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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Justin Timberlake - Take Back The Night

Justin Timberlake Busts a Move in 'Take Back The Night' Video: Watch

Hot on the heels of Justin Timberlake's racy clip for "Tunnel Vision," the music video for new single "Take Back The Night" showcases some fancy footwork, gorgeous shots of New York City, Bud Light product placement and zero nudity.

"Take Back the Night" is JT's most straightforward dance cut from 2013, and accordingly, its official clip features exuberant shimmying in the club, on stage, and in front of a Chinese restaurant with an adorable tyke showing off his moves. Splicing live footage with shots of Timberlake commanding his club cohorts, the video stops by Yankee Stadium and the Statue of Liberty before JT jets off into the blackness of an NYC evening.

The "Take Back The Night" video premiere on Tuesday (July 30) was accompanied with an interactive online "journey," where users could scoop up interesting facts about New York and the video shoot on a custom website. The social engagement could help "Take Back The Night" slide up the Hot 100 chart, after the song bumped up eight spots last week to No. 39.

The single previews "The 20/20 Experience - 2 of 2," due out on RCA Records on Sept. 30. The first half of Timberlake's 2013 double album included the hits "Suit & Tie" and "Mirrors," and remains the best-selling album of 2013 after being released last March.

Dragonair Launches New Seasonal Service To Siem Reap

Dragonair today announced that it will launch a new three-times-weekly seasonal service to Siem Reap, the closest gateway to the ancient temples of Angkor, from 29 October 2013 (subject to government approval). The new service will further strengthen the airline’s network in Asia and offer more choice and greater convenience to passengers travelling to and from Cambodia.

Siem Reap will become the 13th destination to have been launched or resumed by Dragonair since April 2012. It will also be the airline’s second destination in Cambodia. Dragonair currently operates scheduled services 10 times every week between Hong Kong and the capital city, Phnom Penh.

The airline will operate the new Siem Reap route using Airbus A320 and A321 aircraft, departing Hong Kong every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. In addition to being the closest city to the famous complex of temples centred on Angkor Wat, a UNESCO heritage site, Siem Reap is a popular tourist destination in its own right, charming tourists with a unique blend of Chinese and French architecture and various cultural attractions.

Cambodia is an increasingly popular destination and this latest destination launch will connect passengers from around the world into the burgeoning country. It will also offer more choices and increased convenience for customers travelling out of Cambodia and connecting to Dragonair’s Mainland China network, or the international network of sister airline Cathay Pacific, through the Hong Kong hub.

Dragonair Chief Executive Officer Patrick Yeung said: “We are delighted to add Siem Reap to our ever-expanding network in Asia. Our new service to this increasingly popular tourist destination will further strengthen Hong Kong’s position as one of the world’s leading aviation hubs and further promote tourism and business ties between Hong Kong and Cambodia.”

SIA Reopens Surabaya Route

SIA First In Line For A350-900R

Airbus has been quick to dismiss the merits of Boeing's new 787-10 since its launch at the Paris air show in June, a sure sign that the European airframer considers the new aircraft a serious competitor. Another sure sign is this: Airbus plans to launch a new A350 version to go head to head with the -10.

Although Airbus has been talking with individual airlines about what it is calling the A350-900 regional, and it says some have firmed up commitments already, it plans to formally offer the aircraft toward the end of this year. “[The airlines] have kept it quiet for a while because they want to see how exactly we position it,” Airbus COO-Customers John Leahy says.

The -900 regional is going to be structurally identical to the baseline aircraft, but its engines will be derated to 75,000 lb. thrust, the same as those powering the smaller -800. The regional variant will also be limited to a maximum takeoff weight (MTOW) of 250 tons, compared to 268 tons for the long-haul version.

“There is a slight engine derate, optimizing capacity and payloads for regional routes. We aren’t permanently changing hardware. There will be a software change. Airbus has products that will be at least as cost effective as anything Boeing puts out.”

Airbus is not saying when the aircraft will be ready for entry into service, but some certification work will be necessary.

The move to proceed with the A350-900 regional is not only significant as a reaction to the 787-10. It shows that Airbus is starting to pay more attention to customers that have quietly or publicly been complaining about what they describe as excessive range capabilities built into new long-haul aircraft, which are essentially only needed by the big three Persian Gulf carriers for services to the U.S. West Coast, Australia or Latin America. Such ranges are not needed by European, U.S. and even many Asian airlines.

The A350-900 regional can still easily fly most transatlantic missions and all medium- to long-haul services that would be typical of longer intra-Asian routes. It is also suited for Middle East-Europe and Middle East-Southeast Asia flights.

Airbus says the A350-900 regional “proves to be a very strong competitor to the newly launched 787-10,” arguing that it offers the same payload/range characteristics and “comparable economics.” In other words, it is acknowledging that the A350-900 does not. However, Airbus asserts that the regional variant is actually a more pleasant aircraft than the 787-10 from a passenger perspective. In a nine-abreast configuration, the A350-900 can accommodate seats that are 18 in. wide, while the 787's are just 17 in. wide.

Furthermore, the 787-10 will operate at its maximum thrust level, according to Airbus, whereas the -900 regional will not, leading to reduced maintenance costs.

The variant can be reinstated to full range capability through changes in software and some paperwork (plus a fee to Airbus, as the lighter aircraft has a lower price). That could be an important asset for leasing companies, because it broadens the base of potential customers. It would also offer airlines the flexibility to switch from regional to long-haul flying as their networks evolve.

Singapore Airlines is buying a batch of the de-specified aircraft as part of its follow-on order for 30 A350-900s, which was announced in May/2013 for delivery starting in 2016.

The Asian carrier –which has placed total firm orders for 70 A350-900s- says it “plans to operate the aircraft on both medium and long range routes” but declines to comment on any plans to introduce the lower-weight version. It has also committed to 30 Boeing 787-10s.

