Monthly Archives: June 2005

10 Day China Package for $699

Friendly Planet has brought back is popular 10-day package to Beijing and Shanghai.  $699 gets you a flight from San Francisco ($100 more from New York), 5 night in Beijing and 3 nights in Shanghai.  It’s an amazing deal.  Dates are available November through February.

Asia’s Budget Carriers to Link Up?

You may have read any numbers of stories lately touting the incredible expansion of budget carriers in Southeast Asia.  You may also have wondered how in the world any all of these companies could possibly survive flying from Bangkok to Singapore (or wherever) with such vicious competition.  Well, it turns out that was a good question.  Singapore’s Valuair and QANTAS’ Jetstar Asia are looking at a possible link-up, ranging from a codeshare to a full merger.  In the same week, Singapore Airlines’ Tiger Airways announced that it would not break even this year and is searching for an alliance partner.  Look for a merger or two in this market in the next year…but this won’t head off new airlines from coming in thinking they can do better.  It’s a free for all in Southeast Asia, and it’s being echoed by a massive, virtually overnight, change in the Indian airline industry as well, as new budget carriers snap up new aircraft (including Kingfisher Airlines’ order for 5 A380s).  Kingfisher, meanwhile is a brewery.  And you thought Hooters Air was a bizarre name.

African Air Travel Story

British newspaper the Independent has a pretty good story about the current state of air travel in Africa:

A man driving a souped-up golf cart
with a flight of stairs attached drove straight into the side of the
plane on which I was due to depart.  In any Western country, this mishap would have been enough to delay
the flight by hours while a replacement plane was found. In Zimbabwe, a
few men with hammers climbed on board, knocked out the visible dents,
and within two hours, we took off.

And so it is to travel in Africa, where flights between two nearby countries will often require a change of planes in London or Frankfurt.  The article notes the launch of Virgin Nigeria, which is definitely a piece of good news for the aviation community on the continent, as well as the vast improvements seen over at Ethiopian Airways.  It’ll be some time before we see any carriers on the scale of Air Asia bringing lowcost travel to the African market, but we’ve already seen strides in that direction with Kulula in South Africa.  10 years from now, growth in low cost air travel will make the continent feel much smaller.

Continental: We Still Have Airline Food

Continental put out a press release yesterday touting the fact that they still serve food.  Imagine back 10 years ago an airline putting out a press release mentioning their airline food.  Crazy. The release also extolls the virtues of pillows and its in-flight magazine.  Man, this is what it’s come down to.  Check out our in-flight magazine.  For God’s sake, Song has, what, 40 channels of live television and we’re hearing about an in-flight magazine?  What the hell is going on?

Virgin Atlantic Launches Cuba Flights

Cuba is, of course, off-limits to Americans because it is evil.  Evil evil evil.  Or not.  But that doesn’t stop some of our closest allies from doing business with them.  Virgin Atlantic launched nonstop service from London to Havana yesterday.  The twice-weekly service expects to bring 42,000 British to the island in its first year.  Cuban officials said that behind Canada, Britain sends them largest number of tourists to the island each year. 

Georgian Airways: We’re Safe. We Promise.

Executives of Georgian Airways (that’s Russia’s Georgia, not Atlanta, Georgia), held a press conference to reassure its passengers that its planes are safe.  Ironically, that’s never a good sign.  The airline had some recent technical difficulties on a flight between Dubai and Tblisi, so the president of the airline wanted to clear the air a bit:

"We are a solid company which pays utmost attention to the safety of planes and passengers…"

Good to hear.

Air New Zealand Revamps Fare Structure

Good news for Air New Zealand passengers:  the airline is changing its fare structure for flights to the US to eliminate seasonality, reduce its lowest year-round fare to $930 round trip, and to make all fares bookable one-way so you can fly out in coach and return in business.  With the airline rolling out its reconfigured aircraft in the next month, you should definitely be considering ANZ for your next flight to New Zealand (man, I wish they would pay me to write that kinda crap).

Lufthansa Considers Live TV for First and Business Class

Lufthansa has really stepped up their amenities for business and first class travelers, offering a dedicated terminal (yes, a dedicated terminal) at Frankfurt Airport, private flights to continuing destinations in Europe, and a personal assistant.  Now, the airline is considering offering live TV to these passengers on their flights (this should make those of you who fly Jetblue or Frontier feel pretty special.)  The airline plans to add a dedicated first class terminal at Munich in the next year.

Pan Am Is Back!

Pan Am, which has been reincarnated for the third (4th?) time as a Portsmouth, NH, based carrier, will launch flights from Rickenbacker Airport in Columbus, Ohio, to Orlando (Samford) and Clearwater-St. Petersburg in Florida.  Actually, this Pan Am has been flying from Florida to Puerto Rico for a while now, but news about the airline has been few and far between.  While I find it sad in a way that the airline that once flew to every corner of the world is now flying from Trenton to Portsmouth, New Hampshire, at least the name is still alive.

Air Bosnia Is Back!

Bosnia’s state-owned carrier, Air Bosnia, which went bankrupt a couple of years ago, began flying again with a charter flight to Spain yesterday.  The re-launched airline will fly 2 66-seat ATRs to Turkey and Switzerland.