Qantas eyes flights to India: first via Singapore, then non-stop

Flights from Australia could use Singapore as a stopover before continuing to India, Qantas suggests.

By David Flynn, November 19 2019
Qantas eyes flights to India: first via Singapore, then non-stop

Qantas is considering flights between Australia and India, the airline revealed in Sydney today at a presentation to investors.

The sprawling subcontinent is currently served by national carrier Air India with flights from Sydney and Melbourne to New Delhi, although Singapore Airlines carries many passengers to New Delhi and other major Indian cities including Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata and Mumbai.

According to Austrade research, India – with a growing middle class among its population of 1.37 billion – represents Australia's fastest-growing inbound market, seeing an increase of 53% over the past three years, and Qantas is understandably eager for a slice of that pie.

But it will take time. In Qantas' Investor Day Presentation the airline cited that India still represents "low volumes, fragmented over many cities and low yield".

Qantas sees Singapore as a secondary hub where passengers fly to Asia as well as through Asia.
Qantas sees Singapore as a secondary hub where passengers fly to Asia as well as through Asia.

While allowing that 'South East Asian hubs remain (the) best way to service demand" in the short term, Qantas and/or Jetstar could use Singapore as a base for flights from Australia into key Indian cities "in (the) medium term, as yields rise."

Further out, the airlines says, is "long term potential to operate direct services from east coast Australia."

In Qantas' favour is the flexibility afforded by its dual brands: the famous red-tailed airline for business and premium leisure passengers, leveraging brand and distribution strength in outbound markets", while Jetstar is built around "its low cost position, pan-Asia brand strength and distribution model on outbound and inbound price driven leisure markets."

The presentation also reiterated Qantas' recent decision to abandon flights between Sydney and Beijing as of March 2020, citing weakening demand from travellers and increased competition on flights to China.

"The Group participates only where it can be profitable in the Chinese market," the airline maintains, which for the time being means serving "premium customer demand to Shanghai and Hong Kong" while working with partners such as China Eastern, China Southern and Cathay Pacific to reach the rest of mainland China.


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.

American Airlines - AAdvantage

13 Jul 2015

Total posts 268

"Qantas Eyes flights to India: First via Singapore, then non-stop" Seems like an odd way to say they'll be going to India via Singapore. India is only between 4 to 5.5 hours depending on location from Singapore - obviously it's going to be non-stop from Singapore.

I'm just surprised it isn't non-stop to India now, rather than a long term plan since South East Asia to India competes with Air India, Singapore Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, Thai Airways, etc - all of which connect to Australia "first via SEA, then non stop to Australia".

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2556

The intent is that this is a two-stage plan, first with flights via Singapore, and then later with non-stop flights from Australia.

American Airlines - AAdvantage

13 Jul 2015

Total posts 268

Yes I read the article, I just mean it's an odd choice since they're jumping into a very competitive flight zone - less competition direct.

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 1189

Flying to India is highly fragmented with multiple markets at both ends which is why the old scissor hub they operated with Jet Airways worked so well. Unfortunately for them, there is no logical replacement for Jet Airways particularly as the only other real candidate in the FSC space is Vistara and it is controlled by SQ. Of course, Jetstar could do the Singapore-India sectors but there is a massive product issue here and Singapore Airlines will delight in crushing any attempt 3K may make by thrashing the newcomer with both product and frequency.

Direct flights into India doesn't really solve the problem as the fragmented market means people are departing from most AU mainland cities and heading to many locations throughout India and the prospect of transferring onto an often chaotic domestic service in Delhi to get to Bangalore or Mumbai isn't exactly enticing.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 Apr 2016

Total posts 58

Wouldn't you serve several Indian cities from Perth using 737's?

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

17 Feb 2014

Total posts 16

Perth doesn't have much of an Indian community and and in not sure tourist numbers are enough to justify multiple flights out of WA? Also Indian Airlines have direct while you could use Thai, Singaporean, Malaysian etc from Sydney or Melbourne?

05 Mar 2015

Total posts 391

A bunch of JQ flights from Singapore into India, maybe I can see that working, and maybe even JQ direct from SYD and MEL, but I can't see a premium airline like Qantas being able to support daily non-stop flights to anywhere in India.

28 Feb 2014

Total posts 18

I always thought QF would be better with a code shared arriangement with MH into India after Jetairways folded. MH has a pretty good reach into India, and the timeings into multiple locations is much better then CX. However, for someone like myself that in travelling into India every quater, anything that Qantas can offer other then the all day lay over in either SIN / HKG has to be better.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

09 May 2013

Total posts 135

Obviously, they have their market research. However, even SQ fill up all their business cabins on their A380's out of India, so it is kinda weird when QF says the yields are low. Every time i have flown to India (20+ times in 3 years), via CX, SQ, TG, business class is 80-90% full from australia to the Asian port but close to 100% full from the Asian port to India.

