Canberra eyes Qantas flights to Wellington, AirNZ to Auckland

By David Flynn, February 16 2018

With flights to Singapore and Doha already taking wing, Canberra Airport is now looking to add New Zealand to its network map.

Managing Director of Canberra Airport, Stephen Byron, considers trans-Tasman travel as “the piece that's missing” – or will be missing from May 1, when Singapore Airlines drops the Wellington leg of its Singapore-Canberra service.

Byron tells Australian Business Traveller he hopes to see Qantas connect Canberra and Wellington with “a great little capital express shuttle service.”

“We’ll be working hard with them to see if they can offer us an opportunity to replace the Canberra-Wellington service… they are the logical partner for Canberra-Wellington, and they would be our first choice of partner.”

“The numbers by themselves for Canberra-Wellington, ignoring the transit passengers going through to Singapore, demonstrates support for a four times a week Boeing 737 service,” Byron reflects.

“We've always said in all of our route development that we would give the number one opportunity to Qantas, our home-base carrier, and we've done that.”

Qantas has been approached for comment on the possible introduction of Canberra-Wellington flights.

AirNZ to Auckland, and beyond

Canberra-Auckland flights are also in the frame, with Air New Zealand the front-runner to carry passengers not only to the popular north island city but onwards to Los Angeles, San Francisco, Houston, Hawaii, Vancouver and Buenos Aires in a one-stop service.

“Auckland would provide an opportunity for a bridge through to the Americas,” Byron says – and it’d be an especially appealing one for travellers seeking to avoiding the not-always-necessary evil of LAX.

Canberra Airport's potential base of travellers includes not only the Australian capital but almost one million people "within a two-hour drive," Byron suggests. "And that’s not even being at all aggressive on Wollongong and (the Southern Highlands)."

Looking beyond New Zealand, Byron holds that Hong Kong could be next on the list.

“We could maybe have Qantas to Hong Kong, or Virgin Australia’s partner Hainan to Hong Kong, or Cathay Pacific to Hong Kong.”

Cathay Pacific last month sought to quash speculation that it would launch Canberra-Hong Kong flights, with the airline's regional GM Rakesh Raicar telling Australian Business Traveller that "Canberra is not in the planning stage at all."

Byron of course disagrees, suggesting that Canberra and Hong Kong “would be a great fit. And you know, the reality is many of these airlines imminently before they do something, say ‘no’” and deny those plans, Byron suggests.

“Now I don't think we're that close with Cathay, or anyone else. But you never know, do you?”

David

David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

23 Oct 2014

Total posts 109

My god! I’ve never heard of a company touting and broadcasting their “favourite” or preferred company for a commercial opportunity, so blatant it’s a unbelievable.

You think you’ve seen it all then something like this explains alot.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

09 May 2011

Total posts 335

I think it's great they've shown blatant support for the national carrier and it shows pride and patriotism.

Nelson Airport did this a few years ago for Air New Zealand when Jetstar was considering flying to Nelson

JBL
JBL

01 Jun 2016

Total posts 60

I think it's indicative of the bargaining position for smaller airports like CBR. They need to do a lot more to attract international flights compared to the bigger destinations.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 Aug 2014

Total posts 213

Unbelievable! Next thing you'll be hearing HKG saying they give favourable treatment to Cathay!

/s
abc
abc

14 Nov 2011

Total posts 21

QF just doesn't seem to have any interest in flying international routes from CBR. And they have ruled out JQ coming to CBR. But NZ would be a better fit. Few days a week to AKL. A one stop to all those destinations mentioned above. And to ORD as well if the speculation is right with President Obama in NZ next month.

15 Sep 2012

Total posts 89

Qantas international out of Canberra will never happen! They won't even serve Adelaide which is bigger! Perth gets just a token few international flights. Sydney is all Qantas is interested in. Interesting nobody has suggested Virgin should start international services from Canberra! Why can foreign airlined serve these smaller cities frequently but our own airlines cant even fly one service! Air NZ provide more services to many Australian cities than our own airlines!

07 Oct 2012

Total posts 1242

Air New Zealand, lovely airline that they are, serve many Australian cities from their core hub of Auckland.

Qantas, serves many Australian cities, from its main hub of Sydney.

