Emirates will reveal a new private bedroom on its Airbus A380 "very soon" as the Gulf colossus and Qantas partner plots its response to Gulf neighbour and competitor Etihad's A380 three-room The Residence.
The superjumbo supersuite is "based on our [first class] cabin but more as a room concept and private,” Shaikh Majid Al Mualla, Divisional Senior Vice President, Commercial Operations, told GulfNews, adding that it would be introduced “very soon.”
However, Al Mualla said the Emirates' VIP bedrooms will not include the butler service of Etihad's The Residence.
While Emirates has not yet finalised the A380 bedroom concept, Al Mualla said its could mean a reduction in the number of economy seats – leading some pundits to suspect the VIP suite would be located at the front of the superjumbo's main deck, which is currently given over entirely to economy seats, rather than the upstairs domain of first class.
This might also make it easy for a dedicated shower suite to be installed next to the private bedroom by building it directly beneath one of the two upstairs showers allocated to first class.
Al Mualla also confirmed that some Emirates' A380s would see first class dropped entirely, to create a two-class superjumbo to cater for markets where there is much higher demand for cheap economy seats.
Qantas partner Emirates is working on a “new bedroom concept” which will shift first class travel beyond the realm of its current Airbus A380 private suites
"It's all about privacy," Emirates President Tim Clark said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal. "Our new bedroom concept will take it to the next level.”
Emirates won’t be drawn on details such as the number of bedrooms per superjumbo, the timetable for their debut nor their roster of exclusive features.
But nobody would be surprised if the fully-enclosed private bedroom boasted a personal shower and ‘room service’ from a concierge dedicated to satisfying your every inflight whim.
After all, that’s the recipe behind The Residence private suite revealed this week by Emirates’ Gulf competitor Etihad Airways, which appears to have reignited competition for the super-luxury traveller by cocooning them in a private jet environment.
The Residence is a three-room VIP suite tucked away into the very front of the upper deck of Etihad’s Airbus A380s with a bedroom (above), en suite bathroom and shower plus a separate lounge cabin (below), all serviced by a butler trained at London’s Savoy Hotel.
A return flight between London and Abu Dhabi in The Residence will cost around AU$45,000 and covers up to two people travelling together.
Etihad drew the inspiration for The Residence, along with its new Apartment first class suites and other inflight facilities like The Lobby lounge from the world of five-star hotels, along with the style of inflight service.
Etihad began development on the new suites five years ago and used both Emirates and Singapore Airlines as their benchmark.
“We first looked at what Singapore Airlines was doing with its A380” Etihad Chief Executive James Hogan told Australian Business Traveller on the sidelines of Etihad’s launch in Abu Dhabi earlier this week.
“Then we took a view of what Emirates would do and how they would take it further than Singapore Airlines, and then how could we take it even further again” Hogan said.
“And that’s what you see, something that is completely unique.”
Airbus confirmed that the delivery of the first Airbus A350 to Qatar Airways has been rescheduled for December 22.
The handover of Europe’s first mainly carbon-composite jet, originally scheduled for December 13, had been postponed by the airline last week, triggering speculation of a repeat of cabin problems which had delayed delivery if its first A380.
But scheduling problems appeared to have played a part.
Confirming an earlier Reuters report, Airbus said in a media invitation that the delivery ceremony would go ahead in Toulouse on December 22 and would include a preview flight.
Airbus has pledged to deliver the first A350, developed at a cost of some $15 billion to compete with the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, by the end of the year.
Over 200,000 passengers have used Emirates' free onboard Wi-Fi since October this year, taking advantage of the airline's service to connect with family, friends or colleagues when they fly.
On most Emirates A380s passengers can access 10MBs of free data, enough to send emails, blog, tweet, post on Facebook, or browse the Internet.
Emirates currently offers Wi-Fi connectivity on 86 aircraft – on board all of its 56 Airbus A380s, as well as on 30 of its Boeing 777s. A comprehensive retrofit programme is also underway to install Wi-Fi capability across the rest of its fleet. On 51 of Emirates’ A380s, the first 10MB of data is free, and a token $1 charge is levied for the next 500MB. On all other aircraft, getting online costs US$1 due to the current hardware and software installed.