Malindo Air To Start Dhaka-KL flight On Aug 28

Malindo Air, an airline based in Malaysia, is set to introduce daily flights on the Kuala Lumpur-Dhaka route next month, as part of its international expansion plans.

“Thanks to our new flight, people from Bangladesh now have more choice when it comes to travelling to Malaysia,” Chandran Rama Muthy, chief executive officer of Malindo Air, said at media briefing in Dhaka yesterday.

“Our service will be globally competitive in service and value,” he said, adding that Malindo Air has set the ticket price for a round trip at Tk 21,000, including all tax.

The baggage allowance on an economy-class flight is 25 kg and 40 kg on the business class. Every passenger seat in Malindo Air’s Boeing 737-90ER flights comes with an in-flight entertainment system that includes a personal TV.

“We want our customers to travel in comfort. Our brand new fleet of the Boeing 737-900ER aircraft offers extra legroom and comfort.”

The airline hopes to effectively cater to the country’s emerging middle-income class who want to travel “to see and experience the world”, he said.

The number passengers travelling to Malaysia have been fast increasing. Last year, some 80,000 Bangladeshis visited Malaysia, he said. Malindo Air is a Malaysian hybrid airline based at Kuala Lumpur International Airport. Commencing operations on 22 March 2013, it is the first airline to operate the brand new Boeing 737-900ER in Malaysia.

Malindo Air’s parent company is Lion Group, the largest airline in Indonesia with market share of 54 percent.

The airline’s immediate expansion plan includes flights from Kuala Lumpur to Bali, Jakarta, Medan and the island of Batam in Indonesia.

Biman Bangladesh Airlines, United Airways, Malaysia Airlines and Regent Air now operate five daily flights on this route, said Faruk Khan, Civil and Tourism Minister.

“And the Malindo Air will be the new one. This shows a huge economic and business potential in the country.”

Around 7 lakh Bangladeshi now live in Malaysia, he said.
“Besides, business activities between Bangladesh and Malaysia are gradually growing over the last couple of years.”

The minister also called upon the airline to introduce Chittagong-Kuala Lumpur route and recruit cabin crew from Bangladesh.

Cathay Pacific's New First Class Amenity Kits, Sleep Suit

Along with Cathay Pacific's refresh of its first class suites, the airline has also unveilled the new first class 'soft product' for those passengers who fly at the pointy end of its Boeing 777 and Boeing 747 jets.
Female travellers will delight at the stylish amenity kit contained in a clutch bag from Trussardi.
The bags come in two colours chosen to complement the new cabin interior – one a dusky ochre, the other a mid-beige.
Inside are skincare and toiletry products from high-end Australian brand Aesop: Mandarin Facial Hydrating Cream (15ml), Resurrection Aromatique Hand Balm (15ml) and Rosehip Seed Lip Cream (6ml).
The bag folds open from all four sides rather than having a clasp or zipper along the top, which could make it better or worse for post-flight use depending on your preference.
Also in the bag: a compact hairbrush and the obligatory dental kit containing a toothbrush, toothpaste and mouthwash.
There's also a new sleep suit – what most people call pyjamas – from home-grown Hong Kong brand Pye, replacing the popular Shanghai Tang sleepwear (both are shown below).
The PJs are supplied in a useful tote bag.
I'm a fan of the Shanghai Tang sleepwear, and while the Pye PJs admittedly lack that iconic Shanghai Tang look, many travellers may find them more comfortable thanks to a lighter material which Cathay Pacific says is made from "100% organic cotton".
They certainly seem to breathe better than the Shanghai Tang outfit, which could make all the difference once you're snug under the first class duvet in a cabin that's already warm.
The cut is based on the Zhongshan Zhuang tunic or 'Chairman Mao suit', with a double-sided collar that can be worn up in Mandarin style or folded down for a more conventional western look.
Cathay Pacific says the sleep suit will be issued in a range of colours that change with the season – the first one handed out from this weekend will be in a heathered charcoal.

Cathay Pacific: New First Class

Cathay Pacific has showcased a smart mid-life refresh to its first class suites to carry the product through to the debut of a next generation of first class slated for 2018.
The new first class cabin will be fitted to all 24 of Cathay’s long-range Boeing 777-300ER airliners, with the first overhauled jet flying this weekend and the entire fleet due to be upgraded by the third quarter of 2014.
However, the project doesn't extend to the soon-to-be-retired Boeing 747-400 jumbo jets.
The refresh has been lead by London-based architects Foster + Partners, which also designed Cathay's new-look Hong Kong Airport lounges including The Wing and The Cabin, plus the lounge's bespoke Solus airport lounge chair.
“We saw no pressing need to completely replace the first class product as the suites were only introduced in 2007 and are still very popular with our passengers” said Toby Smith, Cathay Pacific’s General Manager Product, speaking with Australian Business Traveller prior to the launch
“However, elements of the cabin were looking tired so we decided to make a few changes that will enhance the overall experience for our premium passengers.”
Here's a quick run-through of what's new...
  • Each suite features a new side console with a drink holder.
  • The meal table has broader scope for adjustment.
  • There's more space in the personal closet as well as the console compartment so that passengers can stow personal items such as smartphones, MP3 players and reading glasses.
  • New custom-designed reading lights have five brightness levels and rotate through a wider angle.
  • A 4.3 inch LCD touchscreen controller allows passengers to easily recline the seat, adjust lumbar support and turn the lights on or off.
  • Each passengers gets a BOSE QuietComfort 15 noise-cancelling headphones – but no, they're not yours to keep!
  • There's a USB socket to keep your phone or tablet juiced up during the journey and a multi-port connector for piping music or video from your iPhone or iPod through the inflight entertainment system.
  • Redesigned bedding includes 500 thread cotton fabrics for the duvets, pillows, cushions and the thicker mattress.
  • The Shanghai Tang pyjamas have been replaced by a new "100% organic cotton sleep suit" from home-grown Hong Kong brand Pye.
  • Female passengers will be offered a new Trussardi amenity bag featuring Aesop skincare products (blokes get a black Ermenegildo Zegna pouch).
  • The toilets sport a new wash basin and counter top.
  • A highly glossy dark grey textured material is featured on the outer surface of the suite, while warm-tone natural leather is used extensively on most interior surfaces.
  • The suite's interior and side console are wrapped in natural leather with "subtle linings, refined stitching and fewer panels for a more clean and sophisticated look". Leather pads with subtle stitching are also introduced on latches to provide a softer touch.
  • The seat fabric is custom-made "with a specially selected combination of materials that is soft and smooth to touch", Cathay Pacific says.

