Qantas eyes flights to South Korea, Taiwan

Travel bubbles could open new routes and new opportunities for Qantas.

By David Flynn, October 23 2020
Qantas eyes flights to South Korea, Taiwan

Qantas could begin direct flights to South Korea and Taiwan in early next year if Covid-safe travel bubbles open up between those countries and Australia, as the airline adapts its international network to take advantage of new opportunities.

However, flights the US and the London will likely remain grounded "until the end of 2021" pending the arrival of a vaccine.

Addressing the airline's annual general meeting today – an event based in Sydney but run as a virtual AGM due to the pandemic – Chairman Richard Goyder said the airline is monitoring fresh destinations which won't require travellers to enter quarantine on their return to Australia.

"Both Qantas and Jetstar are keeping a close eye on new markets that might open up as a result of these bubbles, including places that weren’t part of our pre-COVID network," Goyder remarked.

"By early next year, we may find that Korea, Taiwan and various islands in the Pacific are top Qantas destinations while we wait for our core international markets like the US and UK to re-open."

Some new destinations could soon be appearing on the departures board...
Some new destinations could soon be appearing on the departures board...

Goyder noted that even on the domestic front the airline was "adding new destinations that suddenly make sense – and it’s the kind of flexibility we need to make the most of any cash positive opportunities in the year ahead."

To date, the only direct flights from Australia to Taiwan – specifically to the capital Taipei – have been run by Taiwan's China Airlines and EVA Air, while Cathay Pacific has been a popular option with flights via its Hong Kong hub.

Likewise, Korean Airlines and Asiana have long enjoyed the lion's share of direct flights between Australia to Seoul, although Jetstar launched flights from the Gold Coast to Seoul in 2019.

Qantas has previously flown to South Korea and Taiwan as far back as 1999, including a seasonal Brisbane-Seoul service over the 2005-2006 northern winter.

On a more longstanding basis, Qantas offered codeshare flights with China Airlines to Taipei and with Asiana to Seoul, with frequent flyers able to book these through Qantas under a QF flight number to earn points and status credits.

US, UK by the end of 2021 – maybe...

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce has already said the bulk of the airline's overseas travel will not begin to return until the second half of 2021, and today forecast that a return to the US and London is still at least a year away.

"For some of our big destination like the United States and the UK, it's going to need a vaccine given the high prevalence of the virus in both of those locations," Joyce said at today's AGM.

"But we are getting more and more confident about the opportunities and the potential for a vaccine in helping getting those operations up by potentially by the end of 2021."

Joyce also reaffirmed his confidence in Project Sunrise – the ambitious plan for non-stop flights from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane  to the likes of London, Paris and New York,  along with Frankfurt, Cape Town and Rio de Janeiro.

Qantas' initial set of likely Airbus A350 Project Sunrise routes.
Qantas' initial set of likely Airbus A350 Project Sunrise routes.

Project Sunrise, and an initial order for up to twelve ultra-long range Airbus A350-1000 jets, was set to be given the green light by Joyce and the Qantas board mere weeks before the pandemic took hold in early 2020, with a planned launch by mid-2023.

"We are still very keen, once we have repaired our balance sheet, on Project Sunrise which will allow us to fly from the eastern states directly to destinations around the globe. We think in a post-Covid world the business opportunities for those routes will be quite immense."

Read more: Post-pandemic, Alan Joyce sees Qantas Project Sunrise as a ray of hope

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.

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1137

Vietnam is another one as well, but maybe no due to fewer business links.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

05 Jun 2014

Total posts 177

Hopefully an opportunity for JQ to resume SGN and maybe add HAN or DAD

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1137

HAN and DAD????

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 Nov 2017

Total posts 259

The question is will it be QF's A330s,  or transferring the JQ 788s (refurbished into QF config, possibly retrofitted with crew rest and painted into QF livery) to ICN and/or TPE

JQ was flying SYD-OOL-ICN and MEL-OOL-ICN a few times a week before covid.

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1137

Dan right now they will be the under-used A333s, which not hibernating, as it is too much hassle and cost to refit Jetstar planes.

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2435

DanV, my first thought would be A330s as they're sitting around on the ground and were previously the workhorse of choice for Asia. But you never know, if Qantas sees sufficient pent-up demand and the rest of Asia begins opening up too – such as Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan - then Qantas may well being back many of the 787s for Asia as demand ticks up.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

02 Sep 2018

Total posts 146

The Jetstar idea makes no business sense. Why retrofit a new and perfectly suitable aircraft when there are plenty idle Qantas jets?

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

17 Nov 2014

Total posts 101

Why Hong Kong is not in the list? There are less Coronavirus cases in Hong Kong than in South Korea, being one of the major trade partner of Australia, why we are not letting people from Hong Kong to escape the evil police into peaceful Australia, as well as those HongKongers (like me) who are stranded in Australia to go back to where we come from?

I think Executive Traveller should petition Australian PM to establish a Travel Bubble between Hong Kong and Australia by January 2021, so that we can go back to where we come from and celebrate Lunar New Year with our families.

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1137

Cityrail this is about new routes and so that is why Bangkok, Hong Kong, Tokyo or Shanghai or even Singapore aren’t on the list all possible bubble cities. Whether they all come into the bubble  is another thing though, but they are all eligible.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

15 Aug 2017

Total posts 109

Agreed HK cases are good and the people disciplined (I was there in March before it went really crazy and the people were already wearing masks) My guess is political reasons. But in that case Taiwan would be a bit fragile also being China (or not?) 

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2435

Hey CityRail - HK not listed because the focus here was on new destinations not currently or recently flown by Qantas, which may open up due to bubbles. During the Q&A Alan also mentioned the potential of travel bubbles to destination already on the Qantas network map, citing Singapore and Japan as examples, and obviously Hong Kong will be among those too. The fact that there's already a travel bubble between Singapore and Hong Kong bodes well for both those countries, actually, to be among the very first Asian destinations for an AU bubble. Speaking for myself, very keen to get back to Singapore and Hong Kong!

16 Jan 2018

Total posts 8

No offense, but I wouldn't call HK a country 

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2435

Yes, technically correct, it's more a 'territory' of China now.

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1137

Add Taiwan and later even Singapore.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

24 Jan 2018

Total posts 370

Nah, let's start calling Hong Kong a country, Taiwan a country too.  

17 Jun 2020

Total posts 161

Makes sense, but will believe it when I see it (like flights to Paris).

This is an airline that added six flights per week to Auckland and Christchurch after the travel bubble was announced only to reduce and cancel them a week later. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

15 Aug 2017

Total posts 109

Travel bubbles and talk of them have been nothing other than a storm in a tea cup so far (even the NZ flights situation now is not a bubble) 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

26 Feb 2020

Total posts 1

The question is - Will Qantas refer to Taiwan as a country, or a territory of China?

Probably not an important question for a lot of people, but very important to the people of Taiwan.

20 Oct 2015

Total posts 91

The Qantas website currently lists it as "Taipei, Taiwan, China" but I believe that's because the Australian government doesn't recognise Taiwan as its own country and also considers it part of China.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 Oct 2011

Total posts 403

At one point a couple of years ago, China spat the dummy because Qantas was referring to Taiwan as being the country of which Taipei is the capital. I believe there were some not-very-veiled threats about withdrawing landing rights in PEK, PVG and HKG. To calm the Chinese, QF then changed its system to show "Taipei, Taiwan, China".

One of those examples of diplomatic protocols ignoring the actual reality - rather like countries (including Australia in the 1960s) considering that the government of Taiwan was actually the government of mainland China, when it was obvious that the Communists were the government of the mainland.

People tie themselves up in knots to deal with these things. An organisation that I worked for had ties with both the PRC and Taiwan (among other countries) and we had  flags of the countries in our foyer. Whenever we had officials from the PRC visiting, we would frantically remove the Taiwanese flag from the foyer before they arrived! And same when we had Taiwanese government visitors - the PRC flag was removed. All quite silly really.

XWu
XWu

09 May 2020

Total posts 285

@ John Phelan,

Just as Australian politicians play games, then you should expect to play games if you are a company trying to do business with PRC and ROC at the same time.

If you ever understood some of it, you may realise that if the company is trying to attract business (ie you need them more than they need you), then the other side has the upper hand. I can almost certainly say that if someone drops in unofficially, offence will not be taken if they seen the other flag. But if it’s an official visit with advanced notice with bells and whistles expected, then offence will (and have to) be taken (esp on the PRC side) even though they know you are also doing business with the other China.

It’s the same kind of thing with EU or Olympics or WHO, most educated or tech savvy French knows English, understands English and even speaks English, but in official high level government and some businesses they speak only French and uses translators. 

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2435

Readers are reminded to keep their comments on the topic/s of an article. State border closures is not a topic here, and we want to avoid having the comments sidetracked or hijacked by another round of argy-bargy over border closures and politics.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

29 Jan 2016

Total posts 5

Taiwan/China

Can I soon fly to Shanghai?

20 Oct 2015

Total posts 91

I'd really like to see Qantas flying to both Seoul and Taiwan, I'm sure it would help raise the profile of both countries among Australian travellers and hopefully that interest will keep both cities on the QF map permanently.

P1
P1

24 Apr 2017

Total posts 66

the sophisticated traveler has known about South Korea and Taiwan forever and doesn't need Qantas to get there.

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1137

P1 what about us ‘unsophisticated‘ ones, swim maybe.

XWu
XWu

09 May 2020

Total posts 285

Unless QF offers a product which is significantly cheaper than Korean Air, EVA and China Air (or whatever it’s new name is going to be), I suspect most first time Korean or Taiwanese travellers will still choose their national airlines than QF which would probably rely on its other OW alliance pax but mostly Aussies.

I do not think QF have the kind of cultural sensitivity to attract pax originally from these countries (having menus in Chinese/Korean, 2-3 Mandarin/Korean speaking flight attendants per flights, or having traditional meal options doesn’t cut the mustard) if the pricing is too similar. 

KLM learnt very quickly its lesson early in the pandemic when it tried to isolate one toilet for use on a flight to Seoul (which I have no problem with) but decide to use a sign written in Korean “lavatory for crew members only”; considering the flight originated from Amsterdam and despite the fact that many pax are Korean, this unofficial decision (not official policy of KLM) should have at least include Dutch, Flemish and English in addition to Korean IMO. The crew then decide to add English to the sign which didn’t help as it was to me as to anyone else, that it’s a pissweak attempt at appeasement without understanding why offence was taken.

Albeit this was a crew initiated decision to commandeer a toilet for their use, and not official KLM Air-France policy at the time, it shows that despite the well travelled crew members, they can still lack the tack and cultural sensitivity to deal with many Asian pax. Frankly I don’t think QF crews will fare better considering how I see some of them deal with polite requests with pax of East Asian and South Asian origin on international flights in cattle class. 

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1137

XWu I take your point but Qantas has been flying to East Asia: Shanghai; Hong Kong; and Tokyo for many years, and in my experience while not perfect they tend to get it. Once I had to ask for chop sticks for an East Asian meal and they said they only gave them to East Asians which was truly weird and smacked of profiling, but apart from that they have been generally okay. Being an Australian airline their clients will be mostly that.

XWu
XWu

09 May 2020

Total posts 285

@patrickk 

If they don’t give you the chopsticks you asked for (regardless of what profile you look like) in J class......

I seriously doubt they routinely offer chopsticks in the cattle class regardless of the meal served or what the pax looked like on QF flights to all Asian destinations, but hey maybe a reader fitting a Japanese profile who flew SYD-NRT in economy can point out I am wrong on that.

I don’t necessarily have a problem with QF per se, and frankly I do see some attendants make that effort, but there are enough in the majority with the lack of tack that would put those pax off. Ironically it’s the J-class who would get the better service in QF regardless of profile but unfortunately there would be more people in economy to make their opinion known in social media the great leveller 

Again, not my problem, but just thinking it may turn out to be a very short 2-3 year venture to these destinations unless the Aussie travellers number picks up.

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1137

XWu it was business class hence weird and in my view profiling, as they weren’t particularly apologetic and basically said I didn’t fit the profile for chop sticks, while in Australia for any good East Asian restaurant it is ( quite correctly) the opposite.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 Apr 2012

Total posts 306

Another vote here for Taiwan!

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

24 Jan 2018

Total posts 370

What's the national beer in Taiwan?  Is it any good?

China Airlines - Dynasty Flyer

22 Sep 2012

Total posts 74

Taiwan Beer is quite good and there are some other decent brands. China airlines (CI) actually have a partnership with them (Taiwan Beer) and so it is always stocked on their planes and lounges. Also Sapporo beer is always stocked in the lounges that is mostly due to their heavy presence on routes to Japan which are already partially opening up. I cant say much about the spirits though.

I hope this travel bubble will include mainland China by early 2021. Be nice to get back for a quick trip home (Brisbane) in late January.

P1
P1

24 Apr 2017

Total posts 66

I wouldn't fly Qantas if they paid me. Taiwan in China Air's A350 is brilliant, South Korea via Tokyo on ANA or JAL's B787 also great and how I've gone in the past, and would do again.

Qantas can keep its crap service and planes and execs.

China Airlines - Dynasty Flyer

22 Sep 2012

Total posts 74

They might be better just expanding their partnership with China airlines and let CI ramp up frequency on (BNE/SYD/MEL). They can then focus on flying their A330's on routes to like HKG or SIN which will be in high demand anyway. I Think many south east asian destinations will be a no go. So places like Indonesia (Bali) or Malaysia, Philippines and etc will be out of the question.  SIN I can see being a top destination.

Qantas would have to up its game considerably if it is to compete successfully against the service offered on either China Airlines or EVA Air.  I expect that QF would only want to operate out of SYD to TPE.

08 May 2020

Total posts 15

Pretty gutted the UK is pushed out to 2022.  I had hoped international travellers might get a chance to pay for early access to a vaccine (after most vulnerable are sorted) :(

17 Jun 2020

Total posts 161

Qantas is deciding as an independent business not to fly to UK until 2022. 

