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Qantas’ Cosmic Supermoon Flight Sells Out In 2.5 Minutes



Earlier this week, Qantas raised the bar on its now-regular scenic flight adventures and began promoting a two-and-a-half-hour flight out of Sydney to view a supermoon event in late May. If it sounds like fun and you are keen to go, the bad news is Qantas sold out the flight in two and a half minutes. Qantas has also closed the waitlist.

Qantas sold out its scenic supermoon Dreamliner flight in two and a half minutes. Photo: Getty Images

The latest in a long line of successful scenic flights for Qantas

Departing early evening on May 26, Qantas plans to send one out of its Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners out of Sydney and east across the Pacific. The Dreamliner will climb to 40,000 feet to capitalize on dark and clear night skies. Qantas notes in addition to watching the rising of the supermoon, that evening also happens to be a total lunar eclipse. The airline says that is a highly unusual double act.

Passengers will be suitably lubricated by a pre-flight cocktail party and cosmic cocktails. They may even learn something. A professional astronomer will be along for the ride and providing some inflight insights.

This sortie to check out the southern hemisphere night sky follows a series of highly successful scenic flights for Qantas in the past year. That included a seven-hour marathon overflying much of Australia and a weekend to Uluru. More recently, there was a seafood lunch on an island in the Whitsundays. All of the flights quickly sold out.

Blocked seats and presales to premium passengers limit the number of seats available for general sale

The Qantas 787-9 normally accommodates 236 passengers across three cabin classes. But fewer seats were available on the supermoon flight. Qantas blocked off the middle seat blocks in the economy and business class cabins. The ‘E’ seats in the premium economy cabin were also blocked from sale.

The number of seats available to the general public reduced further after Qantas offered its most elite frequent flyers early access. The airline’s best customers weren’t shy about taking up the offer.

According to keen Qantas watchers on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum, around 55 seats were left for public sale at midday Sydney time on Wednesday. Qantas confirmed to Simple Flying those remaining seats sold out by 12:03 Sydney time.

I jumped on at the strike of 12, and there was barely anything left. There was just one window seat in Y left, second last row. But by the time I had got to checkout, my seats were bumped,” posted one member on the forum.

My experience too,” posted another member.

Qantas is taking off to view the supermoon event on May 26. Photo: NASA

Some handy revenue as Qantas capitalizes on demand for scenic flights

Qantas began waitlisting hopeful would-be passengers, but the demand was so high, that waitlist has now closed as well. The airline was selling economy class tickets from US$385, premium economy class tickets from US$694, and business class tickets from US$1158. Note the word “from.” Qantas was charging a premium for a window seat – and that’s fair enough.

But with 24 seats initially available for sale in both the business class and premium economy cabins, and 112 seats initially up for grabs in the economy class cabin, Qantas pocketed over US$87,500 from ticket sales.

To date, Qantas has been operating many of these flights largely on a cost-recovery basis. The airline is keen to keep planes and crews in the air and the Qantas brand firmly in the spotlight. But as the popularity of the supermoon and previous scenic flights attests, there is a lot of demand out there for this kind of flight. It’s an interesting, albeit niche, way for the airline industry to do business in the future.

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Air France Welcomes Its 10th Airbus A350



On Friday, French national flag carrier Air France welcomed its tenth Airbus A350-900 to its fleet of 282 aircraft. The aircraft registration number F-HTYK has been named “Aubusson” after the municipality in the Creuse department region in central France. Aubusson became well known for its tapestries after a group of Flemish weavers took shelter there around 1580.

AirFrance A350
Air France has ordered 38 Airbus A350s. Photo: Air France

The Airbus A350-900 is Air France’s flagship aircraft, and it the latest in a batch of ten to be delivered to the SkyTeam alliance member out of an order of 38 planes. Air France will base its new Airbus A350-900 at Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG), from where it will be deployed on some of the airline’s premium long-haul routes.

