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".
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.