The changes were announced today as Qantas and Emirates are to extend their partnership for a further five years. However, due to regulatory reasons Emirates will not be able to codeshare on Qantas operated services from London to Singapore and London to Perth.
We have to admit to have always been sceptical about the concept of low cost long-haul travel. Whilst the concept has been much talked about and there have been a number of low cost long-haul carriers in Asia Pacific (such as Qantas offshoot JetStar), it has not gained traction in Europe.
That is until now. Norwegian has established a small base at London Gatwick, albeit this has not translated into financial success. And now Lufthansa has launched a low cost long-haul carrier under the name Eurowings.
It will be based in Cologne and initially offer flights to Bangkok, Phuket, Dubai, Varadero and Punta Cana. Flights will launch from late October 2015 and connections are available from London Heathrow and other UK cities.
A familiar sight for anyone passing through Heathrow during the day is a pair of Qantas A380s parked at a remote stand near Terminal 3.
Whilst providing those on a mundane business trip to Frankfurt or Geneva the opportunity to dream about going somewhere else, it serves as an illustration of the hard economics for Qantas of competing against Middle Eastern and Asian airlines in the London to Australia market.
Currently, Qantas’ twice daily flights to Australia depart late in the evening and arrive in the morning at London Heathrow meaning hugely expensive assets are left on the ground all day doing nothing.
From 20 July 2014, as part of a broader restructuring of Qantas’ network in response to a deteriorating financial performance, Qantas flights to Melbourne will be retimed from a late evening departure to an early afternoon departure.
Qantas has just published its half year results. In the past week there has been a frenzy of speculation in the Australian media following prior warnings from Qantas that it would incur heavy losses resulting in a significant restructuring of the airline and possibly drastic changes to its route network.
The losses themselves are as feared with Qantas reporting a loss before tax of AUD$252 million. Qantas has announced significant job cuts and disposals of aircraft and deferrals of aircraft deliveries.
There has been much speculation about the future of Qantas daily Airbus A380 services from London Heathrow to Sydney and Melbourne, following anecdotal reports of weak demand on the London Heathrow – Dubai sectors of the London – Melbourne routes.
Qantas has today confirmed that the two daily London Heathrow services will remain. However, the London – Melbourne route (currently a late night departure from London and early morning arrival, resulting in significant downtime of nearly 17 hours for the aircraft) will be retimed from November 2014.
We do not yet know what the new times are. One possible option is to retime the departure to late morning, as Qantas used to have to Sydney and Melbourne when it had four daily services from London Heathrow.
There probably isn’t an airline route in the world where travellers have more choice of airlines routings than London to Australia. As non-stop routes between London and Australia remain a technical impossibility and fuel prices mean that is likely to remain the case, a stop en route has always been required.