Monday, 21 July 2014

Scoot begins flights to Don Mueang from 1 September 2014

Report by : Gan Yung Chyan
                / KUCINTA SETIA
Distributed to All Press & Travel Professionals



Passengers considering travel to Bangkok with Scoot  should take note that with effect from 1 September 2014, Scoot will fly from Changi Airport Terminal 2 to Don Mueang International Airport of Bangkok, the home base of Thai budget carrier Nok Air, using its Boeing B777-200 aircraft, under a commercial agreement with Nok Air.


Under the agreement, Scoot is selling Nok Air tickets on its web-site and offering connection flights to other cities and towns of Thailand from Singapore, such as Phitsanulok, Nan, Loei, Lampung, Phuket and Chiang Mai on Nok Air's route network via Don Mueang. On a reciprocal basis, Nok Air will sell Scoot's Singapore tickets on its web-site. These activities will form a feeder base for eventual air travel with NokScoot, the proposed joint-venture long-haul airline formed by Scoot and Nok Air and based in Don Mueang.

On 1 September, Scoot flight TZ302 departs from Singapore at 6.05 pm for Don Mueang, arriving in Don Mueang at 7.25 pm before taking off for Singapore at 8.45 pm, touching down in Changi Airport Terminal 2 at 11.55 pm.

The last Suvarnabhumi flight of Scoot operates on 31 August 2014.

With Scoot's change of airport to Don Mueang, the average price of a budget return air ticket on the Singapore-Suvarnabhumi-Singapore routes is expected to be more expensive than before as Suvarnabhumi provides the fastest traffic access to the city centre of Bangkok.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Inflight Review : Garuda Indonesia

Inflight Review by : Gan Yung Chyan
                            / KUCINTA SETIA
Distributed to All Press Media & Travel Professionals


Routes : Singapore - Cengkareng (Jakarta)-Singapore on 19 July 2014.








Airline : Garuda Indonesia in new livery.

Aircraft : The Boeing B737-800 aircraft has spacious legroom. Each seat including Economy Class seats has a pillow. Passengers travelling with Garuda Indonesia need not bring inflight pillows onboard.

Inflight Service : Service is excellent. The air hostesses and air stewards are cheerful and passionate about their work though busy throughout the one hour plus flight. They speak competently in Indonesian, Malay and English.

Safety Demonstrations : Adequate. 

Inflight Magazine : Colours is the official inflight magazine of Garuda Indonesia and is free for passengers and customers interested in Garuda flights. One can get it onboard or from sales and ticketing offices of Garuda. Information about Garuda Indonesia, its hubs Jakarta, Medan, Bali, Balikpapan and Makassar and other Indonesian destinations in Garuda's route network are comprehensive and helpful to travellers who wish to learn more about the airline's background and destinations. It is the best marketing tool of Garuda Indonesia and the best reference material on Indonesian tourism.

Postcard / Stationery : The cabin crew confirm several times that the Head Office of Garuda Indonesia has never issued aircraft postcards showing Garuda aircraft in their new livery to operations and inflight service departments. The aircraft have no postcards for five years. The Head Office staff cannot find the so-called "sets of 8 different Garuda new livery aircraft postcards". It is a mystery as the airline has never produced sets of new livery aircraft postcards while they are reported to be available in Europe. Onboard stationery are only free note papers and pens. Customs and immigration cards are issued onboard or during check-in in Singapore Changi Airport T3.

Sky Shop : There are duty-free items for sale onboard all flights.  

Onboard Meals and Refreshments : Onboard meals and refreshments are free and there is a large variety of meals to choose from during online booking or booking at sales and ticketing offices. I particularly like the kosher meals prepared by Strogel Kosher Catering in Antwerp, Belgium, for Garuda Indonesia. They are not oily and are nutritious.

Surcharge :  Passengers during online check-in have a pay a surcharge if they want to sit at the emergency rows.

Booking : Electronic tickets are issued at all web-sites of Garuda Indonesia. However I suggest not to book on the Singapore web-site of Garuda Indonesia. There have been problems in purchase completion. It is best to try on the Indonesian web-site of Garuda Indonesia at www.garuda-indonesia.com or pay the same online fares at sales and ticketing offices of Garuda Indonesia. Just inform the ticketing staff about online payment problems. Garuda staff will not charge passengers based on walk-in rates.  There is Manage Booking function. Passengers can choose seats after 11.35 am one day before departure. Garuda Indonesia accepts international bank-issued debit card payments. Discounted fares are not refundable. Any change to flight itineraries under discounted fares warrant a surcharge of 130 Singapore Dollars per way.

