Posts Tagged 'SkyTeam'

New Air France Safety Video – Sooo French and Sooo Chic!

LOGO-AIR-FRANCE-_01Air France has just joined the unofficial “Creative Air Safety Video” movement by producing their very own, very French version of the short video¬†that most of us have seen hundreds of times before.

They speak in French and in “Frenglish” (pardon my wording here, but the English pronunciation has a very strong French accent here), and they use the word “chic”! ūüôā They also add a truly French style to the whole visualization of this video by the dancing girls, the funny, airplane-like stage. The electronic devices hidden in books is also a creative idea that I’m sure comes from real-life experiences of flight attendants fighting with “trickier” passengers…

What I was surprised about is the sentence about “lost electronic devices”. I don’t think I have ever heard this instruction on any airplane from any airlines before – it sounds a bit surprising to me. Probably there is a reason for it, I’m wondering what it may be. If you have an idea, please share it in a comment below!

by balint01


Aeroflot to fly Sukhoi Superjet on International Routes

Aeroflot, the first Russian operator of the latest Russian passenger jetliner, the Sukhoi Superjet is introducing the plane to international routes after the initial domestic routes.

SkyTeam member Aeroflot has been using the Sukhoi Superjet (SSJ100) only on domestic routes so far, but launched it for international services on December 4, 2011 with the first SSJ flight between Moscow Sheremetyevo Airport and Oslo in Norway. They have also revealed that the aircraft is expected to fly from Moscow to Budapest in Hungary as well, raising the international routes flown by the SuperJet to two.

‚ÄúThe fact that the SSJ100 started to serve international routes of Aeroflot reflects the confidence of the airline in the reliability of our aircraft. We believe that the SSJ100 aircraft will efficiently serve both international and domestic routes of Aeroflot and will do our best to make sure that the growing fleet of SSJ100 meets the expectations of the airline,‚ÄĚ Sukhoi Civil Aircraft president Vladimir Prisyazhnyuk said.

The largest Russian air company has 30 Superjets on order, and currently operates three SSJ100s, which serve routes to St. Petersburg, Nizhny Novgorod, Yekaterinburg, Ufa, Astrakhan, Chelyabinsk, Kazan, Anapa, Perm and Minsk. Aeroflot was the SSJ100’s first Russian customer and took first delivery in May, only one month after launch customer Armenian Armavia introduced the first ever SSJ100 in April.

by balint01

First China Southern Airbus A380

SkyTeam member China Southern Airlines took delivery of its first Airbus A380 superjumbo in Tolouse, France in mid-October – adding it to service just four days later – becoming the seventh airlines in the world (and the third in SkyTeam) to operate the largest bird in the skies today. China Southern is the first operator of the A380 in the world, that deploys it on domestic routes.

The first Chinese owned double-decker airplane has 508 seats, that puts it in the middle of the field of airlines operating the super-jumbo. Interestingly, Korean Air has “only” 407 – the difference of 101 seats is about a regional jet’s capacity (!) – while Air France has 538 seats on the same size aircraft. The 58th A380 delivered by Airbus is the first to go to China, to the largest Asian airlines company. China Southern operates the largest Airbus flee in Asia with almost 200 European made planes as part of a fleet with a total of 422 aircraft, and has 4 more A380’s on order.

The world’s largest passenger jetliner at China Southern has 8 fully lie-flat reclining seats in ‚ÄúPlatinum‚ÄĚ suites (First Class), 70 in Business (1-2-1 layout) and 428 seats in Economy (3-4-3 layout). Passengers‚Äô well‚Äďbeing will be enhanced through the onboard innovative mood lighting system including several different illumination scenarios to create a relaxing atmosphere and environment. The state-of-the-art in-flight entertainment system makes it easy for passengers to select from a wide variety of audio and video programs and make their long-haul A380 trip something to remember. The cabin also offers seats and lavatories that are easily accessible to disabled passengers.¬†The airplane is powered by 4 Rolls-Royce Trent-900 engines.

We are proud to become the first A380 operator in China,‚ÄĚ said CZ chairman Si Xianmin. ‚ÄúThe introduction of the A380 in our fleet is a very important step for the development of China Southern. The economics offered by the A380 will undoubtedly improve our competitiveness on international routes and is the perfect asset to make China Southern Airlines achieve its goal of becoming a leading global carrier,‚ÄĚ he said.