Cathay's all-new first class circa 2018

The refresh will bridge the gap until Cathay Pacific introduces its new first class around 2018, tied to the delivery of the airline’s Airbus A350-1000 jets.
While the Airbus A350-900s scheduled for February 2016 sport a three-class configuration with business, premium economy and economy class, the larger A350-1000 will add a compact first class cabin.
“For the A350-1000, we will be looking at probably a new first class by that stage” Smith told Australian Business Traveller late last year.

US Airways To Join Oneworld

US Airways will join the oneworld airline alliance in early 2014, providing a boost to Qantas travellers in stateside routes and lounge access as well as earning and burning opportunities for Qantas Frequent Flyer points.
“We plan to be fully transitioned to oneworld by the beginning of next year,” confirmed US Airways president J. Scott Kirby during an earnings call to media and analysts.
The move is an inevitable result of the merger between American Airlines and US Airways, with US Airways leaving the Star Alliance but taking the helm of the combined entity, which will operate as American Airlines.
Qatar Airways is also expected to join the oneworld family later this year, although an official date has yet to be announced.

Better US east coast connections for Qantas

With US Airways a major player at Washington's city-centre National airport (DCA), at Charlotte in North Carolina and in Philadelphia, the biggest improvement for Australians will be improved connections to and along the US east coast.
The airline's trans-Atlantic and South American network will also be a welcome addition to the options for Qantas Frequent Flyers when travelling further afield – mainly because of the excellent business class seat, which shares the same core design as that of Cathay Pacific.
US Airways actually introduced an off-the-shelf version of the seat before Cathay, since the Hong Kong airline took extra time to customise the basic design.

China Airlines Launches Tainan-Hong Kong

China Airlines, Taiwan's largest air carrier, launched direct flights from southern Taiwan's Tainan City to Hong Kong Thursday, establishing the first such route from Tainan Airport.

CAL said it hopes to offer a more convenient service to Tainan residents traveling to China, as they have had to go further south to Kaohsiung International Airport to catch flights, CAL said.

The new direct flights to Hong Kong will be scheduled three times a week - on Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday - on Boeing 737-800 aircraft, the airline said.

Currently, CAL operates 156 round-trip flights per week to Hong Kong -- 88 from Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, 40 from Kaohsiung International Airport and 28 from Taichung Airport.

Predator And Alien Will Play A Part In Fox’s New Malaysian Theme Park

Theme parks are not generally known for catering to the hardcore sci-fi fan. Sure, there have been attractions like Star Tours, the Cylons on the Universal Studios tour, and even Captain EO was genre themed, but those were all geared towards mainstream, all-ages audiences. There isn’t a lot of time and space devoted to the darker, more sinister side of sci-fi. This may all change soon, to a degree anyway, and assuming you’re willing to travel to Malaysia.

20th Century Fox announced that it is partnering with a Malaysian property company, Genting Malaysia, to open their first theme park. Many of the parks attractions will revolve around more moderate fare, like Night at the Museum, Life of Pi, Ice Age, and Rio. That sounds like pretty standard stuff, but there will also be “darker rides” that revolve around movies like Alien and Predator.

How incredible would that be, to see a hulking, animatronic Predator wandering through a theme park as part of a nightly march of movie characters? Because that may very well happen. In fact, it’s part of their plan. All in all, designs for the park include a 25-acre grounds, and 25 movie-inspired rides and attractions. These will run the gamut from scary as hell, to more family-oriented.

This is going to connect to an existing theme part outside of Kuala Lumpur called Resorts World Genting. Though it has been around for more than 35 years, and took in 20 million visitors last year alone, the park will shut down operations on September 1 to make way for the wrecking ball. If everything goes according to schedule, Fox’s new park should rise like a Phoenix from the ashes sometime in 2016. The $125 million renovation is part of a larger overhaul of Genting’s Malaysia resort. When you realize that the entire project will cost somewhere in the neighborhood of a billion dollars, $125 million barely feels like anything at all.

This isn’t Fox’s first them park rodeo, though their last was a dismal failure. Back in 1999 they opened the Fox Studios Backlot in Sydney, Australia. That endeavor didn’t go so well for them. With a $261 million price tag, the attraction, modeled after the likes of Universal Studios, absolutely tanked, and closed up shop two years later in 2001. Let’s hope they have better luck this time around.

I don’t know how they play to work the big ass Xenomorph from Alien into daily life at a theme park, but goddamn am I excited to see what they do with it. How freaky would that be, a ride where face huggers, chest bursters, and H.R. Giger’s monstrous alien queen are leaping out of the walls at you? They’re probably not taking suggestions from the likes of me, but I sincerely hope there is a section of the park, jungle themed of course, where you can grab a Gatling gun, smear some camouflage paint on your face, and are let loose to hunt a Predator of your very own. That would be one hell of a trophy, a Predator head mounted on the wall above your fireplace.

