For Qantas, Sydney-Melbourne is a billion dollar route

By David Flynn, July 6 2018
For Qantas, Sydney-Melbourne is a billion dollar route

The corridor between Sydney and Melbourne is not only one of the world’s busiest airline routes, it’s a billion dollar goldmine for Qantas.

According to flight schedule analysis from OAG, Sydney-Melbourne is the world’s second highest revenue-earning route in the world with an estimated annual value to Qantas of almost US$855 million, or a whopping A$1.15 billion per year.

That should come as no surprise to regular commuters on the 90 minute journey, which sees over 100 flights per day and remains hotly contested between Qantas and challenger Virgin Australia.

“All of the top 10 routes are also high-cost operations,” says OAG’s John Grant. “Typically, these routes also include a high proportion of business traffic, later booking and higher yielding in nature."

The world’s richest route for airline revenue is British Airways’ trans-Atlantic spring between London and New York , at US$1.04 billion, with Emirates’ Dubai-London leg in third place for its annual haul of US$820 million.

In fact, London lists as half of the world’s ten most lucrative routes with flights from the hubs of Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific and Qatar Airways also gaining a spot on the leaderboard.


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.

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

14 Jan 2014

Total posts 341

Love London.. pity about Heathrow..

They should of bitten the bullet and gone for the Thames Island 🌴 airport which could of grown properly for the next 100 years, but typical Poms style, the duffed it up when it came to crunch time

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

22 Jul 2015

Total posts 219

Boris Johnson had the right idea but shouted down

Air New Zealand - Airpoints

12 Jul 2016

Total posts 27

completely disagree - Heathrow is still the right answer, there are significant issues with Boris Island idea, notwithstanding flight path issues with AMS / huge environmental, and cost to link London


Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

18 Apr 2014

Total posts 19

should have

could have

25 Sep 2013

Total posts 1245

This never ceases to amaze me.

24 Apr 2015

Total posts 128

so why doesn't anyone fly from Essendon to Bankstown ?

Small jets could do it up to 32 seaters I think or even Dash 8s.

A big % of the MEL/SYD traffic doesn't want to go anywhere near SYD CBD, but out west.

Exactly why a high speed train would be viable on the SYD-MEL route, with connections to CBR and BNE soon after proven.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

27 Aug 2014

Total posts 40

SYD-MEL does stand out in this list as by far the shortest.

04 May 2018

Total posts 43

Obvious choice for high speed rail if only the government encouraged infrastructure projects - using "green" electricity from environmental sources too?

24 Apr 2015

Total posts 128

hi speed train sounds great, but massive building costs unless you bring in cheap labour from overseas.

Airports like Essendon & Bankstown already exist. Just need a few suitable aircraft to start ops.

Cathay Pacific - The Marco Polo Club

02 Jul 2018

Total posts 38

Not surprising me as normally you get Qantas SYD-MEL return for $500 but a promotional fare for Qantas/ CX SYD-HKG for $600. Sometimes you find SYD-PER is more expensive than SYD-SIN or SYD-HKG...

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

05 Apr 2012

Total posts 57

MEL-SYD is more expensive than MEL-SYD-OOL ! OOL-SYD-HKG this week was $~535 :)

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

05 Apr 2012

Total posts 57

It certainly is the king of the Aussie Golden Triangle ! Fog, storms, aircraft issues or 'downgrades' (332-738) ... qs are up the corridors lol. One downgrade yesterday (saw every QF SYD MEL flight full to 10pm.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

01 Apr 2017

Total posts 28

Interesting that TOKYO to OSAKA isn't on this list considering they are similar distance as MEL-SYD with combined urban areas of 40+ million people. Of course, the reason is the wonderful high-speed rail that (a) provides competition and (b) negates any need/desire to travel by plane between those two major cities.

24 Apr 2013

Total posts 18

The price of airfares for Sydney to Melbourne and Sydney to Brisbane are a joke.
We live in a very backward country. We don't even need high speed train. See below, we dont need it to get better value. Just the bus service below or a bit faster train than now.
In the USA a bus service has started from LA to SF ( a bit further than Syd/Mel where you sleep in a special soundproofed bus that takes a route for the best ride. Prices are usd 84 to usd 115 each way. Prices should not be different here for a service like this. You are allowed 2 bags and some carry on. The bed has light, device power (110 ac and usb), face mask, nighttime tea, free wifi. There is a lounge to sit in on the lower deck of the bus.
Have a look, big opportunity for an investor or bus company here. Nice private zones.
It leaves each end at 11 am and you gets in at 7 am. Traffic sometimes makes it 7-30 am.
I loathe the bad sleep the night before and the 4-45 departure from my place to get to a 6-30-6-45 am flight to Melbounre, that often get in late and delivers me to bag carousel normally at 8 to 8-30 am with the standard delays.
I would rather get on train or bus at 10-30-11 pm that got me to the CBD at 7-30 to 8 am, close to car hire than get on another plane. I reckon a staff member from Melbourne I employ would feel the same.
Even the backward government rail would have to do, is not stop anywhere in between ( maybe a few metro pick up points and drop off in the Syd /Mel metro).
They should be able to get few hundred per night from the airlines and a transit of less than 9 hours. They now leave around 8-40 pm and get in at 7-30 but dont have beds like the bus. That 19h , 48 min. Make a CBD to CBD service with metro points only and we would be in the 9-10 hours region, almost there.
The bureaucrats who run this need to be fired because a service like this is so possible now. The trains from Sydney to Melbourne are XPT. This would be a money-making service for them.
Bus or train, you just need car hire and good showers each end and wow. Imagine no 30% plus car hire airport location surcharge too.
That might help with the high airfare prices.
The bus company in the USA has got inspired from the past to move forward, so should we.

