Virgin Australia announced (19-Apr-2017) the introduction of a new in-flight entertainment (IFE) user interface for passengers who are blind or have low vision. Developed by globally recognised IFE innovator CoKinetic Systems, the interface is available on Virgin Australia’s entire fleet of Boeing 777-300 aircraft which feature a seatback entertainment system and will be rolled out on the A330 fleet in the first half of 2017. Virgin Australia is the first carrier in Asia Pacific and the second in the world to introduce this type of interface. Virgin Australia GM in flight experience Tash Tobias stated the new technology allows vision impaired guests to access important flight information such as the time and distance to their destination. [more - original PR]
News for South Pacific
Adelaide Airport to trial new body scanner
Adelaide Airport launched (19-Apr-2017) a one month trial of Rohde & Schwarz Quick Personnel Security Scanner on 19-Apr-2017. The technology completes a full body scan in a matter of seconds: "The open plan design means passengers simply stand in front of the scanner with their arms held slightly away from the body" stated airport MD Mark Young, creating "a more pleasant experience" for passengers with medical implants. Mr Young added: "Objects are recognised by an evaluation of the reflected (backscattered) microwave signal" and projected on "a generic graphic of the human body…preserving the privacy of passengers". [more - original PR]
Queensland Environment Minister probes for explanation on chemical spill at Brisbane Airport
Queensland Minister for Environment Steven Miles probed for more explanation in regards to the chemical spill from firefighting foam at Brisbane Airport (SBS, 18-Apr-2017). On 10-Apr-2017, 22,000 litres of firefighting foam spilled from a Qantas hangar with about one quarter leaking into the environment and water system. The foam has been banned in Queensland following the discovery of environmentally harmful chemical contents. Qantas stated: "The foam we use in Brisbane meets our current requirements under federal safety regulations, we have been working through a process to replace it with a type that meets the Queensland government's updated requirements".
Flight attendants and pilots among the professions impacted by changes to 457 visa policy
Australia's carriers responded to the removal of flight attendants and pilots from the list of professions under changes to the 457 visa policy (News.com.au, 18-Apr-2017). Qantas spokesman Stephen Moynihan stated the carrier has only a handful of staff working on 457 visas out of 30,000 and it would have little affect on their business. Virgin Australia also advised it would not be affected by the changes, while Tigerair was still considering the impact the announcement would have.
Australian government announces changes to 457 visa system
Australia's Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, via his personal Facebook page, announced (18-Apr-2017) the removal the 457 visa programme for skilled migrants. Mr Turnbull stated the government would replace the programme with a new restricted version which will ensure "foreign workers are brought into Australia in order to fill critical skill gaps and not brought in simply because an employer finds it easier to recruit a foreign worker than go to the trouble of hiring an Australian". As at 30-Sep-2016 there were 95,757 workers in Australia on primary 457 visas.
Vanuatu launches new marketing campaign aimed at Sydney and Brisbane
Vanuatu Tourism Office launched a AUD255,000 (USD192,684) "Wake Up In Vanuatu" consumer marketing campaign in New South Wales and Queensland, in an attempt to reach travellers in Sydney and Brisbane who have access to nonstop services to Vanuatu (Travel Monitor, 19-Apr-2017). The campaign is expected to run until the end of May-2017.
Alliance Aviation’s OZ Minerals contract to end in Aug-2017
Alliance Aviation Services advised that the contract it currently holds with OZ Minerals will end on 11-Aug-2017 (Australian Aviation, 18-Apr-2017). The contract includes operating services to the organisation’s copper and gold mines at Prominent Hill in South Australia. Alliance Aviation stated that the end of the contract would have no impact on its 2016/17 full year financial results.
Australian Federal Government sides with Qantas on cabotage
Australia's Federal Government indicated that will not change the country’s existing restrictions on cabotage in the domestic airline market (Aviation Week, 18-Apr-2017). As previously reported by CAPA, Qantas advised a parliamentary committee to refrain from allowing international carriers to operate on domestic routes in Australia, citing substantial economic, employment and operational risk. A submission from the Infrastructure and Regional Development Department stated "despite previous proposals to relax cabotage rules in some instances, there would be no benefit in doing so".
Tourism NZ aims at agents to boost tourism from the Philippines
Tourism New Zealand announced (18-Apr-2017) plans to target travel agents in the Philippines to boost tourism to New Zealand. Tourism New Zealand regional manager, South and South East Asia Steven Dixon stated: "We have delivered training to over 350 travel agents in the Philippines over the past year, it’s an important way of bringing the local industry up to speed on how to sell New Zealand holidays". 21,152 people from the Philippines visited New Zealand in the year ending Feb-2017, a 44.8% increase on the previous year. [more - original PR]
Council announces commitment to improve Gladstone Airport access road
Gladstone Council is committed to improve Gladstone Airport's access roads by 2031 (The Observer, 17-Apr-2017). The council has yet to draw out a project timeline or estimated cost, but plans to link Penda Ave/Dawson Hwy roundabout by extending Shaw St to Olsen Ave.