Until January 1 2015, proceeds from these connection charges will be donated to the Emirates Airline Foundation to help improve quality of life for disadvantaged children around the world.
“Emirates sees inflight Wi-Fi as an essential value-add service that should be freely available for our customers to connect with friends, family and business. At the moment, software and technical limitations mean that on some of our aircraft we still have to levy a token charge for Wi-Fi. We are working hard to overcome this but until then, it is only $1 to get online. We’ve been providing free Wi-Fi and $1 Wi-Fi on the fleet since early October and up to 35% of passengers are using the service, especially on long flights,” said Patrick Brannelly, Emirates’ VP for corporate communications - product, publishing, digital and events.
“Most of our flights are long-haul international routes, and we know that many of our customers want to stay in touch when they travel. That is why Emirates has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in our inflight connectivity systems. We especially see a spike in mobile and Wi-Fi usage during major festive seasons, and we believe that our customers will welcome the fact that if they have to pay a $1 connection fee, proceeds will go towards supporting a good cause. We expect to collect and donate about US$40,000 to the Emirates Airline Foundation, but that amount could increase if more users log-on to Wi-Fi between now and the new year,” added Brannelly.
I sometimes, wish, I could be anonymous. Walk down the street of life. Before I moved to the states, I was a boy. In the music school, on the piano. I was just a boy who wanted a view of the beautiful beach. And now that things changes under circumstances, I think it's very difficult to do very simple things. Things without consequences. I think it's the hardest thing to give up. But my mother always taught me to be strong. And never to be a victim, never making excuses, never expect anyone else to provide me things that I know I can provide for myself. I have dreams. And I actually think I have the power to make those dreams to become a reality.
When you have a stand in the music industry, no one looks at you as a human anymore. You become the property of the label. There's nothing real about it. You can't put your finger on who I am. I can't put a finger on who I am. I am... Complicated. I've grew up with a lot of conflicts and traumas and I've been through a lot. Just like everyone else. My escape is always music. And I'm so lucky that that's my job. But if I've accomplished all of these things, and had no one to share with. It will be worth nothing. You know that you need something real. In order to need any of see stuff matter. You have to have something, that is FOREVER. Something that is invisible.
I was brought up the same way my mother try to please and make everyone comfortable. And I always felt like its my job to fix problems. People pleaser. But, I'm no longer afraid of conflict, and I don't think conflict is a bad thing. Because I know, when you grow up, when you learned a few things, you no longer afraid of letting go. You no longer afraid of the unknown. You no longer afraid going to places and you're biting your mind and soul that make you feel uncomfortable. And it all starts from if you can look at yourself in the mirror and say, I like that person. You know.. If I hadn't gone through some of the painful experience in my life, I would not be me.
I feel like my body is borrowed in this life. And it is very temporary. I watched my friends body deteriorate, and see someone pass on so gracefully and puts everything in perspective. We do not value ourselves enough. Especially young people who don't really appreciate how brilliant our bodies are. I've always been very specific and choosy. About my body and who I wanna share with. People thinks that they lose something when they get into a relationship or marriage. But it doesn't have to be that way. There is nothing more exciting to be able to have a witness to your life.
I always consider myself as an humanitarian activist, or something. All the while, I've always afraid of that word, cause people place so much on it. When honestly, it's very simple. It's just a person who believes in equality for men and women. Men and women balance each other out, and we have to get to a point where each other is comfortable with and starts to appreciate each other. Not just for the rights of humanity, or anything. It's just a general term. I have a lot of empathy for people and the pressures they go through and the cultures that has been created. Especially for all the LGBT and people who are going through terminal illnesses. Not because I am one of them, but because I understood how hard it is having to go through cancer, and I know a lot more people are far worst than I am. I have the same empathy for women. They women has to provide, so many things for their children. I consider myself, a humanist.
You know, everybody is not good at everything. It's always okay to depend on someone. It's actually what we are suppose to do. We're supposed to depend on each other. And when you find the person that you trust, and you love, and you feel is going to respect you and take all the shit you have and turn around and bring out the best in you, it is indeed the most powerful thing in your life.
