A rendering of the interior of Big Imaginations 747 overhaul for Burning Man. Image via Big Imagination Foundation

Here are the most-read stories from this week’s APEX Daily Experience newsletters. To receive breaking passenger experience industry news in your inbox on a daily basis, subscribe here

B/E Aerospace Secures $260-Million First-Class Seating Contract


B/E Aerospace has entered into a definitive agreement with an undisclosed major international airline to linefit its upcoming Boeing 777 aircraft with high-end super first-class suites. The order is valued in excess of $260 million and also includes an option to equip additional wide-body jets worth approximately $190 million. The first deliveries are expected to begin in late 2017. The news follows an October 2015 announcement of the aerospace manufacturer’s selection for the contract. Many reporters have speculated that Singapore Airlines is the airline in question.

Rumor Has It: Cathay Pacific Will Adopt 10-Across Seating on Boeing 777s


Rumors have been swirling for a while over whether Cathay Pacific will add 10-across seating in its Boeing 777 economy-class cabins. Speculation gathered after an article published last October in the South China Morning Post revealed the airline has been surveying passengers on such a cabin layout. Business Traveller speculates that the move to 10-across seating could be the result of growing competition from regional and Gulf rivals.

 Finnair Chooses ViaSat to Deliver 12 Mbps-Per-Pax In-Flight Wi-Fi


Finnair has chosen ViaSat to equip high-speed in-flight Wi-Fi hardware on its short-haul European Airbus A320 fleet. Installations will begin in May 2017, with the process expected to be completed by June 2018. ViaSat says the system will offer the fastest connection currently available on the market of 12 Mbps or higher per passenger – fast enough to stream web video content during a flight. “We will be able to offer our customers the best possible Wi-Fi offering available on the market today,” says Piia Karhu, SVP, Customer Experience Development at Finnair. “This change will also create great opportunities for Finnair to further develop its in-flight portal.”

Malaysia Airlines CEO Outlines Ambitious Turnaround Plan


The new CEO of Malaysia Airlines Berhad, Peter Bellew, has outlined his recovery strategy for the beleaguered carrier. Building on predecessor Christoph Mueller’s $1.5-billion growth plan, Bellew says his job is the toughest in the industry, but he is confident he can achieve “the greatest turnaround in the history of aviation.” He revealed that the airline’s average load factor was just below the break-even point at 68 percent, but his target is increasing it to 80 percent in the next 18 months alongside a series of cost-cutting measures. “I think we’ve been a bit shy with promoting ourselves,” Bellew says. “We weren’t the most expensive and we weren’t the cheapest. So we’re going to take a much more aggressive line on our fares.”

Burning Man Experience: An Ephemeral Airport and a Boeing 747 Nightclub


As international arts festival Burning Man lights up the Nevada desert, it not only represents a unique culture, but also delivers its own passenger experience. The playa, where Burning Man takes place, is officially known as Black Rock City, and it (and its airport) only spring into structured existence during the festival, taking place this year from August 28 to September 5.  Festival attendees can enjoy an uplifting experience on a grounded Boeing 747, reborn as an art and music venue, as they go through an insecurity checkpoint and drop off their emotional baggage before boarding the aircraft.

American Airlines President Scott Kirby Leaves for United Airlines


American Airlines president Scott Kirby has left his post to take up the same position, effective immediately, at United Airlines. Reporting directly to United CEO Oscar Munoz, the newly created role assigns Kirby responsibility for United’s operations, marketing, sales, alliances, network planning and revenue management. American is replacing Kirby with its current COO, Robert Isom. In a statement to employees, Munoz described the recruitment of Kirby as the “culmination” of his efforts to create a new leadership team. “This move will allow me to sharpen my own focus as CEO on the core mission of driving United’s overall strategy, business innovation and financial performance,” he said.

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