Archive for August, 2008

Fare watch – Week 11 and the fares continue to tumble

Friday, August 29th, 2008

Domestic airfares continue to fall according to this week’s fare watch data.

Qantas one week advance purchase index recorded a 23% slide on the previous week with an 11 week low of $162.43. In a surprise result, the one week advance purchase median fare is lower than the two week advance purchase median fare of $163.78.

Virgin Blue also recorded a 17% decrease in their one week advance purchase median fare to $154.70 however, Virgins two week fare increased 7% to $118.70.

The fare war between the two carriers seems to be well and truly alive as Qantas continues to exert pressure on Virgin Blue following their announcement of a drop in net profit earnings a fortnight ago.

Monash University Travel Office spokesman Simon Crunden said that there are some super cheap fares available in the market at this point in time.

“We have had a look at fares for departures next week and they are significantly lower than what they have been for a number of months”, he said.

Mr Crunden said that travellers who are able to plan their travel to secure low cost non flexible fares can save significant amounts of money.

“Using non flexible fares on outbound flights and flexible fares on inbound flights will save hundreds of dollars in most cases”.

Mr Crunden said that being flexible with departure times can also save on the cost of fares, citing an example where a traveller could save $82 by choosing a 06:45 flight to Sydney instead of a 07:00 flight.

Qantas unveils engine that will power new A380

Thursday, August 28th, 2008

IT generates significantly less carbon dioxide per passenger kilometre than an average family car, and is so big you could park a small car in it.

The first of the massive Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engines that will power Qantas’s fleet of A380s was handed over in Sydney this week, ahead of the aircraft’s arrival on September 21.

With a diameter just short of 10ft, it is the biggest Rolls aircraft engine ever built. Each one can develop a sea-level static thrust of 72,000lbs.

At take-off, the four engines on the A380 deliver a thrust equivalent to the power of more than 3500 cars.

Each of its high pressure turbine blades can produce more power than a Formula One racing car.

Its hollow, titanium fan blades suck in over 1.25 tonnes of air every second. The 116-inch fan operates at 3000rpm with blade tips travelling at 1.3 times the speed of sound.

The engine has undergone extensive testing, involving over 22,000 flying hours and 37,000 test cycles, the equivalent of an aircraft operating for 14 years.

Qantas says it picked the engine because of its operational efficiency and improved environmental performance in both noise and carbon emissions.

“The Trent 900 has the lowest overall emissions of any engine available for the A380 and generates 2.5 times less C02 per passenger kilometre,” Qantas executive general manager John Borghetti said at the handover.

“Test results have shown the A380 to be between 2.3 and 6.7 decibels quieter than a Boeing 747-400 during take-off and 2.1 to 3.7 decibels quieter than a B747 during the landing.”

Single skies wins support over Europe

Thursday, August 28th, 2008

EurActiv.com, 26 June 2008 – Countries would have to surrender sovereignty over their national airspace in favour of a European air-traffic management system by 2012, according to proposals presented in Brussels yesterday. While many are reluctant, concerns relating to parallel plans to include airlines in the EU’s emissions trading scheme could get the ball rolling.Lack of progress so far

Conceding that the Single European Sky regulation adopted four years ago had “not delivered the expected results in some important areas,” the Commission has put forward a second package of legislation to overcome the “numerous hurdles” encountered when trying to integrate European airspace.

The main additions to the previous package will be the introduction of binding performance targets for air navigation service providers and a target date of 2012 for member states to establish cross-border cooperation among themselves through “functional airspace blocks” (FABs).

Currently, aircraft are forced to zig-zag between 27 different airspaces – each serviced by a different air navigation service provider on the basis of different rules and requirements. This makes the average flight roughly 49km longer than it need be and pushes up the costs for airline operators to almost double those faced in the United States for example, where the airspace is one, pointed out the EU’s new transport commissioner, the Italian Antonio Tajani. A simplified sky with eight or nine airspaces, based on the mutual agreement of countries, would help save time, fuel, money and CO2, the Commission points out.

