Travel News This Week: Air New Zealand Video

Every Friday, Willamette Intl Travel shares updates in the World of Travel. Subscribe to our blog for weekly news. 



New Zealand

Air New Zealand’s Latest Safety Video

Air New Zealand has cast an all-star lineup of homegrown talent in its latest safety video, which highlights the tourism jewels in the Northland region of New Zealand. Inspired by the classic Kiwi road trip, Summer of Safety follows the adventures of Shortland Street’s Jayden Daniels as he travels around Northland’s Bay of Islands and Hokianga encountering a host of friendly locals, famous faces and iconic attractions along the way. Joining Jayden’s getaway is supermodel Rachel Hunter and actor Joe Naufahu. straight from a fiery stint on Game of Thrones. Stuntwoman Zoe Bell and canine sidekick Blossom the British Bulldog, IndyCar legend Scott Dixon and Olympic bronze medalist Eliza McCartney also jump on board the lighthearted road trip, which was filmed at ten locations across Northland. The scenery is spectacular as it was filmed in the beautiful Bay of Islands. Watch it here:

Alaska Completes Virgin America Acquisition

Alaska Air Group has closed its acquisition of Virgin America and is beginning the consolidation process. Next year, Alaska and Virgin America will pursue a single operating certificate from the US Federal Aviation Administration, and they expect to obtain it by early 2018. Alaska has not, however, decided whether to operate Virgin America as its own brand and is conducting “extensive customer research” to inform that decision, according to the company. Alaska CEO Brad Tilden said that decision will come early next year and Virgin America flights will undergo no changes in the meantime. “Alaska Airlines and Virgin America are different airlines, but we believe different works and we’re confident fliers will agree,” Tilden said. “This is a big decision and one that deserves months of thoughtful and thorough analysis.” 

Sydney To Finally Get A New Airport

Australia has given the go-ahead for construction of a second airport in Sydney, as the existing Kingsford Smith airport nears capacity. The decision ends decades of political indecision over the project that is expected to handle 10 million passengers initially. The chosen site at Badgerys Creek to the west of the city had already been selected, with previous governments setting aside land for the project, but no final decision made. Initially one runway will be built, with a second to follow when traffic warrants it. The runway will be able to handle the Airbus A380, the largest commercial airliner currently flying. The airport is scheduled to open in the mid-2020s, just as the existing airport is projected to run out of capacity at peak times.


Sydney Opera

United’s ‘Basic Economy’ Aims To Compete With Discount Airlines

Beginning in 2017, United Airlines will offer cheaper airfares for budget-conscious travelers. “Basic economy” will be lower priced than regular fares, allowing United to compete head to head with discount airlines such as Spirit, Frontier and Allegiant Air. But there’s a trade-off for passengers who will be giving up some of the few remaining perks of air travel, like putting a carry-on suitcase in the overhead bin or getting an assigned seat. Seats will be assigned only at check-in, expect very little selection. This will likely mean that the seat will be a middle seat towards the back of the plane and you will board last. In a company-distributed video touting his airline’s new low-fare tier, United CEO Oscar Munoz says in addition to offering more lavish perks to higher spending business travelers, United needs to “get the basics right for the price sensitive customer as well. We will not only be more flexible when it comes to price,” Munoz says in the video, “we’ll also be more efficient operationally by forgoing pre-assigned seating, priority boarding, upgrading the option for last minute changes.” BUT with basic economy, you can’t change flights or choose your seat, not even for a fee; there are no refunds, passengers will board last and the overhead bins for luggage will be off-limits. Passengers will only be allowed a personal item fitting underneath the seat. Anything bigger will have to be checked for a $25 fee.    

Empress Of The Seas Moving To Tampa For Cuba Cruises

The Empress of the Seas will launch Royal Caribbean’s Cuba program with a five-night sailing departing Miami on April 19, 2017. The ship will then reposition to Tampa offering two itineraries with calls to Havana on April 30 (7-night sailing) and May 20 (5-night sailing). The Empress of the Seas will homeport in Tampa for the 2017 summer season, the cruise line’s first-ever summer program from the destination, offering a series of 4- and 5-night sailings, including port calls to Cuba.

Buenos Aires Hoping To Rebuild Cruise Business

After watching cruise calls decline at the Port of Buenos Aires, Argentina’s cruise industry has become a crucial area of development by the Ministry of Transport, backed up by a new administration that has been in office for 11 months under President Mauricio Macri. The port is expecting just 81 ships for the 2016-2017 season. Gonzalo Mórtola, port administrator said the port was taking a number of steps to rebuild the business, and to portray the port as stable and trustworthy for future calls. There are ongoing negotiations with Royal Caribbean and Costa. Mórtola also said he was planning to meet with MSC Cruises in January. Among the changes are significant road improvements around the terminal, a new food area inside, bilingual signage, and a mobile app for passengers. Port fees have been reduced, and will be further reduced for 2017-2018, said Mórtola. The port has also imposed a limit of 12,000 passengers per day. “We are working regionally with Uruguay, Brazil and Chile, to incentivize low season cruise traffic. We know that many cruise lines have fleets with small ships that can adapt easily to our low season incentives,” said Mórtola. In addition is a new online berth reservation system, which will help allocate berth and pier space. The goal? Double the business to 160 cruise ship calls per season.


US Considers Cellphones On Flights But No Calls 

The Washington Post reports the federal government on Thursday moved closer to allowing cellphone use during flights, but with a catch: Passengers won’t be able to use the devices to make calls. If approved, the new rules would mean consumers could use their data plans to surf the Web or send e-mails and texts once a plane reaches 10,000 feet but passengers could not make voice calls. Many of the details have yet to be worked out. Federal transportation officials, for instance, said they did not yet know how they would stop, or whether they would penalize passengers whose phones start to ring in the middle of a flight. It was also unclear which airlines might offer the service and whether they would add charges for passengers who use data plans on a flight. Last month, the government proposed allowing passengers to use their cellphones for anything they wanted, including calls. But the proposal immediately unleashed a storm of criticism from travelers, flight attendants and lawmakers.

Beijing Issues Red Alert For Pollution

On 15 December 2016, officials announced a red alert, the highest level of alert in a four-tiered system, for air pollution in Beijing. Officials stated that after the alert comes into effect at 2000 local time (1200 UTC) on 16 December, private vehicles in Beijing will operate in an odd-even license plate system, which enforces the operation of either odd or even-numbered license plates on the roads at a time. Construction sites and some industrial plants will remain closed. Additionally, public and educational institutions can rearrange their hours and mode of operations. The highest level of alert is issued when severe smog is expected to last for more than 72 hours. This is the first time in 2016 that Beijing officials have issued a red alert for pollution.

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