Beginning next year, Singapore Airlines is planning to launch onboard Wi-Fi, even during long-haul flights between Asia and the U.S. // © 2010 Singapore Airlines
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Air carriers and airports throughout Asia are expanding with new routes, value-added vacation packages and updated services. What follows are updates from Air India, Hawaiian Airlines, Jet Airway, Singapore Airlines and the airports in Bangkok, Thailand, and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Air India Offers Daily Nonstop Service From U.S. to India
Beginning Oct. 31, India’s national carrier, Air India, will offer daily nonstop service to India from the carrier’s four North American gateways: Chicago; New York; Newark, N.J.; and Toronto. The new nonstop service pertains to flights from Chicago, New York and Toronto departing for Delhi, as well as daily flights from Newark to Mumbai. Flights from New York to Delhi will continue to Mumbai; flights from Chicago to Delhi will continue to Hyderabad; and flights from Toronto to Delhi will continue to Amritsar. Nonstop flights from Newark to Mumbai will offer continuing service to Ahmedabad.
All of Air India’s flights between North America and India take place onboard Boeing 777-300ER aircraft featuring Economy, Executive and First Class service.
“Our changeover to all nonstop service is a vital part of Air India’s ongoing response to the sharp increase in both leisure and business travel to India from U.S. and Canada,” said Chitra Sarkar, Air India’s executive director for the Americas. “Now, along with our world class in-flight service, we can offer our passengers the fastest flights to India, as well as the most convenient service to their final destinations in India.”
In related news, a brand-new multibillion-dollar airport terminal was recently unveiled in New Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport. The new terminal, T3, which opened in July, cost a reported $3 billion and opened as the sixth largest airport terminal in the world, with more than 70 aero-bridges, 168 check-in counters and more than 90 immigration desks. A similarly modern terminal is currently in the works for the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport in Mumbai.
Hawaiian Commences New Tokyo Flights on Nov. 17
Hawaiian Airlines will begin its new daily nonstop service to Tokyo’s Haneda Airport from the Honolulu International Airport on Nov. 17, making it the only U.S. carrier to fly between Hawaii and Haneda, Japan.
The Haneda Airport, also known as the Tokyo International Airport, has traditionally handled domestic flights to and from Tokyo, while its sister airport, Narita, has received international flights to and from Tokyo. This October, however, the Haneda Airport will finish construction on a fourth runway, enabling it to serve regular international flights. Haneda is also located more closely to the city center of Tokyo than Narita (it only takes an estimated 13 minutes to reach downtown Tokyo from Haneda).
The inaugural flight from Honolulu to Haneda will take place on Nov. 17, with the inaugural flight from Haneda to Honolulu taking place on Nov. 19. Current HawaiianMiles frequent flyer members can earn and redeem mileage award benefits on the new flight, which covers more than 3,800 miles one-way. Flight 458 departs Tokyo’s Haneda Airport daily at 11:59 p.m. and arrives at Honolulu International Airport at 12:05 p.m. the same day. Flight 457 departs Honolulu daily at 6:05 p.m. and arrives at Haneda at 10:05 p.m. the next day. Hawaiian will initially serve the Haneda-Honolulu route using its wide-body, twin-aisle Boeing 767-300ER aircraft, which seats up to 264 passengers, before introducing the airline’s new, larger 294-seat Airbus A330-200 aircraft.
Jet Airways Introduces Daily Flights to Sri Lanka
India-based airline Jet Airways will commence daily direct flights to Colombo, Sri Lanka, from Mumbai and Delhi, India, on Nov. 5. The two new flights are in addition to Jet Airways’ existing daily Chennai-Colombo service, which was originally launched in 2004.
Sri Lanka is increasingly becoming a travel destination of interest following the end of its civil war last year.
“Sri Lanka is fast emerging as a highly rated global tourism destination, and we are happy to offer our guests seamless connections to several destinations across our network, through our important gateways, Mumbai and Delhi,” said Jet Airways CEO Nikos Kardassis.
The new daily flights will take place onboard Boeing 737-800 aircraft offering eight Premiere and 162 economy-class seats.
New City Air Terminal Transfer Service Debuts in Bangkok
The new Airport Link System connecting Suvarnabhumi with the City Air Terminal in Bangkok’s Makkasan area officially opened in September. Travelers can now connect between the two airports using one of two available options — the Express Service and the City Line. Express Service entails a 15-minute nonstop transfer from Suvarnabhumi Airport to the City Air Terminal for a fare of approximately $5, while the City Line provides a 30-minute transfer with eight stops between the two airports for no more than $1.50.
Plans for New Airport Terminal in Kuala Lumpur Unveiled
Last month, Malaysia tourism officials announced plans for a permanent low-cost carrier airport terminal, KLIA2, which is tentatively scheduled for completion in April 2012. The new airport terminal will be located less than two miles away from the main Kuala Lumpur International airport terminal.
“It goes without saying that given the rapid growth of low-cost air travel, the construction of a project such as this new terminal brings the country many benefits,” said Malaysian prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak. “This facility will greatly enhance our vision to increase tourism revenue from the current $17.2 billion in 2009 to $54.4 billion by 2020.”
Singapore Airlines to Launch Long-Haul Onboard Wi-Fi, Expand Service to Brazil
Singapore Airlines passengers may soon be able to stay connected online at all times, even during long-haul flights between the U.S. and Asia. The airline recently unveiled news about its multimillion-dollar collaboration with OnAir, an in-flight connectivity provider, to deliver onboard Wi-Fi and mobile Internet access during flights. Mobile services include the ability to make and receive voice calls, send text messages with GSM-compatible mobile phones and receive e-mail messages via Smartphone and BlackBerry devices.
The new service is expected to commence as early as the first quarter of 2011, enabling Singapore Airlines to be the first major airline in Asia to launch a comprehensive suite of in-flight connectivity services. The airline plans to introduce the new service on flights operated onboard its Airbus A380, A340-500 and Boeing 777-300ER aircraft.
“Singapore Airlines was one of the first pioneers to introduce Internet connectivity onboard its Boeing 747-400 aircraft in 2005,” said Yap Kim Wah, Singapore Airlines senior vice president, products and services. “Today, with the increasing importance of remaining connected, and the more affordable charges made possible by the higher usage and more advanced technology, we are now fitting all our long-range aircraft with the full suite of telephone and Internet features so that our customers can stay connected. Unlike the earlier trial introduction of an Internet service, this suite of features is for full implementation, and we are pleased to offer this as an added choice to our in-flight program.”
Passengers who use the new OnAir mobile services will see their usage reflected in the monthly bills from their telecommunications provider where international GSM roaming rates apply. For Internet access, customers can sign up for an access package when logging into the system. Singapore Airlines will release further details of the pricing structure for these services closer to the launch date.
Singapore Airlines also announced plans to expand its international service to South America in March 2011, when it launches thrice-weekly flights between Singapore and Sao Paolo, Brazil, via Barcelona, Spain. The new flight marks the airline’s foray into South America, operating between Barcelona and Sao Paolo’s Guarulhos International Airport under a codeshare agreement with fellow Star Alliance member, Spanair.
“We are very excited about this new service, which will help boost ties between Singapore and Brazil and pave the way for enhanced trade, tourism and travel links between Asia and South America,” said Bey Soo Khiang, Singapore Airlines senior executive vice president of marketing and corporate services. “Singapore Airlines has been eyeing opportunities in the fast-growing South American market for some time. We are pleased to be able to add a sixth continent to our route network and be the only airline offering direct flights between Southeast Asia and Brazil.”
Details of flight times for the new Singapore-Barcelona-Sao Paolo service have not yet been announced.