirates on mix of A380 and 777 aircraft.
On the opening day of ITB Berlin, the world’s largest international travel fair, Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, His Excellency Mr. Akbar Al Baker, announced the airline’s aggressive expansion plans and 16 new destinations for 2018.
H.E. Mr. Al Baker announced a raft of forthcoming global destinations for the airline in line with its expedited expansion plans, including the announcement that Qatar Airways will be the first Gulf carrier to begin direct service to Luxembourg. Other exciting new destinations to be launched by the airline include Tallinn, Estonia; Cebu and Davao, Philippines; Langkawi, Malaysia; Da Nang, Vietnam; London Gatwick, United Kingdom; Cardiff, United Kingdom; Lisbon, Portugal; Valletta, Malta; Bodrum, Antalya and Hatay, Turkey; Mykonos and Thessaloniki, Greece; and Málaga, Spain.
In addition, services to Warsaw, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Prague and Kyiv will increase to a double daily frequency, while services to Madrid, Barcelona and the Maldives will increase to triple daily.
Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, H.E. Mr. Akbar Al Baker, said: “Qatar Airways is tremendously excited to announce further expansion with a significant number of new destinations to be added to our extensive global network throughout 2018 and 2019. This is a direct reflection of our commitment to connecting travellers across all corners of the world in a way that is meaningful and convenient to them. We are committed to continuing our ambitious growth strategy, in order to be able to provide our passengers with as much choice as possible and to take them anywhere in the world they wish to go.”
Qatar Airways currently operates a modern fleet of more than 200 aircraft via its hub, Hamad International Airport (HIA). Just last month, the airline welcomed the Airbus A350-1000, for which it is the global launch customer.
JetBlue today announced a new partnership with Cruising Store that deploys the power of artificial intelligence to help travelers customize their vacation experience and add flights and other offerings, all in one place.
Through JetBlue’s new cruise booking and planning platform, customers are able to bypass the often-confusing process of finding the right cruise and the traditional model of contacting a travel agent to book.
“AI is changing how we travel and our goal is to be at the front of the curve,” said Marty St George, executive vice president, commercial and planning, JetBlue. “We’ve already incorporated artificial intelligence into vacation planning and now our partnership with CruisingStore means customers will quickly be able to find the cruise that’s right for them and book their flights all in one place.”
One of the hardest parts of the traditional process is finding cruises to the destinations a traveler wants to see, on the dates they want, and for the budget they have in mind. JetBlue has joined with CruisingStore to introduce a new platform that helps travelers make informed decisions when selecting a cruise. The ‘intelligence engine’ technology takes JetBlue’s already robust cruise travel site to a new level, identifying cruise vacations that meet a customer’s budget, destination preferences, and other activities. Over time, the platform will evolve to further evaluate what matters most to travelers, providing even more customized options.
Officially launching in January 2018 in tandem with the JetBlue partnership, CruisingStore aims to innovate the cruise vertical with a more advanced, customer-focused and supplier-friendly cruise shopping experience. The results are unique cruise experiences at competitive prices.
CruisingStore is led by co-founders and cruise industry veterans whose combined leadership experience includes more than 30 years of experience at some of the world’s leading travel companies – including Dwain Wall, chief executive officer; John Henderson, chief technology officer; Tom Grasse, chief marketing officer; and Jill LaBarre, executive vice president of agency operations.
"We are incredibly excited to announce a partnership with JetBlue, who has been an innovator in the travel space for many years,” said Dwain Wall, chief executive officer of CruisingStore. “We have worked hard to create a solution to the many long-standing and intractable execution challenges facing the cruise and airline industries and with CruisingStore.com, we are pleased to have that solution now readily available.”
JetBlue provides customers booking cruise-centric vacation packages with a simplified booking experience. JetBlue’s partnership with CruisingStore is the latest in the airline’s evolution to offer more personalized trip experiences. Combining technology with JetBlue’s award-winning customer service, JetBlue seeks to create a one-stop vacation shop and seamless travel journey.
Crystal Luxury Air, which is part of Genting Hong Kong’s Crystal brand, recently completed a refurbishment of its Bombardier Global Express Jet XRS that included a revamped connectivity platform as well as new entertainment options for its guests.
The jet also now boasts new carpeting, new window treatments, plush new seating and elegant wood finishes to all cabinets and doors.
The aircraft, which flies on-demand charter worldwide routes for up to 12 guests, features three spacious cabins with flexible configurations, and can comfortably accommodate business needs and leisure travel alike, with sleeping berths for up to six. "Crystal’s celebrated service and world-class cuisine with menus created according to guests’ preferences further distinguish this bespoke experience," the company said in a statement.
Cathay Pacific Airways has announced that it will begin a four-times-weekly nonstop service from Dulles International Airport in Washington, D.C. to Hong Kong on September 16, 2018. It will be the longest nonstop air route to both Hong Kong and the Washington, D.C. region, and the longest flight in Cathay Pacific’s global network, at 7,085 nautical miles (8,153 miles). This service will bring Cathay Pacific’s first Airbus A350-1000 to the region (the airline’s A350-900 began service to San Francisco and Newark on October 28, 2017).
