Boeing’s new BBJ 777X seeks to redefine ultra-long range VIP travel

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Boeing Business Jets has unveiled plans to launch the BBJ 777X, which can fly more than half way around the world without stopping.

Customers can choose between two models: the BBJ 777-8 and BBJ 777-9. The BBJ 777-8 offers the longest range of 11,645 nautical miles (21,570 km) and a spacious 3,256 square foot cabin.

The BBJ 777-9 provides an even larger cabin measuring 3,689 square foot, while still offering ultra-long range of 11,000 nautical miles (20,370 km). According to Boeing, this model opens up almost unlimited interior design options to ensure ultimate comfort for long distance travel.

To demonstrate the versatility of the airplane’s spacious cabin, BBJ unveiled interior concepts from three leading design firms: Greenpoint Technologies, Jet Aviation, and Unique Aircraft Design (pictured).  Each concept shows how the BBJ 777X can be transformed to suit the tastes of any VIP customer.

The strength of the BBJ fleet of airplanes was highlighted at the air show as Boeing announced it recently booked another order for its BBJ MAX family. The order from an unidentified customer brings total orders for the BBJ MAX to 21.

Based on Boeing’s best-selling 737 MAX airplane, the BBJ MAX offers more than three times the cabin space as most of its competitors, a lower cabin altitude, and the ability to fly 7,000 nautical miles (12,964 km).

VistaJet redefines wine in flight

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The VistaJet Wine Program, billed as “the first global program” for wine in the air, has been launched by private aviation company VistaJet.

VistaJet founder and chairman, Thomas Flohr, himself an avid collector and investor in wine, said: “Enjoying a glass of wine while in flight should be the same as a glass of wine in a restaurant. But nobody has ever managed to offer this on a global scale,” said Flohr. “So, to provide the consistency of service and quality to our members, we have created the first global program that will ensure our guests enjoy the best possible wine in the sky whilst catering to all their needs when it comes to tasting, collecting, discovering and developing a deeper knowledge of wine – anytime, anywhere.”

During the development of The VistaJet Wine Program, the company hosted some of the world’s foremost wine experts on several flights to sample, taste and compare a number of different wines from all over the world. By tasting on the ground and in the sky, the experts were able to further understand how taste and smell are the senses most affected by the atmosphere in a pressurised cabin.

Visits to exclusive vineyards were also included as part of the flight.

VistaJet invited popular oenophiles including Sofia Coppola, Andrea Bocelli, Jeannie Cho Lee and Daniel Boulud to contribute to The Wine in the Sky Questionnaire, a compendium of considered suggestions for tasting, serving and transporting wine on travels around the world. Published in collaboration with Assouline, the book serves to advise on how to select the most appropriate wines considering the different effects of flying on our senses. The Wine in the Sky Questionnaire will be available for pre-order from 6 December on and in stores mid-December.

Sourced from some of the world’s most iconic vineyards and personally handpicked by Thomas Flohr, all VistaJet passengers can enjoy the Signature Wine List with wines that take advantage of the effects of flying to perform best in the sky.

Adding a discovery aspect to the signature offering, The VistaJet Wine Club will allow members to explore the world of wine with 12 carefully selected wines each year, tasting two new bottles every other month from a range of producers and grape varieties around the world. To further enhance the experience, VistaJet Cabin Hostesses, trained up to WSET Level 2, can organise a blind tasting to assess the characteristics of grape varieties and record notes on tasting cards.

The full list will be disclosed to VistaJet Wine Program members throughout the year.

Through its global coverage, VistaJet provides bespoke access and personal introductions to the world’s best winemakers and wine clubs through the VistaJet Chairman’s Office. With the global Wine Tours, members can also request round-the-world wine itineraries and personal tours of the finest vineyards and wine regions, as well as access to wine auctions and events with fine wine traders and collectors.

VistaJet’s Wine Tours include a three-day experience hosted by Marchesi Antinori, to enjoy a dinner with the family at Palazzo Antinori, tasting wines from their private collections, before visiting their historical vineyards in Tuscany and Umbria by helicopter and staying in the family estates’ exclusive guest houses.

The World of Wine Concierge offers tasting advice both prior to flight and at destination, to help members discover wines and vineyards in any region they’re visiting. The concierge can also assist with acquiring a historic vintage for a special anniversary, giving personalised recommendations about buying wine en primeur and at auction, as well as help arranging safe transportation of wine around the world. Members can request advice from a global network of local experts in North America, Europe and Asia.

Virgin Atlantic shows off refurbished A330-200 cabins

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Virgin Atlantic’s first fully refurbished A330-200 has been introduced into service, boasting a three class cabin service.

The A330-200s were introduced to Virgin Atlantic’s fleet in March and following a £10 million investment programme, the aircraft have been retrofitted throughout with the installation of a Premium cabin, brand new Upper Class Suites and a refreshed Economy.

The remaining three A330-200 refits are all expected to be completed by January 2019.

