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Indonesian aircraft delayed after passengers refuse to board flight over stinky planeload

JAKARTA (AFP): A cargo of pungent durian fruit led an Indonesian plane to be delayed for an hour after passengers turned their noses up at the funky freight and refused to fly.

Durian is highly popular in Southeast Asia but very divisive. While some consider it the “king of fruits”, likening its creamy texture and intense aroma to blue cheese, detractors consider its odour to be closer to sewage, stale vomit or damp socks.

Passengers booked on a Sriwijaya Air flight from Bengkulu province in Sumatra to Jakarta on Monday complained to staff after smelling the fruit and refused to get on the plane — repulsed by the pungent payload and concerned about the extra weight on board.

The airline admitted it was carrying more than two tonnes of the whiffy wares but insisted they posed no danger to the flight, adding the smell would dissipate once the aircraft took off.

“Durian is not classified as a hazardous material to be transported on a plane,” Sriwijaya Air official Abdul Rahim told national television station Kompas TV late Tuesday. He blamed unusually hot weather for the stench.

“We made the necessary precautions, such as putting in pandan leaves and coffee powder to absorb the durian smell,” Rahim said. Staff decided to unload the fruit after passengers who had boarded the flight decided to get off the plane, which took off an hour later and landed safely in Jakarta. Bengkulu airport staff said they would review procedures regarding transport of durian to avoid passenger discomfort in the future.



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Turkey hosts over 180M air passengers in Jan-Oct

Monitoring Desk

ANKARA: The number of passengers passing through Turkish airports reached 182.7 million in the January-October period, the country’s airport authority said on Wednesday.

Passenger traffic rose 10.8 percent in the first 10 months of 2018, up from 164.8 million in the same period of 2017, according to the General Directorate of State Airports Authority (DHMI).

During the Jan.-Oct. period Turkish airports served 1.73 million planes — including overflights. The total amount of air cargo in the same period was 3.26 million tons, DHMI said.

In October, the number of passengers was 18.7 million while the number of planes using Turkish airports was nearly 180,000.

In the same month, the number of international passengers was 9.5 million and domestic passengers 9.2 million. Istanbul’s Ataturk and Sabiha Gokcen airports contributed considerably to October figures with nearly 6 million and 2.9 million passengers, respectively.

The country’s air traffic rose 8.4 percent, while Europe’s air traffic increment was 3.6 percent from April 1 to Sep. 30, Turkey’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation announced on Tuesday. (AA)



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Passenger cheats new hand luggage policy of Ryanair

LONDON: A Ryanair passenger got around the airline’s new hand luggage policy in ingenious, if unfashionable, style.

Lee Cimino, 30, booked flights to Belfast for a weekend away, only to discover the budget airline’s new baggage policy came into force two days beforehand.

From 1 November, Ryanair reduced its free hand luggage amount from two bags to one.

Unwilling to pay £6 extra to take a second bag into the cabin or £8 to check a 10kg bag into the hold each way, Cimino took matters into his own hands by converting an old coat into a wearable suitcase.

“I love Ryanair, they’ve flown me all over,” he said in a video he made of the experience. “It’s always on time, it runs like clockwork.

“But these latest changes, they’re too much.”

The property landlord from Staffordshire said Ryanair had gone “too far” and that he was “properly annoyed”.

In preparation for his birthday Belfast trip, Cimino took an old beige coat to his local tailor, Sew Wot? in Tunstall, Stoke-on-Trent, and asked them to customise it with pockets and compartments.

The idea was to fit the entire contents of a roll-on cabin bag into the lining of the coat. Toiletry bags were sewn in, as well as several pairs of pants to provide extra storage; the conversion cost around £25-30, Cimino told The Independent.

The video shows him cramming clothes and even a pair of shoes into the coat lining.

“This is never going to work, it sticks out like a mile,” he said, trying on the bulky item.

However, he decided to try his luck anyway at Manchester airport for his 8.30am flight on Saturday 3 November, making it through the airport fairly seamlessly.

“Security wasn’t an issue, I just put it in the tray,” he told The Independent.

