By James Wilkinson
Qantas has made several changes to its international network, including adding Perth-Auckland flights and increasing Brisbane-Los Angeles services.
The move is welcome news for the meetings industry, with the flights equating to better connections to the United States and New Zealand from the East and West coasts of Australia.
Perth-Auckland will be operated by an Airbus A330 twice per week from early December to the end of January and comes as Qantas and Emirates launched their new combined schedule from Australia to New Zealand.
The increase in Brisbane-Los Angeles flights was made possible by Qantas upgrading one of its Sydney-Hong Kong services to an Airbus A380, freeing up a Boeing 747-400 for the extra flight from Queensland to California.
Qantas Group Chief Executive Officer Alan Joyce said the network changes were made possible through schedule optimisation.
“We’re able to make these changes by simply using our existing assets better,” he said. “For instance, the new seasonal Perth to Auckland service uses an A330 that would otherwise be on the ground over the weekend.
“The Qantas Group is serious about Asia and we’ve already increased capacity to Hong Kong by 10% this year. As well as adding almost 5% more seats per week on this route, the aircraft swap will increase the amount of flying done by our flagship A380 fleet into Asia.
“Our Brisbane to Los Angeles service is a strong performer and upgrading it to daily will improve the travel options for customers heading to the United States from Queensland, which has great links to our domestic and regional networks.
“All of these network changes also boost the prospects for inbound tourism, particularly in an environment where a falling dollar makes Australia an even more attractive destination,” Joyce said.
Qantas is the only airline offering First Class between Sydney and Hong Kong, and is also in the middle of constructing a new First Class Lounge at Hong Kong International Airport.
The same day as Qantas and Emirates commenced their partnership on trans-Tasman flights, the Flying Kangaroo rejigged services to Christchurch to better connect with international routes.
The partnership on flights to New Zealand means Queenstown and Wellington will now be added to the Emirates map through the codeshare on Qantas services.
Emirates Airline President Tim Clark said the partnership adds value on trans-Tasman flights for customers of both airlines.
“These are the first significant signs of the Qantas-Emirates partnership at work across the Tasman and the advantages for our customers will continue to increase as the relationship grows,” Clark said.
“We can expect to see benefits for the tourism industry as well, and that has got to be good news all round.
“Through the partnership, the Emirates network has now been opened up to include Queenstown and Wellington in New Zealand in addition to the 55 destinations in Australia already on offer to our customers,” he said.
Emirates operates Boeing 777-300ER and Airbus A380 aircraft to Auckland and Christchurch, while Qantas services are flown by next generation Boeing 737-800 jets.