Qantas launches new mystery flight weekend adventures to Flight to who knows where

© Photo Qantas

Flight to nowhere? Check. Flight to somewhere? Check. Flight to who knows where? That’s next.

Qantas has today announced the latest in its series of highly popular concept flights to combat the border blues, with plans to operate three domestic mystery flights for travellers keen to enjoy unique travel experiences in Australia while international borders remain closed.

The national carrier last operated mystery flights in the 1990s when travellers would turn up at the airport and be allocated seats on a scheduled flight to any of the airline’s destinations where they spent a day at their leisure before flying home.

Qantas has evolved the concept and will offer three dedicated Boeing 737 mystery flight experiences that will include not just the flight, but an entire day of activities in a mystery destination – so all passengers need to do is book and turn up at the airport. All destinations are outside major capital cities.

Qantas Group Chief Customer Officer, Stephanie Tully, said the mystery flights were about giving Australians memorable travel experiences and promoting domestic tourism.

“Our customers tell us that where they can and can’t travel within Australia has been a bit of a mystery lately.

“The vaccine rollout is bringing a lot more certainty and domestic border restrictions should soon be a thing of the past. In the meantime, these flights turn that mystery into a positive by creating a unique experience for the many people keen to start travelling again.

“As well as helping bring more of our people back to work, these mystery flights are another way to support tourism operators in regional areas especially, who have been hit particularly hard by several waves of travel restrictions,” Ms Tully added.

Qantas’ Mystery Flight Experiences follow its Flight to Nowhere (when domestic border closures were at their peak) and Flight to Somewhere (when initial reopening began last year), which proved extremely popular.

The limited mystery flight experiences will depart from Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne to a destination within approximately two hours. As part of creating a unique on-board experience the flights will include some low-level scenic flybys of key landmarks en route (subject to weather conditions and air traffic control).

Experiences on the ground could include anything from a winemaking course in a premier Australian wine region to a gourmet lunch with musical entertainment on the shores of one of Australia’s tropical island wonders.

Customers will be provided with clues to ensure it is an appropriate outing for their areas of interest and to assist with whether to pack a snorkel or sneakers in their carry-on baggage.

Seats on the Qantas Mystery Flight Experiences go on sale on at midday Thursday 4 March for travel in March, April and May.

The all-inclusive fares, which include meals and alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverage plus activities on the ground, are $737 for Economy (with a Qantas Points earn of 2,400 points plus 40 Status Credits) and $1,579 for Business (5000 Qantas Points earn plus 80 Status Credits).

All three flights will operate with net zero emissions, with 100% of emissions carbon offset.


Mystery Flight Adventure from BRISBANE                 Saturday 27 March 2021

This is the perfect getaway if you love:

  • country hospitality
  • gourmet food and wine
  • the great outdoors


Mystery Flight Adventure from SYDNEY                     Sunday 18 April 2021

This is the perfect getaway if you love:

  • the tropics
  • salt water on your skin
  • long lunching on the beach


Mystery Flight Adventure from MELBOURNE             Saturday 1 May 2021

This is the perfect getaway if you love:

  • the great outdoors (including a little walking)
  • gourmet food and wine
  • regional farmers markets

Finnair to dismantle and recycle an A319 aircraft at Helsinki Airport

© Photo Finnair

Finnair intends to dismantle and recycle an Airbus A319 aircraft, which has reached the end of its economic lifecycle at 21 years. The dismantling will begin at Helsinki Airport, where Finnair’s mechanics will remove parts that can be used elsewhere in Finnair’s fleet. These include the engine, seats, landing gear and avionics components.

“This is the first time that a Finnair aircraft is dismantled and recycled in Finland. We made the decision to take the plane apart at our home hub to optimise sustainability and economics”, says Juha Ojala, Vice President of Finnair’s Technical Operations. “This project allows us to improve the cost efficiency of maintenance operations and employ our mechanics during the pandemic when their normal workload has decreased.”

