gategroup and SunExpress sign contract for retail on-board services

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Turkish-based SunExpress has signed an exclusive agreement with gategroup for the provision of in-flight catering and provisioning services its entire domestic and international network.

Since the beginning of February, gategroup has acted as the sole concessionaire of SunExpress’ food and beverage retail on-board program providing passengers with the opportunity to purchase from a wide range of high quality food and beverage products for on-board consumption.

gategroup will deliver the service in partnership with Sancak Inflight Service, who will provide the catering and logistics services required at SunExpress’ main bases at Antalya and Izmir Airports and throughout Turkey.

gategroup president EME and Americas Herman Anbeek said, “We are excited to provide our services to the Turkish market through this exclusive agreement with SunExpress as we see tremendous potential for the leisure tourism sector in this well-developed country. Working with Sancak Inflight Service as our business partner in Turkey ensures an optimal service for SunExpress and its passengers.”

SunExpress deputy managing director Ahmet Çaliskan stated, “Customer satisfaction is one of the top priorities for SunExpress. We have cooperated with gategroup and its experienced business partner in Turkey, Sancak Inflight Service, to offer our passengers more delicious and more diversified service by carrying customer satisfaction to a higher level.”

Space at the heart of new business class seats for Emirates

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Emirates has unveiled a new business class cabin and configuration on its Boeing 777-200LR, following a US$150+ million investment to refurbish the 10 existing 777-200LR aircraft in its fleet.

The newly refurbished 777-200LR aircraft is set in a two-class configuration offering 38 business class seats and 264 seats in economy class.

 While retaining the same design and shape of Emirates’ latest lie-flat seats – with champagne coloured finish and diamond stitch pattern on the full leather cover, and ergonomically designed headrest – the business class seats are two inches wider.

With a pitch of 72 inches and ability to move into a fully flat sleeping position, the seat includes touchscreen controls for the seat and in-flight entertainment system, several personal lighting options, privacy panels between seats, a shoe stowage area, footrest and a personal mini-bar.

To increase the feeling of spaciousness, overhead bins in centre of the cabin have been removed.

The cabin also features the Ghaf tree – considered the national tree of the United Arab Emirates, and now a signature design on the latest Emirates aircraft.

In addition, the new business class cabin features a social area – unique to the Boeing 777-200LR fleet. The mini lounge area features snacks such as crisps, sandwiches and fruit, as well as beverages for customers to help themselves to during the flight.

Economy class seats have also been refreshed to the latest colour palette of soft greys and blues. The ergonomically designed seats come with full leather headrests that have flexible side panels and can also be adjusted vertically for optimum support. The aircraft is also equipped with Wi-Fi and Live TV across all classes.

 The newly refurbished 777-200LR aircraft will go into service on 6 March to Fort Lauderdale, the first of 10 aircraft to be retrofitted with the new configuration over the course of the year.

British Airways makes over World Traveller Plus and World Traveller cabins

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British Airways has revamped its World Traveller Plus and World Traveller cabins on its Boeing 777 fleet with new seats.

The new World Traveller Plus and World Traveller cabins, which have been fitted with elegant new seats with 50% larger entertainment screens, will roll out across the airline’s fleet of 10 long-haul aircraft based at Gatwick.

The six three-class Boeing 777 aircraft will be completed by winter 2018, with the three four-class variations finishing by summer 2019.
The new seats have been developed by the airline’s in-house design teams, in collaboration with an unnamed seat supplier.

Attention has also been paid to how the customer uses their seat, with the World Traveller Plus design featuring a new leg and footrest, as well as an improved fully adjustable six-way headrest to suit customers of all heights. The new seat also has a cocktail table at the front and in-arm tray tables. In response to customer demand the size of the World Traveller Plus cabin in the three-class 777s will more than double.

The World Traveller cabins have also been fitted with the newest, most enhanced seating, which feature a six-way headrest with adjustable ears for added comfort and movable middle arm rests, which is particularly useful for customers travelling with children.

The new in-flight Panasonic entertainment system has been updated with larger HD screens and gesture control to navigate the interface like using a tablet. The screen size will double from six to 12 inches in World Traveller Plus, and increase from six to 10 inches in World Traveller. New USB sockets are available at every single seat allowing all customers to charge a range of different electronic devices during their flight and World Traveller Plus seats also have an additional power outlet socket for UK, US and EU plugs.

Bespoke lighting has been fitted in every cabin and can be set to reflect the time of day, helping to lull travellers to sleep at night and wake them in the morning so customers arrive feeling fresher and the effect of jet-lag is lessened.

Sean Doyle, British Airways’ director of network and alliances, said, “We are one of the very few global airlines that offers a choice of four cabins for customers to travel in and World Traveller Plus appeals to a broad mix of both leisure and business travellers. In response to demand we’re increasing the size of the cabin so we can offer more of these popular seats to our customers, while keeping the cabin intimate and retaining the expert, attentive service that our travellers love.”

