FreedomFlyer - Air Asia

September 8th, 2017 - RedQ KLIA2

Launch (1 of 1).jpg

Air Asia, the worlds best Low Cost Carrier (LCC) have revamped their Air Asia BIG frequent flyer programme, and to celebrate, they held a launch event at RedQ, their Headquarters at KLIA2 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. 


Air Asia BIG Freedom Flyer is the latest and greatest incarnation from the Malaysian based LCC.

Free membership that lasts a lifetime! Infact, and as mentioned by the mastermind, and Air Asia BIG CEO, Dato' Eddy Leong, "when you die, you can even leave your points with a loved one" - Now that's more than a lifetime. The only clause is if you've remained inactive for greater than 3 years, in which case the points/account is ceased. 

20170908_D7_9M-XXC_A330-343 (1 of 1).jpg

In a world first for a strictly LCC, theres a tiered membership based off of how many times you fly with Air Asia's many regional footholds. You start at Red (0-13 one way flights) then Gold (14-23 o/w flights) and Platium (24-49 o/w flights), finishing with Black Membership for 50+ flights. This may intially seem to give an advantage to people based within Asia and able to make use of the many short hop destinations on offer, however long haul flights with Air Asia X are counted as double sectors. So a one way fare from Sydney to Kuala Lumpur will boost your status by 2, instead of 1. 

Membership is 100% electronic and there's a great app available to keep all your details, redeem flights and browse great offers. Air Asia CEO Tony Fernandes said after the event; "Data is really important to me and this programme, and through this app, we can tailor specific marketing campaigns to you, based off of your travel history and destination behaviours".

BIG Freedom Flyer points are earned and redeemable through all of Air Asia's selected partners in Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines, India, Singapore, China, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Australia and New Zealand - Basically, anywhere you see the brand.  

It's all summarised perfectly by Eddy Leong, who said in the press release, "Our Freedom Flyer Programme is the first of its kind in the world that is designed for everyone. No matter who you are or what you do, our Freedom Flyer Programme is our way of saying thank you for making Air Asia great. This is for you."

20170908_AK_9M-AFC_A320-214 (1 of 1).jpg

Evolving an airline that has already been a huge success, and a means to open up the ASEAN region for everyone to see what's over the horizon, this Freedom Flyer Programme adds another feather to the cap of this massive organisation and a huge boost to everyone's ability to travel. 


Heres the link to sign up: Air Asia Big  There really isn't a single reason to not sign up...  

Journalist: James Lusher

Images: James Lusher

Qantas Dreamliners Draw Closer

Take a good look and remember these registrations - At the end of 2017 and into 2018, These are the ones you'll want to photograph.

VH-ZNA / VH-ZNB / VH-ZNC and so on... You get the idea!

Qantas' 787-9 fleet is taking shape at the Everett Production site, the home of Boeing in Seattle. Serial Numbers 615, 641, 655 & 669 have been allocated to QF and the initial 1st delivery date of the 12th of October 2017 is looking promising although still subject to change.

After delivery, is undoubtable that these airframes will complete some route proving domestically, giving us all (hopefully) a good look at the New Roo livery on this beautifully designed aircraft. 

Qantas have configured their aircraft to support 236 passengers in a 3 class configuration. 42 Business, 28 Premium Economy and 166 Economy - All newly designed specifically for this airframe and offering levels of comfort previously unseen on a Qantas service. 

Melbourne to Los Angeles will kick off as the first confirmed international service in December 2017, followed by Perth-London which is anticipated to commence in March/April 2018.

It's been a long time coming for Qantas and the Australian travelling public.. 

James Lusher

Antonov Deliver Rescue Helicopter

Sunday 16th of April saw the Antonov AN124 arrive at Sydney Airport. 

The Ukrainian registered UR-82008 arrived on schedule from BKK at 14:30pm local time. Intermittent cloud foiled some of the northern end of the airfield shots, but conditions were perfect at the Runway Beach on Botany Bay for the Rwy 16R arrival. 

