Korean Air will become the first airline to offer a flying duty free shop when its first of ten A380s enters service on 10-Jun-2011 (Business Traveller, 06-Apr-2011). The stall has been designed and manufactured for Korean Air by AIM Aviation and will replace 13 seats on the A380. The carrier expects to make up for the lost revenue in duty free sales. Lancome has purchased the first advertising spot inside the shop, which will promote "new, existing and exclusive products" from the airline's duty-free range. It will also be complemented by the continuation of the regular cart service. First class passengers will have the opportunity to browse the shop and make purchases before anyone else, followed by business class and other passengers. Korean Air's A380s will feature a 407-seat layout with 12 first class seats, 94 in Prestige business class and 301 in economy class.
Korean Air to become first carrier to offer flying duty free shop on A380s
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The A380 is once again under media scrutiny, despite there being no major movement on the type. Comments from Air France and Qantas about not taking further A380s have long been assumed, and it has been apparent that Malaysia Airlines does not even have the need for its A380s. Singapore Airlines not renewing the lease on its first A380 is hardly surprising, and offers no definitive conclusion about the A380 or second-hand market; early A380s had different production and are not as efficient as later models. The lack of movement on the A380neo continues to irk the model's largest customer by far, Emirates, and may not make for a productive relationship as Emirates weighs an A350 or 787 order.
For most, the A380 continues to fly. How and where it flies is changing. Flights to and from the Middle East are becoming more common as Gulf airlines, and mostly Emirates, take delivery of A380s. A further shift to the Middle East is inevitable. In Japan there has been a near exodus of A380s; airlines dropping the type as they moved from Narita to Haneda, which cannot accommodate the A380 during the day, and Singapore Airlines down-gauging. Intra-Asia flying is decreasing – notable given the growth of A380s based in the region. Services by the A380 to Australia are growing, perhaps as it becomes an easy market for airlines to redeploy capacity amid European security concerns and trans-Pacific overcapacity.
Hainan Airlines to Las Vegas: more international flights to follow as Southwest starts partnerships
Hainan Airlines' Beijing-Las Vegas 787 service commencing in Dec-2016 will end Korean Air's tenure as the only Asian airline in Las Vegas. Las Vegas is arguably the largest feasible unserved North American market for Hainan. Delivery of over 30 787-9s in coming years means that Hainan will need to establish new markets. The route tests the booking data that airlines and airports rely on: Las Vegas believes airlines have shied away from serving the city and that this is misguided – because Las Vegas' international visitors are not represented, since they often take multi-city itineraries and thus do not appear as a Las Vegas international passenger. Las Vegas wants to prise its international passengers away from transit hubs.
Hainan's presence will initially be about half of Korean Air's, which was upped days prior to Hainan's announcement. Yet this may be the best outcome for Korean. A Chinese service was inevitable, but Las Vegas had to wait for political sensitivities to cool since Las Vegas flights would not have been timely as China's anti-corruption and austerity campaigns unfolded. Hainan brings enough presence to deter more competition in the short term, yet its narrow focus on the outbound Beijing market leaves Korean Air with many opportunities around Asia. Further international growth for Las Vegas is likely after McCarran airport's largest operator, Southwest Airlines, is ready to partner with other airlines in 2018.