|Left to right: Martin Jetter, senior vice president, IBM Global Technology Services; Hareb Al Muhairy, Etihad Airways’ senior vice president corporate and international affairs; and Robert Webb, Etihad Airways’ chief information and technology officer; celebrate the signing of the technology services agreement.|
Etihad, United and Singapore Airlines top this week's air travel news.
Etihad Airways has announced a 10-year technology services agreement with IBM. Etihad said the agreement would provide the airline with access to cloud-based technologies and services that it would use to enhance its guest experience, develop better infrastructure and security and improve efficiency.
The agreement includes plans for the creation of a new cloud data center in Abu Dhabi, to be developed and operated by IBM. Through IBM’s mobile solutions, developed under the Apple-IBM alliance, the airline will provide enhanced mobile capabilities to its employees and guests. Other solutions will enable airport operations to run more efficiently, which will improve the guest experience as a result of an enhanced end-to-end process. The agreement will also give Etihad Airways and its equity partners access to IBM’s Watson cognitive technology. IBM and Etihad Airways will also create a joint technology and innovation council in Abu Dhabi to develop more personalised travel solutions using IBM’s global research capabilities and the airline’s industry expertise.
In flight news, Singapore Airlines has announced plans to bring back a big long-haul route. By signing an agreement to become the launch customer for a new ultra-long-range variant of the Airbus A350 aircraft, the airline will be able to resume nonstop flights between Singapore and the U.S.
Deliveries of the A350-900ULR aircraft are scheduled to take place in 2018, enabling the re-launch of the world’s longest nonstop flights, between Singapore and both Los Angeles and New York. The aircraft will be fitted with all-new cabin products, which are currently under development. Nonstop flights between Singapore and additional points in the U.S. are also under consideration.
Singapore Airlines operated non-stop flights between Singapore and both Los Angeles and New York until 2013, when the A340-500s that were used for the services were retired.
United Airlines just announced some big nonstop flight news of its own. The airline intends to being nonstop service between San Francisco International Airport and Xi'an, China, on Boeing 787 Dreamliners.
The flights will depart San Francisco International Airport at 1:35 p.m. on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays and arrive in Xi'an at 5:30 p.m. the following days (all times local). The return flights will depart Xi'an's Xianyang International Airport at 9:30 a.m. on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays and arrive at San Francisco International Airport at 6:35 a.m. the same days. Flight times will be approximately 12 hours, 55 minutes westbound and 12 hours, 5 minutes eastbound.
Also from San Francisco, United will add three nonstop roundtrip flights a week to Tel Aviv. The San Francisco flights will commence on April 1, 2016, and will also operate on Dreamliners. The new route will bring the airline's weekly total of flights connecting the U.S. and Israel to 20, as the airline already operates two daily nonstop roundtrip flights from New York to Tel Aviv.
On the opposite coast of the U.S., United has announced it will add new nonstop transatlantic summer service between:
- New York/Newark and Athens, Greece, from May 25 through October 5, 2016
- Washington/Dulles and Barcelona, Spain, from May 25 through September 6, 2016
- Washington/Dulles and Lisbon, Portugal, May 25 through September 6, 2016
United will operate the Newark - Athens flights on Boeing 767-300 aircraft, the Washington - Barcelona flights on Boeing 767-400 aircraft, and the Washington - Lisbon flights on Boeing 757-200 aircraft. The schedule is as follows:
|UA124||EWR||ATH||5:40 p.m. daily||10:30 a.m. the next day|
|UA125||ATH||EWR||12:30 p.m. daily||4:30 p.m. the same day|
|UA140||IAD||BCN||6:10 p.m. daily||8:20 a.m. the next day|
|UA141||BCN||IAD||11:30 a.m. daily||2:45 p.m. the same day|
|UA167||IAD||LIS||5:55 p.m. daily||6:20 p.m. the next day|
|UA168||LIS||IAD||10:50 a.m. daily||2:10 p.m. the same day|
Finally, Finnair has announced that it is expanding its Asian network with new routes for summer 2016.
The airline will open two new Asian destinations: Fukuoka, Japan, and Guangzhou, China. Finnair will offer three weekly services to Fukuoka on a direct route as part of a joint business between Finnair, British Airways and Japan Airlines. To Guangzhou, Finnair will offer a direct route from its Helsinki hub with four weekly frequencies between May 6 and October 29, 2016.
Both destinations will be served with Finnair's Airbus A330 aircraft.