Ground service in Singapore : Excellent. Keep it up. ********
Ground service in Cengkareng including response of Garuda City Center to passengers' requests and enquiries : Lousy.  Staff cannot speak in English well . They ought to learn to speak in English proficiently. They do not know what a postcard is.**

Overall Impression : A full-service airline that meets the travel needs of families, budget travellers and business travellers in all markets but does not meet needs when it comes to sufficient airline memorabilia. Garuda Indonesia won the Skytrax award for the Best Economy Seat 2013 as passengers at all classes can select to view travel information, movies, trailers, provide feedback to the airline just by clicking the screen behind each seat. Excluding the legendary postcards, everyone will like Garuda Indonesia's inflight service to an extent.

Singapore Web-site : www.garudaindonesia.com.sg.

Airport Review : Changi Airport Terminal 3

Airport Review by : Gan Yung Chyan
                              / KUCINTA SETIA
Distributed to Everyone

Changi Airport Terminal 3 is the best Terminal for departures in Changi Airport. It has clear-marked signs indicating where to eat, shower and board. Skytrains link T3 to T1, T2 and boarding lounges. The pictures below show what a boarding lounge of this unique terminal looks like.







The boarding lounge concept of Changi Airport T3 is unique to Southeast Asia. Passengers can take snapshots of aircraft taxiing easily at any gate within the lounge.

Changi Airport T3 has yet to reach its full-utilization capacity. It is not as crowded as T2 and T1. The most crowded terminal at any time of the day is T2 where more budget airlines like Tigerair, Scoot, IndiGo, FireFly and Lucky Air operate flights to.

Sayacinta - Airport journalist went on the T3 maiden flight to Cengkareng (Soekarno-Hatta International Airport), Jakarta with Garuda Indonesia on 19 July 2014.

Saturday, 19 July 2014

XiamenAir declines to comment on its purchasing deal of a majority stake in Hebei Airlines

Report by : Gan Yung Chyan
                / KUCINTA SETIA
Distributed to All Press & Travel Professionals


XiamenAir, which celebrates its 30th Anniversary in July 2014, has signed a purchasing deal of a 99.23 per cent stake in Hebei Airlines, the northern Chinese airline founded by the aviation-inexperienced Jizhong Energy Group in Shijiazhuang, on 16 July 2014. It leaves the balance stake to Shenyang Zhongrui Company Limited the parent company of Northeast Airlines, the previous identity of Hebei Airlines.


However, as of 20 July today, XiamenAir declines to comment on how it actually intends to restructure the loss-suffering Hebei Airlines.

Aviation industry observers comment that XiamenAir aims to expand its market share in the northern Chinese market with assistance from Hebei Airlines since it does not have enough slots at the already-saturated Beijing Capital International Airport. Once the new Beijing airport goes into operation in a few years' time, Hebei Airlines will be one of the main airlines operating in the new airport. Currently, XiamenAir has a branch company in Beijing.

On the contrary, a Chinese journalist of Straits City Press reported yesterday that the majority shareholder in XiamenAir, China Southern Airlines Group Company Limited, has the majority say in the way Hebei Airlines will be managed.


A sales manager of China Southern commented that Hebei Airlines may go the LCC way, meaning that it may return to the low-cost model that its predecessor Northeast Airlines operated under but this time with the support of the full-service airlines XiamenAir and China Southern to counter competition from 9 Air, the proposed low-cost subsidiary of Juneyao Airlines based in Guangzhou, China United Airlines in Beijing-Nanyuan and Spring Airlines in Shijiazhuang.

China Southern holds the majority stake of 51 per cent in XiamenAir while Jizhong Energy Group has a 1.46 billion yuan stake (15 per cent) in XiamenAir. The remaining stake in XiamenAir belongs to Xiamen Jianfa Group.


If China Southern would not intervene in the restructuring process of Hebei Airlines, Hebei Airlines will be the second Chinese airline to be restructured as a subsidiary of Xiamen Airlines, after Fujian Airlines, since 1994.


Hebei Airlines started flight operations on 29 June 2010 with Northeast Airlines EMB145 aircraft initially on routes from Shijiazhuang to Qinhuangdao, Guilin, Shanghai, Chengdu and Hohhot. In October 2010, it leased 2 Boeing B737-700 aircraft and later 1 B737-800 aircraft from Xiamen Airlines. Flights are almost handled by Xiamen Airlines' cabin crew, operated by Xiamen Airlines' pilots, and these aircraft maintained by Xiamen Airlines' technicians and engineers.


To date, Hebei Airlines has many flights originating from Fuzhou and Xiamen among its more than 40 weekly flights in China operated with a fleet of 1 Airbus A320-200 aircraft, 2 ERJ-145 aircraft and the Boeing jets to cities such as Guiyang, Xi'An, Ningbo, Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Zhuhai and Dalian. It plans to begin international flights to Hong Kong, Macau , Taipei and as far as Tokyo and Seoul-Incheon from Shijiazhuang from 2015.

