In aviation news this week, Delta Air Lines announced a significant update to their SkyMiles loyalty programme which should offer greater mileage rewards to First and Business Class passengers, Ethiopian Airlines announced a daily service to London Heathrow and Qatar Airways moved a step closer to operating services on their new A350 fleet.
Delta Air Lines unveiled plans to update their current frequent flyer programme, opting to provide greater rewards for passengers who purchase the most expensive tickets. Starting with flights flown on or after 01 January 2015, the SkyMiles programme will move away from the system in which the number of miles earned is based on the distance travelled. Instead, the price of a ticket will determine the amount of miles that are awarded with passengers paying the higher fares, earning more. This change is likely to benefit business travellers who are more likely to pay a premium rate for their ticket as a consequence of booking closer to departure or the requirement for a more flexible ticket.
The updated scheme will reward passengers with between five and eleven miles for each US dollar that is spent, depending on the status held within the SkyMiles programme. Diamond Medallion members will be at the highest end of the scale, receiving eleven miles per dollar; Platinum Medallion members will be given nine; Gold Medallion, eight; Silver Medallion, seven and finally, the lower tier members will receive five.
Ethiopian Airlines, Africa’s most profitable airline announced this week that they will operate a daily service to London in the summer. From 08 July 2014, the airline will increase the number of scheduled weekly flights from six to seven. The Chief Executive for Ethiopian Airlines Tewolde GebreMariam explained that the airline was previously constrained by congestion at London Heathrow, which originally limited the number of flights they could operate.
With the introduction of a seventh weekly flight, the airline will be able to offer daily services to and from London connecting to 48 different destinations in Africa, plus more beyond, with numerous connecting flights available through the airline’s hub in Addis Ababa.
The daily flight to London will be operated by a Boeing 787 aircraft with a two class configuration which includes the airline’s Cloud Nine Business Class cabin. Cloud Nine offers 24 angle-flat seats, each with a pitch of 65 inches and a width of 20 inches.
Finally, Qatar Airways’ eagerly anticipated delivery of the Airbus A350 aircraft is now one step closer as the airline took their first A350, adorned with their unique livery, on a test flight above Toulouse – the home of Airbus.
The carrier has placed an extensive order for 80 of the A350 aircrafts so far. This is in addition to their Airbus A380 order with the first expected to be delivered at the end of the year, alongside the A350. The airline currently operates one of the newest fleets with over 129 aircraft including A319LRs, A320s, A330s, A330s, A340s and A321s to 136 destinations across the Middle East, North America, South America, Europe, Asia Pacific and Africa. Qatar Airways recently announced they will operate the first all-business class service between Doha and London Heathrow using an A319 with flights commencing in May.