Under the current proposal, Eurocontrol (the European Organisation for the Safety of Air Navigation) would gradually take over the management of the EU’s air traffic management network from member states. It would also be charged with defining and evaluating performance targets for the single sky.

National resistance still an issue

The Commission had originally intended to be more forceful in its first raft of measures to create a Single European Sky. But it was forced to soften its plans due to member states’ reluctance to give up control over their airspace, open up areas restricted for military use or put national civil control centres out of business. Tajani acknowledged that this remains an issue and that the most difficult part will not be drafting the legislation but implementing it.

A business-friendly approach amid high oil prices

Nevertheless, the commissioner said resistance is softening. This is notably because the single sky option now seems a more business-friendly approach than the parallel one being pushed for by the Commission – to include airlines in the EU’s emissions trading scheme.

Indeed, while the SES is expected to cut costs for airlines by €2-3 billion annually, airlines are claiming that the ETS, combined with today’s soaring oil prices, could put many of them out of business.

Safer skies

The new package also aims to transfer increased competences to the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). While the agency currently deals only with the certification and safety of airlines, Brussels wants to hand over responsibilities for aerodromes, air traffic management and air navigation services to the agency so as to counter the rising safety risks related to the increased operational pressure as traffic rises.

Positions

“Look at the flight paths – it’s ridiculous,” said European Transport Commissioner Antonio Tajani , explaining: “The fact is the sky remains broken up into 27 different skies […] The consequence is that aircraft on average fly 49km more than is strictly necessary. Today we spend 10 to 15 minutes too long in our planes.”

While acknowledging that “some air forces in some member states have doubts about collaborating,” he stressed that “it’s a question of overcoming the idea that national sovereignty prevails over airspace”.

Association of European Airlines (AEA) Secretary General Ulrich Schulte-Strathaus said the “re-energising of the Single Sky process could not come at a more crucial time for the European airline industry”.

“Rocketing fuel prices are driving up airline costs at an alarming rate […] We cannot continue to be burdened with the huge costs of en-route inefficiency, needlessly burning fuel which is three times as expensive as it was two years ago,” he stressed.

Peter Hartman, chairman of the AEA and president KLM Royal Dutch Airlines agreed that a Single European Sky would “eventually benefit the passengers with more efficient flights, the environment with less emissions, and the airlines with reduced costs,” in contrast with the Emissions Trading Scheme model for aviation, which he claims the current “political discussion” is turning into “a punitive weapon to batter the European aviation industry”.

The AEA nevertheless cautioned that the real test for the SES would be in the implementation. “The reason we have a second package,” he said, “is because the first, which saw the light of day four years ago, has stalled through reluctance on the part of EU member states to pool their sovereign airspaces as a shared European resource – a kind of Schengen for the sky”.

The International Air Carrier Association (IACA) said the package was “long overdue”, saying “there should be no excuses from member states now for not implementing this package quickly as the benefits are clear to see”. The warm welcome contrasts strongly with a parallel statement issued the same day on the EU’s plans to include airlines in the ETS.

“We’ve already had 24 airline bankruptcies this year and we expect more. What more evidence do policymakers need to see that the aviation industry is in severe financial trouble? A punitive ETS scheme on top of this would be the final straw and add insult to injury,” said IACA President Christoph Mueller. “Let there be no doubt that any further financial pressure would bring about more bankruptcies and prevent airlines from investing in new technology and more efficient fleets.”

The European Airports’ Association, ACI Europe , also welcomed the package as “a first step towards the recognition that ATM and airport capacity issues need to be jointly addressed within the context of the looming airport capacity crunch”.

ACI Europe President Yiannis Paraschis commented: “It’s about time that the EU aligned ATM and airport capacity objectives. For years, the Single European Sky project has been developed in splendid isolation with a focus on doubling capacity in the sky, without meaningful consideration for what happens on the ground. If airport capacity is not addressed at EU level, the Single European Sky will fail and with it, European aviation. We need environmentally-robust capacity on the ground, to compliment what is being created in the air.”