QF could possibly do 3 flights a week to all the major hubs like Chennai, Bengaluru, Mumbai and Delhi and gauge demand, plus there is always medical tourism. Visa on arrival (not that i recommend this) or the online visa would give Australians the option to explore India. Goa could easily become the next Bali.

Due to serious demand, even Srilankan airlines is flying into Sydney (where most of the traffic is from India)

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

17 Feb 2014

Total posts 16

You mean Sri Lankan is thinking of flying into Sydney. They only do daily flights into Melbourne at the moment and they are well served once they land in Colombo with Sri Lankans many connecting flights to South India specially. The Melbourne flights actually fed into the existing Colombo-India destinations.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

03 Jun 2014

Total posts 15

Bacl in the early 2000s approx 03/04 QF went direct to BOM that service back then was hit and miss direct for pax numbers hence why they stopped it. Back then it was run by A333 so would expect the same aircraft type to be used again if and when they go direct to India

12 Feb 2015

Total posts 88

And in even earlier days, BOM was a stop for QF flights to and from Europe.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

17 Feb 2014

Total posts 16

Wouldn't make sense trying to compete with Air India first and then like mentioned with being able to connect to many of the Indian cities.

It for Sri Lankan Airlines because of the existing Sri Lankan traffic that it captured as well as the new Indian traffic it fed into their existing routes from Colombo still making it a one stop flight. They should do well getting into Sydney as well in the same concept with more Indian traffic than Sri Lankan flying out of Sydney. They are one biggest foreign airline's in terms of number of flights flying into India from overseas.

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 1189

Domestic travel in India is shambolic. Any solution that means someone has to fly 11 hours and then transfer onto an Indian domestic service is doomed against a seamless transfer with SQ in SIN.

23 Feb 2015

Total posts 262

Indigo is a great airline


02 Oct 2012

Total posts 46

It has been done before and it didn't work. One of the Oz-SIN flights did continue to BOM daily (perhaps it was a 767-300ER in those days) and there was also an attempt with an A330 non-stop SYDBOM (from memory it had a technical stop in DRW one way to refuel). This was also suspended (sounds like Beijing really doesn't it) so QF know how to do it if they can get the premium demand along with frequency (a mix of destinations in India would be ideal too). Let's hope they can make it work.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 Nov 2017

Total posts 314

QF for a while flew BNE-SIN-BOM as one flight number (QF51/52), before QF moved the scissor hub to DXB (and subsequently axed BOM and PER/ADL-SIN) PER-SIN has since been reinstated on 737s with the seasonal up-gauge to A330s.

BNE-SIN was on a 744 and the SIN-BOM leg was on a A333. The flight number was from BNE, but the actual aircraft (A333) to BOM came off the ADL-SIN flight.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

12 Jan 2017

Total posts 22

Yep, SYD/DRW/BOM on a A330. Would have been around 2004/5.

I was stopping in SIN on the way back, and was on a QF codeshare on Jet metal.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

20 Aug 2014

Total posts 150

I'm waiting for an upguage on the Shanghai flight. Every time I've looked at business class flights on QF it's been super expensive/almost sold out. Recently I checked a date a week out and the outbound sector alone was $4,500. (Assuming it was probably the last seat remaining).

11 Dec 2015

Total posts 85

Every time I've flown SQ to Singapore, there have been quite a lot of Indians on board. In addition, when Indian friends and colleagues have flown back to India, the majority of the time it has been on SQ transiting in Changi.

I would think at the very least it could support a single daily Qantas service from Sydney and Melbourne. If not, then perhaps Jetstar's purchase of A321LRs will allow them to roster a couple of their Dreamliners on to direct routes.

Cathay Pacific - The Marco Polo Club

02 Jul 2018

Total posts 40

That would be nice. I traveled India in the old days, if you need to stick with OneWorld, you can only transit at Hong Kong. Of course Singapore Airlines is nice too but lack of direct flights between Australia and India is major blow.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

17 Feb 2014

Total posts 16

Sri Lankan is one world


03 May 2013

Total posts 664

Qantas won't ever be able to compete with Air India and SQ fares. Qantas charges premium fares on all its routes for less than or equal to competitors. In Air India's case I guess Qantas offers much more for the fare paid. It's all relative.


Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

14 Sep 2012

Total posts 389

Qantas has struggled to make India work in the past and I predict will struggle in the future. India is notoriously difficult for many reasons but short version is from point of sale Australia is generally leisure and VFR both at the lower end of yield. Southbound to Australia is even lower yield. High yield in premium cabins are sold from Asia to India (namely Singapore) and that's why SQ can fill daily A380s and 777s to Mumbai and Delhi (and why people comment that all those flights are full).

Delhi has mix of leisure (Agra, Jaipur etc) with some corporate to Gurgaon, while Mumbai is largely corporate. Bangalore is important but won't sustain demand from Oz.

Good luck to QF but the realities of many challenges to India coupled with SQ owning the market makes for a very very high mountain for QF to climb.

Jetstar Airways - Qantas Frequent Flyer

24 Aug 2018

Total posts 106

I Continue to be mystified by the lack of a direct Qf flight to Shri Lanka from Melbourne. Since the cessation of hostilities on the island, its people need more tourism, but as a QFFer I simply want to go direct, rather than via Singapore. Notwithstanding the alleged nexus between Air Shri Lanka and Qantas under the OW umbrella, using the Qantas calculator for its partners is a painworking out the benefits. Would appreciate a few pointers from regular travellers between SL and Aus.

22 Jul 2014

Total posts 14

It is very unlikely Indians will fly with Qantas because Qantas staff treat Indian passengers like second class and with racist attitude. How do I know this? I have extensive connection with Indians and they think Qantas is a racist airline. A lot of Indians prefer Singapore Airlines or Air India.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

09 May 2013

Total posts 135

As an indian myself, i love Qantas for their work culture, ethos and business acumen. I have never felt any flight attendant racist towards me whether i fly economy or business.

However, there is a great chance flight attendants show frustration for passengers who sit and ask for the world to be delivered to them. This is more of a cultural thing, not a race thing.

Indians are a very tolerant bunch, they put up so much nonsense every day like honking, invasion of private space, loss of etiquette. But, most indians who live outside of india, follow the home country code of conduct (not all).

I would fly Qantas any given day compared to Air India, only because you cannot trust air india to take anything seriously when it comes to cancellations. You definitely get more bang for your buck with Air India though.

15 Sep 2012

Total posts 96

Two words come to mind: Qantas Red!

Qantas had plans before Emirates partnership to set up a hub in Singapore flying premium services around Asia using fleet of locally based 737s

. Singapore was a great hub in 80s and 90s for Qantas with 767s flying from Australia then on to Bangkok, Hong Kong and other ports. No reason why can't restart rubbing again!

They should look at A321 XLR to operate mainline services from Australian ports like Adelaide, Cairns, Townsville, Newcastle, Canberra and Hobart to Singapore hub then on to Various Asian ports including Delhi, Mumbai and Benglaru. A321 would have similar capacity to 767. New Boeing mid size jet as longer term replacement.

Probably isn't market for bigger aircraft on direct services

12 Dec 2012

Total posts 1024

They never decided if that A320 based premium airline would be based in SIN or KUL. They were in talks with MH about it (as part of QF helping MH into oneworld), but the joint venture RedQ talks fell apart, which is what promoted QF to go to EK.

If QF wants another go at India, they should try talking to MH or UL.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Feb 2014

Total posts 24

It all comes down to yield and India would be a very low yield market that said I am not sure why QF could not fill a Dreamliner to perhaps the best airport there (Bangalore) where the main Outsourcing and IT companies are. Most financial institutions have back offices here. And there would be a market willing to pay a premium for non stop service. I spoke to a friend at VA about this and told him would not be any worse that the yield they were getting to HK! They could start maybe 3 time a week and switch these between non stop and one stop services via Singapore (a QF day time service to Sydney/Melb and a late night departure out of Sydney before curfew for instance). Alternatively do a triangular flight from East coast to Colombo and the Maldives with high end resorts there has to be yied there again no worse than HNL perhaps. If the Colombo option works swallow your pride and work with your QF partner UL. EK also has 3 flights a day out of Colombo and one does a 5th freedom Colombo to Maldives. KLM also flies to Colombo and given you are coding out of Singapore why not have another one stop option....As someone mentioned above UL is the biggest foreign carrier into India. They are also now starting to fly into second tier airport. Something to consider....

10 Jul 2011

Total posts 2

The problem with a nonstop SYD-BOM is the duration of flight. The FAAA stipulates that flights over 10 hrs need 2 x Crews. A most unprofitable option.

Back in 2002 QF had a deal with the Union that allowed 1 set of crew to do extended hours.

When that sweet deal lapsed QF introduced a meaningless stopover in Darwin - mainly for a change of cabin crew to comply with max flying time rules.

Until QF can work out how to fly SYD-BOM with 1 x Crew - it will need to be via SIN

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