How the delivery works

Before an airline takes delivery of an aircraft from the Airbus factory in Toulouse, France, it carries out a thorough check to ensure that the aircraft conforms to all contractual specifications. The airline taking delivery sends a team of experts to Toulouse, who then spend five days with the Airbus delivery team going over the aircraft.

Day one: A ground check of external surfaces together with a static aircraft system, cabin, cockpit, and engine check.
Day two: Flight check to test all aircraft systems and the planes behavior
Day three: A physical rework or provision for all technical and quality snags
Day four: Completion of technical acceptance attesting to the aircraft conforming to technical specifications and issuing the Airworthiness Certificate.
Day five: Transfer of deeds to the purchasing airline and preparation for the plane’s delivery to its home base.

The Airbus A350 defines passenger comfort

Air France has configured its A350s to have 324 seats with 34 seats in business class, 24 in premium economy, and 266 in economy class.

Onboard Air France Airbus A350s passengers will enjoy the following:

  • A quiet and spacious cabin
  • Large windows
  • A more comfortable cabin atmosphere with regularly renewed cabin air
  • Lighting that adapts to different phases of the flight
AirFrance A350
Air France A350s have 324 seats. Photo: Air France

Passengers traveling in business class are guaranteed a restful night’s sleep thanks to seats that transform into a two-meter-long ( 6.56 ft) fully flat bed. Those passengers traveling in the premium economy will experience the airlines’ new recliner seat that is 48 centimeters (18.89)  wide and reclines to 124°. In standard economy, Air France has redesigned the seats for more comfort with a reinforced ergonomic seat cushion, a 118° recline, and individual high-definition touch screen entertainment systems.

Air France is committed to reducing CO2

By renewing its fleet, Air France shows its commitment to more sustainable air transport, which aligns with its HORIZON 2030 commitments. The HORIZON 2030 commitment is a pledge by Air France to reduce its per passenger CO2 emissions by 50% compared to 2005 levels.

AirFrance A350-
Air France is committed to reducing CO” emissions. Photo: Air France

The Airbus A350 consumes 25%  less fuel than previous generations aircraft thanks to its construction using composites and titanium. Yesterday’s new arrival will soon be followed by the airlines 11th Airbus A350, named after the French Riviera city of  ‘Cannes’ in line with its decision to name all of its new aircraft after cities in France.

Regarding its short and medium-haul fleet, Air France says it is expecting to take delivery of its first of 60 Airbus A220s starting in September.

Have you flown on one of Air Frances A350s? If so, please tell us what you thought about it in the comments.

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British Airways Announces 4 New Domestic Routes From Belfast



With the collapse of regional Stobart Air, connectivity across the Irish Sea was put into jeopardy. However, IAG carriers Aer Lingus and British Airways are stepping in to fill the gap, with the latter’s BA CityFlyer subsidiary recently announcing four new domestic routes out of George Best Belfast City Airport.

BA CityFlyer has a fleet of over 20 Embraer E190 regional jets. Photo: Ken Fielding via Wikimedia Commons 

Keeping Northern Ireland connected to the rest of the UK

For those who prefer a short 75-minute flight over a half-day journey using the ferry, British Airways is launching four new domestic routes out of Belfast to the rest of the UK. Two of the airline’s new services have already launched, while another will begin in July and another in August. These services will be operated by BA’s regional subsidiary, BA CityFlyer.

In total, the airline will see 18 flights a week operating between George Best Belfast City Airport and the airports of Exeter, Glasgow, Leeds Bradford, and Newquay. The new routes join British Airways’ existing services between Belfast and London City and London Heathrow airports.