Happiness comes from you. No one else can make you happy. You make you happy. The love you have just amplified that happiness that you already have. And one thing that's for sure, the love I have, the music, my lover, my friends, and my future, it's something that will last far beyond in my life.
I'm thankful for embracing me, for understanding me, for being patient with my crazy. This is the life I am living. This is what I wanted it to be.
Qatar Airways announced Wednesday that delivery of its first Airbus A350-900 XWB, originally planned for this weekend, has been postponed. No new date for the delivery or reasons for the delay were given; Qatar is the launch customer for the all-new widebody.
“The Airbus A350 aircraft ceremonial transfer of title has been postponed until further notice.
With the imminent launch of the new Airbus A350 program, both entities are committed to introducing the A350 very soon” the Doha-based carrier said in a statement.
The aircraft was scheduled to be handed to Qatar at Airbus’ delivery center in Toulouse Dec. 13, to arrive at Doha Hamad International Airport Saturday. Official ceremonies were then scheduled for all day Monday, Dec. 16.
Malaysia Airlines has seen a 40 per cent increase in business class passengers flying its London Heathrow to Kuala Lumpur route this year.
The upturn in corporate traffic was measured between January 1 and August 31 and compared to the same period last year.
The news comes despite the disappearance of flight MH370 over the Indian Ocean in March and the tragic shootdown of MH17 over Ukraine four months later.
Weng Chi Lee, MAS' UK & Ireland area manager, said: "The corporate travel market never took a dip. That was very reassuring. We saw our business class passenger loads [on the London to Kuala Lumpur route]... increase 40 per cent, year-on-year."
He added: "We've got a good product — it's a double-daily A380 with first, business and economy class. We continue to refresh our products all the time. The corporate travellers are receptive to what we have and they find that it's a good way to go out to Asia."
Although business class travel is up by 40 per cent, the airline's overall traffic between LHR and Kuala Lumpur has decreased by 5 per cent from 85 to 80 per cent.
Two weeks ago, MAS became a step closer to becoming a nationalised private company after minority shareholders voted to approve Khazanah Nasional, the investment holding arm of the Malaysian government, becoming the sole shareholder.
Once approved by the High Court of Malaya, Khazanah will implement a 12-point, five-year business plan setting out strategies to rehabilitate the airline. The first move will be a reduction in staff from 20,000 to an estimated 14,000.
Despite the cutback in personnel, which is expected to mainly affect back-office staff, MAS currently has no plans to axe any of its routes.
Lee said: "The double-daily A380 operation between Heathrow and Kuala Lumpur is assured, it's staying... And it's not just the UK, the entire European as well as our worldwide network are staying the same for the time being."
Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces is set to launch its second Dubai property in March.
The Indian group will open Taj Dubai in the emirate's Downtown district, close to the Burj Khalifa. It already operates the Taj Palace hotel in Deira.
The 296-room property will have seven food and drink outlets, including Indian and Peruvian restaurants, as well as a spa and a members-only business club called Chambers.
The group is due to open a property under its Vivanta by Taj brand in Dwarka, south-west Delhi, in January. Located 20 minutes' drive from Delhi Indira Gandhi International airport, it will have 250 guestrooms as well as dining, spa and meeting facilities.
A 283-room property is scheduled to open at Mumbai International airport's Terminal 1C in April.
Taj now provides free wifi to in-house guests across all of its 125 hotels.
Air Canada will launch a new non-stop Toronto to Delhi service next November.
The carrier will roster a B787-9 Dreamliner aircraft in a three-class configuration onto three of the route's four weekly frequencies.
From November 1, outbound service AC050 will depart Toronto at 2055 on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays and land in Delhi at 2115 the following day.
Return service AC051 will leave Delhi at 0045 on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays and arrive in Toronto at 0500 the same day.
All flights will be operated by the B787-9, apart from the Monday outbound service and the Wednesday return service, which will be B787-8 aircraft.
Calin Rovinescu, Air Canada's president and CEO, said: "We will be offering the only non-stop flight from Canada to India using our newest Boeing 787 Dreamliners, which are revolutionising long-haul air travel.