But green NGOs such as Friends of the Earth and Transport and Environment (T&E) continued to push for a strong EU ETS to show “a clear signal of the EU’s ambition to tackle climate change,” saying they were highly disappointed with proposals to delay the scheme.

Air travel carbon offsetting to crude – critics

Wednesday, August 27th, 2008

Reuters, 21 August 2008 – Air travellers may be fooling themselves with a feel-good green glow from offsetting their carbon emissions, according to critics of the system.A lack of rigour in the calculation of greenhouse gas emissions from air travel is undermining carbon offsetting as an approach to fight climate change, one expert said.

Supporters say carbon offsetting allows travellers to fight climate change without altering their behaviour, by paying others to cut emissions of greenhouse gases on their behalf.

Travel company Expedia Inc on Thursday added its voice to those urging offsetting as a tool to fight climate change, allowing its customers to continue flying to exotic holiday destinations with an easier conscience.

But airlines calculate the carbon emissions from their flights differently, underlining uncertainty about the credibility of offset calculators.

The United Nation’s International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) in June launched a carbon calculator which aimed to standardise airlines’ efforts, but can still yield misleading results, according to a supplier of fuel data.

“Producing a single number is crude,” said Dimitri Simos, director at Lissys Limited, supplier of an aircraft performance model previously used by the UK government and the basis for the ICAO estimate of airline emissions.

“If you go from Heathrow to Athens, ICAO gives 217 kilogrammes (kg) of CO2. That hides huge variations – fly in a full (Boeing) B767 and it’s nearer to 160 kg per person, or fly in a half-empty (Airbus) A340 and it’s more like 360 kg.”

“It’s the variations that are missing and that are important.”

For the same trip to Athens, a carbon calculator on the British Airways website calculates CO2 emissions at 314 kg per person from London Heathrow, while Lufthansa calculates 260 kg of CO2 from London Stansted.

Carbon offsetting has also had to contend with critics who say that it only creates an illusion of fighting climate change, focusing on marginal efforts such as planting trees or building wind turbines rather than tackling the underlying problem, for example by flying less or burning less coal.

Expedia published on Thursday a survey showing that ignorance among the general public was adding to offset woes.

One in ten in the survey of 2,000 Britons thought offsetting meant walking to work instead of driving. Only one third of those surveyed actually understood the term while one percent of men thought that it meant putting out a barbecue properly.

Domestic fare watch – Week 10

Friday, August 22nd, 2008

As the price of oil cools, it seems airfares are doing the same as domestic airfares continue to tumble faster than world records have in the water cube at Beijing.

In our tenth week of tracking domestic fares between Melbourne and Sydney, both Qantas and Virgin Blue continue to push fares down in a bid to gain market supremacy.

Qantas one week advance purchase index dipped a further 5% this week to record a 10 week low of $199.39 while Virgin Blue increased by 4% to record a median fare of $179.39.

In the two week advance purchase index, Qantas recorded no movement in their median fare ($166.97) while Virgin Blue median fare decreased 7% to record a 10 week low of $110.09.

Over the past 10 weeks the big mover has been Qantas with their one week advance purchase fare decreasing from a week six high of $352.87 to a week 10 low of $199.39 a decrease of 43.5%.

Virgin Blue is the more consistent of the two airlines with their one week advance purchase airfares ranging from $193.14 (week 1) to $160.00 (week 7).

In the two week advance purchase index, Qantas has recorded no real shift in their median fares, with fares decreasing by less than one percent to $166.97.

Virgin Blue however have a recorded a 29% decrease in the two week advance purchase index with their median fares decreasing from $155.47 to $110.09.

Virgin Blue Gold membership promotion

Tuesday, August 19th, 2008

Monash University recently elected to participate in a Virgin Blue deal negotiated through the Victorian University Procurement Forum (VUPF).

As part of the new agreement, Virgin Blue has extended Monash University thirty complimentary Virgin Blue Gold Velocity memberships.

Gold Velocity membership provides the following benefits:

Free membership to The Lounge while you are a Velocity Gold member

Priority check-in at selected airports

Increased baggage allowance to 32kg

Personalised baggage tags

40% bonus points (compared to Red Members) and status credits on flights with Virgin Blue, Pacific Blue, Polynesian Blue and V Australia You and a number of other regular travellers from Monash University have been selected to access this one off promotion from Virgin Blue.