And because why the hell not, here is a ten-minute supercut of Jesse “The Body” Ventura firing his mini-gun in Predator

Monday, July 29, 2013

Activists: Legalising Gay Marriages In Asia Won't Solve Malaysia's LGBT Issues

While Justice for Sisters co-founder S. Thilaga (applauded the countries' initiative to promote and protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights, she hastened to add that it would not solve local LGBT problems.

"It's great that those who want to get married now have a nearer option to do so. However, the condition in Malaysia is completely hostile, so I don't understand how people getting married abroad would help to solve that," said the 26-year-old activist in a phone interview with The Star Online.

Beyond the prospect of individual happiness, a marriage certificate for same-sex couples would also open and advance debates on adoption rights, inheritance law, spouses' rights at the workplace, and more.

"Marriage should not be the only definition of victory for the gay community. There is still bullying in schools and hate crime, so people still can't express themselves openly," she added.

In Thailand, homosexuality was decriminalised in 1956, and now a draft law seeking to offer lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender, inter-sex and queer couples the same legal rights as heterosexual couples is reportedly being readied.

Meanwhile, in October, Vietnam's national assembly will also debate new proposals to modify the law on marriage and family to include same-sex marriages.

As Malaysia does not have a receptive environment for LGBTs, Syariah lawyer Nizam Bashir thinks that the possible availability of same-sex marriages in the region holds little meaning for homosexuals here.

"The Penal Code and Syariah Criminal Enactment have provisions criminalising certain consensual sexual activities.

"With provisions in various states (in relation to Syariah law) affecting Muslims, how can we talk about gay marriages? We are far from that as Malaysia is not prepared to recognise same-sex unions," said the 39-year-old when contacted.

Section 377A of Malaysia's Penal Code prohibits carnal intercourse against the order of nature, which includes oral and anal sex. According to Section 377B of the same, offenders can be punished with up to twenty years in prison and are also liable to whipping.

The Syariah Criminal Offences Act (Federal Territories) 1997 (Act 559) also states that those found guilty of sodomy (liwat) or lesbian relations (musahaqah) are liable to a fine of up to RM5,000, imprisonment for up to three years, whipping not exceeding six strokes, or any combination thereof.

"We need to consider whether there is a way to reconcile our views in terms of their existence. It's a bit more difficult accepting it from a religious perspective, but due recognition must be given in civil law," he said.

"No one should be made to feel 'excommunicated' or suffer a social death after coming out," he added, noting that mainstream Islamic scholars like Tariq Ramadan have called for introspection on such issues.

According to activist, artist and arts consultant Pang Khee Teik, such a ruling in the Asean region would not only affect homosexual societies, but also everyone concerned about such developments.

"For those against LGBTs, marriage equality is a sign of society's decline. For those in support, it is a sign of progress," said the Masters student in Gender, Sexuality and Culture at Birkbeck, University of London in an e-mail interview.

However, there are also many parties who are not bothered about the issue.

According to Pang, while some Malaysian LGBTs have managed to live openly among their friends and families, many others have more pressing things to worry about.

These include being discovered and getting fired from work, being disowned by families, and getting arrested.

"Whether gay or straight or bisexual, there are many who see marriage as nothing more than a social pressure to marry, a legal officiation of a personal relationship," he said.

To him, the issue transcends sexuality, as legal, economic and social privileges afforded to married people create an inequality between married and unmarried individuals that many no longer question.

"It is great when adults are allowed to marry each other, and this right should be celebrated wherever people realise that it should be.

"But it is neither the most important right presently for LGBTs in Malaysia, nor should it be the only socially desirable destination for everyone, whether gay or straight," he said.

Pang feels that the state has no business regulating private relationships, and stressed upon the importance of encouraging parents and communities to respond with equal respect and love.

"Presently, our communities are taught to hate, misunderstand and reject, based on the fear we absorb through state policies and political discourse around who is acceptable as a citizen and who is not," he said.

"I long for the day when people are simply given the choices to determine who they are, who they love and who they want to tell that to, while their families and communities are allowed to support them. And that together, we are recognised through our love for each other rather than our hate," Pang added

The Astaka 304m - Johor Bharu Malaysia

The tallest residential tower in the country peaking at 304m above sea level will be constructed here in the next four years.

Each unit is expected to be valued at between RM2mil and RM8.45mil. Prices will start from RM900 per sq feet.

It will be built at the site of the current Hockey Stadium and Johor Baru Indoor Stadium.

The project, to be developed by Astaka Padu Sdn Bhd, will have a first phase of mixed development which includes two condominium towers, one with 70 floors and the other with 65 floors.

“The Astaka @ 1 Bukit Senyum will be the tallest residential building in the country,” its chief executive officer Datuk Zamani Kassim said at the signing ceremony for the construction of The Astaka between Astaka Padu and Penta Ocean Construction Co Ltd, a Japanese construction company.

The ceremony was witnessed by Johor Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin.

Zamani said the location of the whole development was “very convenient as it only takes about two minutes to get to the Bangunan Sultan Iskandar Customs, Immigration and Quarantine complex (CIQ).”

Residents would also be able to enjoy the various facilities in the town centre just five minutes away, he said.

The Astaka, he said, would be developed on a plot of freehold land covering 0.98ha with an average floor area of 1,803,452 sq ft.

“The towers will house 438 luxury suites including penthouse duplexes. The units will have a large built-up area ranging from 2,207 sq ft to 5,408 sq ft and each floor will house only four units.

“The good news is that we have managed to get buyers for about 60% of the towers and about 80% of them are Singaporeans,” he said, adding that the development was catered for a niche market targeting luxury residences.

Zamani said that residents would also have a view of the sea from each unit and the building would also be equipped with an infinity pool, a gym, personal spa rooms and a children’s swimming pool.

Penta Ocean Construction has been involved in various projects in the region including the building of the ION Orchard and the 56-storey Orchard Residences Tower in Singapore.