“The worry and the nerves were something else, but I got to the gate and boarded the plane with zero issues.”

Cimino said that, having done it successfully once, he’d definitely try it again. “There’d be no hesitation in doing it in future or recommending other people give it a go. It’s not so much the cost even, but you don’t have to wait for your bag to be offloaded at the other end. It saves time and money.”

A Ryanair spokesperson said: “Thanks to our larger free small bag allowance (40 per cent bigger) and cheaper checked-in bag option (£8 for a 10kg bag), Ryanair customers can bring all they need without having to board the aircraft looking like the Michelin Man or Joey from Friends.” (The Independent)

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Tokyo travelers can now use Bitcoin to rent a limousine

Monitoring Desk

TOKYO: Tokyo has taken another step towards cryptocurrency “mass adoption,” and will be giving high-rollers another place to spend their hodlings.

The Hinomaru Limousine company claims it will be giving passengers the opportunity to pay for their travel – between the Japanese capital and the city’s two major airports – in digital currencies, Bloomberg reports.

Hinomaru Limousine co. is working with Remixpoint to implement the required infrastructure. Remixpoint just so happens to operate BITPoint, a licensed Japanese cryptocurrency exchange. It makes sense – the more cryptocurrency being spent, the more people need to buy from exchanges.

The roll out will begin with a trial later this month. It will begin by covering rides between Tokyo’s 23 districts and either Haneda or Narita airports, according to unnamed sources close to the matter. They also told Bloomberg that payments will be accepted in Bitcoin, $BTC▲1.13% Bitcoin Cash, and Ethereum.

Hinomaru operates over 360 limousines and more than 160 taxis. If the limo roll out is successful, it’s wholly possible the company will begin to accept cryptocurrency payments in its taxis too.

An official announcement from Hinomaru is expected on Tuesday.

Japan has been moving its adoption of cryptocurrency forward slowly, but steadily. Recently the government granted the cryptocurrency industry self-regulatory status, allowing it to take control of important decisions. Ripple Asia and SBI also recently got the green light for its MoneyTap mobile payment app.



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Delta Air Line unveils its new Airbus A220s

ATLANTA (CNN): For some folks, flying on a brand new airliner is almost as exciting as riding in a spanking new car.

Delta Air Lines, the world’s second largest carrier, unveiled its new Airbus A220-100 during a ceremony Monday at its headquarters at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

With the roar of jet engines in the background, excited employees lined up to tour Ship 8101, as Delta named it, the first of 75 A220s that Delta is expected to bring into its fleet over the next two to three years.

SWISS, Korean Air and airBaltic already fly these jets, but Delta will be the first carrier in the US. Taking the stage at the celebration, Delta CEO Ed Bastian welcomed the A220 as “a beautiful new member of the family.”

This $81-million jet has racked up several firsts:

— It’s the first single-aisle airliner to have super-strong, lightweight, non-metal wings made with a special process called resin transfer injection — squirting carbon fiber resin inside the wing skin. (This matters because carbon fiber wings have fewer rivets than metal wings. They slip through the air more smoothly, and they need less maintenance.)

— It’s the first single-aisle commercial airliner with electric brakes instead of typical hydraulic brakes. (No more leaky hydraulic brake lines equals less maintenance.)

Delta plans to use the A220 as part of a fleet modernization program. Some airplanes on Delta’s domestic routes are more than three decades old, with retro-fitted passenger seat power ports and no in-flight entertainment systems.

“The simple idea is to provide customers what it is they tell us they want,” said Delta Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Tim Mapes. “That means space, innovative technology and comfort. All of those things are evident in this plane.”

The A220s, along with about 100 other new jets, will replace 20% of older, less-efficient aircraft by 2020, according to Delta. The airline also plans to replace 25% of its domestic fleet over the next three years, Bastian said, “taking delivery of more airplanes than at any time in our history.”

One reason behind this move is a massive projected increase in passengers.

Last year, worldwide air passenger traffic crossed 4 billion for the first time, up 7.3% from 2016, according to the International Air Transport Association. By 2036, that number is expected to nearly double.