British Airways marks International Women’s Day with all-female team

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To mark International Women’s Day (8 March) British Airways bought together more than 60 women roles including baggage handlers, pilots and cabin crew, flight managers, loaders and push back teams, security, check in and airport teams as part of the UK’s biggest ever all-female flight, from Heathrow to Glasgow on 5 March.

Passengers travelling on British Airways’ short-haul flights on International Women’s Day have been able to watch a video as part of the in-flight entertainment showing the all-female team in action.

8 March is also the anniversary of the first woman to receive a pilot’s licence. One hundred and eight years after Elise Raymonde Deroche’s milestone achievement, British Airways had three female pilots in the cockpit for its special flight. Cameras in the cockpit offered a bird’s eye view of their take off from Heathrow and landing into Glasgow Airport, and captured their conversations with the three female air traffic controllers who guided them out of Heathrow airspace.

British Airways Captain, Julie Levy, said, “I’m incredibly proud to have been a part of the team on our all-female flight.

“As a mum of two teenage daughters I think it’s crucial that we grab every opportunity we can to inspire the next generation. There wasn’t any visibility of female pilots when I was growing up, so I think events like this are important to help show the range of different careers that are available to women. I’m proud to be part of an organisation doing something about that.”

On board the flight, cabin crew handed out special cupcakes to customers on the flight with the hashtag #ProudtoBAwoman to mark the occasion.

Three degrees of economy as Virgin Atlantic unveils latest cabin investment

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As part of a multi-million pound investment in its economy cabin experience, Virgin Atlantic is to introduce three new ways to fly.

Craig Kreeger, chief executive of Virgin Atlantic, said, “We’re unveiling the biggest change to our economy cabin in over a decade – launching three new ways to fly, and a host of innovations on the ground and in the air as part of a wider £300 million investment in our customers. We know that one size doesn’t fit all, and from spring our customers can afford to be choosy and still travel in the UK’s leading economy cabin.

“We always want flying with Virgin Atlantic to be more special than other airlines, and we’ll never compromise on excellent service, industry leading food and drink and cutting edge in-flight entertainment – regardless of which economy ticket our customers are travelling on, they’ll be able to enjoy all this on-board.”

In a move echoing its partner Delta, Virgin’s economy delight, economy classic and economy light will complement Delta’s Comfort +, Main Cabin and Basic Economy products.

According to Virgin, “economy delight will offer the leading economy product of any UK airline.” The airline is retrofitting its fleet to provide up to 36 economy delight seats on every flight – offering passengers a 34 inch legroom, priority check in and boarding as well as advanced seat assignment.

economy classic will offer free seat assignment – enabling families and groups to sit together.

The new economy light ticket will always offer Virgin Atlantic’s lowest fare and will permit hand luggage only.

Regardless of the ticket type, all passengers will receive a three course meal plus complimentary drinks and snacks – with a focus on supporting independent suppliers such as UK based Fairfield Farm Crisps, and the Grown Up Chocolate Company – Wi-Fi, and hundreds of hours of in-flight entertainment, USB charger in seat and blanket, pillow and headphones.

For the first time Virgin Atlantic is also introducing automated bag drop at London airports, with four kiosks to open at London Gatwick this summer, followed by a further 18 kiosks at London Heathrow from winter 2018.

In addition,12 new Airbus A350-1000 aircraft will join the fleet from spring 2019 – offering a brand new economy cabin designed with Virgin Atlantic’s customers in mind.

British Airways brings award category to IFE

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In celebration of the 90th Academy Awards ceremony (the Oscars), and the British Academy Film Awards (the BAFTAs), British Airways has added a new in-flight entertainment category which offers a collection of award-winning films.

The category, called ‘Award Worthy’, features films which won 12 Oscars and 12 BAFTAs in this year’s awards season, as well as receiving 87 nominations across the two ceremonies.

Films in this category include The Shape of Water which gained 13 Oscar nominations and won four awards including ‘Best Picture’, building on the 12 nominations received at the BAFTAs and the three awards won.

Thee Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is also in the category, receiving nine nominations with five awards last month at the BAFTAs.

British war drama, Darkest Hour, has been added to the category. Gary Oldman won the Oscar for ‘Best Actor’ for his performance and also picked up the ‘Leading Actor’ BAFTA, while the film won the award for ‘Makeup and Hair’.

The category also hosts Call me by Your Name which won ‘Adapted Screenplay’ at the BAFTAS and was nominated for four Academy Awards, and Roman J Israel, Esq. which received one nomination.

“For many of our long-haul customers, being able to watch some of the latest film releases is one of the parts of the flight they most look forward to,” said Carolina Martinoli, British Airways’ director of brand and customer experience. “That’s why we do everything we can to make sure our in-flight entertainment systems are loaded with up-to-date, award-winning content, guaranteed to keep customers entertained.”