Zamani said that the construction of the towers would begin on July 31 and is targeted for completion in 2017.

“1 Bukit Senyum is our maiden development.

“It is also the most challenging one as we are going to build the tallest residential tower in the country.

“With such a great mission, we have decided to work with only the best architect and contractor in the region and both GDP Architects and Penta Ocean are known for their great skills, on-time delivery of projects and attention to quality,” he said.

Budget Airline Air Asia X To fly From Adelaide

Premier Jay Weatherill, Tourism Minister Leon Bignell and AirAsia X CEO Azran Osman-Rani are expected to announce details of the new services this afternoon.

Council for International Trade and Commerce SA chairman Francis Wong tweeted earlier: "Great news! @Airsia X is coming to #Adelaide in October 2013".

The Kuala Lumpur-based budget carrier currently flies out of Darwin, Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and the Gold Coast.

It reaches destinations including China, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, India, Japan, Singapore and Hong Kong.

Passengers can book extremely cheap flights but must pay in-flight for checked baggage, meals, seat selection and comforts such as pillows and blankets.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Any Increases In Taxes, Fees Affect Airlines

Malaysia Airlines (MAS) director of commercial Hugh Noel Dunleavy recently spoke to SunBizabout the challenges facing airlines and why airlines are not happy with any aviation tax or fee increase even though the increases would be passed on to passengers.

Following are excerpts from the interview.

On the state of the global airline industry:

Dunleavy: The airline industry is hypercompetitive, where airlines would not hesitate to get back to full capacity or ramp up capacity in an economic upturn. As soon as the economy picks up, all airlines will think, 'Now is the time for us to put in some capacity into the market to absorb the growing demand and become more profitable'.
But the problem is when you place a plane order today, it could be four or five years down the road before the aircraft arrive. And when these aircraft start arriving, it's just when the world's business cycle start turning down again.
(Thus the constant problem of overcapacity to haunt the airline operators like MAS.)
This puts pressure on yields because every airline will be struggling to fill their aircraft and if the economy is weaker, then fares tend to tumble. That is okay if fuel prices and everything else tumble at the same time. But they don't.
So that's where you get the problem of the airline industry going in cycles, between profit and loss and it's every five to seven years you get this type of business cycle in the industry.
But despite it being a hypercompetitive (industry), because every country or entrepreneur likes to have an airline, you end up with lots of airlines in the world. However, in the entire airline space, from technology companies, distribution companies, aircraft manufacturers, ground handling companies, maintenance and engineering companies, airport operators to catering companies, there is only a few big companies worldwide. Thus, you have got thousands of airlines competing for this number of passengers and in every other component of the (aviation) supply chain, there is limited numbers of competitors.
So, when it comes to where the profit margins get made in the aviation space, it does not historically get made by the airlines themselves. But every other part of the supply chain actually has reasonable margins. In fact, some have very good margins, but they don't have the same level of hyper-competitiveness as the airlines. That's a feature of the airline business/industry. It's not a Malaysian issue, but a worldwide phenomenon.

On how the commercial aviation industry is being perceived:

Dunleavy: Last year, the profit margin that the global aviation industry made from travellers was US$4 per guest. Yet you still see regulatory authorities, government entities and airport authorities raising their fees. For example, a security fee of US$14 was introduced (by the US Department of Homeland Security) for passengers entering the US.
Then, you have the European Union (EU) telling the airlines to participate in Europe's emissions trading scheme (even though) we are the most energy-conscious, fuel-efficient, least carbon polluting industry on the planet. No one would put those fees on the shipping, railway, bus, taxi or trucking industry because people perceive the aviation industry as one where only the rich can travel. But this is no longer true. Today air travel has become much cheaper and can be afforded by a large number of people.
So, it comes back to the challenge of how people and the government perceive the aviation space. They perceive it as a cash cow and I think we are starting to get to a level where we are going to seriously degrade the ability of people to travel because the industry won't be able to support all those costs.

On how such increases in taxes and fees such as the passenger service charge, the EU's carbon emissions tax and air security fees affect airlines:

Dunleavy: When regulatory authorities, government entities and airport authorities raise their fees, people say, "Why do you care? Passengers pay for it." But do you know how much airlines spend on a fleet? People don't realise that air travel is discretionary and is price sensitive. For example, every time we raise ticket prices by US$4-5, demand drops off.
Consumers are very price-conscious. Because I got so many airlines that I compete with, if some of them don't all add the (increase in) fees in, then we can't either. Frequently, I would say, nine times out of 10, we can't add the (extra) fees on to the fares because the market won't accept it. It just takes one or two airlines to refuse to implement the fee, and suddenly, I have to absorb it out of my existing fares.

On how low-cost airlines can absorb the extra costs and why full-service (legacy) airlines like MAS have less room for manoeuvre:

Dunleavy: Some airlines (including low-cost airlines) can (offer low fares as well as absorb increases in aviation taxes or fees) because some may have a lower cost structure than another. We are not all on the same level playing field. When you are 40 years of age and you have built up your brand, image and infrastructure, and people have been with you for years, as you company ages, your costs go up. All those things are just the consequences of growing up.
In comparison, when a brand new airline comes in, they can absorb the extra costs for a while, probably long enough for me to withdraw my services from that market. And by then, they can start increasing their fares because they no longer have any competition (in that particular market).
Whereas if I increase my fares immediately, that would be a challenge. So that's why people tend to think about what happens now. They frequently overlook on who's done the right things when deciding which airlines to fly.
Consumers are also not good economists. Why? That's because a full service carrier like MAS provides hot in-flight meals, entertainment and other complementary services such as internet and communication system all in one price, but consumers see the low fares offered by low-cost carriers only to be charged for add-ons later and they may end up paying the same amount, if not more.