Also worth noting, that recent new QF int routes have been not from Syd.

CBR to WLG would be a good fit for them. But chances are, it won't happen. I am, surprised that air New Zealand has been so negative on launching cbr - akl flights, as it would align well with their connecting business model


Air New Zealand - Airpoints

21 Jan 2016

Total posts 162

At the moment, Air NZ, doesn't see a market at this stage between AKL/CBR/AKL to warrant using a B789, as the airline wants to offer the 3 passenger classes from all of their key Australian arrival/departure locations. This might change if the airport company offers a financial incentive.

With regards to Air NZ flying WLG/CBR/WLG, Air NZ has always been oppose to this routing, as it takes business away from their AKL hub. They want passengers to fly from WLG/SYD and VA SYD/CBR, that is why that they didn't a a code share with SQ between CBR/WLG/CBR.

It will be interesting to see what Air NZ will do when SQ operates MEL/WLG/MEL using a B772 with J and Y configuration. Air NZ currently operates a A320 on the WLG/MEL/WLG route in Y configuaration.

07 Oct 2012

Total posts 1242

There will not be a market for a 787 to Canberra from Auckland for a long time. They fly their A320s to Australia already (like WLG-MEL), and that is probably the correct plane to serve Canberra with.

I don't think Air NZ should or will fly CBR - WLG.

Air New Zealand - Airpoints

21 Jan 2016

Total posts 162

Air NZ doesn't have J product on their A320's nor will they have full J product on the A320/A321neo.

07 Oct 2012

Total posts 1242

Yep, I understand that. But cbr - akl flight in an a320 opens up their network. Many a public servant travels in economy and then there is leisure travel.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 Nov 2017

Total posts 130

789 between AKL and CBR would be too much plane.

NZ flying WLG-CBR in the future may be possible if the JV with VA collapses by the end of the year and they revert to being rivals on the Trans-Tasman route. However, NZ doesn't have the 'right (configured) aircraft' for the WLG-CBR route, as all their Airbus narrowbodies doesn't have any 'regional' J seats.

Air New Zealand - Airpoints

21 Jan 2016

Total posts 162

The most likely carrier between CBR and WLG would be VA offering both J and Y classes and is currently doing a co-share with SQ on this route. The 'international' gate at CBR is in VA area and SQ J passengers use VA domestic lounge. It would make sense for VA operate CBR/WLG/CBR with a SQ co-share but I don't see Air NZ doing a co-share on this route, unless Air NZ's senior management sees there is opportunities.

At least VA WGL/CBR sector would connect with SQ CBR/SIN service.

I flew WLG/CBR on 27 Jan 18 in J class and out of 28 seats in J, 11 were booked. Y class was heavily booked. The locals in Wellington and the surrounding regions are now use to SQ WLG/CBR/SIN service and are not happy about losing it. They didn't mind the 1 hour stopover in CBR before flying onto SIN.

I did notice, there was a large number of Y passengers disembarking at CBR on that day.

What SQ has done, has established, there is a demand for a CBR/WLG travel with connecting service to SIN.

One thing I did notice during my stay in CBR, there seems to be not much effort by Canberra's tourism marketing organisation to promote Canberra as destination in its own right. They seem to be happy having day travelers from Sydney. I found a number of interesting attractions that are not listed on the tourism marketing organisation website. It seems that Canberra wants to be just a public service town which will make it difficult to attract international airlines to treat Canberra seriously as an destination.

07 Oct 2012

Total posts 1242

I don't think the international gate being down Virgins end of the terminal determines which airlines will fly to cbr. It's not a big airport and Qatar is using QF lounges. If VA/QF/NZ were to fly the route, it would make sense for them to tine flight for o&d demands.

Whilst interesting, personal observations on loads on a particular flight, gives us data on exactly that, a particular flight. The overall data was showing the loads between cbr and wlg were insufficient for the metal that was being flown, and didn't support that connecting service (otherwise they wouldn't have changed it)

As for the comment about Canberra tourism... interesting perspective. I've never heard of the marketing strategy which was aimed at getting day trippers to Canberra.

They seem to spend money on domestic short stays, school trips and now places like Singapore. Id be interested to know the places you found which are not promoted.

