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.
Qantas announced its annual financial results in Sydney today. The airline posted a healthy profit before tax of AUD$1.4bn. This is a sharp turnaround in fortunes for Qantas after it reported a record loss of AUD$2.8bn three years ago. Much of the turnaround has been achieved through a restructuring of its international network.
Qantas has also today given a firm expression of interest in launching non-stop flights between London and Sydney by 2022.
Qantas has tasked aircraft manufacturers Airbus and Boeing to produce new aircraft under development, the Airbus A350 Ultra Long Range and the Boeing 777X respectively, with sufficient range to operate London to Sydney non-stop with no restrictions on passenger loads.
Qantas claim that a non-stop flight between London and Sydney could shave four hours off the journey time.
Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce commented:
“From next year we’ll be flying direct from Perth to London, which is a huge leap forward. We believe advances in technology in the next few years will make Sydney to London direct a possibility and Qantas is well placed to be the airline to do it.
“Any aircraft purchase would have to meet strict financial thresholds, but these direct flights would be revolutionary for air travel in Australia.”
Airlines do not ordinarily give away commercial decisions on route launches away years in advance, and this is a very public message aimed squarely at aircraft manufacturers to sharpen their pencils.
It is also axiomatic that the viability of non-stop flights from London to Sydney will depend on how non-stop flights to Perth are received, both in terms of cabin comfort and whether passengers, particularly those at the front of the aircraft, are willing to pay a premium for non-stop services.
Personally, we would love to see non-stop flights to Sydney and for Qantas to rebuild its presence in London back to four flights a day.
This week’s Australian Financial Review magazine carries an extensive feature on Qantas. It is well worth a read. Much of the feature focuses on the work Qantas is doing to prepare for non-stop flights between London Heathrow and Perth.
These flights are due to go on sale in April 2017 in advance of the route’s launch in March 2018. Whilst Qantas is still keeping some details under wraps, such its new premium economy seat, it has given the AFR some insight into its preparations for the new route. Specifically, Qantas is looking at the whole “ultra long-haul” in flight experience. This includes the design and timing of in flight meals, cabin lighting and in-flight announcements.
Qantas Airways has just announced it is to open a new dedicated lounge for first and business class passengers flying on its daily services to Sydney and Melbourne from London Heathrow Terminal 3, which will open in 2017.
Currently, Qantas does not have its own lounge at London Heathrow and eligible passengers have to make use of the British Airways Galleries Club and First lounges at London Heathrow Terminal 3.
The lounge will occupy two levels of the airport terminal with capacity for 230 passengers. The new lounge is expected to be modelled on recent Qantas lounges in Hong Kong and Singapore. Construction will commence later this year.
Features of the new lounge will include:
• Australian chef Neil Perry’s Rockpool menu and dining experience;
• Full-service bar with Rockpool cocktails;
• Full bathroom facilities including showers;
• Business facilities; and
• Children’s zone.
Eligible members of Oneworld alliance frequent flyer programmes will also have access to the lounge and with Cathay Pacific also refurbishing its lounges at London Heathrow Terminal 3, Oneworld passengers will have a good choice of lounge facilities at London Heathrow.
This is also a welcome investment by Qantas in London. Qantas has previously reduced its daily services from London Heathrow from four to two daily. It also ended its partnership with British Airways in favour a partnership with Emirates with all services to Sydney and Melbourne routed via Dubai as a consequence. There have been question marks over its long term commitment to London which can be allayed by the news of this investment.
If there’s one route from London where travellers have an unrivalled choice of routes and airlines, it has to be London – Sydney.
Sydney is a destination that cannot be reached non-stop from London requiring a stop-over en route (hence the name the “The Kangaroo Route”).
Not long ago, it was typically a choice of a stop-over in Singapore or Bangkok. Now there is not only a vast choice of stop-overs in Asia, but also the Middle East with Emirates in particular soaking up significant volumes of traffic between Europe and Australia.
Qatar Airways is one of the Middle Eastern airlines that, to date, has not served Sydney. However, a relaxation of the bilateral treaty that governs flights between Qatar and Australia has allowed Qatar Airways to launch a new route from Doha to Sydney from Tuesday 1 March 2016.
Flights will be operated with a two class Boeing 777 aircraft and are well timed for connections to and from London Heathrow. The early evening arrival in Sydney will be welcome to those who prefer to avoid an early morning arrival.
British Airways is marking 80 years of flying to Australia from London (albeit on routings far more convulted than today!) with a special 10% discount on return flights from Australia to the UK and Europe.
The discount is offered in conjunction with BBC First, the BBC’s recently launched commercial TV channel in Australia.
Virgin Atlantic has today announced that it is to suspend its daily London Heathrow-Sydney service from 5 May 2014. The airline will continue to fly to Hong Kong, where the Sydney flight currently stops en-route.
International Airlines Group held its annual Capital Markets Day on Friday 15 November 2013. This is an event where a very large volume of financial and strategic material is presented to institutional investors and analysts. However, there are small items of news (more to follow) of interest to the public at large.
One concerns the London-Singapore-Sydney route. Ever since Qantas jettisoned its partnership with BA in favour of a joint-venture with Emirates there has been speculation as to whether BA would be able to continue to serve Australia directly.
Qantas published its annual results for the year ended 30 June 2013 last week. The airline posted a modest net profit of AUD$6 million after tax, which was a significant improvement over last year’s loss of AUD$206 million.
This was primarily due a reduction in losses at Qantas’ International division, which prompted a significant reduction in capacity to Europe and the jettisoning of Qantas’ partnership with BA in favour of Emirates, by almost half to AUD$246 million.
Whilst the partnership between Emirates and Qantas is still very much in its infancy, it is curious that Qantas seems to have declined to give any clear revenue guidance on the partnership. In its results it gave only vague operational measures such as “2 times increase in codeshare bookings on EK network” and “3 times increase in EK bookings on Qantas Domestic network” compared to the partnership with British Airways and others. It is hard to draw any conclusions from such claims without seeing the detail behind the headlines.
Meanwhile, British Airways has remained upbeat on the performance of its last remaining Australian route, London-Singapore-Sydney.
On the morning of the announcement, as per standard protocol, it held a webcast for analyst and the question and answer session that follows provides a lot of useful insight into current strategic developments at the airline group.
Here is a summary of some points of interest from the call: