PHOTOS: British Airways takes delivery of its first Airbus A380

A milestone for the British aviation industry, as the country's national carrier took deliver of its first Airbus A380, becoming the tenth operator in the world to receive the superjumbo.

First look inside Singapore Airlines' brand new premium cabins

View these amazing photos and video showcasing the airline's next generation of business and first class cabin products, set to be the new industry benchmark for premium air travel.

PHOTO: First Airbus A350 XWB’s engines powered up

Rolls-Royce's Trent XWB engines have run for the first time on the A350 XWB, moving the aircraft closer to its maiden flight.

Pilot becomes online sensation with stunning cockpit photos

Air Arabia pilot Karim Nafatni's amazing photos have not only attracted a massive online following, but the global media have also jumped on the appreciation bandwagon.

PHOTOS: Thomson becomes first UK airline to receive Boeing 787

Thousands gathered to watch Thomson's first 787 Dreamliner (from an order of eight) arrive at Manchester Airport, completing its delivery flight from Paine Field in Everett.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

WATCH: The exciting new Etihad Airways TV commercial

We experienced a special moment at the Etihad Airways headquarters this morning, when hundreds of staff gathered in the reception area to watch our much-awaited new television commercial (TVC).

The commercial, which was created by Etihad’ international advertising agency M&C Saatchi, will be released in the UAE on 3rd March 2013, and then across the world on 4th March 2013 (airing on television networks in Australia, China, Germany, India, Japan, UK, USA and Nigeria).

However, you can watch the international version of the commercial below - while the making of video has been posted on my Facebook page - click here to view it (and you can always like the page while you're there - to keep updated with the latest blog posts!).

It is part of a new global brand advertising campaign (under the theme “The World Is Our Home, You Are Our Guest”), which is actually our first major campaign in three years and will be supported regional and international TV, print, outdoor, and digital media advertising.

“The campaign reinforces the airline’s ‘guest’ proposition and explains how Etihad Airways draws inspiration from around the world to provide industry-leading ‘signature moments’ on the ground and in the air,” stated a press release, which was issued today.

David Edwards directed the TVC, which has been produced by Rogue Films in London and was filmed in Abu Dhabi, Bangkok, Prague and Sydney between mid-December 2012 and mid-January 2013.

The split screen technique used in the TVC juxtaposes the airline’s award-winning onboard service with lifestyle scenes from international destinations, fine dining restaurants and five star hotels around the world.

“This illustrates how the airline has established itself as a world leader in the provision of hospitality services by benchmarking itself against best-in-class hospitality establishments rather than other airlines,” added the press release.

The TVC uses high production values and a soundtrack of Bobby Darin’s 1967 classic, “Beautiful Things” to create a visually stunning TVC that brings to life the flair, glamour and inspiration of Etihad Airways and its home of Abu Dhabi.

It also highlights the airline’s dedication to sourcing the best products and ingredients from around the world to provide ‘signature’ and ‘outstanding as standard’ service to all its guests.

“This is our first brand advertising in many years. Having focused on product innovation and service excellence, the time is now right to make a bold and confident brand statement to the world,” commented Peter Baumgartner, +Etihad Airways  Chief Commercial Officer.

“This is not a rebranding exercise, but a continuation of our brand story drawing from the values of our home in Abu Dhabi and our inspiration from around the world," he added.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

BREAKING NEWS: Etihad buys Heathrow slots from Jet Airways for US$70 million

Etihad Airways builds relationship with India's Jet Airways
Etihad is building ties with Jet Airways [Photos: Etihad]
Earlier today, it was confirmed that Etihad Airways has concluded a transaction with Jet Airways to purchase the Indian carrier’s three pairs of Heathrow slots for US$70 million.

The purchase is part of a sale and lease back agreement signed on Tuesday, February 26, 2013.  Jet Airways will continue to operate flights to London utilising these slots.

“The deal further strengthens the existing commercial relationship, which came into effect in July, 2008, making provision for codesharing between the two airlines,” stated a press release from the UAE national carrier.

As previously advised, +Etihad Airways continues to progress discussions about further investment in Jet Airways.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

HIT OR MISS? Bizarre kissing competition on Scoot flight splits opinions!

Passengers take part in Scoot's kissing contest for Valentine's day
Passengers take part in Scoot's kissing contest
Imagine this. You’re travelling on a flight from Singapore to Bangkok, excited about reaching your final destination, when soon after take-off, the couple seated in the row ahead of yours stand-up and start kissing each other. Not a little peck on the cheek, but a full-on passionate embrace.