“We’re delighted to announce these new services from Belfast, which will enhance our regional network and maintain vital connections between Northern Ireland and other key UK destinations.” -Tom Stoddart, Managing Director, BA CityFlyer

The new BA CityFlyer services will keep Northern Ireland connected to the rest of the UK. Photo:

Flight service details

Operated completely by BA CityFlyer’s fleet of Embraer E190 aircraft, this is what travelers can expect in terms of flight times and frequencies out of Belfast:

Belfast City (BHD)/ Exeter (EXT): BA7319

  • Monday – 12.55
  • Friday – 16.35
  • Saturday – 10.15
  • Sunday – 11.40

Belfast City (BHD)/ Leeds Bradford (LBA): BA7313

  • Monday – 8.40
  • Tuesday – 8.40
  • Wednesday – 8.40
  • Thursday – 8.40
  • Friday – 10.55
  • Sunday – 8.40

Belfast City (BHD)/ Cornwall Newquay (NQY) from 3 July 2021: BA7331

  • Wednesday – 16.35
  • Saturday – 6.35

Belfast City (BHD)/ Glasgow (GLA) from 2 August 2021: BA7327

  • Monday – 19.00
  • Tuesday – 19.00
  • Wednesday – 19.00
  • Thursday – 19.00
  • Friday – 19.00
  • Sunday – 19.00

While schedules for Exeter and Leeds Bradford came into effect on June 16th, Cornwall Newquay and Glasgow flights will not begin until later this summer. While there are few other viable options for Cornwall other than a transfer through London, easyJet regularly flies between Glasgow and Belfast.

BA CityFlyer is the regional arm of British Airways, an IAG airline. Photo: Steven Byles via Wikimedia Commons 

“Continuity on these services is excellent news for domestic connectivity to and from Northern Ireland. Operated by Embraer 190 jets, these routes will greatly complement the existing British Airways services to London Heathrow and London City enabling passengers to enjoy the excellent British Airways experience to a greater number of destinations.” -Katy Best, Commercial Director, Belfast City Airport

Complementing Aer Lingus service

BA CityFlyer service will complement services being offered by fellow IAG member Aer Lingus. In addition to its Dublin-Edinburgh and Dublin-Manchester services, the Irish carrier will fly out of Belfast City to three airports: Manchester, Birmingham, and Edinburgh.

British Airways says that customers will be able to place bookings “with absolute confidence,” thanks to a flexible booking policy. This will allow customers to exchange their booking for a voucher or move their dates without incurring a change fee.

Will you be planning on taking any of these new flights this summer? Let us know by leaving a comment.

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The Story Of The Ethiopian Airlines 767 That Landed At The Wrong Airport



Back in 2013, an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 767 flying from Addis Ababa to Tanzania’s Kilimanjaro Airport inadvertently landed at nearby Arusha Airport instead. The two airports are situated some 50km (31 miles) apart from each other. So how did this incident occur in the first place?

The incident involved a Boeing 767-300ER operated by Ethiopian Airlines. Photo: Joren de Groof via Wikimedia Commons 

The events of December 2013

It was on December 18th, 2013, that Ethiopian Airlines flight ET815 took off from Addis Ababa-Bole Airport (ADD), bound for Kilimanjaro Airport (JRO). This flight number has had a few variations but usually sees a triangle route operating from Addis Ababa to some combination of Tanzanian destinations, including Kilimanjaro, Dar es Salaam (DAR), and Zanzibar (ZNZ). When the 2013 incident occurred, however, flight ET815 was scheduled to continue on to the port city of Mombassa, in Kenya.

By all accounts, the departure and takeoff of flight 815 went smoothly and without incident. The aircraft headed south-southwest towards its first stop at Kilimanjaro International Airport in Tanzania- the main gateway airport for international tourists either planning a safari adventure or a hike up Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s tallest mountain.

The flight overflies Kenya to land at Kilimanjaro airport, fairly close to the border. Photo:

Approaching Kilimanjaro

According to the Aviation Safety Network (ASN), the pilot made first contact with Kilimanjaro International Airport when descending to FL240. He told Kilimanjaro that he had been cleared by the Dar es Salaam Area Control Centre to descend to this altitude, with the intention of heading to a given waypoint before final approach.

Along the way, the pilot was informed that Kilimanjaro’s runway 09 was not available due to a disabled aircraft located at the approach end. Thus, he was directed to approach the runway from the other side (runway 27). While approaching runway 09 would have provided instrument arrival guidance, runway 27 was not equipped with an instrument landing system.