Before this, Finnair’s aircraft have been recycled elsewhere in Europe when they’ve reached the end of their lifecycle. Most companies that do this type of work are located in dry zones, where the climate is favourable for long-term storage of aircraft. This is the first time that a commercial aircraft will be dismantled in Finland. It’s an unusual project for Finnair, as it’s different from the company’s normal maintenance work, especially when it comes to planning and project management.

Aircraft have a pre-determined maximum service goal, as the body of the aircraft can only handle a set number of pressurisations. After this, the aircraft needs to be taken out of use in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. The recyclability of the aircraft and its parts is considered already at the design phase. As much as 98% of a new aircraft can be reused and recycled. With older aircraft, like the A319, about 90% can be reused.

“Many parts of the plane that will be dismantled – like landing gear, engines, the auxiliary power unit and avionics – can be utilised in Finnair’s maintenance operations, which supports both sustainability as well as cost efficiency,” Juha Ojala explains. “The parts that will be reused will be carefully inspected and overhauled. Smaller elements, like seat covers or cabin curtains, can also be reused.”

Read more about this project on Blue Wings.


Qantas delays international return until end of October

© Photo Qantas

25th of February

Good morning.

Can I first acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land, the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation and pay my respects to elders, past, present and emerging.

Today, the Qantas Group has reported a significant half year loss – just over $1.0 billion at the Underlying level and almost $1.5 billion at the Statutory level. That’s for the six months to the end of December 2020.

These figures are stark, but they won’t come as a surprise.

Just consider the trading conditions we had to deal with in the half…

Border closures meant we lost virtually 100 per cent of our international flying and 70 per cent of our domestic flying.

Three-quarters of our revenue – around $7 billion – went with it.

The fact that we were able to limit a $7 billion drop in revenue to a bottom line loss of circa $1 billion says a lot about how the Qantas Group is managing this crisis.

That sounds like a strange metric for success – especially for an airline that was delivering near-record results before COVID.

But if you look around the world, airlines are confronting losses that are far bigger.

Let me go beyond the numbers to explain how our business is performing, and then give an update on

our recovery.


Domestically, both Qantas and Jetstar were cash positive in the half. In fact, 99 per cent of the time we were able to fly, we generated positive cashflow.

This tells you two things:

  • Firstly, that people are keen to travel when they have confidence on borders.
  • Secondly, we are managing our network and our costs closely, so we can seize on opportunities but not get caught out when things suddenly change.

Airlines usually have a summer schedule and a winter schedule.

During COVID, Qantas and Jetstar have had new schedules at least once a week.

We’ve developed systems to manage all the changes to state borders that would have been unthinkable
a year ago.

On the cost side, these new systems meant that only 1 per cent of our domestic flights didn’t at least break even on a cash basis.

On the revenue side, we’ve been able to add capacity and routes to take advantage of changing demand patterns.

This ability will benefit us well beyond COVID. And it comes on top of the product and service advantages that both Qantas and Jetstar have built over the years – which will continue to set us apart in this new market we’re entering.

Hopefully, domestic border closures will soon be a thing of the past.

With the vaccine now rolling out to frontline and quarantine workers, the odds of that are improving every day.

We’ve had very positive conversations this week with several Premiers and Chief Ministers about how to restore confidence in borders as quickly as the health advice allows.

For instance, is there a stage in the vaccine rollout where National Cabinet could declare that the need to resort to domestic border closures is virtually gone? Could we reach that point as soon as April?

We think an assurance like that is worth pursuing – because it would accelerate the recovery in key parts of the economy and give many businesses, not to mention friends and families, instant certainty.


Turning from Domestic to Group International and Freight.

We have the obvious challenge that virtually all international flying is off the cards for some time.

However, the cost of keeping international on the ground has largely been offset by what’s happening in freight.

The huge drop in international passenger flights has created a huge shortage in the cargo capacity that goes with them – meaning the value of freighter space has surged.

We’ve been able to make the most of this opportunity – and it’s driven Qantas Freight to a record result. Effectively, Freight has helped offset most of the costs in Qantas International and actually tipped the division into positive cash territory – but it was still loss-making overall.