Sounds a little odd, right? But wait, the story doesn’t finish there. You look around the aircraft to check other people’s reaction to this somewhat peculiar behaviour, but to your surprise, there are several couples doing exactly the same thing. Young couples, old couples, same-sex couples… all participating in what can only be described as a kissing marathon (kiss-a-thon?).

Now, before you think I’ve totally lost the plot, this is not a work of fiction. On the contrary, it actually happened on-board a recent Scoot flight… and the budget airline couldn’t be happier about the situation. That’s because the couples were taking part in a Valentine’s Day competition on two different flights, with free goodies on offer to the pair that kissed for the longest. Head over to my Facebook page to view all the photos.

On the first flight, the winners locked lips for a total of 35 minutes, receiving free flights and hotel accommodation to any destination on Scoot’s network for their efforts. The results on the second flight were even more impressive, with five couples kissing all the way from Singapore to Bangkok!

Budget airline Scoot hosts kissing competition for Valentine's Day 2013
Was the contest a clever gimmick or a step too far?
"They kissed while standing, sitting, squatting and persisting till the flight was about to descend,” stated a press release in perhaps too much detail.

All five couples were declared winners and received a pair of economy-class tickets, with Scoot CEO Campbell Wilson describing the competition as a “fun experience”.

"It was great to celebrate the spirit of Valentine's Day, and in a much more enjoyable way than just keeping ones hand on a car. We only hope that our fantastic couples haven't prematurely exhausted their passion,” he added.

However, while the competition has received a lot of media coverage (unsurprisingly), if you look at the photos on my Facebook page (which originally appeared on Scoot's Facebook page), it seems there was a mixed response from passengers on the flights – some were unfazed by the situation while others looked ‘less than impressed with the displays of affection’, using the words of a report by

What are your thoughts? Was this a clever gimmick or a step too far? As always, please feel free to share your comments here, and you can also get in touch on FacebookTwitter and Google+ - I look forward to connecting with you!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Air India pilot in trouble after his rap video goes viral!

Air India pilot in trouble after rap video goes viral
Rapping was not the answer for this Air India pilot
Viral videos are a funny business, right? On the one hand, they have the power to make you rich and famous and on the other hand, they can be responsible for your downfall. At least, that seems to be the case with an Air India pilot, who uploaded a homemade video of himself rapping about the national carrier on YouTube.

Sounds like a bit of harmless fun, I hear you say? Maybe that was the intention, but the video has not received much acclaim from the aviation authorities.

To be fair, it’s not his rapping style that they have a problem with… it’s his lyrics, which complain about unpaid salaries and aging flight attendants, while also criticising the “people at the top” for ruining Air India.

The music video has been attracting a lot of media attention in recent days – even CNN has been reporting on it! That might have been a reality check, because the 28-year-old pilot has written an apology to Air India’s management and he’s not doing any media interviews either.

So what’s wrong with the lyrics? Here are some highlights (and the video is below):

“I’m filing bankruptcy and I’m getting broke… why don’t we punish those who f***ed up my airline? How do I fly with women in their 60s? They can them airhostesses, we call them aunties,” the pilot raps.

“It’s few people at the top who f***ed us up and robbed. They don't even let me leave, they don't give me NOC (no objection certificate). Please tell them it isn't Air Force, I ain’t at LoC (line of control).”

With lyrics like that, the video was never going to be well received by his management, was it? “The pilot is in the wrong profession,” an unnamed Air India official told The Times of India newspaper. “Since he is so talented as a musician, he should have been in a rock band.” Ouch!

The pilot has been described as enthusiastic by co-workers, which comes across in the video too, but not even that character trait will aid him this time around. Unsurprisingly, he could face disciplinary action.

“Discipline has to be maintained by all employees. People are free to leave the company and then do what they want. Will any private company tolerate such behaviour from any employee? We will examine his track record before taking a final view on his immature act,” a senior official was quoted as saying.

Without further ado, here is the rap video - be warned, the lyrics are explicit! So what are your views - was the pilot in the wrong, or should he be allowed to express himself? As always, please feel free to share your comments here, and you can also get in touch on FacebookTwitter and Google+ - I look forward to connecting with you!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

REVEALED: Four major trends that will shape air travel by 2015

Four major trends set to shape air travel by 2015
What will airline passengers expect in the future?
I received an interesting report from SITA the other day, titled ‘Flying into the Future’, which claimed that technology innovation will significantly change the way we travel by 2015.

