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The Dawn of the Untethered Frequent Flier

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Colin Nagy, a marketing strategist, writes this opinion column for Skift on hospitality and business travel. On Experience dissects customer-centric experiences and innovation across the luxury sector, hotels, aviation, and beyond. He also covers the convergence of conservation and hospitality. You can read all of his writing here.

Pre-Covid, airline status was a bragging right of a certain tier of the traveling public.

Road warriors would rack up the miles, and in turn, unlock “game-ified” levels of elite status. From the entry-level American Airlines Gold, all the way to Swiss and Lufthansa’s rarified Hon Circle, these schemes are built and refined by airlines to create stickiness and addiction.

We’re all familiar with the unlocks that come with this: little things that make the traveling experience more pleasant: early boarding, access to international lounges, preferred seats, and the ability to actually get through to someone on the phone. Look around at any airport boarding line, and you’re sure to spot the various status tags dangling from someone’s Tumi bag. The status signaling is implicit: I’m important enough that my company spends the money to fly me all around!

The long accessible to Swiss First members at the Zurich airport. Source: Swiss Airlines

But, post-Covid, a lot of business travel is in limbo. Smart executives are pivoting their strategies from all-in on business travelers to having “premium” leisure pick up some of the slack, as Virgin Atlantic CEO Shai Weiss said recently. But now that we’ve proven a lot of things can be done on Zoom, there are existential questions for the future of business travel at the front of the plane, along with the corresponding “carrots” of enticing people to be loyal to an airline to receive their ego-boosting status and corresponding riches.

Sure, business travel will continue in certain circumstances: face time with teams, strategic planning sessions, and perhaps most vividly, to close an important sale in person over a splashy dinner.

But as we have seen, year over year, the status programs for U.S. airlines got harder and hard to reach. It is a treadmill that keeps getting faster, with the rare exception of mileage-based programs like Alaska’s Mileage Plan. With most of the legacy U.S. carriers, in addition to flying miles, you also have to jump through revenue hoops and other types of gates. For example, a Delta Diamond Medallion member needs to fly 125,000 miles with their airline, but also spend $15,000. This was obviously a way for the airline to reward higher spending premium tickets.

If a large amount of this business travel is curtailed, what will become of loyalty programs and the status of old?

One prediction I have is this might be a forcing factor for people to step off the yearly treadmill of keeping up with the standards. They might decide to become free agents. Sure, people might retain a loyalty association that they port their Amex credit card points over into, but another possibility is that more people will just end up buying the right product for their specific travel needs. I’ve recently spoken to a few very frequent travelers who have told me that with their travel cut down to ten or twenty percent, they’re simply opting to buy business class tickets for the few flights they take and not worry about where their status will land in 2022. Is this the coming age of the frequent flier turned free agent?

This admittedly working theory actually checks out for more of the luxury travel segment: if you’re buying business class tickets, you’re already getting a lot of the bells and whistles that airlines give to high-status customers. So, if those benefits are off the table, a lot of customers might just pick the best flight, for the best routing, for the best product they can get for the price. Or they might even opt for some of the new basic business fares, offered by the likes of Emirates of Finnair, which are basically the flat bed, with all other elements priced separately.

The idea of a large exodus of existing frequent fliers into free agent status could be a cool thing. More people could experience more products and be able to shop by price and experience, rather than blind and outdated loyalty. You could have a dalliance with Turkish to see the new 787 product and that shiny new airport.

You could flirt level of Swiss precision brought to life with the lounge at Zurich airport, you can go on a hot date with ANA’s new business class product. It sounds positively refreshing after being stuck in the locked groove of one loyalty program.

Photo Credit: In a new era for frequent fliers, smart executives are pivoting their strategies from all-in on business travelers to having “premium” leisure pick up some of the slack. GUID / Adobe

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Source: https://skift.com/2021/07/15/the-dawn-of-the-untethered-frequent-flier/

Aviation

Photos: RAAF Globemaster flies just 300 feet above Brisbane River

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RAAF C-17 Globemaster III performing a flyover of Brisbane CBD and river (Craig Murray)

Australian Aviation photographer Craig Murray captured these incredible shots of a RAAF C-17 Globemaster III performing its planned flyover of the Brisbane CBD.

The display formed part of the Sunsuper Riverfire event, which wrapped up the Brisbane Festival on Saturday evening.

The aircraft flew “not below 300 feet” for its planned flypast of the Brisbane river during the event, according to the RAAF, which saw audiences watch the C-17 dip well below the skyscrapers of Brisbane’s CBD and traipse along the river.

