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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.

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