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Air New Zealand Eyes Changes To Its Domestic Inflight Catering



Air New Zealand is to trial ways to improve the food and beverage offering on its domestic flights. The airline has spent most of the last decade offering passengers a choice of cookies or corn chips. Now, Air New Zealand is open to expanding the inflight catering options.

Air New Zealand is trialing new food and beverage options on its domestic flights. Photo: Getty Images

After six years, have the corn chips had their day at Air New Zealand?

Air New Zealand’s domestic product is nothing to get excited about. Comprising Airbus A320s, A321s, ATR 72-500s, and Dash 8-300s, the all-economy class fleet gets its passengers from city to city safely, efficiently, and with few frills.

The food and inflight beverage service on Air New Zealand’s domestic services reflects this. Except for the eternally popular Koru Hour flights, the aircraft’s catering cart mostly sticks to tea, coffee, and the longstanding cookies or corn chips snack.

Given the longest domestic flight in New Zealand (Auckland to Invercargill) is just over two hours, that’s all most people need. But it looks like Air New Zealand is admitting even corn chips can get old.

“In the spirit of changing things up, over the next four weeks, we’re trialling ways we can improve our food and beverage offering,” said Air New Zealand’s Customer GM, Leanne Langridge, on LinkedIn on Friday.

“We know our customers love the cookie and chip combo, but what if there’s something else?”

Short flight times and an all-economy cabin means catering is kept simple on Air New Zealand domestic services. Photo: Getty Images

Air New Zealand co-opting its passengers in catering trial

Because the airline is trialing an idea rather than rolling out a set-in-stone product, Air New Zealand will be co-opting its passengers as guinea pigs – in the nicest possible way.

“For all of our good ideas and intentions, the only true experts on customer experience are our customers,” says Ms Langridge.

According to the Air New Zealand executive, there are three stages to the trial. First, the airline wants to “try a new way of working.” Second, Air New Zealand wants to test new ideas and new ways of doing things. Finally, the airline wants to see how the proposed changes run.

The proposed reboot of the inflight food and beverage offering is the first standalone trial. If it goes well, Leanne Langridge suggests Air New Zealand may be open to rebuilding the airline, bit by bit, using the three-stage process. She argues it can make Air New Zealand a better airline for its owners, employees, and passengers.

“By opening ourselves up to feedback, we learn how to create a great experience for our customers.”

The trial will run for four weeks. Photo: Getty Images

Air New Zealand customers liking the idea

It’s early days, but judging by the feedback, the trial will prove a hit with passengers.

“Love it. The people closest to the customers are the customers. Involving them in developing improvements is taking interest-based problem solving to a whole new level,” said one comment.

People aren’t asking for the world. Most people know a hot meal with a side salad and a few wine pours isn’t a realistic time or cost option on a 45-minute flight to Wellington. But fruit, muesli bars, gluten-free biscuits, chocolates, and the availability of alcohol (outside Koru Hours) are some of the suggestions posted.

“One idea I loved when I used to fly in the UK was between 06:00-08:30 you could get a small panini with either omelet or ham in it. Kept me going!” suggested another response.

Air New Zealand is not going to reinvent the wheel here. And they don’t have to – Air New Zealand is the most dominant domestic airline in New Zealand by a country mile. But changing up the domestic food and beverage offering is one small step in the process of continuous improvement and evolution.

Leanne Langridge is encouraging feedback. She asks passengers not to be shy in coming forward.

“We’ll be using the age-old thumbs up, thumbs down approach onboard.”

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Air New Zealand To Resume Norfolk Island Flights In August



Air New Zealand will restart its flights between Australia and Norfolk Island in late August. The Auckland-based airline previously operated flights between the Australian mainland and the isolated island territory. However, those flights ended those flights earlier this year. Now, after signing a deal with the Australian Government, Air New Zealand will resume flights until August 2023.

Air New Zealand has signed a two-year deal to resume flights to Norfolk Island. Photo: Getty Images

Three flights a week to Norfolk Island from Brisbane & Sydney

From August 31, Air New Zealand will operate flights to Norfolk Island (NLK) from Brisbane (BNE) three times weekly and Sydney (SYD) three times weekly. Air New Zealand will use 168 seat all-economy class Airbus A320-200 on the two routes.

Norfolk Island was first settled in 1788 and established as a penal colony for England’s most recalcitrant prisoners. The island is located approximately 930 miles (1500 kilometers) east of the Australian mainland. Norfolk Island’s permanent population of 2,170 is highly reliant on its air links.

