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Qantas to operate “Project Sunrise” research: Direct flights from London and New York to Sydney

Qantas has announced three ultra long-haul research flights to gather new data about inflight passenger and crew health and wellbeing.

The flights form part of planning for Project Sunrise – Qantas’ goal to operate regular, non-stop commercial flights from the east coast of Australia (Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne) to London and New York.

The three flights over three months will use new Boeing 787-9s and re-route their planned delivery flights. Instead of flying empty from Seattle to Australia, the aircraft will simulate two Project Sunrise routes – London and New York to Sydney.

Each flight will have a maximum of 40 people, including crew, in order to minimise weight and give the necessary fuel range. Carbon emissions from the flights will be fully offset.

People in the cabin – mostly Qantas employees – will be fitted with wearable technology devices and take part in specific experiences at varying stages of the approximately 19 hour flights. Scientists and medical experts from the Charles Perkins Centre will monitor sleep patterns, food and beverage consumption, lighting, physical movement and inflight entertainment to assess impact on health, wellbeing and body clock.

Monash University researchers will work with pilots  to record crew melatonin levels before, during and after the flights.  Pilots will wear an EEG (electroencephalogram) device that tracks brain wave patterns and monitors alertness.  The aim is to establish data to assist in building the optimum work and rest pattern for pilots operating long haul services.

Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said the flights will give medical experts the chance to do real-time research that will translate into health and wellbeing benefits.

Ultra-long haul flying presents a lot of common sense questions about the comfort and wellbeing of passengers and crew. These flights are going to provide invaluable data to help answer them.
Flying non-stop from the East Coast of Australia to London and New York is truly the final frontier in aviation, so we’re determined to do all the groundwork to get this right.

No airline has done this kind of dedicated research before and we’ll be using the results to help shape the cabin design, inflight service and crew roster patterns for Project Sunrise. We’ll also be looking at how we can use it to improve our existing long-haul flights.

Qantas has already conducted data on passenger sleep strategies on its direct Perth–London service, and some of these initial findings will be assessed further as part of these dedicated research flights. Customer feedback on food choices, separate stretching and wellbeing zones and entertainment options will also be tested.

Airbus and Boeing have both pitched aircraft (A350 and 777X) to Qantas that are capable of operating Project Sunrise flights with a viable commercial payload. A final decision on Project Sunrise – which depends on aircraft economics, regulatory approvals and industrial agreements – is expected by the end of December 2019.

Global Travel Management Sales Director Paul Baker commented:

This is an exciting innovation from Qantas, an airline we have been working with for many years.  We wish them all the best and look forward to being able to offer London-Sydney non-stop flights to GTM customers from the end of 2019.

GTM Two-for-One on British Airways premium cabins

British Airways has launched a sale offering a pair of Club World (business class) seats from just £2019 return.

There are a range of destinations available for £2019 return for two, including top US destinations such as New York, Miami, Las Vegas, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Washington and Dallas. Further afield the £2019 fare for two will take travellers to Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

Other destinations are available for marginally more including Beijing, Hong Kong and Bangkok for £2998, Mumbai, Chennai, Lagos and Abuja for £2999, Antigua for £2305, Barbados for £2332 return and Toronto for £2399.

And there are deals to be had in other cabins too with two First class seats to New York and Miami respectively available from £3019.

Travel is for selected dates between 13 August and 30 September 2019 and customers need to book by 19 August.

Please contact your GTM Travel Consultant to take advantage of this fantastic short term offer.

British Airways is the first UK airline to use biometric technology to board flights from the US

More than 250,000 British Airways customers have experienced a glimpse of the journey of the future by using their face as their identity to board a flight from the US in the last 18 months.

The introduction of new biometric facial recognition technology has transformed the airport experience for customers travelling from Orlando, Los Angeles and New York, JFK by streamlining the boarding process and halving the amount of time it takes to board an aircraft. 

The technology means that customers no longer need to present their passport or boarding pass at the departure gate – only when they check in and go through Security. Instead travellers simply look into a camera prior to boarding, wait for their biometric data to be verified and then walk onto the aircraft.

