IT’S been a big news week for Aussie airlines, kicking off with the launch of Rex’s new Adelaide to Sydney route on Monday. Operated by Boeing 737-800NG aircraft, the daily flights will commence 29 June as the regional carrier’s eighth mainline jet route, bringing it closer to its goal of servicing every capital city in Australia.
Virgin Australia has also been busy this week, unveiling a new partnership with Luxury Escapes to expand its earn and redemption offering for Velocity loyalty members. From 16 July, Virgin’s frequent flyers will be able to use their points to book thousands of holiday packages, hotels, cruises, tours, and experiences across the Luxury Escapes portfolio. Virgin also became the first Aussie airline to launch bag tracking capabilities for checked luggage, with a pilot program rolling out this week on Brisbane and Sydney services.
Qantas was yet another Australian carrier to make a series of announcements this week after updating its long-term strategy through to 2030. The Flying Kangaroo will introduce a raft of customer service enhancements, including an overhaul of its app by the end of 2023, with new features to include live baggage updates, greater loyalty integration, disruption alerts, and faster check-in options.
At the same time, Qantas announced the creation of a $400 million Climate Fund to support the local production of Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF). The Aussie flag carrier continued a busy week with a stunt to launch new souvenir “sleeper suits” for its upcoming Auckland-New York nonstops, and also launched a new Business Rewards Campaign offering major prizes to new and existing SME members, including free flights, Qantas Points and Qantas Hotels vouchers.
Meanwhile, Air New Zealand is preparing to go up against with Qantas, as well as United Airlines and American Airlines, on routes between Auckland and the US, particularly Los Angeles. Speaking at the Tourism & Transport Forum (TTF) Outlook 2023 conference in Sydney this week, Air NZ Chief Sales and Customer Officer Leanne Geraghty said the carrier is expecting increased competition and “interesting price points” to emerge as a result of capacity increases on the Pacific route over the coming months.
There was a bit of corporate activity in the industry as well, with the news that National Seniors Travel has acquired specialty tour operator Trade Travel, with the two entities to combine their offerings, creating a selection of expanded travel options and experiences for seniors across destinations, accommodation and activities. TEG also made an acquisition announcement this week, which will see two sport businesses, Rugby Live and Left Field Live, integrated into TEG Sport. The investment is expected to help drive the live entertainment company’s growth within the sector.
Moving over to the business events sector, Destination Gold Coast has launched a new global campaign enticing incentive and corporate event planners to “give your team the trip they deserve”. The digital campaign is rolling out across trade and social media this month, targeting the South East Asia market.
In the world of cruise, Hurtigruten Expeditions has excitingly announced its first-ever Kimberley season, with plans to deploy one of its vessels in the Pacific in 2025. The line’s Vice President of Sustainability and Industry Relations, Tudor Morgan, told travelBulletin that Aussie guests were showing a strong interest in Hurtigruten’s sustainability focus..
There was also lots of news from the Australian Federation of Travel Agents (AFTA), with its newly re-elected (but completely unchanged) Board unanimously endorsing a new AFTA Constitution which will be voted upon by members later this month at the AFTA Annual General Meeting.
Have a great weekend everyone