Jetstar airlines in Asia had their own COVID impacts, which couldn’t be softened to the same extent as Qantas. Those businesses are doing what they can to minimise costs while they wait for the recovery.


Throughout the pandemic, we’ve updated our assumptions on international travel restarting.

Since the start of this year, we’ve seen:

  • a huge surge in COVID cases around the world
  • new strains emerging
  • and a shift from ‘herd immunity’ as the threshold for opening borders to ‘fully vaccinated’

As a result, we’re now planning for international travel to restart at the end of October this year, in-line with the date for Australia’s vaccine rollout to be effectively complete.

We’re still targeting July for a material increase in New Zealand flights.

We’re in close consultation with government, and if things change, so will our dates. But with the vaccine rollout already underway, we’re on the right track.


Another important source of positive cashflow in the half was Qantas Loyalty.

Australians’ love of Qantas Points stayed strong, and during lockdown they focused on earning them on the ground.

Our research shows that 94 per cent of our Frequent Flyers want to get back in the sky as soon as possible.

We’ve seen that translate into action when domestic borders have opened with flight redemptions – that is, people using points for seats – hitting record levels.

Our partners see this strength, and that’s why we’ve been able to sign fresh multi-year deals with the banks – including a major expansion with the Commonwealth Bank – that will continue to drive earnings.


We’ve done a lot to reward our customers for their ongoing loyalty.

We extended Frequent Flyer status for another 12 months.

We increased the number of seats you can book with points by 50 per cent domestically.

We’re offering unlimited changes to any domestic or international flight between now and February next year – to help people book with confidence.

We’re extending the life of credit vouchers even further – through to the end of 2023 – for domestic and international flights.

And we’ve introduced our Fly Well program to make sure we keep our customers, and our people, COVID-safe.


I want to acknowledge the Federal Government’s continued assistance of aviation and the broader economy.

Airlines have had the benefit of:

  • JobKeeper
  • reduced aviation charges
  • and the opportunity to keep flying key domestic, regional and freight routes that would otherwise be unviable. That’s provided work for our people and vital transport links for the nation.

JobKeeper is by far the biggest form of assistance, and there’s an important distinction about the payments we received.

Most companies were able to use their whole JobKeeper benefit as a wage subsidy. But with so many of our people literally grounded – with no work to do – JobKeeper acted as a social safety net for individuals, more than as a wage subsidy for Qantas.

And we are very grateful it did.

To be clear, JobKeeper did subsidise the wages of people who were working. But at some points, that was as low as 20 per cent of our employees.

All the restructuring we are doing – all the hard decisions – are about making sure Qantas can stand on its own two feet when this support is ultimately removed.


In saying that, can I recognise how difficult this crisis continues to be for our people.

At least 8,500 people will lose their job at the national carrier because of COVID.

Another 7,500 will be stood down until international travel recovers.

And thousands more are having their livelihoods disrupted by ad hoc state border closures.

The professionalism and resilience of our people in the face of all this has been remarkable.

The most obvious example are the hundreds of crew willing to fly into COVID hotspots overseas to bring Australians home.

But people right across the company are dealing with a very tough operating environment, with border restrictions literally changing mid-flight. Their efforts have been superb.

This spirit runs across our organisation. And it will be a huge part of our success moving forward.


A year ago, none of us knew just how big an impact COVID would have on the world, or on aviation.

It’s clearly worse than anyone expected.

Thankfully, Australia’s public health outcome has been one of the best.

But it has come at a huge cost.

That’s why we’re so focused on recovery.

At the same time as managing the daily realities of this pandemic, we’ve also redesigned our business. These changes mean the Qantas Group of 2021 will be able to repair itself much faster than a pre-COVID Qantas Group could.

That ultimately helps position us for opportunities.

Whether that’s new destinations, moving ahead with Project Sunrise or growing into opportunities in the domestic market.

For all the challenges and hardship, we are more and more optimistic about our future.

Thank you.