FireFly launches flights from Senai to Ipoh four times a week from 15 September 2014

Report by : Gan Yung Chyan
                / KUCINTA SETIA
Distributed to All Press & Travel Professionals


FireFly, Malaysia's community airline, is launching scheduled flights from Senai to Ipoh four times a week from 15 September 2014.

On 15 September, flight FY2252 departs from Senai for Ipoh at 10.20 am, arriving in Ipoh at 11.45 am before taking off from Ipoh at 12.05 pm, touching down in Senai at 1.30 pm under FY2253. The flights on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays are expected to meet southern Malaysians' demands for direct flights from Johor to Ipoh without connecting via Singapore as well as relieving the shortage of air tickets for direct flights to Ipoh from Singapore for Singaporeans and lowering the Singapore-Ipoh-Singapore air ticket prices.

FireFly operates twice daily flights between Singapore and Ipoh.

Besides the proposed Senai-Ipoh-Senai services, FireFly is also launching thrice-weekly flights from Penang to Krabi on 16 September 2014.

For further flight information and schedules, visit www.fireflyz.com.my.

Vietnam Airlines launched Danang's first flight to Tokyo on 16 July 2014

Report by : Gan Yung Chyan
                 / KUCINTA SETIA
Distributed to All Press & Travel Professionals


HO CHI MINH CITY, 18 July 2014- Vietnam Airlines launched Danang's first flight to Japan on 16 July 2014. On that day, Vietnam Airlines departed from Danang at 11.10 am for Tokyo-Narita, arriving in Tokyo-Narita at 6.30 pm before leaving Tokyo-Narita at 3.25 pm on 17 July for Danang, touching down in Danang at 6.45 pm.

Vietnam Airlines is operating the new route  four times a week, on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays using its own Airbus A321 aircraft.

On Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays, another Vietnam Airlines flight departs for Tokyo-Narita at 10.40 am, arriving in Tokyo-Narita at 6 pm.

Besides the Danang-Tokyo Narita-Danang services, Vietnam Airlines also launched daily flights from Hanoi to Tokyo-Haneda on 1 July 2014 using Airbus A321 aircraft. Flights depart for Tokyo-Haneda from Hanoi at 8 am, arriving in Hanoi at 3.05 pm, departing for Hanoi at 4.35 pm and touching down in Hanoi at 8 pm.

Vietnam Airlines also flies to Osaka, Fukuoka and Nagoya from Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. With the new routes, Vietnam Airlines' route network has expanded to 95 routes comprising 55 international flights to 29 international destinations and 40 domestic flights to 21 domestic destinations.

- Source : Vietnam Airlines. Edited by Gan Yung Chyan / KUCINTA SETIA

Sunday, 13 July 2014

VietJet Air tended to fly to the wrong airports

Hanoi - A VietJet Air flight with nearly 200 passengers onboard landed in a wrong airport some 140 kilometers away from their destination on Thursday (10 July 2014).

The hour-long flight was supposed to take the passengers from Hanoi to the Central Highlands resort town of Da Lat, but it somehow ended up in Cam Ranh Airport near the central beach town of Nha Trang.

It is not clear when VietJet Air realized it had made the mistake, but when the passengers arrived at Cam Ranh, the low-cost carrier arranged another flight to take them to the right destination.

Photo: Trung Hieu

It also sent another airplane to pick more than 200 passengers who had been waiting at Hanoi’s Noi Bai airport to board a Hanoi-Nha Trang flight.

Dinh Viet Son, director of the Northern Airports Authority, said on Friday that they have summoned related parties to investigate the causes of the “rarest” incident that has ever happened in Vietnam’s aviation history.

The Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam has also ordered VietJet Air to submit all its schedules and plans for the flight in question to detect mistakes, if any.
“It is a serious mistake. Responsible people will definitely be punished strictly,” he said.

A spokesman of VietJet Air today told the press that the flight’s pilot had had to change course because he deemed Da Lat’s wind conditions at the time not suitable for landing at Lien Khuong airport. He therefore had asked for permission to land at Cam Ranh to wait for the weather to get better, the spokesman said.

Last month 59 passengers of VietJet Air were almost sent to a flight bound for Hanoi from Nha Trang, instead of their destination Ho Chi Minh City.
The mistake was discovered when the passengers were in a jet bridge to board the wrong aircraft. 

Cam Ranh airport’s authority at the time blamed the incident on poor communication between ground service staff and the airline’s staff.

Last year, VietJet Air transported more than 100 passengers from Nha Trang to Hanoi without carrying their luggage. The passengers could not retrieve their belongings, which were left at Cam Ranh airport by mistake, until the next day. - Trung Hieu, Thanh Nieh News. Edited by Gan Yung Chyan / KUCINTA SETIA