All suites in in Upper Class feature direct aisle access and enhanced surface area for additional personal space. All trim and finishes, including the seat fabric with natural and soft Espresso leather, were selected by Virgin’s in house design team. Customers can continue to choose the perfect suite – including Love Suites, Corner Suites and Freedom Suites, which were introduced earlier this year.

Customers traveling on the airline’s latest aircraft will be able to enjoy the full benefits of the award winning Premium cabin. All 35 seats in Premium are set in a dedicated private cabin, and offer a 38” seat pitch and bespoke food, drink and service offering.

Seats in Economy feature distinctive red tones, along with new leather headrests.

Each cabin now has new Black Cherry curtains and carpets, along with refreshed bathrooms, stylish mood lighting and wall finishes.

Daniel Kerzner, vice president of customer experience at Virgin Atlantic, commented, “I’m thrilled to see the first of our fully refurbished A330-200s arrive into our fleet and looking amazing. Initial response from our customers and our people has been fantastic.These planes were introduced to protect our flying programme with a commitment to bring them up to our high standards with our unique Virgin Atlantic flair. The speed at which we’ve been able to totally transform these aircraft is phenomenal, and is a true testament to our people and our passion to deliver a wow experience to our customers.”

Bucher galleys fly on TAP Air Portugal A330-900NEO

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A330-900neo launch customer TAP Air Portugal has selected Bucher galleys to equip the cabins of the new aircraft.

The aircraft is the first to feature the new “Airspace by Airbus” cabin concept. Airspace offers flexible zones and innovative design for the cabin crew’s workspace and gives passengers a new cabin experience.

According to Bucher Leichtbau the challenge was to develop galleys that were light, safe and which conformed to the specifications of the new aircraft while also adapting to the customer’s unique ergonomic requirements.

Joel Fragata, head of in-flight product at TAP Air Portugal, added, “Bucher has equipped this wonderful aircraft with efficient and well-designed galleys. The galley specification for the A330neo was an enormous challenge and Bucher accepted to be part of this great project and adventure.

“Bucher Leichtbau has once again wowed us with its performance, flexibility, quality and reliability. For years, we have placed great trust in the craftsmanship and expertise of this leading galley provider.”

En Route rolls-out crew food ordering app

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Crew Nosh, a personalised online food ordering platform for airline crew, has been rolled out globally by En Route International.

The app has been designed to give airlines the ability to handle the complex challenges of the flying work environment – catering for crew both in terms of choice and nutrition. The functionality of the app can also be tailored so it can be integrated into systems used by all caterers and in-flight teams.

Offered to airlines as a closed network solution, Crew Nosh enables airline staff to choose and order their in-flight meal and have it delivered straight to the plane in a personalised box. Crew are later prompted to rate their food, which feeds back into menu development.

The iOS, Android and responsive web application has been designed to integrate with each airline’s roster system so that Crew Nosh can provide crew members with their flight schedule in advance, and a choice of food options based on the length and location of each flight.

Additional features include a number of blogs regularly updated with articles on food, travel, health, nutrition and fitness, while a custom-built CMS administration site allows content, meals, notifications and messages to be uploaded and edited instantly, ensuring that each airline’s food allowance policy is met.

Optional extras, including those not within a crew member’s allocation, can also be ordered and where necessary paid for using the app’s integrated payment system.

Hamish Cook, executive director at En Route, said,“We have spent a lot of time working with some of the world’s leading global airlines to develop this ground-breaking app. The intelligent functionality, coupled with the easy-to-use front-end interface, offers airlines with an important solution to help them attract and retain their staff.”

New Nordic by SAS goes vegan

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SAS is nearing the end of a two-week trial period which has seen a vegan dish added to its ‘New Nordic by SAS’ in-flight menu.

From 9 November SAS Plus passengers on more than 4,000 European and Scandinavian flights of 80 minutes or more have been able to enjoy ‘thyme roasted Hällestad mushrooms with a lentil and beet flavoured wheat salad tossed with black beans from Öland and tarragon, sliced golden beetroot and hummus made of yellow Vretärt pea from Bjälösa, served with parsley vinaigrette and vinegar roasted buckwheat’.

“Sustainability is a main focus for SAS and as we see an increasing interest in a plant-based diet in the society, it is important to have a vegan dish on a trial as one of the regular meals“, says Karl Sandlund, executive vice president commercial.

One of the main ingredients in the vegan menu are mushrooms handpicked at Hällestad in Skåne, Sweden’s only 100% organic mushroom producer. During the trial period of the vegan menu, two tons of mixed mushrooms – champignon, portobello and oyster mushrooms – will have been transformed to create an exclusive meal served in the innovative designed ‘SAS Cube’.

“SAS always strive to pioneer the next generation of traveling. Our vision is to continuously develop and explore new ways to make life easier for our travellers, by offering innovative and desired services and this is one of them,” said Karl Sandlund.