On travellers becoming savvy when purchasing airline tickets:

Dunleavy: Over time, you would expect the consumers to recognize that. And they do. But as each year goes by, particularly in Southeast Asia, India and Asia-Pacific, the size of the middle-class grows and those who can afford to travel is growing very quickly. So while there are people maturing and saying, "Hold on. That wasn't such a good deal afterall. Maybe I am going to give the full service carriers a chance", there is also a big groundswell of new people entering that middle-class who have never done this before.
Because that is growing so quickly as well, that's what is funding and structuring the growth of the low-cost airlines.
You still can react to that as a full-service carrier and we (MAS) are. But we still have a lot of work to do as an airline in terms of making ourselves more efficient and driving cost out of the operations where they don't add value.
For MAS, we will also focus on winning brand loyalty from the rising middle-class in emerging markets.

EADS Plots Rebrand To Airbus To Take On Boeing In Asia

The continued shift in strategy should help to allay fears that the group might wind down production in Britain, where it employs 18,000 people directly, mostly at the wing factory at Broughton, in Cheshire, that is seen as its crown jewel.

Company sources say the chief executive, Thomas Enders, is determined to turn the group – which also produces communications satellites and helicopters – into a “normal commercial company” operating by market rules.

The changes to be presented to the board this week will create three divisions: Airbus Commercial Aircraft, making up two-thirds of the group’s €57bn (£49bn) revenues; Airbus Defence & Space, based in Munich; and Airbus Helicopters.

The plan is to capitalise on the name of Airbus at a time of booming sales in Asia, and cleanse the company of explicit links to Europe’s political project, seen as a huge barrier to EADS’s hopes of competing with rival Boeing for military contracts in the United States.

“Enders is doing exactly the right thing. Airbus is a global brand and EADS sounds like a European state agency,” said aviation analyst Richard Aboulafia, from the Teal Group in Washington.

Qantas & Emirates Partnership Countdown In New Zealand

Aligned fares, frequent flyer benefits and codeshare arrangements will all be switched on across the Tasman, making it easier for New Zealanders to access world class travel experiences.

It will also make New Zealand part of a joint Qantas-Emirates network, which includes Australia, Asia, the Middle East, North Africa, Europe and the UK, bringing the world closer via the global hub of Dubai.

Together, the airlines will operate around 130 services per week from Auckland, Christchurch, Wellington and Queenstown to Australian east coast cities – then onwards to more than 65 destinations in the Middle East, North Africa and Europe. Existing capacity on trans-Tasman routes that both Qantas and Emirates fly has been guaranteed as part of regulatory approvals.

Emirates’ trans-Tasman services are operated by the Airbus A380 and Boeing 777, while Qantas’ services are operated by a dedicated fleet of next generation Boeing 737-800s.

Qantas’ Executive Manager, International Sales, Stephen Thompson, said the partnership was great news for New Zealand travellers and local tourism.

“New Zealand was part of the Qantas-Emirates vision from the start and since receiving government approval in May our teams have been working hard towards switching the partnership on,” Mr Thompson said.

“From mid-August New Zealanders will be able to take full advantage of the network, lounges and frequent flyer opportunities available with Qantas and Emirates, tapping into a comprehensive trans-Tasman schedule and a vast range of international destinations.

“The partnership is also good news for inbound tourism, with both airlines selling New Zealand’s world-class tourism attractions around the world. Wellington and Queenstown are likely to benefit considerably, as these are Qantas destinations that Emirates will now offer to their global customer base for the first time.”

“The trans-Tasman link is a key piece of the Emirates-Qantas jigsaw and further strengthens what we can deliver to passengers under the partnership, said Barry Brown, Emirates’ Divisional Senior Vice President, Commercial Operations East.

“From New Zealand, we will now be able to offer travel out of Wellington and Queenstown, in addition to Auckland and Christchurch. Overall, weekly departures from New Zealand will go from 28 to over 140, jointly reaching 55 points in Australia, and of course, onwards to our magnificent hub in Dubai.”

In addition to the wide range of destinations, customers in New Zealand who book with Qantas and Emirates will gain access to the following benefits:

* Earn Frequent Flyer or Skywards points when flying with either airline on the joint network.
* Redeem existing Qantas Frequent Flyer or Emirates Skywards points for flights to 175 destinations worldwide, on both airlines, including trans-Tasman services.
* Lounge access for eligible Qantas and Emirates passengers into either airline’s network of lounges in New Zealand, Australia, Asia, the Middle East, North Africa and the UK and Europe.
* Reciprocal status recognition for frequent flyers (e.g. priority check-in for Qantas Gold Frequent Flyers when flying Emirates).
* Harmonised baggage policies, including a 30kg allowance for economy passengers.
* Door-to-door chauffeur drive service for Business and First passengers on flights over 12 hours long**.
* Access to the world’s largest joint fleet of A380s. The ability to book any Emirates-operated trans-Tasman flight under a ‘QF’ code and vice versa.

Strengthening Economy Underpins Dubai Airports Capacity Expansion Plans

Dubai is planning to ramp up the passenger handling capacity at its airports as the Gulf emirate anticipates traffic to grow at a faster clip in coming years, helped by a resurgent economy and flag carrier Emirates Airline’s increasing success at funnelling customers through its hub.

Stronger trade and tourism have revitalised Dubai after its economy was left struggling in the aftermath of the global financial crisis in 2008. The emirate is also benefiting from a safe-haven status amid political unrest in the region.

Its credentials as a transport hub played a key role in Dubai’s recovery and the emirate is now looking to further increase capacity at its two international airports as it eyes economic expansion, according to the chief executive of Dubai Airports Co, which manages the facilities.