24 Apr 2015

Total posts 128

Qantas virgin etc. Would do anything they can to kill off high speed rail

25 Mar 2015

Total posts 30

@tom m, I guess you probably do not value your time highly; I don't care how luxurious the bus is, I do not wish to spend 20 hours (sometimes more based on your comment) to commute from LA to SF. If I am not flying, I far FAR prefer to drive the distance myself than be on a bus from 11:00am to 7:00am the next day.


03 May 2017

Total posts 25

I'm guessing 11am was a typo as it's only just over 600km so around 6-7 hour trip time. Much more friendly and no reason why some travellers wouldn't find it attractive as an option between Melbourne and Sydney.

24 Apr 2013

Total posts 18

Yes that is a typo . Distance wise by train track its about 900km. By road from CBD to CBD is 878 km, NW sydney to SE Melborune to my clients is 912 km, and driving takes me 9.5 hours as I sit on the speed limit ( +5Km in NSW and -2 km is camera stupid Victoria) and dont stop much. I have driven this route a 12-15 times.

I would rather sleep on train that should be less than 9 hours, if we were not so backward in this area as well.

The last 2 trips to send a staff memebr up who has to leave at 3 am from their place east of meblborune for a 6 to 6-30 am flight has cost me almost $600 return. Its not a cheap route. He would rather get on train at 11 pm , get into Sydney at 7-8 am and would still be at my place at a similar time and got a decent sleep.

Land at sydney airport at 8 am and try and get to NW sydney and its a mes to escape the inner city area. It take 1.5-2 hours to go the 55km, thye get to our plac eat 10 am.

24 Apr 2015

Total posts 128

$600 return sounds like a very last minute type fare.

$140 each way, sounds like a fare you can get with a few weeks notice.

That said, there's definitely a demand for flights from say Essendon to Bankstown. A dash 8 or a Sab 340 could do it (many have been diverted from SYD to Bankstown over the years, due to curfew or weather) but a small jet would be slightly faster.

24 Apr 2013

Total posts 18

This was was about 5-7 days out. In business you rarely get weeks out. I think even $140 each way a few weeks out you have to be selective on times.

24 Apr 2013

Total posts 18

Even by plane from leaving my place to getting my bags is al 4 -4.5 hours now, soimetimes 5+. If the train trip was 9 hours and I got a good sleep (better than the 3-4 hours I get now before going at the crack of dawn to the airport), would it be that much worse. The fact that this country does not have a high seed or medium speed train is national embrassesment we should all be ashamed of.

A person I know was in spain last eyar and could not get on their HST, they went on the slow one 410 km in 3 hours.

If we had a slow one like Spain. The the 900km disatance would be 6.7 hours ( very close to the plane), not 10 hrs and 48 minutes like now. So just going greater metro to greater metro in 9 hours is very achievable now. The people who took this up would free up space on the planes and help lower the high cost, for you , so try and love them.

We dont vote the right people into government to hassle the trash in the "machinery " behind government who do a poor job with the money that pays them from our taxes. its this "machinery" behind government we need to focus on that is screwing us now.

25 Mar 2015

Total posts 30

@tom m, I agree with your assessment, especially "The fact that this country does not have a high seed or medium speed train is national embrassesment we should all be ashamed of."

Even a medium speed train (something like ~200km/hr) should see travel time between Mel and Syd of around 4-5 hours.

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2555

I completely agree. I've done some fast train travel in Europe and it's wonderful – taking the best known example of Eurostar, it's pretty much just as fast on an overall city-to-city travel time basis but far more enjoyably and efficient from a business travel perspective.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

20 Dec 2011

Total posts 22

Hahaha.... "Exactly why a high speed train would be viable on the SYD-MEL route"

MEL cant even get a train City-airport !
It was announced yesterday that construction will commence in, i think 2021. Commence.Maybe

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