The aircraft type was first operated on the Beijing-Guangzhou route between 18-26 October, and on the Beijing-Shanghai Hongqiao route, between 27-29 October. China Southern plans to start using the A380 on international service as well, the first such route being the Guangzhou-Paris route. The launch date for this service has not yet been unveiled. The other existing A380 operators РSingapore Airlines, Emirates, Qantas Airways, Air France, Lufthansa, and Korean Air Рonly deploy the aircraft on international services. For 2012, A380 deliveries to Malaysia Airlines and Thai Airways are on the list.

‚ÄúFour years of operation show that airlines who fly the A380 increase capacity, gain market share and improve load factors ‚Äď with an A380 now taking off or landing every 15 minutes,‚ÄĚ explained Airbus President and CEO Tom Enders at the hand-over ceremony in Tolouse.¬†To date, A380s have flown more than 350,000 hours and carried over 16 million passengers, while serving 25 major cities worldwide, including flights¬†that link the Middle East and Europe to Beijing and Shanghai in China. Guangzhou will be a new A380 destination with the China Southern’s domestic service, though.

by balint01

First Korean Air Airbus A380

SkyTeam member Korean Air took delivery of its first Airbus A380 superjumbo in Tolouse, France a few days ago, becoming the sixth airlines in the world to operate the largest bird in the skies today. Classified on the ceremony as a “milestone” for the airline, the spacious Korean plane has the least seats of any A380 delivered so far.

The double-decker has “only” 407 seats on board, with 12 First (Kosmo) Class suites on the lower deck, followed by 301 Economy seats, with all 94 Business (Prestige) Class on the upper deck – marking the first ever full business class upper deck on any Airbus A380’s currently in operation. Besides all the seats and suites, the Korean Air A380 features two common areas: a lounge area at the back of the plane available for Premium passengers with sofa-style seating and a stand-up bar, and the world’s first onboard duty-free showcase shop. Passengers can browse, for example, samples of make-up, jewellery, sunglasses and cameras in this specially built area at the rear of the lower deck, before ordering the product(s) to take home. Some may question the choice of removing economy seats in favour of a shop, but theory suggests that there is more money to be made from duty-free sales than one might expect.

Tom Enders, Airbus’ CEO, at the handover of the superjumbo also used the term ‚Äúmilestone‚ÄĚ to describe the significance of the event. ‚Äú[It] marks a new milestone in the relationship between Korean Air and Airbus‚ÄĚ, he said, a relationship that started nearly 40 years ago as Korean Air was the first airline outside Europe to order an Airbus aircraft ‚Äď an A300 in 1974.

Korean Air’s A380¬†¬†is powered by the Engine Alliance GP 7200 engine, which the engine manufacturer claims is the most fuel efficient option for the A380. Three¬†of the existing A380 fleets (Singapore ¬†Airlines,¬†Qantas¬†and¬†Lufthansa) instead have Rolls Royce’s Trent 900 engines, while two (Emirates¬†and¬†Air France) use the GP 7200’s. Of the 234 A380s currently on order, 124 will have a GP7200 engine, 96 will have the RR T900, and 14 have not yet been decided on.

The maiden voyage for Korean Air’s new aircraft will be from its Seoul hub to Tokyo Narita via Hong Kong. Korean Air will take delivery of four more A380 aircraft before the end of 2011, plus a further five by the end of 2014, bringing the total to ten. The A380 will be used on flights to Bangkok from July, followed by non-stop flights to New York in August and Los Angeles in October.

The next airlines in the queue to receive their first A380 is China Southern Airlines in the second half 2011. Next year, A380 deliveries to Malaysia Airlines and Thai Airways are on the list.

As of April 15, 2011, the worldwide A380 fleet had operated 270,000 flight hours on 30,000 revenue flights. Currently, there are 48 A380s in service and 234 firm orders from 17 customers.

by balint01

A La Carte Meals On KLM Economy Class

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines has started testing à la carte meal service in Economy Class, on a number of selected flights.

When traveling on First or on Business Class, passengers can usually choose from a few different menus before the meal service, or even before taking off. In Economy, usually passengers get two options – if they are among the first being served (“Chicken or Pasta?”). If you end up sitting in a row that gets the main dish as the last ones, you may be left without any choice and just get the meal that is left.