The commitment to this technology is part of the airline’s £6.5bn investment for customers. British Airways was the first UK airline to use biometric technology to board flights from the US, working in close partnership with the US Customs and Border Protection to implement the technology, which has enabled the airline to hugely speed up its boarding process.

At Orlando, British Airways is boarding almost 240 customers in 10 minutes – becoming the first carrier to set up permanent facial recognition gates at the airport.

British Airways was also the first UK airline to use the technology on UK domestic flights. More than 3,000,000 customers have boarded an aircraft this way – with all domestic departures from Heathrow Terminal 5 now boarded biometrically.

For international flights, self-service boarding gates have now been installed at the terminal, allowing customers to scan their own boarding cards to gain access to their flight. It’s the first step towards biometric boarding on international flights from the UK.

Raoul Cooper, British Airways’ Senior Digital Design Manager, said:

We are continuing to pioneer the use of technology and automation to enhance the airport experience and ensure that our customers’ flights depart on time.

The airport of the future will be built upon biometric technology, from check-in and baggage drops to security checks and boarding.

These days, automation is a part of everyday life, as is biometric technology via our mobile phones.

We’re working with our technology partners and the US government to explore how we can use this technology in new and innovative ways to give our customers the stress-free, easy airport experience they tell us they want, while ensuring security is always our top priority.

JetBlue to launch services from London to Boston and New York

JetBlue has announced it intends to launch multiple daily flights from New York and Boston to London in 2021.

The new routes, which will be served by Airbus A321LR single-aisle aircraft, will mark the first-ever transatlantic service offered by the award-winning airline.

Joanna Geraghty, president and chief operating officer of JetBlue, explained how the airline came to the decision to start services to London:

Twenty years ago, our founders had a simple formula for choosing a new market – it had to be overpriced, underserved, or both.

London is the largest metro area JetBlue doesn’t yet serve from both Boston and New York, and we could not be more thrilled to be changing that in the years ahead.

The fares being charged today by airlines on these routes, specifically on the premium end, are enough to make you blush.

Known in the U.S. for having the most legroom in economy, live television at every seat, free Wi-Fi internet, complimentary snacks and soft drinks, and great customer service, JetBlue’s entrance into the transatlantic market should introduce a new era of customer-focused, low-fare travel for both business and leisure travellers. The airline’s Mint premium experience, which disrupted transcontinental travel in the U.S. with accessible fares and a thoughtful reinvention of the business class cabin, promises to offer transatlantic customers a fresh choice.

Some of JetBlue’s 22,000 crewmembers

Growth into Europe seems to be the next natural step in JetBlue’s focus city expansion strategy. The new service will strengthen JetBlue’s relevance in its two largest focus cities while also answering calls from loyal business and leisure customers who have, until now, been forced to fly other carriers to and from London.

According to JetBlue, the airline is “developing a reimagined, transatlantic version of its premium Mint product” which will feature more lie-flat seats than currently offered on the airline’s existing A321 aircraft. Transatlantic Mint product features and design elements, combined with JetBlue’s specially trained Mint inflight crewmembers, will “create an intimate and exclusive travel experience”. And, like its transcontinental Mint business model, “JetBlue will offer the elevated flying experience for a fraction of what other airlines are charging today for premium seats”.

JetBlue’s domestic U.S, customers in JetBlue Mint are used to the longest lie-flat seat (6’ 8”) on domestic premium flights, featuring a massage function, adjustable cushions and the only private suite among U.S. airlines.

Joanna Geraghty commented further:

The success Mint has had on driving down the exorbitant airfares that our competitors were charging, stimulating new demand, and forcing the entrenched carriers to up their game, is a big reason we believe London is the next natural market for JetBlue to be successful and make a positive impact on consumers.

JetBlue will initially convert 13 aircraft in its existing Airbus A321 order book to the LR version with the ability to convert more. The A321LR will allow JetBlue to tap into new long-haul markets that were not previously accessible with its current single-aisle aircraft.


JetBlue is converting its orders of Airbus A321 to the longer-range A321LR.