Dubai International, its main airport, is planning to add capacity to handle more than 100mn passengers by 2018, up from a current capacity of about 60mn and a previous goal of 90mn, by continuing with plans to build a fourth concourse and by improving the facility’s operations, Paul Griffiths, chief executive of Dubai Airports, told The Wall Street Journal in a recent interview.

The government-owned company will also look to accelerate the capacity expansion of the new Al Maktoum International Airport, which is currently forecast to manage 160mn passengers by 2030, and potentially move Emirates to the new facility before 2020, Griffiths said. Emirates had originally been pencilled in to move from Dubai International to the new airport in 2027.

“The idea is that we want to be able to move the Emirates hub sooner than originally forecast,” said Griffiths. “Everyone wants to be around the Emirates hub so our focus now is to develop the masterplan that enables us to create enough capacity at Dubai World Central to migrate the hub of Emirates.”

Griffiths did not disclose the cost of accelerating the build of Al Maktoum Airport, which is part Dubai World Central, a 140 sq km planned development of residential housing, logistics and aviation industries. But the reworked airport would be “lower cost” and handle 80mn passengers before 2020, he said.

The total infrastructure costs for Dubai World Central were originally forecast at about $33bn. Griffiths said the company would also extend the end-target for Al Maktoum Airport beyond 160mn passengers by a “significant” amount, but said the company was still “working on the numbers”. Dubai World Central first opened for cargo operations in 2010 and will begin passenger operations in October.

Emirates, which is the world’s largest airline by international traffic and a key component of Dubai’s ambitions, continues to grow at a rapid pace with passenger traffic increasing 16% to 39.4mn in the year to March 31. It had 198 aircraft on order in May worth more than $71bn at list prices.

Dubai International, which currently hosts Emirates, became the world’s second busiest for international traffic in February handling some 4.8mn passengers, up 15% on year, according to Airports Council International, behind only London’s Heathrow, which managed about 5.6mn. The Dubai hub handled a total of 57mn passengers last year, and Dubai Airports forecasts it will surpass 65mn this year, while Heathrow catered to 70mn last year.

Emirates currently makes up about 64% of passenger traffic through Dubai International, while 10.7% of the traffic is accounted for by low-cost carrier Flydubai, Griffiths said.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Genting To Get Cooler With Ice Age

Get set for the ride of your life. Motion picture giant Twentieth Century Fox is going to set up its first international theme park at Genting Highlands.

Blockbuster films like Ice Age – with its characters like Diego the sabre-toothed tiger, Sid the sloth and Scrat the sabre-toothed squirrel – Alien, Predator, Life of Pi and Rio will all come to life with rides and attractions based on these movies.

The Genting outdoor theme park will be closed from Sept 1 to facilitate the construction of the theme park. The projected soft opening is scheduled for 2016.

Resorts World Genting yesterday signed an MoA with Twentieth Century Fox Consumer Products to develop the American film corporation’s first theme park.

Genting Malaysia Bhd, which owns and operates Resorts World Genting, expects to spend at least RM3bil over five years to revamp the country’s sole casino resort and the theme park.

Genting Malaysia chairman Tan Sri Lim Kok Thay said the partnership with Twentieth Century Fox would propel Resorts World Genting to another level in family entertainment, making Genting Highlands one of the world’s top holiday destinations.

“Last year, our five hilltop hotels achieved a consistent overall occupancy rate of 95%. The encouraging response and growth are indicators of strong support from our customers and this will continue to spur our commitment towards enhancing our properties by offering exciting attractions to our guests,” he said at the signing ceremony at Wisma Genting here.

Genting Malaysia will add 1,300 rooms at the resort with attractions to include a “Dream Parade” – a one-of-a-kind animatronics parade based on all the characters featured at the theme park.

The theme park, to be developed on a 10.12ha plot, will feature more than 25 rides and attractions, from media-based rides, thrill rides and dark rides to children’s and water rides.

Twentieth Century Fox consumer products president Jeffrey Godsick said: “This theme park marks the launch of our global location based entertainment strategy.”

Godsick signed on behalf of Twentieth Century Fox while Resorts World Genting was represented by Datuk Lee Chong Yan, who is president and chief operating officer of Genting Malaysia.

Last year, Resorts World Genting attracted 20.5 million visitors. Other movie companies that have theme parks include Disney and Universal Studios. One of Universal’s theme parks is at Resorts World Sentosa in Singapore.

South African Airways Seeks Airbus, Boeing Bids for 23 Planes

South African Airways Ltd., the continent’s biggest carrier, has asked Airbus SAS and Boeing Co. to bid for orders of 23 wide-body aircraft as it seeks to switch to more fuel-efficient planes. Currently, the flag carrier operates 6 Airbus A330-200, 8 A340-300 and 9 A340-600.

“The tender has already gone to both aircraft manufacturers,” the state-owned airline’s Chief Financial Officer Wolf Meyer said today in a phone interview. “Obviously our decision will be driven by how well the aircraft suits our network requirements.”

SAA is renewing its fleet in a strategy to return to profitability after a 1.36 billion-rand ($139.5 million) loss for the year ended March 2012. The government gave the Johannesburg-based company a 5 billion-rand debt guarantee in October to ensure it can borrow from financial markets to support a recovery.

“We currently have 23 wide-body aircraft in our fleet and we will be looking to replace all of them,” Meyer said. “We will like to replace them as soon as possible. It will depend on the slots available from the manufacturers” and leasing companies and their obligations. Airbus and Boeing have few deliveries available for their most popular long-range jets after years of strong order bookings.

The airline has ordered 20 narrow-bodied Airbus A320s to be delivered over the next five years as part of the fleet renewal. It has agreed with Standard Chartered Plc’s (STAN) Pembroke unit for a 12-year sale and lease-back agreement for 10 of the planes, the lender said in an e-mailed statement yesterday. The transaction is worth about $500 million, according to Meyer. “We don’t have to outlay any big capital amounts,” he said. “It will certainly have a huge cash-flow benefit for the group.”