“Over the next three years, the industry will see a major transformation in the way passengers buy travel services and use self-service along their journey,” stated the report. “In addition, these journeys will take place in a fully mobile and social environment with airlines and airports intelligently using vast quantities of data to deliver real service and operational improvements.”

Okay, that’s probably not a massive surprise to many people in the aviation industry – or passengers for that matter – but I wanted to share the four major trends that are set to shape air travel over the next two or three years, according to SITA (a company that should have expert insight into the topic, as its marketed as ‘the world's leading specialist in air transport communications and IT solutions’).

The report is quite timely for me. You may have read in the media that Etihad Airways will make its ‘Big Switch’ to new, state-of-the-art, passenger sales, website, and check-in systems next week, the most significant milestone in its US$1 billion, ten-year, deal with Sabre Airline Solutions.

The Passenger Service System (PSS) transformation project is the most challenging IT and business-critical initiative that the Abu Dhabi-based airline has implemented in its history and will offer significant enhancements to the customer experience, especially in areas such as mobile and guest communications.

You can read more about that on the Etihad Airways website, but back to SITA! Based on the company’s most recent surveys of airlines, airports and passengers worldwide, the four major trends which will shape the future of global air travel are listed below (there’s a cool infographic at the end, so keep reading)!

  1. The way passengers buy travel will change. By 2015, both airlines and airports expect the web and the mobile phone to be the top two sales channels. Passengers are asking for a more personalised buying experience, and the industry is responding. For example, Alaska Airlines is one of several airlines with a travel app that alerts fliers to airfare deals from their hometowns and to cities where their friends live.
  2. Passengers will take more control. By 2015, 90% of airlines will offer mobile check-in—up from 50% today. Passengers will use 2D boarding passes or contactless technology such as Near Field Communications (NFC) on their phones, at different stages of their journey, such as at boarding gates, fast-track security zones and to access premium passenger lounges.  Japan Airline’s Touch & Go Android is one example of an app, which will allow passengers to pass through boarding gates using their NFC-enabled phones. France’s Toulouse-Blagnac Airport is piloting a similar service.
  3. Customer services will become more mobile and social. By 2015, nine out of ten airlines and airports will provide flight updates using smart phone apps. The industry is also exploring apps to improve the customer experience. At Japan’s Narita Airport, roaming service employees personalise the customer experience by using iPads to provide airport, flight and hotel information to passengers. In addition, Edinburgh Airport is one of several airports with apps that help passengers plan their journeys to and from the airport, track their flights, access terminal maps and reserve parking spots before they arrive.
  4. The passenger experience will improve thanks to better business intelligence. By 2015, more than 80% of airports and airlines will invest in business intelligence (BI) solutions. Most will focus on improving customer service and satisfaction, often through personalized services. For example, one European airline, Vueling, researches customers via social media in an effort to understand them better. It then integrates this information into their BI programmes to improve loyalty. 
Do you agree with the list? As always, please feel free to share your comments here, and you can also get in touch on FacebookTwitter and Google+ - I look forward to connecting with you!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

A sad day for Middle East aviation… Bahrain Air to file for voluntary liquidation

Bahrain Air to close operations
The end of the runway for Bahrain Air
Bahrain Air has been on a roller-coaster ride ever since it launched operations, with plenty of ups and downs along the way, but sadly that ride has reached its conclusion.

Earlier today, the airline confirmed that its operations had been suspended and it would file for voluntary liquidation. The decision, it seems, was made by stakeholders during a recent Extraordinary General Meeting.
Although the news might have been unexpected for some, Bahrain Air has been skating on thin ice as a result of continued market challenges, including political instability in parts of the Middle East and North Africa, such as its home country.

According to an official statement, the carrier was instructed to suspend flights to several destinations in 2011, during Bahrain’s State of National Emergency, but received no compensation, despite making official claims.

“The airline is now being required to make immediate payments on past government debts or face closure at the same time as having its scheduled operations, both destinations and frequencies, being reduced considerably by the Civil Aviation Affairs in the Ministry of Transportation,” continued the statement, which was placed on the homepage of Bahrain Air’s website.

“This effectively strangles the airline by simultaneously requesting payments and reducing its ability to generate the necessary revenues both to make these payments and to sustain long term profitability. The airline has also spared no effort to negotiate a solution with the Minister of Transportation (who is also an active board member of Gulf Air). However, he has shown no inclination to provide a meaningful solution. His decisions to restrict route approvals have cost the airline BD 4.5 million in lost revenues over the last 3 months.”