Once on the ground, this bohemoth of an aircraft shows it's true size, and perfectly captured by Nigel Coghlan in these images below. 

 Touchdown!   Image: Nigel Coghlan

Touchdown! Image: Nigel Coghlan

 Engines Off after the 9 hour flight from Bangkok.   Image: Nigel Coghlan

Engines Off after the 9 hour flight from Bangkok. Image: Nigel Coghlan

 This aircraft's ability to lift the nose completely allows for huge payloads of freight that would otherwise be impossible for air travel.    Image: Nigel Coghlan

This aircraft's ability to lift the nose completely allows for huge payloads of freight that would otherwise be impossible for air travel.  Image: Nigel Coghlan

The AN124 stayed overnight at Sydney Airport, and departed for Bangladesh at around 8am this morning. Hopefully, we get another glimpse of this beauty, soon!



The Boomerang Routes

As we all know, the influx of Chinese airlines into Australia shows no signs of slowing up. 

China Eastern Airlines is no stranger to the eastern Australian skies, but to mark the 20th Anniversary of the airlines presence in Australia (plus 60th year of existence as an airline), they have done something special,  coined a new phrase to celebrate the new services into Sydney, from Hangzhou, Kunming & Wuhan - The Boomerang Routes!

These new services add to the existing flights connecting Beijing, Shanghai and Nanjing with Sydney. These 3 new destinations increase China Eastern's capacity into Australia by 3003 seats per week, in a bid to keep up with the unprecedented demand from the Chinese public looking to spend time, and their hard earned Yuan down under. China Eastern will also be adding a new 3-class Boeing 777-300ER to some routes over the summer months, to further pounce on the huge demand.

It's not only Sydney that's benefiting from the airlines commitment to Australia, with a new service from Shanghai to Brisbane commencing 4-times weekly on December 16th, moving to a daily service in January/February 2017. 

China Eastern Airlines General Manager for Oceania remarked "The new routes reflect surging demand with a 23% growth in Chinese visitors to Australia in 2016." She said that the growth was a sign of China Eastern's keenness to extend it's footprint in Australia from secondary cities within mainland China.

Your Input Required! Have you ever flown China Eastern Airlines? What did you think of the service? Would you recommend them?

I look forward to your replies. 



ANA Boosts Christmas Capacity

In a move announced today, Japanese airline ANA will be increasing the number of available seats on their Tokyo Haneda to Sydney flights, commencing December 1st. 

Currently, the airline utilises the Boeing 787-9 (with occasional -8's during the Australian winter) on this route in a 215 seat configuration. 

ANA have 3 different configurations for their Boeing 787-9 in their fleet:

  • 787-9 Domestic - 18 Premium Economy / 377 Economy seats
  • 787-9 International (V1) - 48 Business Class / 21 Premium Economy / 146 Economy seats 
  • 787-9 International (V2) 40 Business Class / 14 Premium Economy / 192 Economy seats

Sydney currently gets the V1 configuration, however the airline has identified a need for more availability in this coming month, and will be upgrading to V2 to make the most of the Christmas travellers between Haneda and Sydney. 

This upgrade will commence on the 1st of December 2016, and finish on the 31st of January 2017.



The 'Almost' Super Moon

On Sunday night here in Sydney, everything came together perfectly for an afternoon Avgeek session. 

Runway 25 was in operation, with a sun that casts a perfect light on the approaching aircraft - and just gets better and better as it heads for the horizon - PLUS a moonrise at 6pm. 

All of this = Avgeek Nirvana. 

The following images are the result of one of the nicest and most rewarding hours of photography I think I've ever had.