Commenting on the new JetBlue relationship, Airbus Chief Commercial Officer, Christian Scherer said:

JetBlue has pioneered new travel possibilities for their customers for years,” said Christian Scherer, Airbus Chief Commercial Officer. “All of us at Airbus are honoured to provide the strategic aircraft platform to enable this next chapter in the story of our partners at JetBlue.

Today, JetBlue serves nearly two dozen countries. The airline has been flying internationally for nearly fifteen years with a significant portion of its operations in the Caribbean and Latin America with flights reaching as far south as Ecuador and Peru.

Paul Baker, Sales Director of Global Travel Management commented:

Jetblue’s entry to the transatantic market will be a boost for UK-based companies doing business in New York or Boston.  They will bring a fresh approach to the market and we look forward to making their offer available to our clients.

JetBlue will be a new name to many businesses in the UK, but, at GTM, we have years of experience with the airline: they’re one of the best-known airline brands in the United States. They make more than 1,000 flights a day, to more than 100 destinations, serving 42 million passengers annually. We book passengers on JetBlue flights very frequently and we have done for years. More competition on transatlantic routes will be of great benefit to our clients. 

GTM’s clients will benefit not just from the new service from London to Boston and New York, but also to JetBlue’s extensive onward network connections.

We will be able to pass on more information about these services – including prices and London airport details – when they become available.


2,265,792 hotel rooms in pipeline

Global hotel pipeline hits record highs

The hotel industry continues to boom, with a record high of more than 2.2m hotel rooms in the pipeline – a 6% increase over the last year. 

Lodging Econometrics, the global leader for hotel real estate intelligence has released its year-end Global Construction Pipeline Trend Report, which compiles the construction pipeline counts for countries and markets around the world. At the close of 2018, LE analysts state that the total global construction pipeline hit record highs with 13,573 projects/2,265,792 rooms, a 7% increase in projects year-over-year.

The global pipeline has ascended for eight consecutive years after reaching its cyclical low in 2010. All regional pipelines, with the exception of South America, continued their upward trend year-over-year. Four of the seven global regions reached all-time highs in 2018: Europe, Africa, Middle East and Asia Pacific.

There are a record high 6,352 projects/1,172,591 rooms currently under construction worldwide. Projects scheduled to start construction in the next 12 months are at 3,860 projects/572,483 rooms. Projects in the early planning stage stand at 3,361rooms/520,718 projects, also at an all-time high.  The United Kingdom the pipeline is 266 projects/38,590 rooms.

Around the world, the cities with the largest pipeline counts are New York City with 171 projects/29,457 rooms, Dubai with 168 projects/49,943 rooms, and Dallas with 163 projects/19,476 rooms. Los Angeles follows with 147 projects/23,404 rooms, and Guangzhou, China with 132 projects/28,694 rooms.

The leading franchise companies in the global construction pipeline by project count are

  • Marriott International with 2,544 projects/420,405 rooms
  • Hilton Worldwide with 2,252 projects/333,209 rooms
  • InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) with 1,716 projects/249,379
    rooms
  • AccorHotels with 966 projects/177,052 rooms.

These four companies account for 55% of all projects in the global pipeline.

Contact your Global Travel Management Account Manager next time you need to book a hotel room, anywhere in the world.

British Airways announces a move to Terminal 8 at JFK

British Airways has announced it is moving to a new location in Terminal 8 at John F. Kennedy airport, New York.  The airline is investing in a new, improved terminal alongside American Airlines as part of a significant reinvestment by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

Over the next four years, more than £250 million will be invested to recreate and customise the terminal, making it ready to offer British Airways’ customers an exciting, world-class experience every time they fly to New York.  Changes to the terminal will include new lounges, premium check-in areas and upgraded concessions.  The airline will remain in Terminal 7 until 2022.

British Airways CEO Alex Cruz said

We’re excited to announce our move to Terminal 8, alongside American Airlines, our Atlantic joint-business partner.  Offering the best customer experience at JFK now and in the future is a top priority. We look forward to working with the Port Authority and American Airlines to continue building a world-class transatlantic travel experience in our new home from 2022.

British Airways is investing £6.5 billion for customers over five years, including new aircraft, new cabins, new catering, new lounges, WiFi, and new routes.