About 14 minutes after being informed of this, the pilot reported having the airport in sight. After confirming the position of the disabled aircraft, the surface wind was communicated, and clearance to land was given by air traffic control.

Arusha Airport (left) is located 60km (by road) from Kilimanjaro International Airport. Photo: Google Maps

Kilimanjaro’s control tower, expecting a 767 to land, failed to see the aircraft. The controller made attempts to contact the aircraft on the Kilimanjaro frequency, but no reply was received.

After repeatedly trying to reach the aircraft by radio, a telephone call came in from the Arusha tower. They had informed Kilimanjaro tower that the Ethiopian Airlines 767, registered ET-AQW, had landed at runway 27 of their airport instead.

Less than half the runway length

Ending up at the wrong airport is an interesting story in itself. However, the story gets more interesting when considering Arusha’s status as a small regional facility. While the airports of Kilimanjaro and Arusha are located relatively close to one another and have runways with identical orientations, the characteristics of each runway are quite different.

The local newspaper ‘The Citizen’ reported that there was much confusion from aviaiton officials. “It probably landed here by mistake,” Arusha’s airport manager is quoted saying on the day. “The pilot was not supposed to land here because this is not an airport its size.”

Kilimanjaro’s runway has a full length of 3,600 meters (11,811 ft) (without the presence of a disabled aircraft at one end), Arusha airport’s runway is a mere 1,620 meters (5,315 ft). Indeed, Arusha (ARK) is a domestic-only airport that serves small aircraft hopping between other towns and cities in Tanzania. The airport would typically see small aircraft such as the Cessna Caravan while the largest one might see at this airport is an ATR72.

Arusha airport was never meant to handle such large aircraft. Photo: Bjørn Christian Tørrissen via Wikimedia Commons 

Therefore, the presence of a Boeing 767-300ER presents quite a challenge for both the airport and the aircraft’s flight crew, as the approximate length required for a 767-300 takeoff is somewhere over 2,600 meters (8,563 ft). This would, of course, vary by payload, altitude, and temperature.

Aircraft stuck in the grass

Thankfully, the aircraft managed to safely land at Arusha’s runway 27 within the length of the runway. However, during an attempted 180 degree turn, the aircraft’s nose and main landing gear wheels exited the runway, becoming stuck in soft soil. Arusha’s runway is just  32 meters (105 ft) wide compared to Kilimanjaro’s 45 meters (147.5 ft).

According to FlightGlobal, Ethiopian Airlines reported that there was a long delay before passengers could disembark and images from the scene indicated that the escape slides were activated. The Aviation Herald reports that this was because some emergency exits were opened for air circulation and to “calm discontent amongst the passengers,” who had been stuck in the aircraft for three and a half hours after landing. This lengthy delay was reportedly due to the need for appropriately-sized aircraft stairs – unavailable at Arusha airport.

The jet was towed back and ASN notes that there was no damage to the aircraft and no injuries were reported from the 223 persons onboard.

Enca reports that Precision Air diverted some of its flights that would have normally landed in Arusha to Kilimanjaro. The Tanzanian regional carrier said that it had to ferry its passengers into town by bus instead.

A successful takeoff was accomplished two days after landing, on December 20th, 2013- this time without passengers. Excess fuel was also offloaded as well. The aircraft then made the short hop to Kilimanjaro International airport.

While reporting doesn’t mention what happened to the passengers, we would presume that immigration officials would have been dispatched to process arriving passengers, with those heading onwards to Mombassa being transfered to JRO by land.

What happened?

ASN reports that during the descent the pilot apparently saw an airport and “prematurely abandoned the given arrival procedure,” which would have positioned him at the proper waypoint and approach for Kilimanjaro’s runway.

He subsequently approached runway 27 at Arusha Airport believing that he was headed to Kilimanjaro. The aircraft’s downwind position report was not challenged by the Kilimanjaro controller, who should have confirmed the situation visually.