In what appears to be finger pointing, the statement added that Bahrain Air’s AOC was only extended for two months instead of one year by the Minister, even though operational audits had been passed. “In the circumstances, given the position of the Minister, the shareholders decided that had no option but to discontinue financial support and put the company into voluntary liquidation.”

Ending on a sombre note, the airline concluded that the decision marked a “sad day for all Bahrain Air shareholders and employees, and for our loyal and valued guests, and all those who valued the freedom of choice when making their travel plans”.

UPDATE: Bahrain Air CEO Richard Nuttall has told Gulf Daily News that its employees would be ‘taken care of’, according to a news report. "We have close to 300 airline staff who will be affected by this decision. We are working on guidelines to ensure they will get what they deserve," he said, adding that all of the carrier's aircraft were leased and the process of returning the planes would start shortly.

I’m saddened by the news – I have interviewed both the Managing Director and CEO of the airline on numerous occasions and admired their visions and hopes. What do you think of the decision? As always, please feel free to share your comments here, and you can also get in touch on FacebookTwitter and Google+ - I look forward to connecting with you!

ALSO READ: Top 10 Long-Haul Airlines of 2012, According To ‘Which?’ Magazine

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Top 10: Airlines with the best cabin crew uniform in 2013 (Europe and Asia-Pacific)

Aeroflot Cabin Crew Uniform
Aeroflot - Europe's best air hostess uniform?
Mirror mirror on the wall, which cabin crew uniform is the most stylish of them all?

Although fashion is not something I would normally cover on this blog, I thought the results of Skyscanner’s latest user survey were worth sharing!

The popular website, which allows users to browse for flights via price and location, asked more than 1,200 air travellers to rate the cabin crew uniforms of European airlines on a scale of one to five.

The air hostess survey for 2013 included all of Europe’s main players, from national carriers such as British Airways, Air France, Lufthansa and Turkish Airlines to low-cost carriers Ryanair, easyJet and Flybe.

However, with a certain element of surprise, none of the above actually managed to top the list! The winner was Russia’s national carrier Aeroflot, whose cabin crew wear a distinctive red uniform.

Perhaps less surprising was the fact that Skyscanner’s Russia Manager Tatiana Danilova was thrilled with the results. “Russian cabin crew are well-known for being very glamorous, and it is a well-respected and much sought after profession,” commented Danilova. “It’s reassuring our Russian cabin crew are flying the flag and showing that Russians are extremely style savvy!”

Here is the complete top 10:

  1. Aeroflot
  2. British Airways
  3. Lufthansa
  4. Air France
  5. Finnair
  6. Flybe
  7. Turkish Airlines
  8. Alitalia
  9. easyJet
  10. Ryanair

Top 10: Asia-Pacific airlines with the best cabin crew uniform

China Eastern Airlines Cabin Crew Uniform
China Eastern Airlines - winner in the Asia-Pacific region
And why limit this to Europe? +Skyscanner  completed a similar survey for Asia Pacific airlines, again with 1,200 jet-setters asked to vote, from countries such as Australia, New Zealand, China, India, Indonesia, Philippines, Korea and Singapore.

This time around, it was Shanghai-based China Eastern who topped the list, all thanks to its smart navy blue uniforms, which are teamed with white shirts and red scarves.

Here are the full results:

  1. China Eastern Airlines
  2. Asiana Airlines
  3. Virgin Australia 
  4. Air China
  5. China Southern Airlines
  6. Air Asia
  7. Singapore Airlines 
  8. Korean Air
  9. Philippine Airlines
  10. Jeju Air
What are your views? As always, please feel free to share your comments on the photos here, and you can also get in touch on FacebookTwitter and Google+ - I look forward to connecting with you!

RELATED: Top 10 Passenger Habits That Annoy Cabin Crew

Monday, February 4, 2013

10 things you should know about Etihad Airways’ 2012 financial performance

Earlier today, Etihad Airways announced a net profit of US$42 million in 2012, marking an impressive increase of 200 percent in comparison to 2011 levels.

“This has been a game-changing year for Etihad Airways,” stated James Hogan, President and Chief Executive Officer of +Etihad Airways in a press release.

“We have delivered improved net profit, the second consecutive year we have been in the black, a remarkable achievement given the youth, ambitious growth and on-going investment made by this airline in a challenging global economic environment,” he added.

