Finnair tail fin

Finnair selects Panasonic Avionics to upgrade its IFE systems

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Finnair tail fin

Finnair has selected Panasonic Avionics to upgrade the in-flight entertainment systems across its widebody long-haul fleet.

Panasonic Avionics is installing its latest eX3 system in all cabins on Finnair’s eight Airbus A330-300 aircraft. Finnair’s A350-900 aircraft, which already have eX3 installed, will see their premium cabins upgraded to the latest version.

The project is part of Finnair’s cabin enhancements for its long-haul fleet, which feature the carrier’s brand-new Premium Economy cabin. The first upgraded aircraft has already entered service.

The Panasonic Avionics eX3 system on board every cabin of Finnair’s long-haul fleet includes HD screens with capacitive touch displays and handsets as well as USB and laptop charging facilities.

Ken Sain, Chief Executive Officer of Panasonic Avionics Corporation, said: “Finnair’s innovative and eye-catching widebody cabin enhancements take their passenger experience to a new level. Panasonic Avionics is honoured to be contributing to this upgrade with our latest in-flight entertainment solutions, marking the latest chapter in our relationship with this industry-leading carrier.”

Harri Valkama, Digital Channel Lead at Finnair, said: “This upgrade for Finnair reflects our commitment to deliver a premium experience in every cabin on our aircraft. Having the latest technology on board will allow our customers to stay entertained as they travel long-haul. We chose Panasonic Avionics for its innovative solutions and ability to support [Finnair’s] digital in-flight ecosystem. We can rest assured that our customers will experience high quality state-of-the-art systems.”

Finnair’s in-flight connectivity services are provided by Panasonic Avionics and Finnair also recently became the European launch customer for the company’s Arc map platform.

airBaltic A220 seats

airBaltic increases seat count to 149 in its Airbus A220-300

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airBaltic A220 seats

Latvian airline airBaltic has revealed its Airbus A220-300 fleet is undergoing a gradual change in cabin configuration to 149 seats, unblocking additional seating that couldn’t previously be used.

Martin Gauss, Chief Executive Officer of airBaltic, said: “In late February we received our first airBaltic Airbus A220-300 aircraft, which is certified to operate up to 149 seats. Until now we could use 145 seats on the aircraft. However, going forward also, our existing fleet will be adjusted to use the additional capacity, which will further drive efficiency of our operations.”

As of 5 April, the carrier has changed the cabin configuration for the first five of airBaltic’s 33 Airbus A220-300 aircraft and plans to unblock the additional seats on its entire fleet by summer 2023.

The first 20 aircraft will have 148 seats and the next 12 will have 149. All aircraft to be delivered between 2022 and early 2024 are planned to have 148 seats.

airBaltic has been operating all its flights with a single aircraft type, the Airbus A220-300, since May 2020. The carrier says this minimises complexity and provides additional efficiency and its Airbus A220-300 has performed beyond the company’s expectations, delivering better overall performance, fuel efficiency and convenience for both passengers and staff.

The A220-300 has an air filtering system equipped with a High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filter that provides the best level of filtration currently available for recirculated cabin air.

The new aircraft is also considerably quieter, with a four times smaller noise footprint and, according to airBaltic, is the greenest commercial aircraft in the world and the first aircraft to have a transparent declaration of the life-cycle environmental impact, helping to reduce CO2 and NOX emissions by 20% and 50% respectively.

Norwegian wing

Norwegian passenger numbers topped 940,000 in March

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Norwegian wing

Norwegian has released its traffic figures for March which displayed a positive trend with growth in passenger numbers and a load factor of above 80%. The airline carried 940,149 passengers in March, compared with 71,399 during the same period last year.

The airline, which has now removed the requirement to wear face masks on board all flights, will operate almost 280 routes to popular destinations in Europe in the summer with a fleet of 70 aircraft. The carrier has recently reopened several bases and direct routes in Europe.

Geir Karlsen, CEO of Norwegian, said: “We are particularly pleased that the load factor has remained above 80% despite the introduction of significantly more capacity in March. Booking figures have improved throughout recent weeks and we are pleased to see this continued upward trend in the market. We are seeing a busy Easter travel period with many travellers and several full flights. Towards the summer we will reopen and introduce new destinations and our customers can now choose from almost 280 routes in Europe.”