There are dozens of other airlines that fly between Australia and the UK, with better product and service too. 

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1137

KW72 Qantas won’t fly without passengers and it seems there won’t be (Australians) for some time, until the government allows it. Hard to find dozens flying between Oz and UK at the moment. I can think of half a dozen tops, but I could be wrong, and most of those passengers won’t be either Aussies or on a through trip.

30 Oct 2020

Total posts 1

Even if you can't get a flight from Australia to Europe/America, you will certainly be able to bunny hop from whatever country we have a two-way travel bubble with :-) Might just be a bit costly.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

30 Apr 2014

Total posts 9

For those of us in the UK who have credit vouchers it would be great if they could extend them until 2023 as we wont be able to use them for another 12 months. I’m lucky that I have the option to get a refund if needed but was looking forward to having my next 2 trips home paid for. 

16 Dec 2016

Total posts 45

PI your constant Qantas bashing is really boring. We get it, you are a Virgin fan. It might be time to realise you’ve lost that battle though and VA isn’t an Aussie airline & was an epic failure.  This news should be celebrated as green shoots for aviation in Australia. Anecdotes about KLM closing a toilet or not getting chopsticks shouldn’t be our focus. As people who love flying we should applaud Qantas and book as soon as these routes open so that they can recover and return to investment and new products and services. Save your hypothetical whinging until they start flying to these new cities 🙄

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

11 Oct 2014

Total posts 556

QF 'eyes' flying to Taipei ? 

Yeah, sure. This is just Alan trying to say something to a) maintain interest in a non-operational Qantas and b) trying to appear relevant.

The facts are more than clear. QF has flown to Taiwan on numerous occasions and have always lost money. Remember the 'Australia-Asia' livery repaint that QF did on B747SP (designed not to offend the PRC) and the service from Mandarin Airlines (Taiwan)? There is not a lot of O & D demand ex either country. Demand for Taipei<->Australia simply isn't that great and nor is it particularly stable

China Airlines (Taiwan) has a moderately respectable service to Australia a s does EVA Air. But that is more than enough capacity to cater for demand to Taiwan. Think back over the past 10 years and review both carriers. China Airlines has slowly improved their frequency over the years - and EVA Air has slowly shrunk theirs.

QF is clearly grabbing at potential straws with this idea of Taiwan. QF has little name-recognition in the Taiwan market and destination-loyalty (ex Taiwan) is variable at best. Just look at the history of the Taiwan-USA market.

Noticeably, JQ Pacific has only in the last few weeks wound up its operation in Vietnam and effectively left the partnership by handing its share to Vietnam Airlines. If Taiwan was jumping off the page as some new, wonderful revenue-rich destination, then commonsense would indicate that JQ Pacific could have been moved to Taiwan instead. Surely, such a move would have solved the failure of JQ to gain a HK license - and also might have ensured an 'early-mover' discount LCC operation which could have targeted both Hong Kong and Taiwan. Ah, but that didn't happen. Did it?

I do, however. think that Seoul (ICN) may have a chance, if QF is inclined to exhibit some patience. Remember, KAL has a habit of sending it's lightly configured A380-800 here in the southern summer months and both Asiana and KAL are able to maintain year round service. There well be room for QF to add services on a Korean route. Perhaps a MEL-SYD-ICN route might be feasible. And before you howl down a 'tag-on' route, be aware that the idea of 'tag-ons' will be more prominent over the next 12-24 months as airlines worldwide seek to re-establish or redefine routes.

04 Aug 2018

Total posts 3

Qantas used to fly from Seoul (Gimpo) to Brisbane with a tag route to Sydney up until 1996 which was always full.  I don't see why they can't replicate since the Jetstar flights(Gold Coast-Seoul Incheon) seemed really popular. 

07 May 2020

Total posts 72

It is easy for anyone including politicians to blow bubbles. And everyone likes to watch them. But one thing is for sure, they always POP. And you never know when. So there has never been one successful "travel bubble" yet, and there won't be for many reasons.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

13 Jan 2018

Total posts 32

QF61 BNE to NRT flew over my roof this morning.

I thought that QANTAS weren't flying internationally, save AKL and repatriation flights.

Maybe they're practicing for the bubble.

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1137

Rnicky there is a regular freight run a couple of times a week with a passenger A333 sans passengers. See the qantas source website for details.

AT
AT

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

14 Sep 2012

Total posts 329

I’ve been flying from Sydney- Taipei for business for a few years now and it’s one of my favourite destinations in Asia. I usually fly China Air or CX via HK. I’m amazed that it takes this pandemic for Qantas to consider Taiwan as a destination though, I’m not expert in airline routes but I do know each China Air flight I’ve taken has been full, and their business class is excellent by the way. 


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