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June 5, 2018

Air Travel: Oneworld's Latest Expansion + World's Longest Flight

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A new program by airline alliance onworld and the newest holder of the "world's longest flight" title lead this week's air travel news affecting the meetings and events industry. 

Oneworld Airline Alliance Adds New Program to Fill in Coverage

Major airline alliance oneworld has announced a new program called oneworld connect. The new program will expand some of oneworld’s benefits to areas served by airlines that cannot meet oneworld’s requirements, the organization reports.

Fiji Airways will be the program's first member, although there's no word yet on when it will begin to offer program benefits. As part of the new program, Fiji Airways and its sponsor airlines -- American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific and Qantas -- will be able to offer a number of benefits, including priority access to check-in desks for all Emerald, Sapphire and Ruby frequent flyers. Emerald and Sapphire members will also receive priority boarding. Other benefits include through check-in of bags and passengers as well as access to select lounges at key airports for certain customers. If a oneworld connect airline offers a frequent flyer program, customers can earn and redeem mileage rewards through either airline as well as earn frequent flyer status points.

Singapore Airlines to Launch World's Longest Flight

This week Singapore Airlines announced that it would launch the world’s longest commercial flight in October, a nonstop service between New York’s Newark airport and Singapore Changi Airport. The new Airbus A350-900ULR will service the route, which will run three times per week, departing Newark Tuesday, Friday and Saturday starting October 12. The route will increase to a daily service starting October 19, when a second A350-900ULR enters service. At approximately 9,000 nautical miles, the new route will be the longest commercial flight in the world, with an estimated travel time of up to 18 hours and 45 minutes. 

Air Tahiti Nui's New Dreamliners

In other new aircraft news, this week Air Tahiti Nui released details on the livery and onboard features of the airline’s new Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners, which will begin operation this November on flights between Tahiti and Auckland, New Zealand, as well as on three times per week service to Los Angeles. The new aircraft’s livery will have two bright red lines on its sides representing Tahiti’s flag; three shades of blue representing the destination’s ocean, lagoon and skies; and a collection of native tattoos. In terms of cabin features, an extra-tall entryway will welcome guests onboard, and the cabin will have extra headroom as well. There will also be a Panasonic in-flight entertainment system with satellite broadband service providing in-seat connectivity and onboard Wi-Fi, as well as a cabin pressure equivalent to only 6,000 feet, shorter than the 6,500 to 7,000 foot average. There will be 30 Business Class seats, 32 Moana Premium seats and 232 Moana Economy seats. 

Alaska's New Hotel Plan, Kevin Durant Aircraft

In loyalty news, this week Alaska Airlines announced a plan to let its Mileage Plan members to use their miles to book stays at over 400,000 hotel properties worldwide. Members can also earn up to 10,000 miles for every night of their stay. The new program, developed through an expanded partnership with the hotel booking site Rocketmiles, is available now at mileageplanhotels.com

Also this week Alaska Airlines released a specially decaled 737-900ER aircraft with the likeness of NBA star Kevin Durant. Durant’s partnership with Alaska began last September to support the carrier’s commitment to youth and education programs in the Bay Area. Durant also serves as Advisor to the CEO, working alongside Alaska’s CEO Brad Tilden and other employees to develop programming and support at-risk youth in the Bay Area.

Brussels Airlines Adds Kiev, Wroclaw Flights

In other flight news, this week Brussels Airlines added Kiev and Wroclaw to its year-round network. The first flight to Kiev will take off on October 19 and will be offered four times per week. As for Wroclaw, the airline will offer a thrice-weekly service starting October 29.

Virgin Atlantic to Expand Manchester Service

Elsewhere in Europe this week Virgin Atlantic announced plans to expand its service from Manchester Airport starting in summer 2019, increasing capacity by up to 20 percent. From that airport the airline will add a new, three times weekly route to Los Angeles starting May 22, 2019, as well as double service from Las Vegas from twice a week to four times per week, starting March 31, 2019. Also on May 22, 2019, the airline will increase its Boston service to three times per week, and, that summer, it will principally operate its New York and Atlanta services on a Boeing 747

Airport Updates in Acapulco, Los Angeles

In airport news, this week the General Juan N. Alvarez International Airport in Acapulco, Mexico, announced the opening of its new terminal, which increases the facility’s capacity to roughly 1.3 million passengers. The new terminal also brings with it new, faster technology at customers, as well as additional restaurants and shops. 

Also this week Delta and Los Angeles World Airports formally kicked off the Delta Sky Way at LAX project, a $1.86 billion plan to modernize, upgrade and connect Terminals 2, 3 and the Tom Bradley International Terminal (Terminal B). Construction is expected to begin this fall on the project, which will create a 27-gate complex on Terminals 2 and 3 with a secure connection to Terminal B, as well as a dedicated baggage recheck and security checkpoint for international to domestic transfers, enabling faster connections. 

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