This week brought us great loss, and more than a little controversy, but we also saw plenty to give us hope.

This weekly post is my ‘round tuit’. Included are stories which caught my eye and others which I couldn’t cover in-depth during the week, but thought Flight Chic readers would want to know about.

1. Sadly, this week included another aircraft accident. This time, in Pakistan.

The causes of the crash are still under investigation. My thoughts are with the families and friends of those who died.

2. We also suffered the loss of astronaut John Glenn, a man of great vision, determination and courage.

There are very few people like John Glenn in human history, and we should endeavour to foster more.

3. Sabre launches travel mega-trends report.

4. More talk about in-flight calls in the U.S.

5. Dan Csont becomes Delta’s new Vice President of Brand Management

“Dan has a strong track record of combining innovation, brand strategy, strategic marketing communications and analytics to positively address customer needs,” said Tim Mapes, Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer. “Dan’s leadership will bolster Delta’s continued efforts to expand the appeal of the Delta brand internationally and to earn greater preference for the Delta brand around the world.”

Csont will come to Delta from his role as Global Chief Marketing Officer for Network Solutions at TE Connectivity – a publicly traded $12 billion electronics company. While there, he led a global team across 10 countries to develop and execute comprehensive digital strategies, re-engineer go-to-market processes and drive brand affinity. Csont has also held executive marketing roles at AT&T and Equifax.

6. Schedule announced for United’s 777-300ER flights, featuring the Polaris experience.

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“Our 777-300ER fleet represents a new era in premium air travel,” said Julia Haywood, Executive Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer of United. “With United Polaris business class we are providing reimagined inflight dining, new amenities, the first United Polaris lounge at Chicago O’Hare International Airport and now this custom designed seat, all of which make for a tailored experience that prioritises comfort and sleep.”

United Airlines will add the Boeing 777-300ER to its 2017 flight schedules this weekend, with the all-new United Polaris business class seats starting regularly scheduled service in February 2017.

The aircraft will include the debut of United’s new wide-body cabin design.

United will offer one round trip six days each week between Newark Liberty International Airport and San Francisco International Airport between Feb. 16 and May 4.

777-300ER intercontinental service between San Francisco and Hong Kong is has a planned launch of March 25.

United expects to place into service all 14 aircraft in its 777-300ER order in 2017.

7. Emirates expected to introduce Premium Economy cabin

8. Norwegian Group Takes Delivery of First A320neo

l3ezzuyboyiayanofrwhNorwegian’s subsidiary Arctic Aviation Assets Ltd (AAA) has taken delivery of its first ever Airbus aircraft. This is the first of 70 A320neos that the Norwegian Group has on order. It is also the first of 12 A320neos that will be leased to Hong Kong carrier HK Express.

“This delivery is a milestone for us as it is the first of many Airbus aircraft to be delivered in the near future. It is a pleasure to work with HK Express and support their expanding network with the modern and fuel-efficient A320neo,” said AAA COO Tore Jenssen.

The new medium-range aircraft fits Norwegian’s global expansion plans and future long-haul network, both in terms of size, range and fuel efficiency. This aircraft will enable new route launches between the US East Coast and Europe, between Scandinavia and parts of Asia, as well as South America and Europe.

9. Delta announces new snacks!

Delta Air Lines snack line up

The airline will offer Snyder’s of Hanover® pretzels, Squirrel Brand Honey Roasted peanuts and NatureBox Apple Cinnamon Yogurt Bars, and keeps its signature Biscoff cookies in Main Cabin.

Gone are the Delta branded peanuts and pretzels.

“We know our customers love pretzels and nuts, but we also know they crave more choices and larger portions which is why we’re upgrading their snacking options on board,” said Allison Ausband, Delta’s Senior Vice President – In-Flight Service.

To celebrate the new snacks, Delta has set up branded vending machines in Los Angeles, Seattle and New York to offer complimentary samples to customers.

The new snacks complement other enhancements Delta has recently announced in the Main Cabin including upgraded blankets, featuring woven fabric in a sensory blue hue, complimentary beer, wine and spirits on long-haul international flights, sleep kits on long-haul international flights and more.

10. Healthy dining options in the skies.

11. Emirates debuts Christmas menu with all the fixin’s.

12. Got some recipes you want to share with China Southern?

13. ACI-Europe reports “dynamic growth” in passenger and freight traffic during October.

Passenger traffic across the European airport network in October increased +6.1%. This is the best monthly performance since March – reflective of a continued traffic dynamic in the EU and the return of growth in the non-EU bloc.

Olivier Jankovec, Director General ACI EUROPE said:

“October saw passenger traffic picking up further – with the negative impact of the terror attacks that took place earlier in the year and of the failed coup in Turkey gradually receding. Both the passenger and freight dynamics reflected a generally improved macro-economic environment, especially in the EU – as well as low oil prices. However, the prospect of oil price hikes and the risk of decreasing business & consumer confidence on the back on heightened geopolitical instability may well confront us with very different traffic dynamics in the coming months.”

Airports in the EU saw passenger traffic increase by an average of +7.1%, with impressive double digit growth in Southern & Eastern Europe – in particular in Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia and Spain.

Passenger traffic at Non-EU airports grew by + 2.7%, after nearly 6 consecutive months of traffic losses. This results from improved traffic performance for Russian airports, a traffic recovery gathering pace for airports in Turkey as well as sustained growth in other countries such as Ukraine and Georgia – as well as a big boost from Iceland where passenger traffic increased by nearly +50%.