"The operating economics of these new aircraft make this service feasible and it will be the first route dedicated to the larger, 787-9 version of this aircraft, which begin entering our fleet in 2015."
In September, Air Canada announced a series of new codeshare routes with Star Alliance partner Air India
Air New Zealand will buy two more Boeing 787-9s, taking its total Dreamliner fleet to 12.
The Kiwi carrier, which was the world's first airline to fly the long-range and fuel-efficient 787-9, says the two jets are due for delivery in 2017 and the second half of 2018.
The airline still has six more 787-9 purchase options up its sleeve.
"As the airline’s commercial performance continues to improve, we are focussed on reinvesting our profits directly back into the business on products, services and fleet to further enhance the customer experience and to ensure the business remains strong and competitive" commented Air New Zealand CEO Chris Luxon in announcing the plan.
“Air New Zealand is very committed to the Boeing 787-9" Luxon added, saying that "the aircraft is a key component in our growth strategy."
The next generation of Qantas business class raises the bar in both the Australian and international markets.
Set to debut before year's end on domestic routes flown by Qantas' Airbus A330s – and on international routes from 2015 – the new ‘business suites’ could also be the business class for Qantas’ future twin-aisle jets such as the Boeing 787.
(For those who care for such things, the base model for the seat is the Vantage XL platform from Irish company Thompson Aero Seating but it's been customised by Marc Newson for Qantas.)
The stand-out feature of the Qantas business suites, of course, is a fully lie-flat bed, shown here adorned with the Qantas sleep service mattress.
This is no 'sloping sleeper' as you'd find on the airline's current A330 fleet, where the seat becomes a straight 180-degree bed from head to toe yet remains at an angle to the floor – as seen below in Marc Newson's original Skybed.
The new business suite bed folds out to become ramrod straight and flat to the floor, in the same vein as the fully-flat bed of the Airbus A380's Skybed II, below.
The new seats can be reclined during take-off and landing “to maximise the opportunity for rest”, especially on short Asian flights such as from Singapore...
... and while that's definitely more comfortable than sitting completely upright, you won't be able to snooze in bed more until after the plane takes off.
There’s actually nothing new about this concept, with Air New Zealand and Virgin Atlantic among the airlines whose business class seats already offer a lie-before-you-fly mode.
Plenty of space...
Today’s business travellers are demanding more and more personal space.
Gone are the days when you’d settle in for the flight with a good book. Now there’s your laptop, smartphone, quite likely an iPod, possibly a tablet or Kindle, perhaps your own pair of noise-cancelling headphones... and maybe a good book into the bargain.
The business suite offers ample room to spread out using the console next to each seat...
... with a deep recess for your headphones, laptop and a Qantas-supplied iPad...
... plus a Kate Spade amenity kit for the ladies or a Jack Spade kit for the gents, and a handy bottle of water:
A thinner space next to the video screen and below the coat hook is where you’ll find the safety card and other airline-issued paraphernalia, so they don’t get in the way of your own stuff.
There's space under the centre console for larger items such as shoes...
... and when you're eating, a tray table swings out from the opposite side.
Beyond the hinge, there's actually nothing to clip the tray onto – so you may experience a little 'tray wobble' if working on a heavier laptop:
Each business suite will be fitted with a 16 inch screen running Panasonic Avionics' latest eX3 system powered by Google’s Android software (yes, the same software that’s probably in your smartphone).
Singapore Airlines has already adopted the eX3 for its next generation business class and first class, which includes a small touchscreen handheld controller.
However, Qantas passengers will find a more familiar remote control tucked away aside the seat, as you'd also find on the A380 and the newer generation of Boeing 747s:
Passengers at the pointy end will find a pair of noise-cancelling headphones within easy reach, along with an angled reading light that faces the book from your line-of-sight, rather than beaming down from overhead.
Economy passengers will get a smaller 11.1 inch touchscreen running Panasonic’s simplified eXlite package.
(According to Qantas, the streamlined IFE system plus new economy seats which are each 1kg lighter than their current counterparts will shave some 400kg off the international version of the A330, resulting in a lower fuel bill.)
