Hawaiian Airlines is upgrading its business class seat for high-budget leisure travelers from Asia and Australia.
The seat comes from Adient Aerospace and is expected to enhance comfort, space, and luxury.
Hawaiian is anticipating tough competition from Japanese carriers once the borders open between Japan and the US.
The US is opening to fully vaccinated travelers on November 8, and the airline industry is expecting a boost in international travel. Carriers are revamping their routes and products to prepare for the surge, including upgrading their premium cabins.
Over the summer, United Airlines announced a new “signature interior” for its Boeing 737 MAX jets, which included adding large inflight entertainment screens, storage units in the central armrests, a TV remote, a bottle holder, and individual USB and power outlets.
Now, Hawaiian Airlines is upgrading its premium product by adding lie-flat seats to its Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft. Historically, the airline has skimped on its premium cabins by installing outdated seats and offering fewer rows compared to competitors.
“It’s [the Boeing 787] going to be an aircraft we fly long-haul to premium dense markets,” COO Jon Snook told Skift. “It’s really going to be an ideal aircraft for Japan, Australia, New York – markets that will benefit from the comfort that that aircraft provides and the efficiency that it provides.”
Hawaiian has 10 Boeing 787-9 aircraft on order, with the first expected to be delivered next year. The aircraft will be fitted with 34 business class suites, which is twice as many business seats as the company’s only other widebody jet, the Airbus A330, which only has 18.
The company added business class to its A330s in 2017, though it chose a dense cabin with a 2x2x2 configuration. According to Skift, the arrangement does not bode well with travelers who have experienced more space and luxury on competitors, like Qantas, All Nippon Airways, and Japan Airlines.
“Our lay-flat product on the 330 isn’t the best in class globally, but it has certainly been very successful in the marketplace that we fly in, given the relatively short stage length,” Snook told Skift.
The seat, which Adient calls “Ascent,” is a joint venture between the company and Boeing to enhance comfort and luxury. It offers plenty of storage, large inflight entertainment screens, a privacy door, aisle access, and lie-flat capabilities.
Moreover, the seat can be used as an enclosed private pod or turned into a “Cabana Suite” by fully lowering the center window, meaning it is tailored to both business passengers wanting privacy and those traveling together.
According to Skift, Hawaiian is following an industry-wide trend that has seen leisure carriers, like Fiji Airways, Air Europa, and Air Tahiti Nui market premium products to travelers willing to pay more for luxury vacations, like honeymoons.
The company is particularly banking on Japanese tourists with big budgets, and industry experts believe there is pent-up demand to go to Hawaii after the long pandemic, according to Skift. However, Conor Cunningham, an investment analyst at MKM Partners, told Skift that Hawaiian’s success depends on the competition.
According to Cunningham, when Hawaii opened to tourists, US carriers were quick to add frequencies to the Aloha State, and when travel between the US and Japan opens, All Nippon Airways and Japan Airlines are expected to do the same.
“I don’t know when things will open up but I know when they do there are a lot of Japanese people who will want to come to Hawaii,” Cunningham told Skift. “But JAL can’t wait to put aircraft into Hawaii. I struggle with the potential dynamic.”
Hawaiian’s new 787’s extended range will allow it to reach destinations it could not before. The company’s former CEO Mark Dunkerley once mentioned flying to Europe using next-generation A330s at an Aviation Club event in London in 2016. However, Snook told Skift the carrier will likely focus on expanding in the US and Asia instead.
“London isn’t on our immediate wish list of markets to go serve with that aircraft,” he told Skift, referring to the Boeing 787. “We think we’ve got opportunities closer at hand and less risky than flying to London.”
British Airways will fit all of its Boeing 777 aircraft with its enhanced Club Suite business class product in 2022.
All British Airways flights to New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport will feature the new seats.
The new product solves many of the problems that the company’s old business class seats imposed.