Air France

Air France unveils it’s new in-flight Safety video

Air France is today unveiling its new in-flight safety video, an elegant, lively and fast-moving showcase of French culture. Incorporating all the latest regulatory changes in force, this video symbolizes the essence of the Air France brand. An invitation to travel for everyone all over the world, where the airline declares its love of France and its lifestyle.

Two flight attendants explain the safety instructions to passengers from all walks of life, travelling together from one iconic landmark to another, places that highlight the best of France, to the tune of lively melodies, inspired by musicals.

In an instant, passengers are transported from the steps of the Opéra Garnier to the gardens of the Palace of Versailles, from the sunny French Riviera to the legendary Hotel Martinez. The stroll continues through the vineyards of Provence, past museums, a fashion show, a typical French café terrace and along the banks of the Seine and its famous booksellers. So many fascinating places just waiting to be discovered and admired.

The safety briefing ends at the top of the sparkling Eiffel Tower, where an Air France crew greets the airline’s customers.

In this poetic tribute to the art of French-style travel, Air France seeks to capture everyone’s attention in order to deliver its safety instructions in a joyful, elegant and colourful video. Six years after the last video was released, this film is adapted to all the various different aircraft and cabin layouts.

Catherine Villar, SVP Customer Experience Air France, said: “With this new video, we are showcasing the best France has to offer in an emotionally engaging way. All our teams here at Air France are ready to welcome our customers and highlight this French lifestyle, which is so dear to us, as soon as they board our flights. We can’t wait to reopen the skies, flight after flight, with safety as our absolute and constant priority.”

The company developed this film with the creative talent of its new communications agency Aura by Omnicom and in partnership with Atout France, France’s tourism development agency. The video was produced by French director and scriptwriter Romain Quirot. The music, created especially for the occasion, was written by Ludovic Bource, a French composer who has won a César and an Oscar.

Air France would like to thank Atout France, the Opéra national de Paris, the Société d’Exploitation de la Tour Eiffel, the Château de Versailles and the Hotel Martinez Cannes for their support and hospitality.


Safety above all, always: Emirates operates first flight serviced by fully vaccinated frontline teams across all customer touchpoints

© Photo Emirates

DUBAI, UAE 21 February 2021: Honouring its commitment to the health and safety of its employees and customers, Emirates today has become among the first airlines in the world to operate a flight with fully vaccinated frontline teams servicing customers at every touchpoint of the travel journey.

This morning, the full airport and onboard customer experience for flight EK215, which departed Dubai at 0830hrs for Los Angeles, was safely supported by check-in, security, Business and First Class lounge and boarding gate employees, as well as engineers, pilots and cabin crew who made the choice to be fully vaccinated.

Also supporting the flight’s operations were fully vaccinated aircraft appearance, loading and special handling teams from dnata, as well as SkyCargo teams working on the cargo and logistics requirements for EK215.

© Photo Emirates

The Emirates Group rolled out its vaccination drive at pace just over a month ago, and since then, close to 26,000, or 44%, of the Group’s UAE frontline aviation workforce have received both doses of either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Sinopharm vaccines.

Adel Al Redha, Chief Operating Officer, Emirates Airline said: “Our operational workforce are at the aviation frontline, helping people get to where they need to be, and moving essential goods to global communities. Protecting our people with vaccinations is important – for them, for our community, for the smooth running of our operations, and also for our customers as it introduces of an additional layer of protection when they travel with us. We’ve seen a very positive response with high demand and take-up of the Covid-19 vaccine from our colleagues at the operational frontline, and there’s continued momentum in the rate of vaccinations across the business. We would like to thank the UAE’s leadership for making three types of vaccines available in the country, and for their proactive commitment to championing an extensive National Vaccination Programme.”

Nearly 5,000 Cabin and Flight Deck Crew have opted to receive both doses of the Covid-19 vaccine. In addition, thousands more Emirates Group employees in other roles have taken their COVID-19 vaccine through the company’s clinics and vaccination centres, while others have opted to take their vaccine at one of the many vaccination centres across the UAE.