In the US, about 965 million passengers flew commercial airlines last year, an increase of more than 3%, according to the Department of Transportation. By 2036, the industry predicts the number of passengers in the US will exceed a billion.

Airlines are looking to meet that need with the help of a new generation of jets designed to offer creature comforts travelers want while keeping profits strong. The Airbus A220-100 is one of those new jets.


Once you step aboard this plane, you immediately notice it just feels bigger than a typical single-aisle airliner. Nearly 7-foot-high ceilings and windows larger than many other kinds of jets.

The cabin is a spacious 10-feet, seven-inches wide.

Delta has designed its A220-100s to seat 109 passengers — including 12 in first class, 15 in premium economy and 82 in economy. Up front, first class seats are in a 2-2 configuration with head rests and other accoutrements, including water bottle holders and adjustable arm rests.

In Economy, travelers may like the seat width — measuring 18.6 inches — the widest main cabin seats in Delta’s fleet. If you’re wondering about leg room in coach, the seat pitch ranges from 30 to 32 inches. Delta’s Boeing 717s, which seat about the same number of passengers, have a seat pitch of 31 inches in economy.

Another reason the main cabin feels big is the 2-3 seat configuration.

That means fewer middle seats — which is great news if you hate that “trapped feeling” some folks get when they’re in a middle seat.

If you’re in a window seat, you’ve got a bit more shoulder room, thanks to cleverly designed indentations in the cabin walls. For the window shades, this plane went old school. No push-button electronic dimmers required. Just your typical pull-down window shades will do fine, thank you very much.

Delta’s A220 also offers full LED spectrum lighting, so crew members can change the color and brightness of the interior light based on various moods throughout the day.

In-flight entertainment

Main cabin seats will include seat-back screens for in-flight entertainment. In first class, the A220 offers the largest seatback in-flight entertainment screens in Delta’s fleet.

The jet’s Wi-FI uses a 2Ku satellite system, which Mapes said is the fastest in the fleet. It’s designed to provide around 70-100 megabits per second, he said, “which will allow anybody to do what they need.”

A deep library of TV and movies is available on any of the large seatback screens on each seat. Delta’s rival, American Airlines, has been moving away from seatback screens and instead requiring passengers to use their own devices to stream in-flight entertainment.

Traveling with small children is pretty common, so it’s nice to see airliner restrooms are getting more family friendly. The lavatories on this plane are large enough to change babies — and a pullout baby-changing table is available in the right rear restroom. They’re also large enough for a 6-foot-plus-tall person to stand up straight — which isn’t always the case on other jets.

“The engineers saw an opportunity to put one in and we said ‘go for it,'” said Bastian.

It’s hard to know if the window will result in longer waits for the restroom, because passengers will be inside snapping photos.

The jet can fly nearly 3,400 miles, so Delta says it plans to use it for direct routes to cities that don’t usually fill larger planes.

If you have plans to fly from New York to Dallas-Ft. Worth or to Houston, Delta is hoping you’ll take notice. Those are two of the first routes the airline plans for these new jets beginning in January and April, respectively.

By the way, it’s no coincidence that those two cities are dominated by Delta’s competitors, United Airlines and American Airlines. Will the A220 allow Delta to give United and American a run for their money in these markets?

“Pretty good chance of it,” says Richard Aboulafia, aviation industry analyst at Teal Group.

The A220 also helps increase profits by saving fuel. Airbus says it’s 20% more fuel efficient than similar sized jets.

But for many aviation enthusiasts, the weirdest thing about the A220 is the fact that for the first time in Airbus’s nearly half-century-long history, it’s selling a plane designed and built by another company.

How did that happen?

Basically, France-based Airbus stepped in last year and bought a controlling interest in the plane from a rival manufacturer — Canada’s Bombardier.

Before that, the plane — and its larger version — actually had different names — the CS100 and CS300. Airbus simply renamed them the A220-100 and A220-300.

“A truly shocking moment,” said Aboulafia. “You can’t write this stuff in a novel, no one would believe it.”

Two of these Pratt & Whitney geared turbofan engines help the A220-100 achieve 20% more fuel savings than similar jets.