British Airways unveiled its new Club Suite business class product on its fleet of Airbus A350 aircraft in July 2019, and it is slowly replacing the company’s old business class product.
British Airways’ business class product has evolved over the years, having debuted its latest upgraded Next Generation Club World design in 2006. While it was a hit with customers at the time, it still lacked certain amenities and convenience factors that other airlines offered.
One issue with the Club World product was the solid privacy wall that separated the seats. The barrier had to be lowered and raised multiple times during the flight so the cabin crew could hand items to passengers in the window or middle seats.
Moreover, the seats were in a 2x4x2 configuration, so passengers could still get stuck in the dreaded middle seat even in business class, making it a pain to get up during the long flight to use the lavatory or stretch.
In addition to improving the design, the company has also enhanced the seat’s amenities, including an 18.5-inch high-definition inflight entertainment screen, a vanity unit and mirror, and power outlets for laptops and smart devices.
There is one downside to the cabin’s modified configuration. Because there are fewer seats per row, British Airways has to install more rows to ensure there is enough business class capacity. So, to compensate, the company is halving the number of seats in its first-class cabin from 14 to just eight.
While Club World still remains on a number of the company’s widebody jets, the Club Suite is already fitted on its Airbus A350 and Boeing 787-10 jets and will eventually replace Club World on all of the airline’s Boeing 777 aircraft by the end of 2022.
“When we launched our Club Suite product, it was a huge hit with our customers who loved the privacy the new seat offers,” British Airways’ head of inflight product Sajida Ismail said. “We are focused on the rollout of this product and other cabin enhancements to ensure we deliver on our commitment to provide the very best British quality, style, and comfort for our customers.”
Widebody aircraft have historically dominated the transatlantic market due to their high capacity and low costs.
With the rise of long-range narrowbodies, many airlines are opting to put single-aisle jets on flights across the pond.
Narrowbody jets are preferable for their high efficiency and profitability for low-demand city pairs.
For decades, transatlantic flying had been dominated by wide-body jets designed for high capacity long-haul travel. Historically, these twin-aisle planes were efficient because they could carry more passengers and cargo at lower operating costs, effectively pushing down ticket prices.
Jet-powered transatlantic flying, however, did not start with widebody aircraft, but rather with the de Havilland DH.106 Comet 4 operated by British Overseas Airways Corporation. The single-aisle plane flew the first regularly scheduled commercial flight across the Atlantic in 1958.
Soon after, Boeing launched its first long-haul narrowbody jet, the four-engine Boeing 707, using the lessons learned from the Comet 4. The aircraft’s first transatlantic journey was operated by Pan Am from New York to Paris.
After the start of the jet age, there was a surge in demand for air travel in the 1950s and early 1960s. To handle the increase, manufacturers realized they needed to design bigger aircraft, thus beginning the era of widebody jets.
The first widebody jet was the famous Boeing 747, which revolutionized long-haul air travel. The jumbo-jet doubled the capacity of the 707 and solved the problem of congested airports packed with travelers.
The 747 ignited the widebody market, which focused on engineering wider aircraft that could accommodate more passengers while also lowering fares. The airliner had four engines, a second level above the nose, and the lowest seat-mile cost in the industry at the time.
After the 747 came the wide-body trijet McDonnell Douglas DC-10 in 1971, which was engineered after airlines like American and TWA asked manufacturers to come up with a smaller, yet still high-density, long-range aircraft to meet demand.
While the original DC-10 was designed mostly for domestic flying, later variants, including the DC-10-30 and DC-10-40, were intended for long-haul routes.
The DC-10’s competitor was the Lockheed L-1011 TriStar, which was the third widebody to enter commercial operations in 1972 with a capacity of up to 400 passengers and a range of over 4,000 nautical miles (4,603 miles).
Commercial aircraft with three engines became standard in the industry after the FAA implemented the 60-minute rule, which restricted twin-engine jets from flying further than 60 minutes from the closest suitable diversion airport.
