Air Travel News
Briefs: Qantas ends long-haul Wi-Fi; Lufthansa sets intra-European plans
In news of international airlines, Qantas determines that the availability of in-flight Wi-Fi is not necessarily a good idea in all markets; Lufthansa says it will revolutionize intra-European low-cost service; and Canada’s WestJet unveils some technology initiatives.
After a nine-month test program on its A380 super-jumbo service from Australia to Los Angeles and London, Qantas has decided not to offer in-flight Wi-Fi on long-haul flights, according to media reports from Sydney. The airline’s decision was prompted not only by the relatively high cost of providing satellite-based Wi-Fi on transoceanic flights, but also by limited customer acceptance—fewer than 5 percent of passengers on the test flights chose to use the service. The airline noted that the timing of its flights might also have been a factor, since they operated mainly at night when most passengers were trying to sleep.
Lufthansa has set a July 1 launch for what it is calling the “new Germanwings.” The airline’s Germanwings subsidiary has been a low-cost operator that will go through a huge overhaul next summer when Lufthansa expands it by adding all Lufthansa mainline intra-European services except those flights that operate out of its Frankfurt and Munich hubs. Lufthansa said that the new Germanwings, which will have a fleet of 90 planes, “is set to revolutionize the European low-cost market” by introducing “a la carte flying.” The new Germanwings product will have three fare levels; the highest one, aimed at business travelers, will include “lots of amenities and extras,” while the lowest will be a “no-frills” price. Lufthansa said it is developing new mobile bookings systems for Germanwings, and that “all prices will be communicated fairly and without hidden costs.”
In an interview with Reuters in Canada, WestJet Airlines chief executive Gregg Saretsky said the company plans a major revamp of its online sales technology starting early next year in order to attract more business travelers. The revamp is in line with a product overhaul that will bring new Premium Economy seating to the airline’s 737 fleet by next spring. While WestJet currently offers only the lowest-priced tickets for Internet bookings, the new system will sell economy, mid-tier and premium tickets. The premium pricing will include flexible rebooking, no cancellation fee, priority boarding, in-flight meal service and a baggage allowance.