“Ensuring reliable passenger air services for Norfolk Island remains a key priority for the Australian Government, and I am delighted that the extension of Air New Zealand’s services provides the community with certainty on this matter,” says Eric Hutchinson, Administrator of Norfolk Island.

Norfolk Island is now home to about 2,170 residents. Photo: Denisbin via Flickr

Norfolk Island flights an essential service

The Australian Government is providing Air New Zealand subsidies to fly to Norfolk Island. The Governments considers the flights an essential service.  Effective August 31, NZ914 will push back from Brisbane at 10:15 on Monday, Thursday, and Saturday. The flight will land in Norfolk Island at 13:30. The return flights, NZ915,  will operate on Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday, departing Norfolk Island at 14:40 and touching down in Brisbane at 16:05

Air New Zealand’s nonstop flights from Sydney, NZ912, will depart that city at 09:55 on Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday and arrive in Norfolk Island at 13:35. The return flights to Sydney, NZ913, will leave Norfolk Island at 14:40 on Monday, Thursday, and Saturday. NZ913 will land in Sydney at 16:30.

“Air New Zealand has been operating between Australia and Norfolk Island since 2012 and was the only airline operating scheduled services between Norfolk and mainland Australia during 2020. We know our customers value these services, and we’re thrilled to be able to resume the route from late August,” says Air New Zealand’s Chief Operating Officer, Carrie Hurihanganui.

Qantas may end its Norfolk Island flights now Air New Zealand is resuming their flights. Photo: Getty Images

Air New Zealand sets up a crew base in Brisbane

Along with New Zealand, Norfolk Island is one of the very few offshore destinations Australians are free to fly to. However, Air New Zealand will temporarily establish a crew base in Brisbane to operate its Norfolk Island flights to minimize potential disruptions.

“Prior to the trans-Tasman bubble opening, crew operating domestic flights in Australia were required to have been in Australia for 14 days or have arrived in Australia on a quarantine-free flight. This, unfortunately, resulted in us having to suspend services between Norfolk Island and mainland Australia in February,” says Hurihanganui.

“Having crew based in Australia will ensure we avoid disruption should the Australian border close again.”

When Air New Zealand paused its Norfolk Island flights earlier this year, Qantas stepped into the breach. The Sydney-based airline is now operating government-subsidized Boeing 737-800 services from both Brisbane and Sydney. Those flights have proved relatively popular, especially with Qantas frequent flyers keen to burn some points. Qantas is yet to confirm whether it will continue its Norfolk Island flights after August.

Meanwhile, New Zealand’s Air Chathams resumed flying between Auckland and Norfolk Island last week after 12 months plus off the route. Air Chathams uses Saab 340 aircraft to fly to Norfolk Island weekly, with plans to increase to twice-weekly in August.

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Why Airlines Didn’t Like The Boeing 757-300



The narrowbody 757 has been a great success for Boeing. Across all variants, Boeing sold 1049 aircraft. And it remains popular with many airlines today, never really having a true replacement for its size and range. It’s not all been a success story, though. One of the two variants launched by Boeing was very much a failure, with just 55 sales. Read on to find out what went wrong.

Delta Boeing 757-300 Getty
The Boeing 757-300 is the longest narrowbody jet built, but was it too long? Photo: Getty Images

The two 757 variants

The Boeing 757 was designed as a more efficient, twin-engine successor to the popular Boeing 727. It first flew in 1982 and entered service with Eastern Air Lines in January 1983. This first variant was the 757-200. It offered a typical two-class capacity of 200 passengers (and a maximum of 239) and a maximum range of 7,250 kilometers.

Old American Airlines aircraft
American was a large operator of the 757-200 but retired them in 2020. Photo: Getty Images

The larger 757-300 entered service in 1999. This stretched the fuselage by just over seven meters (and at 54.5 meters, it is still the longest twinjet produced). Typical capacity increased to a massive 254 (with a maximum of 295), but the range took a hit down to 6,295 kilometers.

The 757-300 launched with European charter airline Condor, highlighting the intended market; high capacity use on leisure routes. Condor ordered it as a replacement for its DC-10s, but it could also be considered as a replacement for aging 767-200 aircraft.