However, the rule was waived for trijets, opening the door for carriers, like Delta Air Lines, to operate routes that twin jets could not legally serve. Delta used the L-1011 on its first transatlantic flight from Atlanta to London Gatwick Airport in 1978.
After the success of the trijet, engineers wanted to take transatlantic flying to the next level and began engineering the famous supersonic Concorde jet. The aircraft had four engines that could propel 100 passengers across the ocean in less than four hours.
After years of flying trijets across the Atlantic, manufacturers and airlines realized the need for more efficient twin-engine jets. The trijet’s design proved to be too complex and maintenance issues arose frequently due to the middle engine being mounted on the stabilizer.
In 1972, Airbus revolutionized air travel with the world’s first twin-engine widebody aircraft, the A300B. However, twin jets were still unable to fly over oceans due to the FAA’s strict 60-minute rule, but that changed with the introduction of the Boeing 767.
The first twin-jet introduced that was capable of transatlantic flying was the Boeing 767-200ER in 1982, which pushed the development of Extended-range Twin-engine Operational Performance Standards, known as ETOPS.
The modern technology on the 767 gave the aircraft enhanced safety, reliability, and redundancy that was not seen on former commercial aircraft. The engines were highly reliable and its computerized systems enabled it to safely fly further than 60 minutes from the closest airport.
For years, ICAO, the FAA, and Boeing collected data of every engine shutdown and malfunction on the 767. The organizations wanted to determine how the aircraft would operate outside the 60-minute rule and if the change would be a safe decision.
In late-1983, Air Canada officially received an exemption to operate the Boeing 767 on routes that flew within 75 minutes of the nearest suitable airport.
Soon after, Trans World Airlines, also known as TWA, and Israeli national carrier El Al received the same permission. This opened routes across the Atlantic and to the Caribbean.
In 1984, two years after the debut of the Boeing 767, El Al operated a route from Tel Aviv, Israel to Montreal, Canada on the aircraft’s first transatlantic route, though the carrier stayed inside the 60-minute margin.
By this time, FAA director Lynn Helms, who was adamant about not changing the 60-minute rule, was no longer in charge. His successor Donald Engen was more open-minded about extending the rule.
In June 1984, Boeing received a one-time waiver to deliver the 767 from Washington Dulles to Ethiopian Airlines in Addis Adaba, Ethiopia.
Later that year, Air Canada received its first ETOPS-certified 767 that could fly the 75-minute exemption.
In 1985, Boeing engineer and test pilot Dick Taylor lobbied the FAA to extend the restrictive 75-minute rule to 120 minutes. Many airlines had already started petitioning the FAA to make the change, including TWA.
However, the FAA said that before the rule was changed, the aircraft had to prove “statistical maturity,” meaning it had to show its onboard systems and Pratt and Whitney JT9D turbofan engines were safe and reliable. Part of the test included logging 250,000 hours of consecutive passenger flight time with minimal engine shutdown.
The first revenue passenger flight to operate under the new 120-minute ETOPS rule was TWA flight 810 from Boston to Paris, using Greenland’s Kangerlussuaq Airport as the diversion airport. The 767 shortened the flight time and burned 7,000 pounds less fuel than the L-1011 on the same journey.
The 120-minute ETOPS extension was a success, but Taylor wanted to go further because it was still not enough time to make the jump from California to Hawaii. Boeing continued to collect transatlantic data and in 1989, the FAA approved the 180-minute ETOPS rule for the 767.
American Airlines operated the first ETOPS-certified flight from Dallas to Honolulu in 1989, and in 1993 the entire 767 family received 180-minute ETOPS certification.
After the certification of the 767, Airbus’ A300 family aircraft were able to fly transatlantic. American Airlines operated the twin-engine jet on several routes, including New York to London and Boston to Paris. The plane was 30% more fuel-efficient than the L-1011.