At the end of May, KLM launched a pilot project testing à la carte catering in Economy Class on flights from Amsterdam to Bangkok/Taipei, Dubai, Cape Town, and Singapore/Denpasar. Passengers will be able to choose from four dishes while the pilot test runs across the peak tourist season in the summer, until the end of August, 2010.

KLM will continue serving its standard meals onboard, this choice of menu is offered in addition to the usual catering. The four dish choices include:

Orders can be placed and paid for by credit card, when checking in online. The cost is EUR 15 (USD 18.62) per dish. Important, that in order to get this service, one must check-in online between 30 and 24 hours prior to departure. Note: if you ordered a special meal when you made your booking  (e.g.: vegetarian, kosher, lactose-free, etc.), it will be replaced by your a la carte choice.

‚ÄúThe wishes and choices of our customers are key. We will be testing them during the pilot project. Our aim is to align our products even more closely to what different customers want,‚ÄĚ said Erik Varwijk, Executive Vice President of KLM Commercial.

We are looking forward to hear back from KLM how the pilot project goes, but to be honest, – shall it be successful – providing this service on flights to all the worldwide destinations that KLM flies to may be much easier than providing the same service for flights flying back to Amsterdam from across the globe. We look forward to seeing this service being rolled-out to all flights and maybe starting an onboard a la carte catering competition among airlines?

by balint01

Aeroflot Retires Last Tupolev TU-154

Aeroflot, the largest Russian national carrier has announced the retirement of the last Tupolev TU-154 from its fleet. The aircraft type has been in operation for almost 40 years, since 1972. The final Aeroflot flight with the type took place on December 31, 2009, from Yekaterinburg to Moscow Sheremetyevo airport, two years after the last Aeroflot flight of the smaller TU-134. Aeroflot is replacing this aircraft with an Airbus A320.

The Tupolev- TU-154 (NATO codename Careless),¬†a trijet airliner developed in the mid 1960’s for medium-range passenger flights. The original requirements came from Aeroflot, which back then was the only Soviet airline. Aeroflot requested a new, jet engine airliner to replace its aging TU-104 as well as other Soviet built, medium-range turboprop fleet with a modern, fast jetliner. Similar to many Russian (or actually Soviet) built industrial products of that age, the TU-154 also has conceptual counterparts in the Western-world (the British Hawker Siddeley Trident) as well as in America (the Boeing 727). It uses the three engine lineup, where all three engines are attached to the aft part of the plane, with two on the side and one in the middle, just above the main cabin. Even though the TU-154 has a more powerful engine than the 727, it also consumes considerably more fuel, and is much louder.

It has been the work-horse of the Russian (earlier Soviet) air transportation, as more than a 1000 has been built in several variations. The plane has a cruising speed of 975km/h, which makes it one of the fastest civilian aircraft in operation. The average flight range is about 5280 kms – ideal for medium-haul routes. As a big plus, the TU-154 is capable of departing and arriving on unpaved and gravel¬†airfields, which makes it ideal for operations in the extreme¬†Arctic conditions of Russia’s northern territories or around ex-Soviet states, where airports can be very basic. This also means that it has way oversized landing gear equipment with large, low-pressure tires.

Inside the cabin, it seats 3+3 aside, with lower cabin top and less overhead luggage storage capacity. Most commonly the plane seated 124 passengers in two classes, or 168 in a one cabin layout. Some airlines used the high-density version that could seat up to 180 passengers.

Aeroflot once operated 23 TU-154s and the plane was in use by several airlines in the European part of the Warsaw Pact, such as LOT Polish Airlines, CSA Czech Airlines and Malev Hungarian Airlines just to name a few. Actually out of the 36 fatal accidents with the type, the first and most interesting TU-154 accident happened with a Malev plane, as it was approaching Beirut Airport on September 30, in 1975.

Allegedly Malev Flight 240 was to carry a group of Palestine leaders back from Budapest from a conference, but these leaders never boarded the plane. Being delayed several times before taking off, it mysteriously crashed in the Mediterranean sea near the Lebanese coast at dawn on final approach – without any report of a technical malfunction or any mayday calls from the cockpit. 50 passengers and 10 crew members were killed in the accident – and most of them have still not been brought to shore – even the aircraft fuselage lays at the bottom of the sea. The most commonly accepted theory is that Israeli forces may have shut down the plane – due to the information about the above mentioned political group onboard. The incident was classified as an accident and Malev received its insurance money but the investigation has never been closed.