In total, Boeing built and delivered 1049 757 aircraft (including freighter models). The 757-300 however saw only a fraction of these sales, with total family sales as follows (according to Boeing sales data):

  • 757-200: 913 aircraft
  • 757-200M (convertible version): 1 aircraft
  • 757-200PF (freighter version): 80 aircraft
  • 757-300: 55 aircraft
Condor 757-300
Charter airline Condor was the launch customer for the 757-300. Photo: Aero Icarus via Wikimedia

Was the 757-300 just too long?

Boeing’s bet that the larger size would be popular just didn’t work out. Apart from a few niche areas, airlines were just not interested in the extra capacity, given the reduction in range (and higher operating cost).

It was useful for high-capacity routes and for operating at smaller airports (at that capacity, opting for the 767 was, of course, possible). This is evident from its take-up by charter airlines such as Condor and Thomas Cook. Schedules airlines struggled, though.

This was not just an economics and route decision for airlines. The simple fact was that the long single-aisle concept just didn’t work for many airlines. With single door access at gates, turnarounds were longer with aisle congestion. And passengers were less satisfied with the longer aisle and slower boarding and service as a result.

Delta 757-300
The 757-300 is so long that a tail skid is added to prevent tail strike incidents. Photo: formulanone via Wikimedia

Timing played a major part too

It was not just the specifications that let the 757-300 down. It was also a very late release by Boeing, entering service some 16 years after the 757-200. Perhaps if the 757-300 had been offered at launch, things would have worked out differently.

Many airlines that would have been interested were already operating the 757-200. And by that time, there was a lot more choice in the large narrowbody market. Airbus was offering the A321 and Boeing the high capacity variants of the 737 Next Generation series.

And don’t forget the events of 11th September 2001. This had a significant effect on all aircraft sales, and the 757-300 had only been in service for two years at that point. Sales dried up and production ended in 2004.

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Perhaps it was ahead of its time

It’s clear that with just 55 sales that the 757-300 was not popular. In fact, it is the second-lowest sales for any Boeing narrowbody, other than the short-lived 737-100 initial variant.

But that is not the whole story. It has gone on to be very popular with the airlines that operate it, as demonstrated by the fact that so many still remain in service today. Launch customer Condor still has 13 aircraft. And Delta Air Lines and United Airlines both operate large fleets, although many have been parked in 2020.

United 757-300
United still operates the 757-300. Photo: Bill Abbott via Wikimedia

And the high capacity, high range narrowbody model remains popular. The new Airbus A321XLR will offer only a slightly smaller capacity, but with a much-improved range, and has sold well ahead of its launch.

Boeing has not missed this, and (having shelved plans for the 797) is even considered re-launching the 757. Simple Flying considered this recently, perhaps as a 757X or 757 MAX version. This would be based on the popular 757, but with capacity more in the area of the 757-300. Of course, engine and technology improvements would address the range issues and also improve efficiency.

Would you like to share any thoughts or experiences of the 757-300? Would it have been more successful if it launched earlier or later? Let us know your thoughts in the comments. 

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What Will Russia’s New Boeing 737 MAX Rival Bring To The Market?



Earlier this week, we covered the characteristics of the PD-14 engines that will be fitted on the Irkut MC-21. Following up on this, Simple Flying also some with Viktor Kladov, Director for International Cooperation and Regional Policy of the State Corporation Rostec, about what Russia’s upcoming narrowbody jet will bring to the market.

The Irkut MC-21 has been tipped to compete in similar segments as the Boeing 737 MAX and Airbus A320neo. Photo: Rostec

Deliveries from next year

The MC-21-300 has a capacity of 211 passengers and a range of up to 6,000 km and is targeted to serve major markets in both Russia and across the nations. Presently, contracts are for the supply of aircraft to Russian airlines, with Aeroflot set to receive the first unit. Deliveries are expected from 2022. When this market is saturated and the capacity of the plane’s after-sales support system increases, the program is expected to scale up to foreign markets.

Irkut MC-21
Initially, the aircraft will operate on Russian medium-haul routes, but opportunities will open up after market maturation. Photo: Rostec

What to expect

Kladov explains that the key features of MC-21 are the widespread use of modern innovative solutions ensuring high flight and operational performance. He adds that among the innovations are engines with a high bypass ratio and other modern aircraft systems from Russian and international manufacturers.

“The aircraft has improved aerodynamics thanks to its high aspect ratio wings, made of composite materials for the first time on an aircraft of this class. The widest fuselage in its class (4.06 m) provides a new level of comfort. This provides advantages such as a wide aisle that allows a passenger to easily walk past a service cart,” Kladov told Simple Flying.