I suspect this news will be covered in more detail by the media, so instead I’ve decided to give a top line summary of the 2012 results, below. In addition, don't miss these photos from inside the amazing new Etihad Airways airport lounge in Paris (now updated with video).

10 things you should know about Etihad Airways’ 2012 financial performance

  1. Second year of net profit sees leap of 200 per cent from US$14 million in 2011 to US$42 million in 2012
  2. Success in building the first ‘equity alliance’, with investments in Air Seychelles (40 per cent), airberlin (29.21 per cent), Virgin Australia (9 per cent) and Aer Lingus (2.987 per cent)
  3. Boost in revenue from US$4.1 to US$4.8 billion, with partner airlines contributing 19 per cent of passenger revenue
  4. 16 per cent rise in EBITDAR (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, amortisation and rentals) of US$753 million (US$648 million)
  5. Five per cent reduction in non-fuel costs per available seat kilometre
  6. Passenger numbers break 10 million for the first time
  7. Record seat factor of 78.2 per cent, a significant jump of 2.4 percentage points
  8. Revenue passenger kilometres up 23 per cent to 48 billion, continuing to grow ahead of available seat kilometres
  9. Fleet increased by six to 70 aircraft, enabling access to 86 Etihad Airways passenger and cargo destinations, and 248 codeshare destinations
  10. Cargo tonnage showed strong growth of 19 percent to 367,837 tonnes
What are your views? As always, please feel free to share your comments on the photos here, and you can also get in touch on FacebookTwitter and Google+ - I look forward to connecting with you!

RELATED: PHOTOS: Washington wowed by Etihad’s first ever ‘on-board showcase’

Sunday, February 3, 2013

PHOTOS: Inside the amazing new Etihad Airways airport lounge in Paris (updated with video)

Etihad Airways has unveiled an US$8 million premium lounge at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris
Etihad unveils US$8 million premium airport lounge in Paris
I’ve received a lot of positive comments about the recent photo specials that I have been posting – in fact, the images of Qatar’s Hamad International Airport (previously New Doha International Airport) has been the most popular entry on this blog to date!

To continue the momentum, I wanted to share a number of photos from the new Etihad Airways premium lounge at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris. As usual, you’ll find a taster of the images on this page, but there are plenty more to enjoy on my Facebook page – click here to view all 13 of them!

The new US$8 million lounge, located in Terminal 2, will meet the surging passenger numbers on Etihad Airways’ flights into and out of Paris, which have grown 55 per cent over the past 18 months.

What’s more, the Paris airport lounge will also benefit codeshare partner Air France-KLM’s premium guests booked to travel on Etihad Airways-operated services from Paris to Abu Dhabi.

French national Marie-Pierre Zanusso will manage the new lounge
French national Marie-Pierre Zanusso will manage the lounge
“The Etihad guest experience is the result of significant investment and constant innovation, with inspiration coming from leading hotels and restaurants of the world,” stated a press release.

“The lounge, which is an essential part of the total guest experience, offers the same levels of style and comfort guests enjoy in Etihad Airways’ award-winning First and Business class cabins.”

The premium lounge offers a selection of elegant dining options, including an exclusive a la carte menu, comfortable relaxation space, business facilities, luxurious bathrooms, including shower facilities, and family entertainment areas.

Here's a YouTube video of the lounge:

“Knowing that lounges are a fundamental part of today’s travel experience, we have invested a great deal of time ensuring our lounges are distinctive and embrace the warmth and generosity of Etihad premium hospitality,” commented Aubrey Tiedt, +Etihad Airways Vice President Guest Services.

What do you think of the airport lounge? As always, please feel free to share your comments on the photos here, and you can also get in touch on Facebook, Twitter and Google+ - I look forward to connecting with you!

RELATED - PHOTOS: Check out Air Seychelles' enhanced livery with its new Airbus A330

Here are some interesting facts about the new Etihad Airways lounge in Paris:
  • Cost:  US$8 million
  • Area:  620 square metres
  • Lounge Manager: Marie-Pierre Zanusso
  • Features: five-star international buffet and à la carte dining; a modern business centre providing individual large-screen Apple computer workstations and complimentary wi-fi; a family room, where children can be entertained; a relaxation area, including high-comfort leather chairs and reading material; luxurious bathrooms and shower facilities for guests to freshen up prior to departure; male and female prayer rooms.