There's some clever thinking behind the scenes, or perhaps we should say behind the screens.
Copies of the most popular latest-release movies will be stored on a disk drive that's mounted behind the display, so even if the connection from the screen back to the plane's media box (which holds all the videos and music) fails, you'll still be able to watch a few movies.
All business suites include an AC power socket, of course, along with USB ports built into every business and economy seat.
If you can't spot them, they're right next to the seat and are well-positioned for charging laptops and tablets while you're using them, but also for hiding your phone in the storage compartment and running a sneaky cable through the gap to the USB power port.
They're also above an in-seat mirror, tucked away on the inside portion of the remote control cover.
The A330s will also sport Qantas' Q Streaming technology which beams videos and music directly to your own tablet, laptop or smartphone.
Finally, the guts of the A330's inflight entertainment system is being upgraded to match that of Qantas' flagship Airbus A380, putting some 1500 hours of content at your fingertips.
The all-important sleep...
To extend the seat into a fully-flat position – or to customise it just to your liking – is a detailed control panel aside the suite.
If you'd rather not be woken when breakfast is served, just tap the 'do not disturb' button and you'll be left alone until closer to arrival.
And, if you prefer to stand in the aisle while your suite transforms into a spacious bed – or vice versa – just press and hold this easy-to-reach button and your bed will unfold.
The crew can also add a fitted sheet for a more comfortable rest, along with a blanket and suite-width pillow.
If you need to hop up during the night, the seat numbers are illuminated to help you find your way back...
All up, here's what you'll be returning to – a private, fully-flat bed in the sky on Qantas' A330s:
How the staggered seat layout works
The business suites will be arrayed in a 1-2-1 layout so that every passenger enjoys direct access to the aisle.
The suites themselves are built for a staggered design in which each row dovetails into the one ahead and behind.
This has become an increasingly common configuration – and while we have only photos of a single suite, here’s how the layout works in practice.
First of all, consider for a moment that each suite consists of two components – the seat and the console.
In the picture above, the seat is at the right of the console and slides forward to convert into a bed which extends into a recessed foot well.
However, in the suite behind this one, the foot well is taken from inside the forward row's console – and the passenger will sit to the left of their console rather than the right.
This alternating arrangement is the key to a staggered layout, and to help you hop into and out of the suite, there's a handle atop the suite in front.
In effect, there are two configurations for the business suite – think of them as seat+console and console+seat – and these alternate every second row to accommodate the console of one suite housing the foot well of the next, and so on.
This also applies to the two suites paired in the middle of each row.
For more on the Qantas Business Suite, watch the video below:
When (and where) you’ll see the new Business Suites
Qantas will launch the new Business Suite on a domestic east-west route to Perth in late December, and on international flights to Singapore from January 2015.
Qantas will fit the new lie-flat business class seat across its entire Airbus A330 fleet, with the upgrades being done in Brisbane to a refit schedule of one plane every 30 days, with the project to be completed by the end of 2016.
Qantas’ primary A330 route in Australia skies is the transcontinental trek between Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth, where Qantas will havea vital head-start over Virgin Australia, which won't begin flying its own next-gen 'business/first' seats (seen below) on east-west A330 routes until March 2015.
Qantas is also aiming to hit a 'critical mass' with the fast roll-out of its upgraded A330s, with plans for six of the rejigged jets flying by the time of Virgin's launch – most of which are expected to be dedicated to east-west routes – and double that number when Virgin completed the refit of all six of its A330s in July 2015.
The Business Suite will be a welcome replacement to the Red Roo’s current domestic A330 business class seats, some of which more closely resemble premium economy with the middle seat covered by a plastic shelf to provide a shared ‘inflight workspace’.
On the international front, the A330s currently fly to most of Qantas’ key Asian ports – Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Bangkok, Jakarta and Manila, and most recently, Honolulu.
Live to love and love to live. The motto that I held on my entire life. Just a regular guy who loves what I am passionate in life. A song writer and producer. Living life on the move. From Malaysia to The States, New Zealand to Singapore. With the companion of great people in life. In and out from the music industry. Taking everything one step at a time.