RAAF C-17 Globemaster III performing a flyover of Brisbane CBD and river (Craig Murray)

As planned, the Globemaster flew over Mt Coot-tha and Suncorp Stadium, then headed south along the river at South Bank to the Goodwill Bridge, before repositioning to fly east along the Kangaroo Point cliffs toward the Storey Bridge.

Along with the C-17 flypast, Riverfire attendees also enjoyed a display of Army ARH and MRH-90 helicopters, with this aerial display returning for the first time since 2017.

Onlookers at the 2021 event were also treated to an Army Aviation display of ARH and MRH-90 helicopters (Craig Murray)

Videos of the 2018 Riverfire Globemaster display went viral earlier this year, after they were posted to Reddit.

Viewers were fascinated – and some horrified – as the angle of the imagery made the mighty aircraft appear as if it were weaving in and out of the skyscrapers themselves, as opposed to simply tracking along the river.

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The Boeing C-17A Globemaster III is a four-engine heavy transport aircraft that can accommodate huge payloads and land on runways just one-kilometre long.

That flexibility comes from its design, which mixes both high-lift wings and controls requiring just three onboard (pilot, co-pilot and loadmaster).

Cargo is loaded onto the C-17 through a ramp system at the back, while its floor has rollers that flip from flat to handle wheeled vehicles or pallets. RAAF owns eight, all operated by No. 36 Squadron and based at RAAF Base Amberley.

RAAF C-17 Globemaster III performing a flyover of Brisbane CBD and river (Craig Murray)
Onlookers at the 2021 event were also treated to an Army Aviation display of ARH and MRH-90 helicopters (Craig Murray)

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Click here to access.

Source: https://australianaviation.com.au/2021/09/photos-raaf-globemaster-flies-just-300-feet-above-brisbane-river/

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Aviation

Photos: RAAF Globemaster flies just 300 feet above Brisbane River

Published

on

RAAF C-17 Globemaster III performing a flyover of Brisbane CBD and river (Craig Murray)

Australian Aviation photographer Craig Murray captured these incredible shots of a RAAF C-17 Globemaster III performing its planned flyover of the Brisbane CBD.

The display formed part of the Sunsuper Riverfire event, which wrapped up the Brisbane Festival on Saturday evening.

The aircraft flew “not below 300 feet” for its planned flypast of the Brisbane river during the event, according to the RAAF, which saw audiences watch the C-17 dip well below the skyscrapers of Brisbane’s CBD and traipse along the river.

RAAF C-17 Globemaster III performing a flyover of Brisbane CBD and river (Craig Murray)

As planned, the Globemaster flew over Mt Coot-tha and Suncorp Stadium, then headed south along the river at South Bank to the Goodwill Bridge, before repositioning to fly east along the Kangaroo Point cliffs toward the Storey Bridge.

Along with the C-17 flypast, Riverfire attendees also enjoyed a display of Army ARH and MRH-90 helicopters, with this aerial display returning for the first time since 2017.

Onlookers at the 2021 event were also treated to an Army Aviation display of ARH and MRH-90 helicopters (Craig Murray)

Videos of the 2018 Riverfire Globemaster display went viral earlier this year, after they were posted to Reddit.

Viewers were fascinated – and some horrified – as the angle of the imagery made the mighty aircraft appear as if it were weaving in and out of the skyscrapers themselves, as opposed to simply tracking along the river.

PROMOTED CONTENT

The Boeing C-17A Globemaster III is a four-engine heavy transport aircraft that can accommodate huge payloads and land on runways just one-kilometre long.

That flexibility comes from its design, which mixes both high-lift wings and controls requiring just three onboard (pilot, co-pilot and loadmaster).

Cargo is loaded onto the C-17 through a ramp system at the back, while its floor has rollers that flip from flat to handle wheeled vehicles or pallets. RAAF owns eight, all operated by No. 36 Squadron and based at RAAF Base Amberley.

RAAF C-17 Globemaster III performing a flyover of Brisbane CBD and river (Craig Murray)
Onlookers at the 2021 event were also treated to an Army Aviation display of ARH and MRH-90 helicopters (Craig Murray)

PlatoAi. Web3 Reimagined. Data Intelligence Amplified.
Click here to access.

Source: https://australianaviation.com.au/2021/09/photos-raaf-globemaster-flies-just-300-feet-above-brisbane-river/

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Aviation

QantasLink pilots accept backdated 2-year wage freeze

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Pilots at QantasLink have become the first major unionised cohort within the Qantas Group to accept a two-year wage freeze in light of the effect of the COVID pandemic on the industry.

