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October 23, 2020



Today's Top Stories


[VIDEO] GX+ North America and Spirit's New Loyalty Program

In today’s APEX Weekly Wrap, hosts Maryann Simson and Seth Miller chat with special guest Philip Balaam, president of Inmarsat Aviation, about the company's tie-up with Hughes to create a new in-flight connectivity solution, GX+ North America. Staying on the topic of in-flight Wi-Fi, the pair also discuss Seamless Air Alliance's second set of guidelines for creating OpenIFC-compliant hardware. Elsewhere, they explore the benefits of Spirit Airlines' newly revamped Free Spirit loyalty program and mourn the closure of Cathay Dragon.




COVID Testing Launches at Vienna, Calgary

Austrian Airlines launched free, rapid antigen testing services for one of its flights departing Vienna Airport, hoping to smooth the travel flow to Berlin. The two-week program connects the airline and testing systems so that passengers who take the test have their boarding pass flagged as inactive until negative results are returned. A positive test result will be managed by the airport's medical authorities while the airline will change or refund the ticket free of charge. Calgary Airport is launching a similar program next month, with tests provided on arrival and seven days later. A negative test at the airport will relax quarantine restrictions until confirmed by the follow-up test.

Austrian Airlines | Related Calgary Airport to host pilot project that could shorten quarantine time for international travellers — Business Traveller



Qatar Airways Adds Trio of A350-1000s to Fleet

Qatar Airways continues to grow its fleet, with a rare triple delivery this week. The carrier added a trio of A350-1000 aircraft, increasing its position as the largest operator of the A350 type globally. Qatar Airways is hyping the fuel efficiency of the aircraft relative to the A380 as part of a marketing push, while also keeping the A380 fleet grounded pending a return of passenger demand. The aircraft features LED mood lighting, HEPA filters for cabin air quality and high-speed in-flight “Super Wi-Fi” service running on the Inmarsat GX Aviation network.

Qatar Airways | Related Lufthansa to Deploy 4 Airbus A350-900s to Frankfurt Hub — GTP



Stellar Launches New Boarding Music for Virgin Australia and VARA

Virgin Australia and Virgin Australia Regional Airlines (VARA) have chosen a piece from Stellar Entertainment’s in-house library of original compositions for their new boarding music. It draws on deep house and Balearic beats to create a fresh, vibrant and modern sound. “The piece was designed to be uplifting,” Stellar Entertainment's director of Licensing, Sam Allen, told APEX Media. “While it wasn’t intentionally created for the post-pandemic traveler …. a subtle approach to reassuring passengers is certainly through an airline’s sonic strategy.”

APEX Media | Related Stellar Entertainment’s Original Audio Productions Continue to Be a Hit, After 46 Years — APEX Media



Aena Plans Mapping App for Airports

Spanish airport operator Aena intends to launch a new mapping app to assist passengers throughout their journey, from planning through to the flight, but with special emphasis on time in the terminal. The tool will offer a search interface for goods and services available in the building and help guide passengers to the points of interest. The service will launch initially at Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas Airport and is being developed in partnership with Telefonica and CartoDB.

Passenger Terminal Today | Related ANA to Offer Seamless Travel Experience by Providing Mobility as a Service for Passengers — ANA



Sabre, Google Team for AI-Powered Personalization

Sabre plans a new Travel AI platform built on Google’s AI technology and machine-learning capabilities, hoping to deliver personalized shopping recommendations to customers next year. The effort aims to assist airlines, agencies, hoteliers and other travel partners to deliver the right offer at the right time across relevant channels, potentially driving higher conversion rates and building loyalty. Google’s tools will sense, analyze and predict customer behaviors using real-time shopping information and travel-specific business insights, with Sabre translating that data into its GDS platform to reach customers.

Phocuswire | Related Sabre and American Airlines renew global distribution agreement as the industry eyes recovery — Sabre



EgyptAir to Support Ghana’s New National Airline

Ghana will launch a national airline again, this time with the support of EgyptAir. The Cairo-based carrier is expected to contribute funding and senior leadership to the effort, with Ghana’s government holding a minority stake in the company. The bulk of ownership will be held by private investors. Ghana attempted a similar effort in 2018 with Ethiopian Airlines, but the deal fell apart during negotiations. The government signed provisional orders for three 787-9 and six Q400s in 2019.

ch-aviation | Related Ghana, Ethiopian Airlines To Establish Carrier in West Africa — AIN Online





In the December/January 2019 issue of APEX Experience, Paul Sillers remembers when smoking was allowed on airplanes.

This week, we're featuring throwbacks from past issues of #APEXExperienceMag. Read the latest issue here.

> Tweet of the Day

People watch the final Presidential Debate on a @Delta flight from Detroit to Washington D.C. #Election2020 #Debate2020 #PresidentialDebate2020 @washingtonpost @WashPostPhoto

Salwan Georges @salwangeorges


Association News

Join APEX and Commit to the Future of the Airline Industry

APEX members accelerate advancements to every aspect of the passenger experience. More than 300 international and regional airlines, aircraft manufacturers, motion picture studios, content providers, avionics systems manufacturers, airports and others form our community. Members also receive a discount when registering for FTE APEX Virtual Expo and APEX EXPO 2021 in Long Beach, California. Learn about the different categories of APEX membership and apply now.


> Quote of the Day

“Loyalty programmes should work for travellers whether they fly once a year, or once a week. You should be rewarded either way.”

Ted Christie, Spirit Airlines
Read the article


Until next week



The Airline Passenger Experience Association (APEX) encompasses a network of airlines, businesses and professionals that are committed to providing a world-class airline experience for passengers around the globe. Every day, APEX members are improving every aspect of the airline experience, from designing, building and installing seating, entertainment and communications systems on commercial aircraft, to airport lounges and in-flight dining. Visit apex.aero for more information. APEX is professionally managed by Kellen Company, the premier global association management firm with offices and representation in the United States, Europe, China, the Middle East, India and Southeast Asia.


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