With the enhanced efficiency of twin-engine jets and the extension of ETOPS, the popularity of trijets and four-engine jets was losing momentum. By 1991, the number of passengers flying across the Atlantic on 767s exceeded those flying on jets with three or four engines, and by 2000, 50% of transatlantic journeys were made by the 767 family.
The 767 set the foundation for future twin-engines to take flight, like the Boeing 777, the Boeing 787, the Airbus A330, and the Airbus A350, which took over the routes that were traditionally dominated by trijets and four-engine aircraft.
Nevertheless, airlines have struggled to fill large passenger jets like the 500-seater A380 and point-to-point travel has become more popular among consumers who prefer direct routes versus stopping in a hub city.
Because of this, the industry is seeing more and more airlines move to use smaller single-aisle jets on long-haul journeys to ensure they fill the aircraft to capacity. Moreover, operating these next-generation planes is cheaper and more efficient, especially for low-demand city pairs.
As a result, several airlines have launched single-aisle aircraft routes to cross the pond, including JetBlue’s A321LR from New York to London…
And TAP Air Portugal’s A321LR from Lisbon to Montreal, Canada. TAP said the aircraft’s low fuel consumption allows it to “operate profitability in smaller markets that cannot be regularly served by larger widebody aircraft.”
While the A321LR has become popular for long-distance travel, the Boeing 737 MAX has also proven to be a viable aircraft for transatlantic service.
Canada’s WestJet announced it would be flying the MAX from Toronto and Halifax to Dublin. Unlike other carriers, the aircraft will not have a heavy premium product. Instead, it will have 174 seats, including 162 in economy and 12 in premium.
With single-aisle jets becoming normalcy on transatlantic flights, manufactures are starting to produce even more efficient longer-range jets, like the Airbus A321XLR, which will further push the transatlantic single-aisle renaissance.
British Airways is considering launching a new airline to split its long-haul and short-haul flying out of London’s Gatwick Airport, Britain’s second-busiest airport.
On Thursday, Head for Points viewed a letter sent to staff from BA management outlining a new potential subsidiary, informally dubbed BA Lite. The letter, signed by CEO Scott Doyle and his executive team, explained an idea to create a new low-cost carrier to run short-haul routes out of Gatwick on behalf of BA beginning summer 2022. According to Doyle, the current business model was not working in Gatwick’s competitive market and the subsidiary would allow for a more sustainable operation.
The British flag carrier withdrew its short-haul operations out of Gatwick in April 2020 in response to the coronavirus pandemic, shifting those flights to London’s Heathrow Airport, according to The Wall Street Journal. The plan would allocate short-haul flying to the lower-cost business model operating under the BA brand, while long-haul routes would still be maintained by British Airways’ mainline operations.
BA confirmed it is in talks with unions about the plan in a statement to Insider, but said it could not comment further.
The carrier’s subsidiary plan came after Gatwick’s CEO, Stewart Wingate, voiced frustration in mid-August over the airline’s unused slots. Wingate told The Daily Mail the airline should “use or lose” them after BA revealed it will not be flying to the airport this summer. At the start of the pandemic, the UK Government established a rule that allows an airline to retain its takeoff and landing slots even if it doesn’t use them, so BA has kept its openings at Gatwick despite halting operations there. According to Wingate, there is demand for slots from low-cost carriers like Wizz Air and EasyJet.
British Airways has struggled to remain competitive against low-cost carriers at Gatwick, particularly EasyJet, and the pandemic furthered the challenges, according to The Independent. However, according to the carrier, BA Lite could make the company sustainable at the airport moving forward. According to route information obtained by The Independent from Cirium, an aviation data analytics software, BA has 1,881 flights scheduled from Gatwick in July 2022, with Spain and Portugal as its top destinations.
BA is planning to use the same staff, aircraft, and slots at the Sussex airport when it launches the new low-cost carrier next year, according to The Independent. For the plan to be put into motion, it will need strong negotiations with its unions. A source familiar with the discussions told The Wall Street Journal that BA warned it would not be able to continue short-haul operations out of Gatwick without the subsidiary.