Photo: Salt Food & Communication / Andy Phrat / Mathias Persson

Servair names new chief executive

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Michel Emeyriat, chairman and chief executive of Servair, and president of gategroup’s Southern Europe and Africa (SEA) region, member of the Executive Management Board of gategroup, is stepping down from his executive responsibilities at the end of the year. He will be succeeded on 1 January, 2019 by Alexis Frantz who is currently corporate secretary and member of the executive committee of Servair.

Emeyriat will continue to serve as non-executive chairman of Servair, to further progress the successful integration of the company into gategroup and continue developing the close relationship between gategroup and Air France – shareholder of Servair and strategic partner.

Xavier Rossinyol, chief executive officer of gategroup commented, “I would like to personally thank Michel for his remarkable contributions to Servair, SEA and gategroup. Michel has successfully managed to turn around Servair, leading a strong management team and always remaining customer-focused. His guidance and commitment have been instrumental for Servair to become a true member of the gategroup family. I look forward to his continued advice and support for many years to come.”

“I would also like to thank Alexis for his contributions towards Servair, its customers and especially Air France, as well as his support on Servair’s integration into gategroup. We are pleased to appoint Alexis to his new role and welcome him as a new gategroup EMB member. I look forward to working with him as he continues to lead a great management team and employees to bring Servair, SEA and gategroup to the next level of excellence.”

Air Transat enhances family services

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Air Transat has added to its family program by unveiling a new Kids Club livery and a new kids’ meal.

“At Air Transat, we always have the needs of families at heart,” said Annick Guérard, chief operating officer at Transat. “We have been accompanying them on their dreams and holidays for more than 30 years. We understand their expectations, care about their well-being and do everything possible to make their lives easier, from the moment they arrive at the airport to the time they reach their final destinations.

“As a company that specialises in holiday travel, our concern for families is evident in many ways, mainly in the little extras from a crew who fully understands their needs and wants to ensure that their vacations start as soon as they board.”

In addition to an Airbus A321 adorned with the Air Transat Kids Club smiley face and googlie eyes, the airline is introducing a new kids’ meal, free on transatlantic flights. Served on a tray with the Kids Club colours, the meal will consist of mac and cheese with apple sauce, cookies and juice. The on-board surprises will also be revamped.

AIM Altitude and China Southern sign ‘next-generation’ galley MOU

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AIM Altitude has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with China Southern Airlines, marking the award of the airline’s latest 737 MAX galley programme to AIM Altitude.

The signing ceremony took place at the China International Import Expo in Shanghai in early November. Speaking at the event, Matthew Eyre, vice-president corporate accounts at AIM Altitude, commented: “AIM Altitude is delighted to have been selected by China Southern for this 737 MAX galley programme and to be signing this agreement at such an important international trade and exhibition event.”

Each of China Southern’s 737 MAX aircraft will be fitted with a full suite of galley systems, with deliveries commencing in July 2019 through to December 2020. The programme for China Southern’s 737 MAX aircraft will include 30 galleys from AIM Altitude.

AIM Altitude highlighted that its next-generation galleys feature new lightweight and robust materials with a crew-friendly, aesthetically pleasing design.

“This MOU is a result of the long-term relationship that we have developed with China Southern, although this is our first contract award from them as part of AVIC Cabin Systems. We look forward to the prospect of further developing our partnership in the future,” Eyre added.


Finnair invests in cabin experience on ATRs and long-haul fleet

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Finnair is planning to refresh its ATR cabins and introduce a new premium economy cabin class for its long-haul fleet, as part of investments in passenger comfort.

Finnair’s ATR 72-212A aircraft are currently used for domestic flights in Finland, on flights to the Baltics, to Gdansk in Poland, and to Stockholm’s Bromma Airport, and are operated by the airline’s partner, Norra.

The renewal of the ATR aircraft cabins will include new seats and carpets and a fresh interior design. Piia Karhu, senior vice-president, customer experience at Finnair, commented: “We want our customers to get a fresh Nordic experience on our regional flights.

“The regional feeder traffic is an important part of the Finnair network – we have over 30,000 ATR flights every year,” Karhu continued.

The first revamped ATR 72 is expected to be in operation in summer 2019, and the refurbishment of the 12-aircraft fleet is expected to be complete by the end of Q1 2020.

The airline also plans to introduce a new premium economy class to its long-haul fleet from 2021, featuring highly customised designs for the airline, and providing customers with increased space and comfort and an enhanced service offering.

“We see a growing trend of quality-focused travellers, who place a strong focus on the comfort and quality of their travel experience,” added Karhu. “Responding to customer needs from all our key markets, our new Premium Economy class will serve the requirements of both leisure and corporate customers.”

The rollout of the premium economy class on Finnair’s long-haul fleet is planned to begin in Q4 2020 and expected to be completed by the end of 2022.

Planning of the cabin design, service concept and commercial aspects are ongoing.