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 445

Aniljak it all depends if they can keep a plane occupied out of peak hours. Going west to east doesn’t work that well. If they left at 11.pm they would still get into Auckland too early to be useful to drop people off and turnaround. Leaving-at 6.00pm intrudes into peak domestic time and they would have to overnight in Auckand and leaving at 6.00am would then eat into the morning peak.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 Aug 2014

Total posts 213

That really is such a ridiculous, baseless set of statements.

Qantas has invested heavily in PER to convert it to an international hub, and they are pushing Boeing to deliver long haul aircraft that can fly direct Europe / East Coast USA flights out of MEL. If anything, you could say they are pivoting away from their current over-reliance on SYD.

The city of Canberra is expanding in size, population, and popularity. By 2020 it will be approaching almost half a million residents; for reference, that's the size of the Gold Coast (which has international services operating out of OOL). It'd be pure ignorance to assert that CBR will never have an international service out of it.

And your assertion that AirNZ services more Australian cities than our domestic airlines? Wow... I'm not going to even bother addressing that one.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

09 Oct 2017

Total posts 4

Oh wow... the photo on this article is a blast from the past. The magnitude of transformation from the ‘tin shed terminal’ to the magnificent facility which now exists is easy to forget.

I hope some of these options come to fruition - as domestic-international transfer, Canberra can’t be beat... immigration is so quick you’d be able to make a 40 min connection with ease; which I would have thought quite attractive to VA and QF for short international hops on B737s.

12 Dec 2012

Total posts 952

um... the photo on the article is the new terminal. It is looking back towards the airport roadway taken from above the main screening checkpoint. The old terminal didn't have windows like that shown in the attached photo.

03 Jan 2013

Total posts 47

@Himeno - there was originally a very dated photo of the now demolished Canberra Regional Aerodrome. This has been corrected to show Canberra International - a stunning terminal.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

21 Jan 2014

Total posts 226

Great to see an articulated vision from a business like this, a precise plan on routes they want to pursue and airlines they would like to consider the route, more airports should be transparent about what routes they are pursuing and the services they want to provide their customers.

Air New Zealand - Airpoints

12 Jul 2016

Total posts 28

I am sure Air NZ is running the ruler over Canberra and might wait until she has the new A320 / A321 NEO - I feel its if not when ....Hobart - AKL connecting in with ANZ US / CA / South America services too

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 445

As there is a 717 base in Canberra then 717s to NZ may work. The issue with international flights is that they best come out of a base where planes are located. Not sure having an international leg on a 737s busy daily schedule would work that well.

15 Feb 2018

Total posts 46

Would like to see Qantas or Air New Zealand offer CBR to AKL or WLG flights. As Australians or New Zealanders, we need to be patriotic to our own countries.

18 Oct 2015

Total posts 34

I feel like Air Sydney have been saying this for years...

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

09 May 2011

Total posts 335

This joke is so old and pretty sure it's redundant now considering all their latest route announcements haven't involved Sydney. Incase you missed it, here's a breakdown:

- Melbourne - Los Angeles (second flight 4x weekly 787)

- Melbourne - Perth - London

- Melbourne - San Francisco

- Melbourne - Bali Denpasar

- Brisbane - Los Angeles - New York (new 787 route)

18 Oct 2015

Total posts 34

I’ll give you MEL-SFO/DPS & we’ve all been aware of PER-LON for sometime the rest are just equipments chnages, in the case of BNE that were needed. At any rate the feedback is appreciated.

07 Oct 2012

Total posts 1242

I'd also add the additional Japanese flights.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

19 Feb 2014

Total posts 451

Let's remember that Canberra can eye flights to, for example, Los Angeles for all we care. It's the airlines that make the final route decisions, not the airport.

13 Feb 2018

Total posts 3

If they want airlines to fly TT they need to do something about their charges.

It's NZ$245 in tax for a R/T trip on the current SQ service. This compares to the NZ$180 - $200 for all other Australian airports.

I'd actually argue SQ in part struggled to grow the TT business in part because of the incredibly high taxes on this route.


Hi Guest, join in the discussion on Canberra eyes Qantas flights to Wellington, AirNZ to Auckland