BA confirmed it is in talks with unions about the plan in a statement to Insider, but said it could not comment further.
“Due to the dynamic nature of the situation we have begun routing affected flights around Afghanistan airspace,” a United spokesperson told Insider.
It did not specify which flights were affected – Reuters first reported late on Sunday that the change would impact flights from the US to India, but the spokesperson told Insider this wasn’t the case.
UK carrier Virgin Atlantic told Insider that all of its Islamabad, Lahore, Mumbai, and Delhi services, “which typically overfly Afghanistan,” would avoid the country’s airspace.
“Following the latest situation reports in Afghanistan, we will be re-routing our upcoming services to avoid Afghanistan’s airspace,” a spokesperson for Virgin Atlantic said in an emailed statement.
British Airways also said Sunday that it would divert flights around Afghan airspace, Reuters reported. The company confirmed to Insider on Monday that it was “not currently using Afghanistan’s airspace.”
The Afghanistan Civil Aviation Authority (ACAA) said Monday that it had released the national airspace to the military, and advised all transit aircraft to find new routes, Reuters reported.
In July, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) banned US commercial airlines from flying below 26,000 feet in Kabul airspace. The FAA said in the notice that only flights to and from Hamid Karzai International Airport were permitted to fly lower.
Airline bosses have called the opening of a travel corridor between the US and UK amid both countries’ “world-leading vaccination programmes” in a joint statement released Monday.
The chief executives of American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, and JetBlue joined British carriers Virgin Atlantic, and British Airways in urging President Joe Biden and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson to lift travel restrictions between the two countries.
The bosses of the US Travel Association and London’s Heathrow Airport also joined the call ahead of the G7 meeting in Cornwall, England this week.
“There is a clear opportunity to safely open up travel between these two low-risk countries,” the statement said.
The group urged the US government to allow fully vaccinated UK travelers, or those who can show a negative COVID-19 test, to enter the country.
The US is on the UK’s “amber list” for travel, meaning that visitors arriving from the US into the country must quarantine for 10 days, and take two COVID-19 tests.
“Experts have encouraged governments, businesses and the public to follow the science,” United CEO Scott Kirby said. “United and other airlines have done that and implemented the necessary safety protocols to re-open key international routes like the air corridor between our two countries. We are ready.”
Airlines posted record losses in 2020 after the pandemic forced them to suspend international travel. American Airlines reported a $8.9 billion annual loss in 2020.
British Airways just dealt a blow to its premium customers as the airline is scrapping the all-business class aircraft formerly offered on the billion-dollar London-New York flagship route, Aviation Week reported.
The VIP-configured Airbus A318 aircraft was the only one of its kind in the British Airways fleet when its retirement was announced in July. The service boasted enhanced convenience and luxury to the business travelers that frequented the route and, with capacity for only 32 passengers, it was among the closest to a private jet in the airline world.
British Airways used the service to solidify its place as the route’s go-to premium carrier, replacing the Concorde as the crown jewel of the airline’s transatlantic offering. The smaller and more exclusive A318 service catered to the airline’s top spenders with a direct link between New York City and London’s financial district.
It was also a bucket list flight for many aviation enthusiasts since the A318 was already itself a rare aircraft on which to fly, let alone on a transatlantic journey and in an all-business class configuration. But the aircraft is no longer in British Airways’ fleet after being sent to be dismantled in the Netherlands, according to Aviation Week.
Take a look inside the most exclusive aircraft to connect New York and London since the Concorde.
Most people traveling between New York and London on British Airways before the pandemic found themselves either flying on a Boeing 747-400…
Or Boeing 777-200.
The two make up the majority of flights flying the $1 billion route between the two economic hubs but most don’t know about the third aircraft that flew British Airways’ top clients: the Airbus A318.