There have been more invitations sent out that what memberships are available, so it is a matter of first in best dressed.

The offer closes at Friday 22 August at 1700hrs so you will need to be quick. 

How to Qualify

To qualify for the membership you will need to click on the link below and quote your name, Velocity membership number, university email address and telephone number. If you do not have Velocity membership you will need to click on the second link below to join. Once you have you new membership details, click on the first link to apply for your gold membership. 

Apply for your complimentary Virgin Blue Gold Velocity Membership 

Join Virgin Blue Velocity 

Any Questions

If you have any questions please contact the Monash Travel Office on ext 20562 or email traveloffice@adm.monash.edu.au.

Qantas change economy class fare rules

Friday, August 15th, 2008

Effective 5 September, Qantas will implement rule changes to domestic and International economy class fares.

Domestic change fees on Qantas red-e-deal and super saver fares will increase from $38.50 to $44.00 and international change fees on red-e-deal and super saver fares will decrease from $100.00 to $50.00.

Change fees will now apply for all changes including date, time, airline, routing and upgrades to higher fare classes.

The new fees apply to changes made to red-e-deal and super saver tickets issued on/after 5 September 2008. Tickets issued prior to 5 September are subject to the rules applicable to the fare at the time of original ticket issue.

Domestic Fare Watch – Week 9

Friday, August 15th, 2008

This week we have seen a formidable decrease in the Qantas one week advance purchase index with the airlines average fare decreasing a whopping 26% to $209.03. This is mainly due to Qantas increasing the availability of lower cost restrictive fares during peak travel times between 7:00am and 9:00am.

Virgin Blue remains consistent as ever with their average fare dropping only 3% to $171.93 on last week’s one week advance purchase index.

In the two week advance purchase index, Qantas recorded a 10% decrease in their average fare to $166.97 on the back of the airline dropping fares for departures between 9:00am and 10:00am.

Virgin Blue also recorded a 9% decrease in the 2 week advance purchase index to $117.93.

Central Melbourne hotels providing great rates to Monash

Thursday, August 7th, 2008

Monash have been given access to some great rates at two CBD hotels, The Swanston Hotel Grand Mercure and the Mercure Hotel Welcome.

Both hotels are located on Swanston Street right in the heart of the CBD.

The Swanston Hotel Grand Mercure is a 4 1/2 star product offering good size rooms, excellent facilities, broadband internet access, secure key access, large screen TV and DVD player and access to the gym.

The Monash rate for the executive room is $180 per night and upgrades are available for longer stays (subject to availability).

Just around the corner from the Swanston Hotel on Little Bourke Street, is the Mercure Hotel Welcome, a 3 1/2 star property that provides reasonable size rooms for the budget conscious traveller. Monash rate for a standard room is $118 per night. 

Both hotels can be booked directly on 1300 650 315.

Rates are subject to availability and you need to quote Monash University when you contact either of the hotels to make a booking.

Further advice on passports

Wednesday, August 6th, 2008

Be aware that different countries have different passport validity requirements for permitting entry (e.g. three months beyond period of intended stay). Presentation of a passport with inadequate validity may result in your being refused entry. Before you travel, check the passport validity requirements of the country, or countries, you intend to visit by contacting the appropriate foreign embassy or consulate.

Your passport may still be valid, but if you have run out of pages, you will be required to obtain a new one. New pages cannot be added to a passport. Australian passport holders who intend to do a lot of travelling might consider getting a 64-page passport.

Be aware, also, that many countries do not accept unexpired visas that are in cancelled passports even if you have a new passport; you may have to get a new visa in the new passport. Contact the country concerned prior to travelling.If your passport has expired within the last twelve months, you can submit a renewal form, rather than a full new application form. This is quicker and easier and does not require you to provide as much documentation.

Useful links for further information on entering popular Monash overseas destinations:

South Africa

Malaysia

Singapore

USA

United Kingdom