Two of these Pratt & Whitney geared turbofan engines help the A220-100 achieve 20% more fuel savings than similar jets.

Experts say Bombardier was driven to make the deal because they feared the Trump administration’s trade policies with Canada would sink the company.

“Bombardier simply said, if we keep going with this program on our own, it’s doomed and it will drag us down with it,” Aboulafia said. “So by giving it to our arch rival, Airbus, then they can rescue it and at least we can build structures for it.”

“Airbus has spent the past ten years trying to kill this jet — and now it gets it for free,” he said.

Of the four major US carriers, American Airlines boasts the youngest fleet. Its planes are an average of 10.5 years old, according to Delta’s fleet is the oldest — averaging 16.3 years.

But that statistic will likely begin to change next year when Delta accepts delivery of new Airbus A330neos. These fuel-saving twin-engine widebodies will be used for medium haul trans-Atlantic routes and flights connecting Asia with the US West Coast.

Another jet — Boeing’s super-efficient 777-9X — is expected to make its first test flight next year. That plane — expected to be the world’s largest twin-engine jet — will have an all-metal body, but its wings will be made from light-weight, super strong carbon fiber composite material.

Cathay Pacific, Lufthansa and Emirates are among several international airlines that have ordered the 777-9X.

Also next year, Boeing is widely expected to announce its plans to build a new midsized airliner — which has already been unofficially nicknamed the 797.

It all means that your chances of flying on a newer plane are rising, as more air travelers take to the skies.


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VietJet signs $6.5bn deal with Airbus

HANOI (Reuters): VietJet Aviation signed a US$6.5-billion agreement on Friday to buy 50 Airbus A321neo jets, the Vietnamese budget carrier said.

The agreement, signed during a visit to Hanoi by French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, is part of an  aggressive fleet expansion that has provided lucrative business for both the European aerospace group Airbus and its US rival Boeing.

VietJet said the order was in line with its growth strategies and would enhance the airline’s operational efficiency and capacity, especially on international routes.

In addition to the aircraft, Airbus will deploy pilot and technician training programmes and fight management and flight safety management for VietJet.

In a separate statement, VietJet said it had also signed a memorandum of understanding with CFM International on a $5.3-billion deal for long-term jet engine maintenance.

VietJet, Vietnam’s biggest private airline, currently operates 60 Airbus jets with more than 385 flights daily within Vietnam and to countries such as Japan, Hong Kong, South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, China, Thailand, Myanmar and Malaysia.

CEO Nguyen Thi Phuong Thao told Reuters this week that VietJet plans to maintain an average fleet age of only three years in order to minimise fuel and maintenance costs.

It placed provisional orders for the Airbus A321neo jets and 100 Boeing 737 MAX jets at the Farnborough airshow earlier this year in the UK and has been in negotiations to complete the deals, with deliveries expected between 2020 and 2025.

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Ryanair passengers to adapt a new set of baggage rules

LONDON (CNN): The Dublin-based airline on Thursday changed its baggage policy for the second time this year in an attempt to reduce delays.

According to a statement on the Ryanair website, passengers will now have to pay if they want to travel with a small suitcase.

Under previous rules introduced in January, passengers who had not paid for priority boarding were allowed to bring a “personal bag,” such as a handbag, into the cabin, while a small suitcase could be checked in to the hold free of charge.

However departures suffered disruption as up to 120 bags were checked in at the airport ahead of each flight, reports the UK’s Press Association.

In response, Ryanair has decided to end the free hold baggage offer.

Under the new policy, non-priority boarding passengers are still allowed to bring a “personal bag” into the cabin free of charge, but there will be a fee of €8 ($9) to check in a small suitcase weighing up to 10 kilograms (22 pounds).

Passengers who purchase priority boarding will still be allowed to bring a “personal bag” and a small suitcase onto the plane.

Ryanair says the new policy won’t affect many of its customers, PA reports, as 30% of them buy priority boarding and another 30% bring only a “personal bag.”

Passengers traveling with more luggage can still opt to pay €25 for up to 20kg, which was the cheapest check-in bag available under the old policy.