Air China - Chengdu to Sydney Inaugural Flight

Saturday the 12th of November saw the inaugural arrival for the new Air China service, direct from the central Chinese hub of Chengdu. This marks the third scheduled connection that Air China services between the Chinese mainland and Sydney. (Beijing and Shanghai being the other two) 

The new service is expected to boost incoming tourist numbers by 23,000 per year, and bring an expected $89 million dollars to the local and national economy. Huge Numbers! By the end of November, Sydney airport will host flights from 7 Chinese airlines flying to 13 different destinations all around China which makes it the largest contributor to tourism in NSW bar none, and providing Aussie's with an endless list of destinations to explore. 

Chengdu is the major gateway into western China, and offers a wide array of attractions for the Australian traveller, most notably the Panda sanctuary, the famously spicey food and for the business travellers, an economy that's among the fastest growing in the world. 

On the flip side, Australia, and particularly Sydney, is booming as a market for Chinese tourists keen to get a taste of our fine produce, beautiful beaches and at this time of year, warm weather! 

Air China have selected their A330-200 aircraft for the new service, with 237 seats (30 business class) on a 3 times per week schedule. B-6541 set the scene today as CA429 which touched down a little after 12:30pm. The aircraft completed a planned missed approach on Rwy 34L prior to a low level fly past of the Sydney CBD - One of the pilots shared some images with me at the media event, that he took from the cockpit window of the harbour city, absolutely breathtaking!

Flight Schedule: 

Sunday, Tuesday and Friday: CA429 departs Chengdu at 2225, arrives Sydney 1235+1

Monday, Wednesday and Saturday: CA430 departs Sydney at 1435, arrives Chengdu 2235

Here are some images from the event. with a few behind the scenes shots mixed in. 






Air China - New Route for Sydney

Saturday the 12th of November see's the commencement of yet another new route for Sydney Airport.

Air China will be operating a 3-times per week service from Chengdu in central China (the home of the panda's!), to Sydney. 

This route is currently serviced through Sichuan Airlines only, and the new commitment from Air China shows that there is clearly a demand from both Chinese tourists from from the under-tapped central regions, as well as Australian's looking for something different within mainland China. 

The new service is expected to bring an additional 23,000 tourists to Sydney's shores annually, boosting the visitor expenditure by $89 million dollars. 

Stay tuned to @lush_aviation on Instagram, and this blog for some airside images of the inaugural service this coming Saturday.



A Day on the Balcony

Waking up early just isn't fun, Although, I am a huge subscriber to the "early morning is the best part of every day" theory. I love the colours of the sky just before the sunrise, I love the peace and quiet, the busy birds chirping - But I do not love the initial feeling of tiredness! 

Nevermind.. Todays 4am wake up was no ordinary morning call. I knew that a special livery was due to depart at 6am, and that i'd be spending some time up on the ATC balcony here at Sydney Airport.. "Got to get up!!"

Sunrise, well i'll leave the below photo to explain that.. (worth all the effort, YES)

6am and right on queue, EK415 pushed back from the gates to reveal the LA Dodgers livery. This is an aircraft i've been dying to photograph since its first airing to the world. SO glad it's finally come on a weekend, even if it means waking up at a crazy time of the day!

Feeling somewhat awake now, and with a belly full of McDonalds, I checked in with security a the ATC, and took position up on the balcony for a solid morning of photography. The air was still warm from the night before, and the breeze was fresh from the north west at about 25kms per hour. Runway 34L/R in use. The forecast had the winds shifting south westerly about 9am so I knew a runway change was inevitable - However, it when it arrived, (right on time), the 70km/ph westerlies buffeted the balcony and made shooting extremely difficult and caused chaos for the Traffic Controllers and pilots alike.. Aircraft shifted to Rwy 25, with some heavies arriving and departing on 34L.. Plenty of action!!  I've attached some of the photo's below, from this session. 

Sydney Airport also held its first 'open to the public' Charity fun run.. The Runway Run! This great event raises much needed money for the Ronald McDonald Children's Charity and was huge success, raising over 11K!! I stopped by Runway 25 to get some shots of the runners in action!

What a day - 3 locations, 70km/ph winds and a charity run! Hope you enjoy the images!