787-9 Dreamliner First Look

The very first 787-9 has just finished its paint job. It becomes the first 787 to don the new Boeing Commercial Airplanes livery.

This refreshed look for the Boeing family began with the 747-8 and evolved with the 737 MAX. The new livery retains many of the features of the original 787-8 livery, adding a prominent number on the tail to help distinguish among models within the same product family.

The 787-9 will complement and extend the 787 family, offering airlines the ability to grow routes opened with the 787-8. With the fuselage stretched by 20 feet (6 meters), the 787-9 will carry 40 more passengers an additional 300 nautical miles (555 kilometers), with 20 percent less fuel use and 20 percent fewer emissions than similarly sized airplanes. The 787-9 leverages the visionary design of the 787-8, offering the features passengers prefer such as large, dimmable windows, large stow bins, modern LED lighting, higher humidity, a lower cabin altitude, cleaner air and a smoother ride.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Singapore AirlinesTo Launch Third Daily Delhi-Singapore Service

Singapore Airlines is likely to launch its third daily service between Delhi and Singapore later this year. 

The airlines, which operates two daily flights between the national capital and the South East Asian nation with Boeing 777 aircraft, would operate the third one also with Boeing 777 plane from the winter schedule, a statement from the airline said.

The winter schedule is likely to come into effect from October 27 and continues till March 29 next year.

SIA had been operating 14 weekly flights from Delhi. The airline currently operates 56 weekly flights from six cities, while SilkAir - the regional wing of SIA and also a full-service carrier - operates 42 weekly flights from eight cities in India.

The combined schedule of Singapore Airlines and SilkAir is 98 flights per week.

"From October 27, Singapore Airlines and SilkAir will operate a total of 107 weekly flights to 11 destinations - Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Chennai, Coimbatore, Hyderabad, Kochi,Kolkata, Mumbai, New Delhi, Thiruvananthapuram and Visakhapatnam - in India," the statement said.

The making of "Journeys" as MAS aims to become ASEAN's Premium Preferred Airlines by 2014

As an idea, the message of “journeys” is not new in travel. How many times have we heard the phrase, “It’s about the journey, not the destination”? And the idea of putting magic back into the journey is also not new – I recall Singapore Airlines playing with the idea of putting the romance back into air travel, with the main image recall I have of the Singapore Girl putting a blanket over some male passenger sitting in first class.

So Malaysia Airlines’ “Journeys” campaign, which promises “Journeys are made by the people you travel with” with the intention of elevating travel with MAS beyond a commodity into an experience with an emotional connection is certainly no breakthrough idea.

But what’s new about it is the integrated marketing approach and its execution.

As an airline that had lost RM2.2 billion in 2011, its worst loss ever, the airline knew it had to do something to turn its fortunes around, said Dean Dacko, MAS senior vice president, head of marketing (pictured above left), at the Adobe Digital Marketing Symposium in Singapore.

“Something was broken and it forced the organsation to take a look at itself. It was no longer acceptable to continue as before and we needed to transition and transform the airline from every angle.”

What it knew it had was an excellent product – “we are one of only seven five star airlines in the world” and it had won world’s best cabin staff seven out of 10 years.

“We also saw a gap between Asian consumers and Asian businesses,” Dacko said. Consumer exposure to digital media was on the rise while spending on digital media was not growing at the same rate.

“There’s been exponential growth in adoption of digital in Asia yet the reality is businesses were adopting at a slower pace. We saw an opportunity to acquire media at a lower cost and the ability to generate bigger audiences, with frugal resources.”

It also recognised customer adoption of multi-channels and devices and the reality of data driving real-time marketing decisions.

“We had to convince the chief financial officer to give us the money to do what we want to do. In the past, the challenge was we couldn’t give the numbers but now big data has changed the power we have at the board table. Online is now an integral part of business strategy.”

It then had to tackle the challenge of how the organisation was set up with “dysfunctional processes and governance” and “a digital and traditional divide” and break down silos and change mindset around traditional use of media, which was much more tactical. Alignment was achieved by rolling up all KPIs to the executive dashboard.

“Marketing created a vision to bring that all together and get that alignment,” said Dacko. “We looked how we used data to drive all decisions from changing an entire booking engine to how much to bid on an individual key search word.”

“Unification of purpose” was achieved by bringing digital marketing and direct sales under one team, and everyone focused on creating demand, converting and monetizing.

“It was a fully integrated media execution with complete social media activation, the first time we had launched such a campaign.”

The first step was to inspire – hence the “Journeys” TV commercial was launched across 22 countries, and in print and outdoor as well as across social networks. (see video below)

The second step was to instigate adoption. “The core brand message was reinforced with messages of product excellence and to make it personal – we created a platform that allowed people to share the stories of their journeys,” said Dacko.

It got the message out on Facebook, creating digital postcards, and users got to tag the people they have shared the journey with. “We created advocacy,” said Dacko.

A check at presstime on MAS’ social media assets shows that it has 882,463 Facebook fans, 221,220 Twitter followers, 176,913 on Google Plus and 7.153 million views on its YouTube channel.

Its target was to double the percentage of sales that happened online and “we told the team that once you have done it, please double it again,” said Dacko.

Calling it a “great success in our digital journey”, he said the airline has seen a 21% growth in Q1 revenues and its goal is to become ASEAN’s premium preferred airline in 2014.

Concluding his talk, he told marketers, “You need to be bold, you can’t take small steps. You need to invest but the ROI is very high. Don’t try to reinvent the wheel. Look for best in class examples, work with partners with established products and experiences and create a team around you.”

Lastly, he said, don’t make mistakes other airlines do and build the technology yourself.


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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. 
Eric believe what Eric says~ Cuz Eric is God~