“Main benefits of this new policy will be reduced flight delays and cheaper checked bag option. Pack more liquids into a 10kg checked wheelie bag. Walk to the boarding gate ‘hands free,” reads the Ryanair statement.

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China’s Shenzhen Airlines starts direct flights to London

BEIJUNG (Xinhua): China’s Shenzhen Airlines celebrated a new direct flight from Shenzhen, a southern Chinese city, to London.

It was the first direct flight between Shenzhen and London. The intercontinental route will be served by Airbus 330 wide-body aircraft and operate every Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday.

Wang Jie, vice president of Shenzhen Airlines, said at the ceremony that “Shenzhen-London route, as the first long haul intercontinental route launched by us, is a crucial starting point for Shenzhen Airlines to step out into the world.”

He said the airline would blossom into an internationalized airline based in Shenzhen, with its route network covering Asia and the rest of the world.

The first flight launched on Oct. 30 from Shenzhen to London Heathrow airport. The flight departs from London at 9:40 p.m. local time (2140 GMT) and arrives in Shenzhen at 5:40 p.m. (0940 GMT) the next day. The return flight leaves Shenzhen at 2:10 p.m. (0610 GMT) and arrives in London at 7:40 p.m. (1940 GMT).

Shenzhen Airlines Co., Ltd was founded in November 1992. By the end of 2017, it has operated about 200 domestic and international routes.


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Tourism minister: Turkey hosted 32m tourists in 2018

ANKARA (AA): Turkey has hosted around 32 million tourists in the first three quarters of 2018 with a 23 percent increase, said the culture and tourism minister on Wednesday.

“It looks like we will pass 40 million [tourists] and break Turkey’s record,” Mehmet Nuri Ersoy told Anadolu Agency’s Editor’s Desk.

Noting that there was an increase in the number of tourists, Ersoy said the tourism sector has experienced a rapid recovery.

Ersoy said apart from the common tourists enjoying the “sea, sand, sun”, tourists interested in culture also started to visit Turkey.

He said as part of a protocol with the national flag carrier Turkish Airlines (THY), scheduled flights were going to start in 14 countries and 17 destinations as of April.

Destinations included the UK, Germany, Russia, Ukraine, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Algeria, Kuwait, as well as the Turkish coastal cities or districts of Antalya, Dalaman, Bodrum and Izmir, he said.

He also praised Turkey’s newly opened Istanbul Airport, which will be one of the world’s largest airports once completed, and said it was a key investment to boost tourism in the country.

Ersoy also said the long efforts for the repatriation of missing pieces of a Gypsy Girl mosaic — located in southeastern Gaziantep province — were close to an end.

The 12 Roman-era mosaics, which depict extinct birds and mythological characters, are currently held by Bowling Green State University in Ohio.

“As of Nov. 26, it will be brought to Gaziantep from [the US’s] Chicago on a THY plane,” he said.

He added that 4,319 historical artifacts had been repatriated to Turkey from abroad in 2003-2018.


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1st Turkish Airlines flight flies from Istanbul

ISTANBUL (AA): Turkey’s flag carrier Turkish Airlines on Wednesday took its inaugural flight from the new Istanbul Airport to the capital Ankara. The TK 2124 flight took off at 11.32 a.m. local time (0832GMT) from new Istanbul Airport — which, when all phases are operational, will be the world’s largest airport — and touched down at Ankara Esenboga Airport at 12:25 (0925GMT).

With Monday’s opening, two runways — stretching 3,750 and 4,100 meters long — went into service as a part of the massive airport’s first phase, including three separate airstrips.

Transport and Infrastructure Minister Cahit Turhan and a number of journalists were among the passengers on board, along with other passengers who arrived at the airport for check-in.

At full capacity — with the completion of all four phases with six runways — Istanbul Airport is set to become a global aviation hub, featuring more than 100 airlines and flights to over 300 destinations worldwide.

The €6 billion ($7.2 billion) first stage, which was built in about three years through a public-private partnership model, is one of a series of mega-projects planned for Turkey’s 2023 centennial.