More services as Qantas broadens reach in Asia
SYDNEY (AFP) – Australian flag-carrier Qantas Monday announced plans to broaden its reach in Asia as part of a strategy to turn around its struggling international arm, with several extra destinations being considered.
The move is a consequence of its global alliance with Dubai-based Emirates, which means its services to Asia will no longer be tied to onward links to Europe.
New direct destinations from Australia being considered include Beijing, Seoul, Mumbai, Delhi and Tokyo-Haneda, while increasing capacity and frequency of flights to Hong Kong and Singapore.
Qantas International chief executive Simon Hickey said Asia was a key pillar of the company’s future.
“Our first step has been to restructure existing services to Asia now that they are no longer tied to onward links to Europe,” he said.
“The number of dedicated seats on Qantas services to Hong Kong and Singapore is increasing significantly, because capacity previously set aside for customers going to Europe via these hubs can be freed up.
“The joint Qantas-Emirates network into Asia gives our customers a fresh set of options, including double daily services to Singapore from Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane,” he added.
“The maturing Jetstar network gives travellers another set of alternatives once they land in Asia.”
As part of the plan, from March 31 arrival times into Hong Kong, Bangkok and Singapore will be brought forward by up to three hours to increase the number of onward connections while Kuala Lumpur will added as a destination.
The other new destinations are not likely until 2016.
Other changes will see Qantas cease its Adelaide-Singapore and Perth-Hong Kong services but boost Brisbane-Hong Kong flights from four per week to seven, and add four additional weekly Sydney-Singapore services.
The airline has also brought forward the end date for its loss-making Frankfurt flights by six months to April 15.
Australia’s competition watchdog last month gave Qantas and Emirates permission to launch their global alliance in which the airlines will coordinate ticket prices and flight schedules.
Qantas will shift its hub for European flights to Dubai from Singapore while ending its partnership with British Airways on the so-called kangaroo route to London.
The tie-up is seen as vital to the sustainability of Qantas, which last year posted its first annual deficit since privatisation in 1995 due to tough regional competition and high fuel costs for its international arm.