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.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

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

Two blog posts in one day? That’s a record for me, but I wanted to share a few images I received of the latest addition to Air Seychelles’ aircraft fleet.

The new livery was created in ADAT's painting hall.
The airline has received its second Airbus A330-200, which has been described as “distinctive, brightly-coloured livery” – seems an apt description to me!

As you can see from the photo (on the right), the Air Seychelles name now adorns the underbelly, for brand visibility from the ground while the aircraft is in flight. I've added a few more images on my Facebook page, click here to see them.

According to a press release, the A330 has been named in honour of Vallée de Mai, the Seychelles’ second UNESCO Natural World Heritage Site, which is located on the island of Praslin. In fact, the UNESCO status is included alongside the Vallée de Mai name, visible to passengers upon boarding.

“The aircraft is scheduled to take its first test flight in February and will join the fleet in March to launch Air Seychelles’ new international schedule, which includes new services to Hong Kong and increased frequencies to Abu Dhabi, Johannesburg and Mauritius,” added the press release.

Below is a cool time-lapse video of the aircraft undergoing painting at Abu Dhabi Aircraft Technologies in the UAE.

"Air Seychelles’ livery turns heads, both in the sky and on the ground, embodying the beauty of the islands and the liveliness of the culture,” commented Cramer Ball, Air Seychelles Chief Executive Officer. “Our livery is based on the pristine ecosystem of the Seychelles and our support for a greener Seychelles. With these changes, our aircraft will be even more distinctive.”

What do you think of the aircraft? 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: Stunning photos of Qatar’s Hamad International Airport…wow!

Stunning photos of Qatar’s Hamad International Airport…wow!

Soon after publishing my ‘Public Response to New Doha International Airport’s New Name’ article, I received an email with some eye-catching images of the forthcoming aviation hub, which I wanted to share!

A look inside Hamad International Airport in Doha
A look inside Hamad International Airport in Doha
I've included a couple of photos on this page - the rest have been uploaded on my Facebook page - with 23 images in total.

As you can see, New Doha Hamad International Airport looks stunning and should be a treat for passengers once its first phase opens on 1st April 2013 (and yes, I’ve read a load of comments on various websites about it being April Fools’ Day!).

The multi-billion dollar facility will be operated by Qatar Airways, although 12 different airlines have been selected as launch carriers, including some low-cost operators. Qatar Airways will actually move its operations there in the second half of this year.

HOK designed the airport’s three-storey main passenger terminal and five concourses. Looking at the photos, it’s little wonder that Abdul Aziz Al Noiami, chairman of Qatar’s Civil Aviation Authority (QCAA), predicted that Hamad International Airport would become “a global showpiece that the State of Qatar will justifiably be proud of”.

The First Class Spa... fancy a dip?
“I am delighted to say that we have indeed succeeded in living up to the vision of His Highness The Emir, Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani to create a world-class international gateway that will firmly put our country on the global stage,” Al Noiami was quoted as saying in a press release.

“2005 seems like only yesterday when the foundation stone was laid for work to start on the new airport project. Eight years on and we are just weeks away from the latest chapter in the airport’s history with the start of operations.

“A new workplace and stunning architectural masterpiece will enhance the skyline of Doha providing new surroundings for airport employees and the travelling public from around the world.”

I’ve actually been trying to locate a source for these photos, so that I can credit them, but unfortunately I’ve not had any luck so far… if you know, please get in touch.

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

Friday, January 25, 2013

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

Wow, we’ve already reached the end of January, which means there’s only two months until the launch of Etihad Airways flights to Washington, DC (31st March 2013)!

As the countdown continues, Etihad hosted its first ever ‘on-board showcase’ in Washington, DC today. What does that involve? Here's a quick explanation, but don't miss the photos at the bottom!

Basically, our brand new B777 aircraft completed its maiden voyage from the Boeing Everett factory this week, stopping at Dulles International Airport. A range of diplomatic, business and government officials were welcomed on-board to savour the ‘Etihad experience’ for themselves, before the new route is operational.

More than 25 cabin crew were on hand to escort guests around the beautifully designed aircraft interior, with seats by Sogerma, BE Aerospace and Weber, and bespoke features highlighting collaborations with Poltrona Frau, Ettore Billotta, and Panasonic.

“This route is vital to supporting our ongoing growth in the US and the increasing ties between the US and the United Arab Emirates,” commented Daniel Barranger, +Etihad Airways Vice President Global Sales.

“This region is home to America’s second largest market for travel to the Middle East, with significant demand for premium services. I believe our award winning services will provide greater choice for both business and leisure travellers when we arrive in March.”

Below are a few photos from the event for your viewing pleasure (photo credit: J. David Buerk). Remember to keep up-to-date with this blog by joining me on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ -see you there!

RELATED ARTICLE: Etihad expands social media presence with new Google+ page

Caption: Etihad Airways today opened the doors on one of its brand new aircraft for the airline’s first-ever ‘on-board showcase’ in Washington. The airline will launch daily flights to Dulles International Airport on March 31.
Caption: Guests experienced Etihad Airways’ award-winning Diamond First Class Suite, guided by the airline’s own inflight chefs, who will offer five star service on every flight in and out of Washington, D.C.

Caption: Cabin crew Rosalind Hester, a native of North Carolina, demonstrated the features of the Pearl Business Class cabin. Rosalind has been working with Etihad Airways for four years, based in Abu Dhabi, the airline’s hub.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Public response to New Doha International Airport’s new name… Hamad International!

The media has been buzzing with news that Qatar’s much-awaited New Doha International Airport has been renamed Hamad International Airport and will receive its first commercial passengers on 1st April 2013.

An illustration of Hamad International Airport
It seems the facility will initially be opened to airlines that do not require lounge utilisation, and all other airlines will follow in the second half of the year.

The reason for the staggered approach, in part at least, is a legal dispute between the airport operator Qatar Airways and construction company Lindner Depa Interiors (LDI), with the latter being accused of failing to complete the $250 million fit-out of 19 airport lounges at New Doha Hamad International by last summer.

A new contractor has since been appointed to fit-out the lounges, which will be delivered between June and September 2013, according to Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker (a shameless plug, but have you read my interview with him, by the way?).

Phase one of the new $15.5bn airport is slated to handle over 28 million passengers a year, with the capacity expected to more than double by the time the airport is fully operational in 2018, reported Arabian Business, which will no doubt lead to plenty of job opportunities too.

The current Doha International Airport handles almost 20 million passengers a year, with over 80 per cent of the passenger traffic generated by Qatar Airways alone.

Although an announcement about the new opening date was expected, the renaming was probably more of a revelation. I decided to ask some of my Twitter followers their opinion and here are some of the responses:
”This change may force Qatar to spend some more cash to invest in the brand awareness to raise. Doha would sound better, I guess.” ‏@serkankarahatay

“Name is immaterial to me, looks awesome though.” ‏@sempir

“What's in a name, said Leo Tolstoy. Precisely.” @SpaceCrazy
What are your thoughts? Is the new name a good or bad move? Leave your comments on this page. And talking about making connections, I’ve created a Facebook page for this blog, which you can visit and like here.

RELATED: Volunteers test Dubai Airport’s new A380 concourse, and voice their opinions (good and bad) on Twitter!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

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

This photo is a clue about the winner!
What is the magic formula for determining the world’s best airline? Ask a hundred people and you will get a hundred different answers!

However, the well-known consumer magazine “Which?” bases its annual airline survey on elements such as value for money, functionality, cabin environment and staff.

The survey, which is divided into long-haul and short-haul categories, asks people to rate airlines in each of these factors, in addition to scoring their overall satisfaction and whether they would recommend the airline to their friends. The results are always interesting and tend to divide the aviation industry – some agree, some disagree and some are happy to sit on the fence.

I’m sure the debate will continue with the results of the latest survey, which have just been published. For this post, I will focus on the long-haul results, with 8000 respondents giving their views on 23 different airlines that offer flights from the UK. Can you guess which airlines came out on top?

“Take a return long-haul flight and you’re likely to be spending at least £400 and 14 hours in the air. So finding a reliable, punctual airline that provides value for money, comfortable conditions and a good in-air service could make all the difference to your holiday,” the magazine tells its readers.

“The airline used by more members than any other was British Airways (BA), but it’s four other carriers flying to Asia and on to Australia and New Zealand that have won your greatest support once again. If the scenes in The Hobbit have left you itching to travel to New Zealand, that nation’s flag carrier, Air New Zealand, should serve you well. Alongside it, Singapore Airlines and Emirates are long-standing high scorers in Which? surveys, joined this year in the top ranks by Etihad Airways.”

So, drum roll please… here is the top 10 long-haul airlines of 2012, according to the survey:
  1. Air New Zealand (Overall Score: 86%)
  2. Etihad Airways (Overall Score: 84%)
  3. Singapore Airlines (Overall Score: 83%)
  4. Emirates (Overall Score: 81%)
  5. Qatar Airways (Overall Score: 75%)
  6. Thai Airways (Overall Score: 74%)
  7. Cathay Pacific (Overall Score: 74%)
  8. KLM (Overall Score: 73%)
  9. Malaysia Airlines (Overall Score: 71%)
  10. Qantas (Overall Score: 70%)
Considering the survey only focuses on airlines that serve the UK, it’s somewhat surprising that none of the country’s carriers were featured in the top 10! Virgin Atlantic ranked at number 11 with an overall score of 69%, while British Airways is placed at number 12 with an overall score of 65%.

The rest of the Top 20, in order, is: Jet Airways (64%), Air Canada (60%), South African Airways (60%), Air Transat (56%), Thomson Airways (55%), United (51%), Delta (47%) and Air France (44%). The remaining three positions are taken by US Airways (43%), Thomas Cook Airlines (43%) and American Airlines (42%).

“It’s worth choosing your airline carefully if you’re heading to the States – three of our five worst performers are US-based carriers. Typical complaints about American Airlines, for instance, were about the poor onboard service from staff, uncomfortable seats and a lack,” concluded +Which? Magazine.

Do you agree with the ranking? Feel free to post a comment. Also, you can click here for the relevant section on the Which? website for this survey, with loads of additional information. And thanks to the team for letting me post the results!

RELATED: Top 10 Passenger Habits That Annoy Cabin Crew