Güliz Öztürk appointed CEO of Pegasus Airlines

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Pegasus Airlines has announced that Güliz Öztürk, who has been serving as the company’s CCO since 2010, is succeeding Mehmet T Nane as CEO, with Mr Nane becoming Vice-Chairperson of the Board (Managing Director).

Nane and Öztürk will officially begin their new roles on 1 May 2022.

Nane said: “I am delighted to be passing the CEO baton, which I received in 2016, to Güliz Öztürk, who has made significant contributions to the growth and development of Pegasus for many years. I wholeheartedly believe that she will continue to wave the flag of Pegasus brightly in the skies. This appointment holds great value and significance also as Güliz Öztürk is to become the first woman CEO of an airline in the history of Turkish civil aviation.”

Öztürk said: “I am honoured to receive the baton from Mehmet T Nane. As Pegasus Airlines, we have accomplished many firsts and pioneering projects under his leadership since 2016, and we have made our country proud many times in the international arena. Together with all my colleagues, we will work tirelessly to progress our company further and crown its achievements.

“Investing in two important areas will continue to be the architect of our success: technology and people. As Turkey’s digital airline, we will continue to offer digital technologies and unique innovations that will enhance the travel experience, with our approach that focuses on guest experience. Without compromising the basic principles of our business model, we will continue to manage our operations and activities with a sustainable environment approach. One of the issues on which we will also be most focused will be gender equality.

“We will make every effort, institutionally and individually, to contribute to the equal participation of women and men in all areas of social life and to enable women to express their full potential. As a company, we have been committed to gender equality for many years, and we have been at the centre of the struggle. This change is also proof of the importance our company attaches to gender equality.”

China Airlines A350

China Airlines announces Inmarsat’s in-flight broadband Wi-Fi on board

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China Airlines A350

China Airlines’ first Airbus A321neo aircraft, which features Inmarsat’s high-speed GX Aviation in-flight Wi-Fi, has now entered commercial service.

The solution allows passengers to seamlessly browse the internet, stream video and audio, shop online and work from the comfort of their seat.

China Airlines has ordered 25 Airbus A321neos as part of a narrowbody fleet replacement programme and the aircraft will be equipped with Inmarsat’s GX Aviation and SITA’s Internet ONAIR, alongside other new cabin features such as fully flat seats in Premium Business Class, the latest in-flight entertainment system and 4K displays.

Niels Steenstrup, Inmarsat Aviation’s Senior Vice President of Inflight Connectivity Business, said: “We are delighted to welcome China Airlines as our latest GX Aviation in-flight broadband customer, especially at a time when the carrier is welcoming millions of its passengers back to the skies. The fact that this is our second new airline customer announcement with SITA in recent months is testament to our successful partnership and also reinforces strong demand for our market-leading connectivity, despite the challenges that Covid-19 has presented to the aviation industry over the past two years.”

Katrina Korzenowski, Asia Pacific Vice President at SITA FOR AIRCRAFT, added: “Providing a digital and touchless onboard experience will be the key to increasing passenger confidence as air travel recovers from the Covid-19 pandemic. Our Internet ONAIR technology, coupled with Inmarsat’s GX Aviation connectivity, offers China Airlines the perfect blueprint for a world-class inflight broadband offering onboard its Airbus A321neo aircraft and we’re proud to be working together to achieve this. It also means that SITA is now providing a full suite of services, from cockpit to cabin, to China Airlines.”

JetBlue A321neo tail fin

JetBlue and Qatar Airways plan to expand global partnership

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JetBlue has revealed it intends to expand its existing partnership with Qatar Airways to offer customers even more benefits when booking travel to and from international destinations on the global partner carrier.

The expansion plans include more code-sharing in additional markets in the coming months, as well as enhanced benefits for JetBlue TrueBlue and Qatar Airways’ Privilege Club loyalty members, expanded marketing opportunities and refinements to flight schedules which create new connections across both carriers.

