Business News Releases

New 'home away from home' SilverKris Lounge debuts in Sydney

Singapore Airlines (SIA) has unveiled its new-concept SilverKris Lounge in Sydney, as part of a multi-million dollar investment programme to upgrade all of the Airline’s airport lounges around the world.

Designed by renowned architectural and interior design firm ONG&ONG, the new-concept SilverKris Lounge is thoughtfully designed and modelled after elements of a home, following extensive research that included focus groups with customers.

The new design concept will be progressively introduced to all of SIA's SilverKris Lounges in 15 cities over the next five years at an estimated cost of around $100 million.

Following renovation of the Sydney lounge, which has just been completed, planning work is underway to upgrade lounges at London, Hong Kong and Singapore (Terminal 3) in 2014.

Lounge customers can look forward to distinct personal spaces that provide a sense of ‘being home’, as well as more personalised services from lounge staff and a delectable selection of food and beverages to complement SIA's in-flight offerings.

"Our customers frequently tell us that they have a feeling of ‘home’ as soon as they board our aircraft, and our aim is to extend this experience to the ground. Through our new 'home away from home' concept, the intention is for our customers to experience the feeling of being taken care of at every step of their journey," said Mr Tan Pee Teck, Singapore Airlines’ Senior Vice President Product & Services.

"Each space is thoughtfully designed to create the ambiance of ‘home’ that is familiar and comforting, adding to the warm, authentic and personalised service that Singapore Airlines is well known for."

First introduced in Sydney, the new 'home' concept SilverKris Lounge showcases SIA's unique heritage distinguished by a customised batik design screen in the welcome foyer that customers can recognise from afar.

Inside, the lounge features tastefully selected art pieces, sourced locally and from Singapore.

Customers can make use of personal spaces tailored for different needs, ranging from a living room, kitchen and dining room to intimate coves for rest and relaxation.

Specially designed productivity pods will enable customers to work in privacy and comfort before their flight, while signature SIA armchairs will be a new feature at all refurbished SilverKris Lounges.

A familiar ‘taste of Singapore’ concept will also be progressively introduced at all SilverKris Lounges, with iconic dishes from Singapore such as laksa and mee siam offered alongside delectable food choices from around the world and a wide range of premium wines and spirits.

To complete the ‘home’ experience, Passenger Relations Officers, trained to deliver the personal SIA touch, will be on hand to host each customer and assist with their travel needs.

Singapore Airlines (SIA) is Australia's largest foreign carrier and operates 121 weekly services from the following cities, representing an 18% increase since 2011. The flights have been scheduled to offer seamless connectivity between Australia and the airline’s global network of 107 destinations in 39 countries:

  • Sydney 4 flights daily Airbus A380 and Boeing 777-300 & 777-200ER aircraft
  • Melbourne 4 flights daily Airbus A380 & A330 and Boeing 777-300 & 777-300ER
  • Perth 4 flights daily Airbus A330 and Boeing 777-200
  • Brisbane 3 flights daily Airbus A330
  • Adelaide 12 flights weekly Airbus A330
  • Darwin 4 flights weekly Airbus A320/A319 (operated by SilkAir, the regional wing of SIA)

In 2013, the airline unveiled its US$150m investment in the next generation of First / Business / Economy class seats to be featured on eight new Boeing 777-300ER aircraft, the first of which began service in September. The seats come complete with Panasonic’s new eX3 in-flight entertainment system, of which SIA is the launch customer.

SIA has also unveiled a suite of competitive products to drive greater value for Australian customers, including S$40 vouchers for customers transiting through Changi, an expanded Singapore Stopover Holiday package, as well as regular promotional fares for customers across Australia.

The roll out of the alliance with Virgin Australia continues, with SIA codeshare to 39 domestic destinations and VA codeshare and interline to a total of 89 destinations across the SilkAir/Singapore Airlines network. The airline owns a 19.9% stake in Virgin Australia.

The Group has 197 aircraft on firm order and planned capital expenditure of S$14.25 billion over the next five years. Singapore Airlines operates a modern passenger fleet of 99 aircraft with an average age of 6 years 7 months, SilkAir operates 24 modern aircraft with an average age of 6 years 9 months and Singapore Airlines Cargo operates 9 747-400 freighter aircraft with an average age of 11 years 11 months.



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A new Star on Melbourne’s tourism scene

VICTORIA’s peak tourism and events body is eagerly anticipating the Melbourne Star Observation Wheel’s upcoming opening, saying it will provide tourists and locals with a wonderful new way to experience Melbourne.