Al Redha added: “At the outset of the pandemic, Emirates implemented robust safety measures to protect and prioritise the safety of our customers and employees at all stages of the travel journey, and with the rapid progress of our own vaccination programme and high rates of take-up, more of our flights will soon be operating with fully vaccinated frontline employees. We are also confident that with more people being vaccinated, combined with strong safety measures in place, we can all look forward to the easing of border entry guidelines for many countries.”

The Emirates Group vaccination programme is the latest in its series of safeguards and protections to deliver on its health and safety promises to its customers, employees and the communities it serves around the world. The Group’s vaccination centres have been running 12 hours a day, every day of the week to prioritise and provide aviation frontliners with the vaccine.

The UAE currently has one of the world’s highest rate of vaccinations for its citizens and residents as it fights to curb the spread of Covid-19. So far, the UAE has administered over 5.4 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine, and Our World In Data, a research website based at Oxford University, recently reported that the country’s distribution rate stands at 55.27 doses per 100 people, ranking it the second highest in the world.

© Photo Emirates

Etihad Airways is the first airline in the world with 100% of crew on board vaccinated

© Photo Ethiad

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates – Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, has become the first airline in the world with all its operating pilots and cabin crew vaccinated to help curb the spread of COVID-19 and give passengers who travel with the airline peace of mind.

In January 2021, Etihad was awarded Diamond status for ensuring the highest standards of cleanliness and sanitisation in the inaugural ‘APEX Health Safety, powered by SimpliFlying’ audit. The airline’s vaccination initiative has consolidated Etihad’s position as an industry leader in its response to the pandemic and in keeping its employees and travellers safe.

Tony Douglas, Group Chief Executive Officer, Etihad Aviation Group, said: “We proactively made the vaccine available to all our employees to not only help combat the effects of COVID-19 but to make travellers feel confident and reassured the next time they fly with us. We are the only airline in the world to make COVID-19 testing mandatory for every passenger and crew member before every flight and now, we’re the first airline in the world with 100% vaccinated crew on board.

“I chose very early on to be vaccinated to demonstrate my own support of the national vaccination programme and to encourage everyone at Etihad who was eligible for the vaccine, to receive it as soon as possible. I would like to thank the entire Etihad family for everything they have done to help us reach this milestone – I am truly humbled.”


This achievement was made possible through Etihad’s ‘Protected Together’ employee vaccination initiative which was formally launched in January this year. Building on the UAE’s Choose to Vaccinate campaign, Protected Together is about helping staff take proactive, personal steps towards protecting themselves against COVID-19.

In 2020, Etihad took significant steps towards supporting employees to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. In collaboration with the health authorities, the airline facilitated access for its frontline staff to the UAE’s Emergency Use Programme. Etihad was one of the first employers in the capital to secure places for their frontline staff – including pilots and cabin crew – in Abu Dhabi’s vaccination programme. Etihad also ensured the Etihad Airways Medical Centre became an accredited COVID-19 vaccination clinic.

Dr. Nadia Bastaki, Vice President Medical Services and CSR, Etihad Aviation Group, said: “Following the national vaccination programme, we worked tirelessly to become an approved COVID-19 vaccination clinic to support our staff, and their dependants, be able to easily access the vaccine. Since December 2020, we have been offering in-house vaccination appointments to our employees and their loved ones to ensure we are focused on our employee’s wellbeing.”

To help further grow employee confidence, the Protected Together initiative includes virtual talks to connect staff with leading medical professionals, mobile clinics so employees can receive the vaccine at work, and staff are provided access to simple and clear vaccine information.

Following the UAE Government’s target to vaccinate half of the UAE population by the end of March 2021, Etihad is ahead of schedule with over 75% of its entire workforce already having received at least one dose of the vaccine. With even more activity still planned as part of the Protected Together initiative, this figure will continue to grow as more employees step forward and choose to vaccinate.

In an effort to protect residents and citizens of the United Arab Emirates, Etihad thanks the relevant authorities for their support in making the vaccine accessible to achieve nationwide immunity. Currently, the UAE has the second highest vaccination rate in the world.