The Skift Airline Innovation Report is our weekly newsletter on the business of airline innovation. We look closely at the technological, financial, and design trends at airlines and airports.
Brian Sumers writes and curates the newsletter, and we send it on Wednesdays. You can find previous issues of the newsletter here.
A skeptic might call Qantas’ partnership with the University of Sydney — the two entities work together to study the effects of jet lag on the body — a marketing ploy to increase ticket sales between Perth and London.
Qantas probably needs help. Ultra-long-haul trips are tricky — ask United Airlines, which is canceling Los Angeles to Singapore after just one year — because they burn so much fuel. And while the first nonstop between Australia and Europe is significant, demand between Perth and London probably is not robust. Many passengers likely are traveling to or from Sydney and Melbourne, and they have a slew of one-stop options through Dubai, Hong Kong, and Singapore.
For the route to work, Qantas must persuade passengers they’d rather fly 17 hours from Perth than break the journey into more manageable chunks. As part of that effort, Qantas is working with university researchers to determine how travelers can overcome jet lag.
The researchers have made suggestions on how Qantas can alter the Perth-London experience to make passengers feel better. The airline has changed some meal times to help travelers acclimate to their destination, while adding ingredients to food that should make it easier for passengers to sleep. Qantas is also changing cabin lighting based on the time of day at the destination. Eventually, researchers plan to put sensors on some passengers to gauge how they handle the flight.
Last week, I profiled Steve Simpson, the quirky academic leading the program. If you’re looking for jet lag remedies, you may enjoy the piece.
Stories of the Week
Qantas Hired This Professor to Help Flyers Beat Jet Lag: Steve Simpson helps Qantas create strategies to help flyers feel better when they land. There is, of course, one problem: Few passengers take his advice. They may tell him they want strategies for avoiding jet lag, but Simpson knows airplanes are uncomfortable for most travelers, and passengers often make themselves feel better by eating junk food and drinking booze. Still, he continues with his effort. “We’re all terribly weak, but knowledge is power,” he said.
Norwegian Air to Rent a Superjumbo as It Sorts Out Rolls-Royce Engine Issues: Norwegian Air got about a 24-hour honeymoon from this story, after it replaced the Wamos Air Boeing 747 it had been leasing for a New York-London flight with an Airbus A380, formerly operated by Singapore Airlines. Operationally, though, this has been a nightmare. The flight has been leaving New York at 3 a.m., roughly three hours late, for several days, apparently because its JFK terminal can’t handle the superjumbo at the regular time. “We are fully aware of the situation and working on improving it as soon as possible,” a Norwegian spokesman told me.
British Airways Owner Still Thinking Over Norwegian Deal: Norwegian remains a bit of a mess operationally, but passengers like it, and its competitors fear it. One of those competitors, International Airlines Group, or IAG, is still weighing whether it wants to buy Norwegian. For now, it owns a little less than 5 percent of the airline, but IAG CEO Willie Walsh said last week his company doesn’t intend to be a minority shareholder forever. It’ll buy the company or walk away, Skift Europe Editor Patrick Whyte reports.
Aimia Refuses to Sell Aeroplan Frequent Flyer Program Back to Air Canada: This might not be the last we hear of this deal, but for now, Aimia, which owns Air Canada’s frequent flyer program, has decided not to sell it back to the airline. Still, Aimia has said it might be willing to sell the program for more money, so it’s possible the sides will negotiate again. Related: Aimia Explores Partnership With Oneworld as It Weighs Selling Aeroplan to Air Canada
Every One of Thomas Cook’s 17 Brands, Explained: Did you know Thomas Cook operates at least 17 brands? Two are airlines — Thomas Cook Airlines and Condor — but what are the others? Whyte, who covers the company more deeply than just about any reporter, explains all in this detailed piece.
Why Travelport’s CEO Isn’t Worried About Brexit: In an interview with Skift’s Sean O’Neill, Travelport CEO Gordon Wilson struck an optimistic tone for his company. He also also said he’s not worried about the long-term fate of Britain’s relationship with the European Union.
Massport Spends $1 Million to Lure Korean Air to Logan Airport: Boston is a strong and lucrative market, so I am surprised the airport operator spent so much to persuade Korean Air to fly to Seoul. So far this year, Massport has awarded $12 million in incentives to airlines, according to the Boston Globe. Still, it’s probably not a bad investment. “Massport’s international business has boomed since it started this incentive program a decade ago,” the newspaper notes.
Skift Aviation Business Editor Brian Sumers [firstname.lastname@example.org] curates the Skift Airline Innovation Report. Skift emails the newsletter every Wednesday. Have a story idea? Or a juicy news tip? Want to share a memo? Send him an email or tweet him.