The Victoria Tourism Industry Council’s (VTIC) comments come as the Star prepares to host its first passengers at 12pm today.

“We’re delighted to see the Star opening as it provides a new perspective on our great city and a wonderful experience for passengers at the vibrant Docklands precinct,” says VTIC Chief Executive Dianne Smith.

“The attraction has something for everyone and appeals to people of all ages and nationalities. With the 1500-person capacity Star Piazza at the Wheel’s base, it is also a drawcard for business events.”

The 21-cabin observation wheel enables views of up to 40 kilometres from the Docklands site.

“The views showcase Melbourne’s diversity, as visitors see the CBD, our expansive parks, Port Phillip Bay and as far as Mount Macedon and the Dandenong Ranges,” Ms Smith says.

“The Star is yet another reason to visit our wonderful city and we expect it will attract both first-time visitors and regular guests who keep coming back to discover more.

“It also provides a valuable opportunity for visitors to learn about other aspects of Melbourne, as there is a pre-boarding display and story panels, as well as cabin audio.

"The Star promotes the history, culture and many other features of modern Melbourne, which will have a significant flow-on effect for the rest of the tourism industry.”

s tourism and events industry, providing one united industry voice. Tourism and events are growth industries for Victoria and contribute $19.1 billion to the state economy each year and employ more than 201,000 people.



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Smartphone customers have huge appetite for data at Christmas

Customers tapping into What’sApp, Viber, kik & Instagram

Vodafone says more customers will be tapping into apps like What’sApp, Viber, kik and Instagram this Christmas to send messages using data instead of traditional SMS or MMS.

In a survey by Galaxy Research published today, two-thirds of all customers across all networks say they expected to use more data over the Christmas holiday season. This was even higher among Gen Ys, with almost 75 percent of younger people saying they expect their usage to go up.

Customers said the reasons they’d need more data over Christmas were to keep in touch with friends who are away, to upload more photos and download more videos, on top of using phone app and games more often for entertainment.

"We have seen an extraordinary increase in customers’ appetites for data over the past year and we expect this to jump again this Christmas and New Year’s period," said Chief Marketing Officer Kim Clarke.

"The majority of Australia is out there over the holidays spending time with friends and family, and with more free time, people have the time to share photos, watch videos and play games on their phones."

Customers increasingly using data to send text and photo messages

On Christmas Day in 2012, data usage increased by almost 65% on the previous year. By comparison, the number of SMSes sent was up by just 13% on Christmas Day in 2011, with a trend towards customers using smartphone apps to send messages.

A typical SMS costs about 20c to send, while a MMS (picture message) costs about 50c to send, although most Vodafone postpaid plans include Infinite (unlimited) standard national calls and texts.

By comparison a typical What’sApp message will use about 10KB of data to send a message containing just text, with 300KB-1MB data to send a photo.

"We actually don’t expect to see an increase in the number of SMSs sent this Christmas, for the first time in about 20 years," said Ms Clarke. "There’s a definite trend towards using apps instead, which use data."

"Instagram is also wildly popular at the moment. People are now sharing photos with many – via Instagram – rather than traditional MMS where you share a photo with one or two people," she said.

Vodafone offers double the data

Vodafone launched a double data offer last month which doubles the amount of included data for all month-to-month voice plans of $45 and above, and all 12-and 24-month voice plans of $60 or more – for the full 12- or 24-months of the plan. The offer runs to January 3 and is available to both new and existing customers (who choose to upgrade).



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A$15.1 billion expected to go through the tills from Boxing Day to mid January - a 3.8% increase

Peak retail industry body the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) and research partner Roy Morgan Research said shoppers were expected to spend $15.1 billion during post-Christmas sales from Boxing Day through to mid January – an estimated two percent rise on last year’s predicted sales of $14.8 billion.

ARA Executive Director Russell Zimmerman said last year’s post-Christmas predicted sales ($14.8 billion) were almost spot on, with the actual figure confirmed only slightly lower at $14.6 billion.

“Based on the actual figure of 14.6 billion, we now see an even larger percentage growth year on year at 3.8 percent – a positive sign for the retail sector.

“Looking at the actual post-Christmas sales figures for 2012 and this year’s post Christmas predictions, cafes show the highest level of growth at 6.2 percent. Apparel (3.9 percent) and food (3.8 percent) are also set to experience a small but significant jump in post-Christmas sales, indicating that gift buying will be replaced by shoppers splurging on items for themselves, updating their summer wardrobes and dining out.

“It is also great to see all states and territories predicted to experience positive growth this post-Christmas period, ranging from 2 percent (Western Australia) to 6.1 percent (Northern Territory).