According to the Australian Federation of Air Pilots, which negotiated the new enterprise agreement, the paperwork has been backdated to 2019, meaning the wage freeze period has now already passed.

As such, the 450 pilots involved will see as 2 per cent wage increase both in 2021 and 2022.

According to the union, over 90 per cent of participating QLink pilots at both Eastern Australia Airlines and Sunstate Australia Airlines voted in favour of the new enterprise agreement.

AFAP is also currently in negotiations with Qantas budget subsidiary Jetstar over its enterprise agreement with its pilots.

“The AFAP worked collaboratively with the company to conclude the enterprise bargaining discussions,” a spokesperson for the union said of the QantasLink agreement.

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“We are pleased to have arrived at a pragmatic outcome for the QantasLink pilot groups.

“The AFAP’s Eastern and Sunstate pilot councils look forward to resuming negotiations towards the second half of next year in what we anticipate will be a better negotiating environment.”

The company will now lodge the necessary paperwork with the Fair Work Commission to seek agreement certification, at which point back payments should then be processed, the union said.

This process could take up to eight weeks.

It makes QantasLink pilots the first major group to negotiate and accept the wage freeze deal, since Qantas announced in May this year that it would introduce a two-year wage freeze on all new enterprise agreements across the Qantas Group, as it seeks to reduce its annual costs by $1 billion by FY23.

At that time, the flag carrier confirmed that its next round of enterprise agreements will include the two-year wage freeze, and stipulate a 2 per cent annual increase thereafter, down from 3 per cent before the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Managing costs remains a critical part of our recovery, especially given the revenue we’ve lost and the intensely competitive market we’re in,” chief executive Alan Joyce said in the ASX announcement.

At the time, trade union TWU’s national secretary Michael Kaine criticised Qantas’ decision to freeze wages and stunt future wage growth, in light of the fact that the airline welcomed over $2 billion in government bailouts since the beginning of the pandemic.

Kaine said that Qantas’ latest management decision sees the airline “acting like a dictator”, by “using public resources to shore up its position, cut jobs and impose unilateral decisions on its workforce”.

The TWU pointed out that in 2014, Qantas posted a $2.8 billion loss and imposed a similar two-year wage freeze on its workforce, from which the union believes Qantas workers’ earnings never recovered.

“There is a system of enterprise bargaining in place so that both sides can sit down and compromise,” Kaine said, adding that the wage freeze announcement “flies in the face of enterprise bargaining”.

“This year Qantas will have received $2 billion in federal government funding. On top of that the airline has wrung more public funding from state governments following recent announcements,” he said.

“We cannot see the benefit of this funding for the public when it continually results in job losses, outsourced workers and lower wages.”

It comes one month after Qantas announced it posted an underlying loss before tax of $1.83 billion, due to “diabolical” operating conditions and sudden border closures in the second half of the financial year.

This was despite the airline receiving over $1.1 billion in government aid through multiple financial aid programs, including $558 million in JobKeeper wage subsidies.

Qantas saw a staggering statutory loss before tax, which includes one-off costs such as redundancy payouts and aircraft writedowns, of $2.35 billion.

“This loss shows the impact that a full year of closed international borders and more than 330 days of domestic travel restrictions had on the national carrier,” Joyce said, adding that operating conditions have “frankly been diabolical”.

“It comes on top of the significant loss we reported last year and the travel restrictions we’ve seen in the past few months. By the end of this calendar year, it’s likely COVID will cost us more than $20 billion in revenue,” Joyce said.

The flag carrier introduced $650 million in permanent long-term cost reductions over the year, with the aim of reaching $1 billion in permanent annual savings by FY23.

Over 9,400 people have permanently left Qantas since the beginning of the pandemic, more than the 8,500 previously forecast by the airline.

According to Qantas, the additional staff losses were driven by offshore job losses at airports and sale offices, the introduction of some automation, and an increase in voluntary redundancies.

Over 8,500 employees currently remain stood down from their duties, 6,000 of which are tied to Qantas’ international operations.

“We have had to make a lot of big and difficult structural changes to deal with this crisis, and that phase is mostly behind us,” Joyce said.

PlatoAi. Web3 Reimagined. Data Intelligence Amplified.
Click here to access.

Source: https://australianaviation.com.au/2021/09/qantaslink-pilots-accept-backdated-2-year-wage-freeze/

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Aviation

QantasLink pilots accept backdated 2-year wage freeze

Published

on

Pilots at QantasLink have become the first major unionised cohort within the Qantas Group to accept a two-year wage freeze in light of the effect of the COVID pandemic on the industry.