The last major accident by the Tupolev TU-154 happened just last year in July, 2009 in Iran, killing all 168 onboard.

At the end of 2009 still 214 of the type were in operation with 24 airlines, mostly from the ex-Soviet Union as well as Iran. This has now been reduced to only 23 as Aeroflot is no longer operating it. According to plans, the type is expected to continue in operation until 2016, although it is expected that the number in operation will fall year over year.

by balint01

The Air France Airbus A380

Air France is the first European carrier to introduce the Airbus A380 double-decker Superjumbo in its fleet, with the first scheduled commercial flight taking place between Paris Charles-de-Gaulle and New York JFK airports. Air France has 12 of the type on order and plans to take delivery of the first three in the 2009/2010 winter season. Their first plane is already the 20th of the type in operation and now all three airline alliances operate at least one of the type.

380 tickets for each of the first flights were auctioned off on e-Bay in October, where all proceeds went to charity organizations selected by Air France. The first European owned SuperJumbo seats 538 passengers Рcompared to just 450 at Qantas, 471 at Singapore Airlines and 489 at Emirates. The so-far most crowded A380 has only 9 seats in First Class, 80 in Business and 449 in Economy. 22 flight attendants will be taking care of the 538 passengers Рmeaning one steward(ess) for every 25 travellers. Besides being the first European airline to own the A380, Air France will also be the first to operate the aircraft to the African Continent as it plans to introduce the plane to a daily Johannesburg flight later this winter following the Paris-New York route.

At the launch ceremony Air France CEO Pierre-Henri Gourgeon¬†did not only focus on the¬†“usual”¬†media messaging around the unrivaled luxury of the A380 (as Singapore Airlines,¬†Emirates and Qantas did earlier), but instead¬†pointed out the savings that this aircraft will bring for the company.¬†Each aircraft will allow the¬†carrier to save ‚ā¨12-‚ā¨15 million ($17.7-$22.1 million) per year based on their calculations. This is mostly due to the size of the plane and that it can replace two other flights, which could be serviced by an Airbus A340-300 (equivalent to the upper¬†deck)¬†and a Boeing 777-200 (equivalent to the main deck of the A380)¬†for example. Flying the same number of passengers in just a single¬†A380 instead means 20% reduction in operating costs as the frequencies on busy routes can be rationalized by replacing two flights which leave at similar times by one flight, while offering the same number of seats. For example, between Paris and New York, an A380 leaving at 1:35pm can replace two flights operated by an A340 and a 777-200, leaving at 10:30am and at 1:35pm respectively. The same connecting¬†morning flights can still service and feed the “big” flight.

On top of all the rationalization of flights, the A380 uses less fuel per passenger. It burns less than three litres per 100 km! Besides the gas emmissions, the A380 creates less noise than its closest rival, the Boeing 747 Рhalf as much at take-off! I had the personal experience of seeing and (not) hearing the A380 land in Frankfurt on one of its test-flights back in 2007 with Lufthansa crew Рand we were all shocked by the little noise it generated compared to other aircraft landing on the same approach route before and after it. The Air France A380 is also quieter in the cabin itself, and besides the 220 windows it has special lighting features to reflect the time of the day within a flight and to help synchronizing the body-clock of the passengers. Guests can also meet up during the flight for a drink and a snack in one of the 6 bars onboard. One of these is for Première (First Class) on the main deck, two for Affaires (Business Class) on the upper deck and three for Voyageur (Economy Class), with two at the main deck and one upstairs.


We hope Air France and its passengers will be happy with the first new Airbus A380 flying under European registration and providing the first Transatlantic connection aboard the double-decker superjumbo between Europe and North America. Please leave your comments if you happened to be on one of these flights and would like to share your experiences with our readers!

Download the AirFrance Airbus A380 Factsheet (pdf)

Separately, but conincidentally at the same time as the first Air France A380 flight: Emirates said it will begin serving Paris Charles de Gaulle with a 489-seat A380 from Dubai¬†on Dec. 29 rather than Feb. 1. “An operational review, coupled with demand on the route, has led to an earlier introduction,” it said. The A380 will fly thrice-weekly to start, becoming daily Jan. 17.

by balint01

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