Northwest soars to new heights
NORTHWEST Airlines is reporting a 35 to 40 per cent increase in business travel between Hong Kong and North America.
The increase corresponds to a significant boost in trans-Pacific travel by Hong Kong residents.
According to the Hong Kong Tourist Association, departures to the United States in the first five months of this year were 83,694, up from 63,638 last year.
Departures to Canada during the same period were 67,418, up from 58,517.
Gilbert Chow, Northwest's general manager in Hong Kong, said the carrier's new World Business Class was a beneficiary of the trend.
Ticket sales were higher over the summer months, he said.
Northwest launched the World Business Class last year with partner KLM Royal Dutch Airlines.
The slogan for the promotion was 'So good you can sleep through it'.
It was the first time the two airlines had joined forces to launch a product.
KLM manager, Vincent Vogt, said the other benefit of World Business Class was its frequent flyer programme, WorldPerks.
KLM has recently introduced another innovation for the class - satellite telephones on every seat aboard its 747 fleet. They work with the swipe of a credit card.
'The cost of an average three-minute call is US$32 (HK$246),' Mr Vogt said.
Northwest's Mr Chow added that his airline was the first to increase seat pitch (distance between rows), develop new menus and upgrade on-board video systems with WorldLink, an international interactive entertainment system.
It had also increased the amount of in-flight reading material. The alliance serves more than 80 countries.