“As we know, the festive sales period doesn’t just continue in the stores; there are also many shoppers who will be enjoying the sales from their lounge rooms. Some retailers are expected to start their Boxing Day sales as early as Christmas Eve.

“The decision to leave the cash rate unchanged at 2.5 percent in December is definitely an obstacle for retailers trying to get back on track financially over the Christmas period, and the ARA is looking forward to the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) reassessing the outlook when it meets again in February 2014.

“We believe there is room for further adjustment on the cash rate, and while a favourable decision in February will be too late to encourage Christmas spending, this adjustment would certainly allow retailers to start their new year with confidence,” Mr Zimmerman said.

Since 1903, the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) has been the peak industry body representing Australia’s $258 billion retail sector, which employs over 1.2 million people. The ARA ensures retail success by informing, protecting, advocating, educating and saving money for its 5,000 independent and national retail members throughout Australia.

Visit or call 1300 368 041.



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AUSBuy backs Hockey on Graincorp decision

COMMENT by AUSBuy CEO Lynne Wilkinson

IT HAS BEEN a revelation to see the vitriol heaped on Mr Hockey’s decision to stop the sale of Graincorp to ADM (USA), because it has shown that many “observers” in the media have failed to see the exquisite subtlety of the decision and the limitations of their fixed views.

There is little doubt that the Abbott Government has inherited a mess, much of which has been exacerbated since 2007.

Only policies which meet Australia’s “national interest” will get Australian assets and our people working for Australia again, revitalise our economy, and reduce our debt so we can take advantage of the opportunities the Asian century is supposed to promise.

We can only hope that the “intent” of this decision is replicated as we see off-shore bidding for other strategic assets in the food sector.

If ADM owned the assets, then there is no guarantee the farmers would be able to access or use the infrastructure for any other buyer other than ADM.

The majority of our grain exports are still controlled by foreign interests beyond the farm gate. Graincorp and CBH (WA) represent less than 50% of our grain exports. Hardly a duopoly!

Foreign owned Glencore, Dreyfus, among others own our grain exports, and the family owned US company Cargill owns many of our beef and grain exports.

Cargill has not reinvested in grain infrastructure. They use existing infrastructure. So much for successive Governments’ waivers to foreign take over that they will build infrastructure and invest here.

The problem is further exacerbated by our tax laws which favour foreign interests with only 10% withholding tax on declared profits, after they have been siphoned off shore.

Mr Hockey may have found some unexpected “reds” in the bank accounts, and these are just some of the issues which rob is of reinvestment here. Food for thought in the commission of audit.

Mr Hockey has effectively told the Graincorp board to do better than they have done and reinvest in the business.

As they say “if you can’t change the people you change the people”. It seems it is all too easy for Boards to think short term, especially when there is no shortage of keen buyers.

Graincorp was once owned by the farmers. It is now owned largely by institutions who will still look for quick returns to their shareholders, but it also means Australian can invest in the company for the long term if it is controlled here.

The problem is when Australian exports are sold by foreign interests we are no longer control our reputation or the supply chain. Our products are not differentiated in the market place. Our farmers become price takers, not price makers.

It is human nature, supported by their policies, that other countries give priority to their own. This does not make sense in a world hungry to secure its food.

Generations of our farmers have built Australia’s reputation as among the best in the world for quality and productivity, decades of falling income and rising debt has been ignored.

Now Mr Hockey has given the east coast grain growers the assurance that they have some control over their future.

There are lessons to be learned from this. Governments keep talking about Australian businesses being productive and competitive, yet Australia has a handful of businesses competing with countries that have dozens if not hundreds of businesses in particular sectors, and who subsidise their growers.

In the meantime our processors and manufacturers languish, or if foreign owned here have a habit of threatening to leave or do move off shore to source elsewhere and sell back to us.

He has also defined his Party’s “open for business” policy by saying to ADM you can buy up to 24.9%, but cannot control the assets, the profits, decisions.

This new kind of “open for business” means we are not desperate sellers and deal with us on our terms. Just as every other country does that controls and grows it wealth creating assets.

We do hope Mr Robb is listening as he is rushing to sign Free Trade Agreements with China, Japan and Korea – all controlled economies that have bought assets here in the supply chain and now our land.

Perhaps finally we are going to think strategically, identify our sustainable competitive advantages and benefit from assets that are grown and produced in Australia.

Get Australians and our assets working for Australia again. We welcome foreign investment not takeover.

This has been AUSBUY’s position since 1991.



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