Washington, D.C. will become Cathay Pacific’s seventh passenger service gateway in the U.S. and ninth in North America. The airline, which launched nonstop service from North America in 1983, flies to Hong Kong and beyond over 100 times per week from Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Newark, New York (JFK), San Francisco, Toronto and Vancouver. This is the latest gateway for Cathay Pacific in the Americas since its launch of nonstop service from Boston to Hong Kong in 2015 – upgraded from a four-times-weekly to a daily operation in March 2017.
“Dulles International is an ideal destination for our next US gateway, with its ease of access to the D.C. Metropolitan area. Cathay Pacific is pleased to be the first air carrier offering nonstop flights from Washington, D.C. to Hong Kong,” said Philippe Lacamp, Senior Vice President, Americas, Cathay Pacific. “Washington, D.C. has special meaning for Cathay Pacific. When the airline was co-founded over 71 years ago by American Roy Farrell and his Australian partner, Sydney de Kantzow, they had dreams of growing beyond a regional Asian airline, even including ‘Pacific’ in the name in the hopes that one day it would expand across the ocean. Farrell would have been proud to see the airline serve his country’s capital.”
“Today we celebrate a new bridge between Asia and Virginia, and we look forward to welcoming all of the international travelers this new air service will bring to the Commonwealth,” said Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe. “Virginia has made a significant commitment to growing our relationship with Asia in recent years and we are proud to be a new United States market with nonstop service from Hong Kong. With its convenient schedule, this new Cathay Pacific air service provides connections to destinations around the globe and will help us continue to grow the new Virginia economy.”
“In Washington, D.C., we are happy to host millions of tourists every year, and with the addition of these nonstop flights, we look forward to welcoming more travelers and business from Hong Kong and across Asia,” said Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser. “Tourism plays a vital role in supporting local businesses and creating jobs for our residents, and it has helped make D.C.’s economy one of the strongest local economies in the country. These flights are a tremendous opportunity to build on our progress and expand our reputation as the greatest city in the world.”
According to Destination DC, the official marketing organization for Washington, D.C., Asian visitation to the District increased six percent in 2016 over the previous year, accounting for 32 percent of the District’s overseas visitors (source: Travel Market Insights Inc).
“As the international gateway to Washington, D.C., Dulles International Airport is excited to welcome Cathay Pacific and its passengers to the capital,” said Jerome L. Davis, executive vice president and Chief Revenue Officer for the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority. “Cathay Pacific’s reputation for quality service and an exceptional passenger experience offer travelers through Dulles International a valuable, new nonstop link to Hong Kong and the growing Asia-Pacific region.”
CX861 will depart Washington, D.C. on Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday mornings at 1:15 a.m., arriving in Hong Kong the following day at 5:10 a.m. This early morning arrival allows passengers to connect with every Cathay Pacific flight across Asia – including Singapore, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta and over 22 gateways in mainland China – without a lengthy layover in Hong Kong. The return flight, CX860, will depart Hong Kong at 6:35 p.m. (local time) on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, arriving in Washington, D.C. at 10:20 p.m. (same day).
The wide body, twin-aisle Airbus A350-1000 brings together the very latest in aerodynamics, design and advanced technologies to provide improved fuel efficiency and a state-of-the-art travel experience for customers. Quietest among the aircraft types in its class, Cathay Pacific has taken this environmentally-friendly aircraft a step further, with its in-flight carpets and passengers’ blankets made from recycled plastic, including salvaged fishing nets and plastic bottles.
Cathay Pacific already has one of the youngest long-haul fleets in the sky – and with the arrival of the first of its 20 Airbus A350-1000 aircraft in the spring of next year, the fleet is only going to get younger.
Like the A350-900, the longer A350-1000 takes the passenger travel experience to a new level. The design of many of the cabin features has been carefully considered to give passengers the best sleeping experience, the best entertainment and even more control over how they want to use their individual space, whether for working or relaxation. With its extra wide body, the aircraft offers more space and comfort, panoramic windows and LED mood lighting, contributing to a more comfortable and relaxing journey in all cabin classes.
The Cathay Pacific A350-1000 will feature a three-class cabin comprising a refreshed Business Class cabin as well as new Premium Economy Class and Economy Class seats. The A350 Business Class seats build on the success of the airline’s award-winning long-haul Business Class product to create a memorable experience. Alongside a fully-flat bed, new features includes extra stowage space within easy reach and the personal service offered by a “Do Not Disturb” and “Wake-up Call” function in the entertainment system. The Premium Economy Class and Economy Class seats also come with exclusive power outlets and USB ports for every passenger. Each Premium Economy Class seat has a fully integrated leg rest, which, together with the ergonomically designed seat, allows more flexibility to adjust for optimal comfort.
The new A350 inflight entertainment system is inspired by the airline’s latest design philosophy. The interactive user interface is contemporary and sharp. It is equipped with some impressive new interactive features, which gives passengers even more choice than before, as well as a wider screen in all classes. Connectivity is installed, allowing passengers, for a fee, to browse the internet, send and receive emails and connect on social media. Access to the Cathay Pacific website, a number of partner websites and three live TV news channels are available free of charge.