A number of films which have performed successfully in previous award seasons will also be added to the channel, spanning a range of genres, from Silver Linings Playbook to the Silence of the Lambs.

MAC Interiors completes cabin modification project for Med-View Airlines

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MAC Interiors has completed the full cabin modification of a Med-View Airlines Boeing 767 aircraft.

The UK-based aircraft interior specialist served as a total technical care partner to Med-View, unlike previously when MAC Interiors was limited to kit supplies.

The project started with a galley refurbishment, before Med-View identified the potential to amplify the scope of the project to complete cabin modification; covering the design of the full concept, lavatory updates, installation of surveillance cameras and lighting throughout the entire cabin, production & installation of carpets, curtains and new dividers, stowage installation, GPS installation, as well as the modification of all business, premium and economy class seats.

“This is a benchmark project for MAC Interiors to emphasise our umbrella brand’s ‘Total Technical Care’ attitude.” said Rubin Flower, VP of Sales. “This has been a very exciting and educating challenge for us, the significance of such an experience is unmeasurable. We certainly are looking forward to similar business in the near future as we will apply our experience and knowledge from the whole project.”

“We are delighted to team up with MAC Interiors and fully satisfied with their service quality that truly enhanced our cabin.” stated Med-View Airline’s CEO Alhaji Muneer Bankole. “We are about to conclude a long-term collective agreement and looking forward to working together again for future projects.”

Phasor unveils new London-based Technology Development Center

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Phasor has opened its new Technology Development Center in London and made key appointments to the company’s senior leadership team.

The new research and development facility will host all of the phased-array antenna innovator’s design, development and testing of current and next-generation connectivity solutions tailored to commercial mobility markets, including high-speed broadband for maritime, aviation, and land-based vehicles.

“The launch of our Technology Development Center in London and the appointments to our senior leadership team marks an important milestone for Phasor, as we approach commercial readiness”, said Dave Helfgott, Phasor CEO. “Since its inception in 2014, Phasor has quickly made the transition from the early R&D stages to mature product development and it is now poised to enable a whole new generation of mobile broadband communications.”

“This senior team brings years of rich experience to the markets we serve, and the new facility will enable an advanced level of integrated design and development, testing, certification and product release,” Helfgott noted. “We are all very excited to meet the growing opportunity that the enterprise wideband mobility market brings, with the right team and the right resources.”

Phasor senior leadership team appointees include Kevin Walsh as chief financial officer; Phil Schryber, head of R&D; David Garrood, senior vice president of business development, and Tim Esparon, senior vice president of operations.

Gogo announces new chief executive as Small steps down

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Oakleigh Thorne (pictured right) has been appointed president and chief executive officer of Gogo, in the immediate aftermath of the decision of Michael Small to step down from the role as a director of the Company.

Thorne currently serves as chief executive officer of Thorndale Farm LLC, the family office of the Thorne family, and largest Gogo shareholder, owning approximately 30% percent of the Company’s outstanding common stock.

“I am excited to work with the Gogo team as we move forward with urgency to execute on four strategic priorities: driving quality for airlines and passengers, sharpening our operational focus, achieving profitability with the money we have in the bank and driving shareholder value,” said Thorne. “We are highly confident in our ability to achieve our strategic and financial objectives as we improve execution and realise our significant growth opportunities.”

Ronald T. LeMay, chairman of the Gogo Board of Directors, said, “With our best-in-class technology and capabilities, the Board believes that Gogo has a clear path to achieving our objectives and that now is the right time to transition leadership. After a comprehensive search process, the Board determined that Oak is the best person to help Gogo achieve our next phase of growth. Oak is a seasoned executive with a strong track record and his interests are aligned with all shareholders. Oak has made significant contributions to Gogo as a member of our Board and has a deep understanding of our business, strategy and operations.”

Norwegian promotes female-led IFE comedy channel

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Norwegian has launched the world’s first female-driven in-flight entertainment comedy channel in an exclusive partnership with online comedy platform PYPO (Put Your Pretty On).

The on-demand in-flight video channel will be on-board all of Norwegian’s Dreamliner-operated long-haul flights, including 45 routes from the US

The next step in the partnership includes the creation of exclusive content which will premiere on Norwegian in-flight entertainment system before it’s accessible on PYPO’s own platform.

“We could not be more excited for our comedy channel to take flight with Norwegian as comedy is truly without borders. We hope to entertain passengers on-board in a different way with our unique approach to comedy. Our partnership with Norwegian will allow PYPO to take on new opportunities on a more global scale and highlighting female comedic talent to new audiences,” said Stephanie Laing, Founder, PYPO.

“This is an exciting partnership for Norwegian as it focuses on providing even better entertainment on-board for our passengers. By joining forces with PYPO, we will be able to offer exclusive content and never before-seen opportunities, which we will be able to announce more details of in the coming months. We are thrilled that Stephanie Laing and her team will work with our creative team to create something extraordinary,” said Anders Lindström, director of communications US, Norwegian, and project manager.