Did you know abou this incident before reading this article? Let us know your thoughts by leaving a comment.

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Alaska Airlines Grows Its Boise Portfolio Even More



On Thursday, Alaska Airlines inaugurated two new daily nonstop services from Boise, Idaho’s capital. Alaska Airlines has even more planned, announcing two more new nonstop flights scheduled to start this fall. The airline’s focus continues to be on growing its Western US presence.

Alaska Airlines
Alaska Airlines is continuing to grow in Boise. Photo: Getty Images

Alaska Airlines starts two new routes out of Boise

Alaska Airlines has inaugurated daily nonstop services from Boise Airport (BOI) to Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD) and Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS). The two routes have come just in time for summer.

Chicago O’Hare is a major hub for American Airlines, and American also has plans to fly the route. Alaska Airlines flights complement American’s and provide more options for travelers looking to get from Boise to Chicago and the rest of the world. Alaska is using an Embraer E175 on the route.

As for Austin, Alaska Airlines has a monopoly on the route, which also flies with an Embraer E175. Austin is a growing focus city for American Airlines, so Alaska can tap into some of American’s marketing power in the city thanks to the two carrier’s West Coast alliance.

Alaska Getty
Alaska has used the E175 to launch new services out of Boise. Photo: Getty Images

Adding two new flights

This fall, Alaska Airlines is adding a new route from Boise to Pullman-Moscow Regional Airport (PUW) and Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX).

Flights to PUW will run five times per week on a Q400 turboprop. The aircraft will depart BOI at 11:10 and arrive in PUW at 11:15. The return flight leaves PUW at 11:55 and arrives at 13:34 in BOI. All times are local. Flights will start on August 17th.

Flights from BOI to PHX will depart at 10:30 and arrive at 12:30. The return flight will depart PHX at 13:10 and arrive in BOI at 16:15. All times are local. This flight will run daily with an Embraer E175. Flights will start on November 19th and are set to end for now on April 18th.

Brett Catlin, vice president of network and alliances at Alaska Airlines, stated the following on the airline’s Boise expansion:

“Our guests are showing us how excited they are about our new service to Chicago and Austin from Boise with strong bookings throughout the summer months. Our new year-round route bridging Boise and PullmanMoscow will offer a crucial link to that area’s two major universities, and the seasonal nonstop to Phoenix is another terrific way to quickly escape to sunshine and warmth in the desert this winter.”

Alaska New Routes
Alaska will have an expansive route network out of Boise. Photo: Alaska Airlines

The flight to Pullman is made possible with an agreement between Alaska Airlines and the University of Idaho. The University announced the agreement, paying up to $500,000 each year if Alaska does not make 10% more than the cost of operations on the service. This helps connect the University in Moscow, Idaho, to Boise and the rest of the world.

Meanwhile, the route to Phoenix is similar in strategy to the Chicago O’Hare service. This is a major hub for American Airlines, and American already operates flights on the route. Alaska will complement American’s flight times and allow for more connections.

Building out in Boise

Come this winter, Alaska Airlines will fly up to 30 daily nonstop departures out of Boise to 14 destinations. The airline will have more daily departures to more nonstop destinations out of Boise than any other airline. This sets up the airline to continue to do well in the western US.

Alaska Getty
The new route to PUW will run on a Q400. Photo: Getty Images

Boise is the kind of market that is ripe for Alaska Airlines’ expansion. It is a growing city with passengers who want to go to many points across the US and where many Americans want to visit. Much of Alaska’s flying, such as to San Jose, Palm Springs, San Diego, Spokane, Pullman, Austin, and soon Everett, among others, are mostly point-to-point services.

The city is also not picking up the keen interest of major US airlines, leaving Alaska Airlines as one of the fastest-growing and dynamic airlines in the city. There are still plenty of options for Alaska Airlines to grow in the future as demand warrants.

Are you glad to see Alaska Airlines add more flying in Boise? Let us know in the comments!

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