According to the Australian Federation of Air Pilots, which negotiated the new enterprise agreement, the paperwork has been backdated to 2019, meaning the wage freeze period has now already passed.

As such, the 450 pilots involved will see as 2 per cent wage increase both in 2021 and 2022.

According to the union, over 90 per cent of participating QLink pilots at both Eastern Australia Airlines and Sunstate Australia Airlines voted in favour of the new enterprise agreement.

AFAP is also currently in negotiations with Qantas budget subsidiary Jetstar over its enterprise agreement with its pilots.

“The AFAP worked collaboratively with the company to conclude the enterprise bargaining discussions,” a spokesperson for the union said of the QantasLink agreement.

PROMOTED CONTENT

“We are pleased to have arrived at a pragmatic outcome for the QantasLink pilot groups.

“The AFAP’s Eastern and Sunstate pilot councils look forward to resuming negotiations towards the second half of next year in what we anticipate will be a better negotiating environment.”

The company will now lodge the necessary paperwork with the Fair Work Commission to seek agreement certification, at which point back payments should then be processed, the union said.

This process could take up to eight weeks.

It makes QantasLink pilots the first major group to negotiate and accept the wage freeze deal, since Qantas announced in May this year that it would introduce a two-year wage freeze on all new enterprise agreements across the Qantas Group, as it seeks to reduce its annual costs by $1 billion by FY23.

At that time, the flag carrier confirmed that its next round of enterprise agreements will include the two-year wage freeze, and stipulate a 2 per cent annual increase thereafter, down from 3 per cent before the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Managing costs remains a critical part of our recovery, especially given the revenue we’ve lost and the intensely competitive market we’re in,” chief executive Alan Joyce said in the ASX announcement.

At the time, trade union TWU’s national secretary Michael Kaine criticised Qantas’ decision to freeze wages and stunt future wage growth, in light of the fact that the airline welcomed over $2 billion in government bailouts since the beginning of the pandemic.

Kaine said that Qantas’ latest management decision sees the airline “acting like a dictator”, by “using public resources to shore up its position, cut jobs and impose unilateral decisions on its workforce”.

The TWU pointed out that in 2014, Qantas posted a $2.8 billion loss and imposed a similar two-year wage freeze on its workforce, from which the union believes Qantas workers’ earnings never recovered.

“There is a system of enterprise bargaining in place so that both sides can sit down and compromise,” Kaine said, adding that the wage freeze announcement “flies in the face of enterprise bargaining”.

“This year Qantas will have received $2 billion in federal government funding. On top of that the airline has wrung more public funding from state governments following recent announcements,” he said.

“We cannot see the benefit of this funding for the public when it continually results in job losses, outsourced workers and lower wages.”

It comes one month after Qantas announced it posted an underlying loss before tax of $1.83 billion, due to “diabolical” operating conditions and sudden border closures in the second half of the financial year.

This was despite the airline receiving over $1.1 billion in government aid through multiple financial aid programs, including $558 million in JobKeeper wage subsidies.

Qantas saw a staggering statutory loss before tax, which includes one-off costs such as redundancy payouts and aircraft writedowns, of $2.35 billion.

“This loss shows the impact that a full year of closed international borders and more than 330 days of domestic travel restrictions had on the national carrier,” Joyce said, adding that operating conditions have “frankly been diabolical”.

“It comes on top of the significant loss we reported last year and the travel restrictions we’ve seen in the past few months. By the end of this calendar year, it’s likely COVID will cost us more than $20 billion in revenue,” Joyce said.

The flag carrier introduced $650 million in permanent long-term cost reductions over the year, with the aim of reaching $1 billion in permanent annual savings by FY23.

Over 9,400 people have permanently left Qantas since the beginning of the pandemic, more than the 8,500 previously forecast by the airline.

According to Qantas, the additional staff losses were driven by offshore job losses at airports and sale offices, the introduction of some automation, and an increase in voluntary redundancies.

Over 8,500 employees currently remain stood down from their duties, 6,000 of which are tied to Qantas’ international operations.

“We have had to make a lot of big and difficult structural changes to deal with this crisis, and that phase is mostly behind us,” Joyce said.

PlatoAi. Web3 Reimagined. Data Intelligence Amplified.
Click here to access.

Source: https://australianaviation.com.au/2021/09/qantaslink-pilots-accept-backdated-2-year-wage-freeze/

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