Qantas will resume flying between Brisbane and Tokyo as of December 1, bringing back another connection between Australia and Japan.
The rebounded route joins Qantas’ seven times weekly Sydney-Tokyo service, which received a welcome boost from its initial three per week this month, and comes ahead of the much-hyped Melbourne-Tokyo reboot in March 2023.
All three routes will use Tokyo’s Haneda Airport, which is much closer to the city than Narita, offering plenty of convenience for travellers along with access to the excellent first class and business class lounge of Oneworld member Japan Airlines.
The thrice-weekly flights will feature an Airbus A330 with 28 lie-flat Business Suites in business class, although there’s no premium economy cabin behind that – just 269 economy seats.
QF61 will depart Brisbane every Monday, Thursday and Saturday at 11.50am, to reach Tokyo Haneda as 8pm; the QF62 return leg is wheels-up from Tokyo at 9.30pm, arriving in Brisbane at 7.35am the following day (and that’s a nine-hour trip on which you’ll really appreciate those business class beds).
Qantas International CEO Andrew David says “forward bookings are tracking well, in particular for the upcoming Australian holiday period”, which shows how many Australians are eager for a getaway and are no doubt looking forward to the Japanese ski season.
On arrival, travellers will be spoiled for choice with a myriad of new hotels, restaurants and attractions opened since 2020, in addition to the Japanese staples, such as visiting onsen hot springs, which remain as enticing as ever.
Of course, the flights from Tokyo to Brisbane won’t be coming back empty, which is one reason the Queensland state government is supporting the route though its $200 million Attracting Aviation Investment Fund created to boost Queensland’s tourism sector.
“Pre-COVID-19, for the year ended December 2019, Japan represented the third largest market by expenditure and fourth largest by visitation to Queensland,” notes Queensland’s Tourism Minister Stirling Hinchliffe.
“In that year Japanese visitors totalled about 219,000 generating $459.7 million in overnight expenditure and an average length of stay of 15.8 days.”
Virgin’s Brisbane-Tokyo ambition
Virgin Australia’s plans to launch its own Brisbane-Tokyo flights in March 2020 were of course scuppered by the pandemic and then Virgin’s collapse into administration.
New owners Bain Capital subsequently ditched the long-range Airbus A330 and Boeing 777 jets needed to fly the route.
The International Air Services Commission (IASC) – which oversees Australia's international airline activity, including routes and airport takeoff and landing slots – has several times pushed back the ‘must-fly’ start date, citing the “extraordinary circumstances” of the impact of Covid-19 and “travel restrictions put in place by the Australian Government since March 2020.”
However, the IASC has now set 26 March 2023 as the ‘use it or lose it’ deadline for Virgin’s flights to Tokyo.
Approached for comment by Executive Traveller, a Virgin Australia spokesperson said “Virgin Australia has retained its capacity allocation in Tokyo Haneda with the intention of commencing Australia-Japan services in the future.”
“We welcome the lifting of travel restrictions in Japan and are working closely on our plans as demand for leisure travel to and from Japan returns.”