“Personal space and capacity of luggage racks are also more spacious. When designing the aircraft, our designers took into account the changed anthropometric characters of passengers recorded in modern decades. The level of air pressure in the aircraft cabin also provides increased comfort. On the MC-21, unlike other airliners of this class, it corresponds to the performance of long-haul widebody aircraft.”

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The current focus

Serial production for the aircraft was initially planned to start three years ago, and deliveries were expected to begin at the start of 2020, but there had been a series of delays over the years. However, there has been significant progress recently. Four MC-21-300s fitted with Pratt & Whitney PW1400G engines have been undergoing tests. Moreover, in December, the MC-21-310, an edition equipped with Russia’s PD-14 engines, took off for the first time.

Irkut MC-21 Jet
A major goal is the deployment of an effective after-sales service system. Photo: Rostec

Rostec explains that its main priorities are obtaining a certificate for MC-21-300, finishing the production process of the first models, and delivering them to the customer. The serial assembly is carried out at the Irkutsk Aviation Plant, and last month, the first serial outer wing panel made of Russian composite materials was delivered there. The next stage is to complete the certification of the MC-21-310 and begin its serial production.

What are your thoughts about the prospects of the MC-21? Are you looking forward to the introduction of the plane? Let us know what you think of the aircraft and its prospects in the comment section.

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What Happened To Iberia’s Airbus A300s?



Spanish flag carrier Iberia presently operates an all-Airbus fleet. Models from the A320 and A320neo families serve the Madrid-based airline’s short-haul operations. Meanwhile, the A330 and next-generation A350 represent Iberia further afield. However, did you know that the carrier also used to operate the Airbus A300? Let’s explore its relationship with the type.

Iberia Airbus A300
The A300’s time at Iberia lasted more than two decades. Photo: Aero Icarus via Flickr

Iberia’s first Airbus design

As we have established, all of Iberia’s present aircraft are Airbus designs. The airline’s close relationship with the European manufacturing juggernaut goes back a long way, and it all started with the A300. This was Airbus’s first production model, as well as being the world’s first-ever widebody airliner to have just two engines. All in all, a game-changing plane.

In March this year, Iberia celebrated the fact that it was 40 years since its first A300 arrived. This was an A300B4-120, whose registration was EC-DLE. It bore the name Doñana, and entered service on a flight to Paris Orly. Iberia’s relationship with the A300 had begun.

The other deliveries

Aviation database lists a further seven A300s as having been on Iberia’s books. All of these also belonged to the A300B4 variant, which had entered service with Germanair in 1975. It had a greater fuel capacity than the A300B2, and wing-root Krüger flaps.

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Iberia Airbus A300
The A300B4 featured improvements over the A300B2. Photo: Eduard Marmet via Wikimedia Commons

In terms of when Iberia’s A300s arrived, 1981 proved the busiest year. In addition to the aforementioned first delivery, the Spanish carrier received a further three A300s in March and April that year. Another pair followed in February 1982.

Iberia’s final two A300s joined the airline towards the end of the decade, following a seven-year hiatus in the airline’s deliveries of the type. These joined in April 1989, although they had been re-registered by August that year. Having initially been designated as EC-273 and EC-274, they went on to fly under the registrations of EC-EON and EC-EOO respectively.

When did they leave?

The A300 proved a hit at Iberia, and all of the examples that it received in the 1980s remained with the airline for their entire careers. Interestingly, lists one more example that Iberia briefly operated leased from TransAer International Airlines in October 1997. Registered as EI-CJK, it had an all-economy 314-seat cabin.

Iberia Airbus A300
EC-DNQ’s front section has been preserved to train crew. Photo: Tim Rees via Wikimedia Commons

Other than that, all of Iberia’s A300s just about made it into the 21st century. January of that year saw its first A300, EC-DLE, leave the fleet for scrapping in Madrid aged just shy of 20 years. This fate also befell EC-EOO. 2001 saw one more departure, that of EC-EON.

This left Iberia with five remaining A300s, but all of these would be gone by the end of the following year. They departed in June 2002, bringing the airline’s relationship with the A300 to an end. That being said, one example has been partially preserved. Specifically, the front section of EC-DNQ now serves as a crew trainer in Valencia.

Did you ever fly on one of Iberia’s A300s? If so, when, and where did the Airbus widebody take you? Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments!

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