The smallest member of the Airbus A320 family, the A318 was a commercial flop for Airbus that only saw a handful of customers, mostly in Europe.
The aircraft is out of production and though British Airways was among the last and smallest operators of the type, it made the aircraft an icon in transatlantic aviation by flying it between New York and London.
While the thought of flying on a short-haul aircraft across the Atlantic may seem unappealing, there’s a catch to this aircraft in that it’s configured in an all-business class configuration.
Only 32 seats make up that sole premium cabin that’s spread out across eight rows.
And though small in size, this A318 had no shortage of comfort as all rows featured business class seats with fully lie-flat capabilities. These seats are not found on similar aircraft.
Amenities and features at each seat standard for business class included a plush pillow and blanket kit from The White Company….
Amenity kit from The White Company…
Foldable tray table…
Personal reading lamp…
110v AC power outlet…
And adjustable headrest.
Apple iPads were also distributed in lieu of seat-back entertainment screens.
Each row also had multiple windows for better views of the crossing during the day.
Though the standard in business class is now enclosed private suites which the A318 didn’t offer, a small divider separated the paired seats for an additional morsel of privacy.
Only three flight attendants serviced the passengers, providing a full business class meal service and drinks for the 3,000-nautical mile journey.
The seats were controlled via the armrest, with numerous customizable positions.
The lie-flat capability of the seats was ideal for the evening red-eye flight from New York to London, allowing business travelers to get a comfortable full night’s rest and head straight to work or meetings the next morning.
British Airways frequently saw passengers arriving in New York and London only to return within the next 24 hours, with the near downtown-to-downtown service allowing for a quick and luxurious in-and-out of the world’s top business centers.
While not the most modern business class product, the service as a whole made the Airbus A318 the aircraft of choice for those who could afford it when flying between London and New York.
And with only eight rows and 32 seats, the aircraft felt more like a private jet than a commercial airliner. Case in point, the flight before my visit in March 2020 only had five passengers on board.
As the aircraft couldn’t make it from London to New York nonstop – even with the reduced passenger load – it made a stop in Shannon, Ireland for fuel, where it also cleared US Customs and Border Protection.
Upon landing in New York, passengers onboard BA1 arrived in the terminal as they would if it were a domestic flight, with no further passport checks required.
British Airways only had one A318 in its fleet, G-EUNA, which solely flew this route.
Designed with business travelers in mind, the aircraft flew every day of the week except Saturdays.
It was intended to fill the gap left by the Concorde in 2003, with the A318’s first flight occurring in 2009.
G-EUNA flew the flag on British Airways’ flagship route wearing either the flight number BA1 or BA2 – depending on which direction it was flying – for 11 years before the coronavirus pandemic ended its tenure permanently in July.
Though not as fast as Concorde, the service was nearly every bit as exclusive, earning the nickname “Concorde’s baby sister.”
Three airlines are now requiring negative COVID-19 tests for passengers heading to New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport from the United Kingdom.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo asked British Airways, Delta Airlines, and Virgin Atlantic to implement the measures following news of a new and potentially more transmissible variant of the novel coronavirus.
The new strain could be as much a 70% more transmissible, Matt Hancock, the UK’s health minister said.
British Airways, Delta Airlines, and Virgin Atlantic said they would start requiring travelers heading to New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport to test negative for COVID-19 prior to boarding.
The decision comes after New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo asked several airlines to require travelers heading to the airport from the United Kingdom to be tested following news on a new strain of the novel coronavirus.
A Delta spokesperson told Business Insider: “Customers will be required to take a LAMP or PCR test up to 72 hours prior to departure adding another layer of safety when they travel.”
The spokesperson said Delta will be working closely with Cuomo’s office in the following days “on the implementation of our plans as they specifically relate to our flights from London Heathrow to New York-JFK.”
British Airways did not respond to Business Insider’s request for comment at the time of publication.