JetBlue says Qatar Airways is one of its top partners for connecting customers across the Americas to its global network and the airline expects traffic to grow further through the new enhancements.

The expansion will create more options to travel between JetBlue’s 100-plus destinations across North America and the Caribbean and Qatar Airways’ network of 82 countries. The airlines also plan to develop an integrated airside transfer option for customers connecting at New York-JFK.

JetBlue’s Chief Executive Officer, Robin Hayes, said: “For more than a decade, Qatar Airways has been an excellent partner, consistently delivering an elevated customer experience that aligns extremely well with the JetBlue brand and the expectations of our customers. Now, as we look to our next decade together, the enhancements and plans for growth announced today will put Qatar Airways on track to be our largest internationally-based partner.”

Qatar Airways Group’s Chief Executive, His Excellency Mr Akbar Al Baker, said: “The enhanced partnership between Qatar Airways and JetBlue is a further encouraging sign for the recovery of the aviation industry. We have focused on growing our partnerships with leading airlines such as JetBlue by bringing significant benefits to our passengers through an expanded global network. Both airlines have a strong commitment to excellence in customer experience and innovation, ensuring this closer relationship is a very positive step for our joint customers.”

Etihad 787-9 aircraft

Emirates NBD and Etihad Guest launch new co-branded credit cards

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Etihad 787-9 aircraft

Emirates NBD bank has expanded its long-standing partnership with Etihad Guest, the  loyalty programme of Etihad Airways.

The companies are introducing a new premium co-branded credit card programme in association with Visa. Emirates NBD Etihad Guest Visa credit cards are designed to appeal to frequent travellers and lifestyle enthusiasts across the UAE. The cards are available as Elevate and Inspire variants and offer amongst the highest Etihad Guest earning and rewards opportunities.

Etihad says cardholders can enjoy complimentary Etihad Guest Gold Tier status and up to 200,000 bonus Etihad Guest Miles instantly after signing up and earn up to 10 Etihad Guest Miles for every AED 10 spend. Customers can also take advantage of up to 50% Etihad Guest Miles discount vouchers on Etihad miles redemption for a limited period and 10% cashback on spend on

Suvo Sarkar, Senior Executive Vice President & Group Head – Retail Banking and Wealth Management, Emirates NBD, said: “We are delighted to partner with Etihad’s award-winning loyalty programme, Etihad Guest, as part of our continued commitment to bringing invaluable experiences and benefits to our clients. As the UAE’s leading card issuer, Emirates NBD collaborates with best-in-class partners to offer customised card propositions based on our customers’ lifestyles and needs so they can get the most of their everyday card spend. We believe that this card proposition will appeal strongly to customers in Abu Dhabi and UAE and add unique experiences to them, especially as travelling returns to normalcy.”

Terry Daly, Executive Director Guest Experience, Brand and Marketing, Etihad Airways, said: “We pride ourselves on finding new solutions to create the best customer experience and products for members and customers. Following our successful partnerships with Emirates NBD and Visa over the years, we are excited to collaborate with the teams to bring these great products together for our members.”

Finnair tail fin

Finnair passengers on flights over the North Pole to receive a special certificate

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Finnair tail fin

Finnair customers taking flights to Japan and South Korea that pass over the North Pole are to receive a special certificate to mark the moment.

The first Finnair pilot to fly over the North Pole was Ismo Kuosmanen and now, almost 40 years later, his son Aleksi, a Finnair A350 captain, was one of the four flight crew to recreate the landmark flight with Captain Kari Holopainen at the command.

The carrier’s flight took place on 9 March from Helsinki to Tokyo Narita. Instead of heading directly east, it headed north and passed directly over the North Pole as part of its extended flight path to Japan, skirting around the now-closed Russian airspace.

Passengers on board were told when they passed over the North Pole.

Aleksi Kuosmanen, Finnair Captain and Deputy A350 Fleet Chief, said: “Flying over the North Pole is probably a part of every long-haul pilot’s bucket list, and for me this flight has this additional personal meaning. Hours and hours of careful planning preceded this flight to ensure a smooth and safe flight. There were airports along the polar route – in Scandinavia, Northern Canada, Alaska and Northern Japan – that we had not used before, so a lot of information gathering was done to ensure our defined alternative airports are feasible for us to use.”