14. Aeromexico Introduces Aerobot, the First Airline Chatbot in the Americas

Aeromexico announced the launch of Aerobot, a chatbot for Facebook Messenger which lets customers search for flight and other information. Aeromexico is the first airline in the Americas to offer a chatbot, which is available in Spanish and English.

Brian Gross, Vice President of E-Commerce at Aeroméxico, commented: “There are so many reasons for Aeromexico to launch a chatbot and offer conversational commerce which is taking off in North America and around the world. Mexican users are among the world’s most avid users of Facebook and are constantly becoming more familiar with chat- and Facebook-based services”.

“73% of Facebook users in Mexico visit the Facebook pages of their favourite businesses. Our customers are using these channels today, and we want to be among the first to offer them improved service via these channels and with artificial intelligence”, added Gross.

Travellers can use Aerobot to search for Aeromexico and partner flights, entering information (origin/destination and dates) to obtain flight schedules and pricing. To complete the transaction, users are linked to Aeromexico’s new mobile-friendly website. (Version in English for the U.S. market: http://m.me/AeromexicoNA)

The service also provides flight departure and arrival status by entering the flight number or route and date. It also answers frequently asked questions, such as baggage allowances, documents required to travel, etc.

15. Etihad Aviation Group (EAG) Board approves creation of a new European leisure airline group, in a joint venture with TUI AG.

Subject to approvals by aviation regulatory bodies and anti-trust authorities, the leisure carrier JV will have a fleet of around 60 aircraft, offering 15 million seats capacity per year, focused on point-to-point flying to connect key European tourist markets.

EAG’s subsidiary Etihad Investment Holding Company LLC (Etihad) to acquire the 49.8 percent share indirectly held by airberlin in its subsidiary airline NIKI Luftfahrt GmbH. At closing of the transaction, Etihad will immediately contribute the share in NIKI to the new European leisure airline group and will not effectively control, or become a majority owner of NIKI. TUI will contribute its subsidiary TUIfly GmbH to the joint venture, including the 14 aircraft currently operated by TUIfly for airberlin under a wet-lease agreement.

TUI AG will hold 24.8 percent of shares in the joint venture company, with Etihad holding a 25 percent stake. The remaining 50.2 percent will continue to be held by the existing private foundation NIKI Privatstiftung.

16. LATAM Airlines will launch its longest non-stop flight ever between Santiago and Melbourne, Australia

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LATAM Airlines Group (‘LATAM’) today announced it will operate a new, non-stop service between Santiago and Melbourne, Australia, from 5 October 2017.

The westbound Santiago-Melbourne leg – measuring more than 11,000 km in distance with a flight time of approximately 15 hours – will become the longest non-stop flight in LATAM´s history.

LATAM will operate three non-stop flights per week between Santiago and Melbourne, becoming the first airline group to offer a direct service between the two cities, as well as the only carrier to fly non-stop between Melbourne and Latin America.

After Sydney, Melbourne will be the second city in Australia served by the airline group.

“We are pleased to close this year with the announcement of such a significant new international service, which will also become the longest flight in LATAM’s history. This second route to Australia is a welcome addition to the new destinations we have added to our network this year that include São Paulo-Johannesburg, Lima-Washington D.C. and Santiago-Puerto Natales,” said Enrique Cueto, CEO, LATAM Airlines Group.

“Over recent years, we’ve seen increasing demand for flights between Latin America and this part of the world – both from business and leisure travellers – and we want to continue supporting the growth of bilateral tourism and commerce. With the Melbourne service, we are not only reinforcing LATAM’s commitment to Oceania and the Asia-Pacific, but also to offering unrivalled connectivity to, from and within Latin America,” Mr Cueto added.

17. Eurowings gets a new CEO

18. Caring for passengers with special needs at the airport.

19. Final approval for Alaska Airlines acquisition of Virgin America

20. Trump threatens to cancel Boeing’s Air Force One contract.

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I have no political stance, but here are my two pennies on this teacup-sized storm:

Safety and security, R&D and cutting-edge technology, are pricey luxuries. Then again, it’s hard to survive WWIII without them. That’s what Air Force One aircraft are designed to do.

The expense is considerable, and not to be understated. But all defence programs are expensive. With defence, as with the space program, those expenses help fund research which ultimately trickles down to benefit commercial applications in a variety of industries that make our lives better.

These programs also foster professions in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Maths (STEM). These are jobs of value which cannot easily be replaced through automation. They require advanced education, which helps sustain our universities around the world. In many different ways–in the U.S. and beyond–defence and space programs make the future possible. It’s not about the planes, it’s about the bonus.

21. Air Transat and Children’s Wish Foundation of Canada invite hundreds of children to meet Santa

The flights, which took off from Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver, were part of Air Transat’s 12th annual Flights in Search of Santa, a joint effort in partnership with Children’s Wish Foundation of Canada. And for the second year in a row, a flight from Paris carrying some 50 sick children and their families also took off in search of Santa.

“There is truly nothing better than seeing a child smile in wonderment, and we in turn are delighted to bring a little magic into the lives of hundreds of children across Canada and in France,” said Jean-Francois Lemay, President, Air Transat. “The Flights in Search of Santa is at the core of our partnership with The Children’s Wish Foundation and is the Air Transat family’s favourite event of the year.”

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