Cape Town - SAA serves the best white wine in business class of any international airline, according to US magazine Global Traveler. This was the result of the magazine’s eighth annual Wines on the Wing competition, judged by 28 wine experts in a blind tasting in New York, in which 29 major airlines from around the world competed, submitting a total of 134 samples. SAA’s winning wine was Driehoek Sauvignon Blanc 2011.
The win should not come as a surprise, because local producers are always eager to submit some of their best wines for the annual tasting by a panel of experts from which those to be served on SAA international flights are chosen. This practice introduces the wines to prospective customers from around the world and gives a big boost to sales that will possibly lead to large export orders. The win follows the latest Skytrax awards, in which SAA was named the best airline in Africa for the 10th consecutive year and its staff service the best in Africa for the third successive year.
German airline Lufthansa, which flies between Johannesburg and Frankfurt all year round and will return to Cape Town with a seasonal service to Munich in October, is renewing all its first class, business class and economy seats on long-haul flights as part of a E3 billion (R30bn) upgrade of its cabin interiors.
The new business class seats will fold down into fully flat beds, after several years during which, unlike those of some other airlines including SAA, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic Airways, they reclined very steeply but were not quite flat.
Lufthansa has also ordered 168 new aircraft at a cost of E17bn. It is already using the giant Airbus A380 on its Johannesburg route and has taken delivery of the first Boeing 747 Intercontinental after giving input on the design, making it the first airline to fly both these aircraft.
But, although it carried a record 100 million passengers last year, it is temporarily reducing capacity “in certain areas” in response to a slowing in demand since the beginning of this year, according to Christoph Franz, its chairman and chief executive, in a recent interview with the authoritative online Air Transport News. This has involved some loss of jobs.
Emirates, which flies daily to Cape Town, is encouraging families to come for holidays to its home airport of Dubai during the holy month of Ramadaan, now near its end, during which muslims fast between sunrise and sunset.
It explains that this can be the best time to visit the city, with bargain offers and big discounts in all the shopping malls.
A spokesperson for the airline said it would also give visitors the “opportunity to experience firsthand the special annual ceremonies and celebrations that devout muslims adhere to”.
However, it is important to dress modestly, with legs and arms covered, and although the food courts and restaurants are open, they are screened from passing shoppers because it is considered rude for visitors to eat or drink in public during the fast.
And, of course, it is extremely hot although all the buildings have ultra-efficient air conditioning.
During a recent visit to Dubai I discovered that its main attraction, at least for South Africans with rands, is not shopping but the city itself, with its friendly people, fantastic variety of buildings and green parks, and the surrounding desert. - Weekend Argus