While flying over the North Pole itself proved uneventful, Kuosmanen said: “The only noticeable thing was that the good old magnetic compass that we have in the cockpit went a bit haywire.”

The magnetic compass is a back-up system only, while the aircraft’s other navigation systems maintained navigation accuracy in the polar region. The route took the flight from Finland to Norway over Svalbard and the North Pole towards Alaska and then across the sea to Japan.

Riku Kohvakka, Finnair Flight Planning Manager, and his team calculated the basic data for the new routings, including the flight time, payload, fuel consumption, terrain and navigation fees, to arrive at the cost for the flight for Finnair’s Traffic Planning’s department.

Flying the northern polar route meant the carrier needed to extend its A350’s ETOPS (Extended-range Twin-engine Operational Performance Standards) times, i.e. the maximum route allowable within distance of a suitable alternate airport, in the highly unlikely event of an emergency landing.

Cebu Pacific enhances cockpit communications with SITA solution

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Cebu Pacific Air has selected aviation IT provider SITA’s AIRCOM Cockpit Services integrated with Inmarsat’s Swift Broadband Safety satellite network service to enhance cockpit communications while delivering greater operational efficiencies on board the airline’s new Airbus A330neo aircraft.

SITA says digitalisation is a top priority for the air transport industry’s recovery from COVID-19 and Cebu Pacific is one of many airlines embarking on a digital transformation agenda that includes modernising its fleet with features that allow real-time updates to support better decision-making around weather and flight planning.

SITA has integrated Inmarsat’s Swift Broadband Safety satellite network service through the company’s AIRCOM Cockpit Services portfolio, making Cebu Pacific the first carrier to leverage the benefits of both services on its new fleet.

Bringing modern satellite technology in the cockpit will enable airlines to maximise the benefit of innovative in-flight optimisation and safety applications and pilots will be able to gain real-time updates for flight optimisation tools such as SITA’s OptiFlight and graphical weather applications such as SITA’s eWAS Pilot.

Javier Massot, Chief Operations Adviser, Cebu Pacific Air, said: “We turned to SITA, given their expertise in the aircraft domain, to help us navigate the challenges and complexities of the aircraft communications landscape and prepare us for that future. Having high-speed connectivity and greater capacity is essential to access more advanced digital applications that support decision-making on board. It will enable our pilots and operational staff to access information in real time and deliver a better service for our passengers.”

Sumesh Patel, President of Asia Pacific, SITA, said: “We are delighted to offer the latest advances in technology to support the industry’s transition to a more digitalized cockpit. As the specialists in this field, SITA is dedicated to delivering the crucial, industry-certified services airlines rely upon to run their daily operations. Cebu Pacific is the first airline to take advantage of these capabilities to boost safety and deliver greater operational efficiencies on their new fleet.”

British airways gin

British Airways introduces Aviation American Gin on board

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British airways gin

British Airways and Aviation American Gin have announced that the gin brand will be available on board the carrier’s long-haul and short-haul networks.

On long-haul flights, passengers will be offered the gin from the in-flight menu and short-haul customers will be able to buy it from the onboard Speedbird café.

British Airways says the partnership builds on the opening of the Aviation Gin bar in the airline’s Club Lounge at JFK Airport in October 2021.

Tom Stevens, British Airways’ Director of Brand and Customer Experience, said: “Offering our customers a premium experience throughout their journey is important to us. Partnering with Aviation American Gin is another great addition to our on-board service. We hope our customers join us in celebrating with a refreshing gin and tonic.”

Gareth Williams, International Brand Director at Aviation American Gin, said: “We’re so excited to get on board with the UK flag carrier British Airways and take Aviation American Gin to new heights – the sky! Through this partnership, we’re keen to enhance each traveller’s experience with a deliciously refreshing Aviation Gin cocktail for flyers to enjoy on journeys near and far, offering an American twist on this quintessentially British drink.”

The partnership is being launched with an alternative safety video starring Aviation American Gin co-owner Ryan Reynolds, which can be watched via @AviationGin’s social channels.