Qantas pauses Airbus A380, first class on Melbourne-Singapore flights

Qantas is pulling its superjumbos – and first class – from the normally-popular Melbourne-Singapore route, citing low demand.

By Chris Chamberlin, February 20 2020
Qantas pauses Airbus A380, first class on Melbourne-Singapore flights

Qantas will downgrade its Airbus A380 flights between Melbourne and Singapore to the smaller Boeing 787 over the coming months, in response to lower passenger demand driven by the coronavirus outbreak.

As the Roo's Boeing 787 Dreamliners top out at business class, this also sees first class removed from Qantas' Melbourne-Singapore route, albeit temporarily.

Qantas is yet to finalise the changes in its booking systems, although sales of new first class tickets have been paused on QF35/36 for departures between March 29 and May 24 2020, inclusive.

First class passengers already booked on affected flights will be reaccomodated onto other services, which may include detouring via Sydney aboard QF1/QF2, or being shifted onto Emirates' non-stop Melbourne-Singapore flight, which offers first class and which Qantas sells as a codeshare.

“Coronavirus resulted in the suspension of our flights to mainland China and we’re now seeing some secondary impacts with weaker demand on Hong Kong, Singapore and to a lesser extent Japan," said Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce.

“What’s important is that we have flexibility in how we respond to Coronavirus and how we maintain our strategic position more broadly. We can extend how long the cuts are in place, we can deepen them or we can add seats back in if the demand is there. This is an evolving situation that we’re monitoring closely."

Business class gets a boost

Although Qantas is in the process of revamping its Airbus A380s with new business class seats, most flights between Melbourne and Singapore are served by Qantas' unrefurbished superjumbos.

These come fitted with the airline's last-generation business class seating: Skybed IIs in a 2-2-2 layout, which don't provide direct and uninterrupted aisle access for each passenger.

The Boeing 787s being slotted onto the route instead come with a more passenger-pleasing 1-2-1 layout, sporting Qantas' latest Business Suites:

ET review: Qantas Boeing 787-9 business class

Qantas dials back other international routes

Melbourne's A380 aircraft swap comes as part of a broader reduction of flights and capacity on Qantas' Asia routes, with the number of available seats dialled back by 16% overall.

Flights between Sydney and Shanghaipreviously suspended until March 29 2020 – will remain paused until at least May 24 2020, per Qantas' booking schedule.

Sydney-Hong Kong flights will also be reduced from twice-daily to a single daily service between March 30 and May 24 2020, returning to normal schedule from May 25 2020.

As previously reported, Melbourne-Hong Kong and Brisbane-Hong Kong flights will also be reduced to five and four weekly return flights, respectively.

These cuts for Melbourne and Brisbane were to originally take effect until late March, but have been extended "until at least the end of May."

Additionally, Qantas will trim some flights to Auckland from both Sydney and Melbourne over the coming months, and from Brisbane to Christchurch, reducing available seats by 6%.

Also read: Qantas cuts Hong Kong flights as coronavirus takes hold

Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin is the Associate Editor of Executive Traveller, and lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins not just with a single step, but also a strong latte, a theatre ticket, and later in the day, a good gin and tonic.

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 774

The reduction in MEL-SIN capacity is not a surprise. I flew QF36 a couple of weeks ago and had no issue getting an upgrade to business and there were a few empty seats in premium economy also. I had expected that they may cancel QF37/QF38 but I guess these need to continue for connection purposes. In some respects, I would be surprised if QF35/36 ever returns to an A380 particularly as Qantas may choose to use them on routes such as Sydney-Johannesburg once the 747s are gone.

Now having chosen to remove the A380 from QF35/36, the A380 operating QF94 will spend a very short amount of time on the ground in Lembourne before going back to LAX as QF93. There will need to be a slight change of schedule on the 10:40AM departure of QF93 as QF94 isn't scheduled to arrive until 9:50AM each day.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

31 Jul 2018

Total posts 7

Any idea where this A380 will be reallocated?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 Nov 2017

Total posts 250

Rumours around the internet is that JNB is the "lucky" port getting up-gauged to the A388 (including selling F on the route).

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1028

They are busy refurbishing them so they may bring that forward.

20 Jan 2017

Total posts 41

Whilst it gives good reason to finish off the the refurb process, could this potentially expedite the retirements of the 747?

Given you'll have the 380's available to possibly serve those routes currently operated by the jumbo (Tokyo,Santiago and J'Burg).

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

30 Oct 2018

Total posts 4

Santiago is already going to the 787 in June. Qantas wanted to send the A380 to Tokyo but so far haven't been able to get Haneda airport to budge on lifting A380 slot restrictions.

Johannesburg is a possibility considering unlike Santiago it is nearly daily right now as opposed to 4 days a week and while it would be mainly leisure route it would be mainly a safari crowd. However the current return leg to Sydney gets in mid-afternoon not an ideal timed unless you wanted to leave it on the ground overnight or rely on a quick turnaround to do QF1 but dropping QF35/36 would help.

29 Jan 2020

Total posts 21

No 380s allowed at present into Haneda, and Santiago goes to daily 787 this year.

May see 389 on Johannesburg?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

31 Jul 2018

Total posts 7

Would be nice if it freed up a 744 for another few months of HNL flights.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

18 May 2018

Total posts 3

I have a reward booking for QF35 on March 30th for a seat in First and another two in Business but with different booking numbers. When QF eventually call me, do you think they will allow me to move both the First and Business seats to a new flight that accommodates both classes? Any suggestions on how I should approach this? I'm hoping they might move us to the last A380 flight on the 28th, obviously if they have seats.

We all need to be on the same flight and I really don't want to have to down grade the first seat, it's meant to be one for the bucket list!

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 774

If you want to go to Singapore in First, it will have to be QF1 so it would depend on availability on the flight. It's usually pretty tight for reward seats with lots of people heading to LHR.

I've done QF35 in First and it is an experience as long as you don't have to pay. Having said that, it is more fun to share with other people so I'd probably prefer to go in business with family/friends than sit in first by myself.

01 Apr 2014

Total posts 92

I have found it's usually best to call them when you become aware of those schedule changes instead of waiting for a phone call or an automated email, as it gives you a head start on all the others in the same predicament. The phone calls often only happen closer to departure if you haven't responded to the auto email.

Depending on your connections, I would be choosing the EK flight MEL-SIN, although QF A380 they have more flexibility with seating allocation. Given different bookings, it also makes sense to ask them to link the bookings in the system. I have done that before when travelling F and relatives in J, and it let's them know to consider any changes with the other booking in mind.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

18 May 2018

Total posts 3

I will do this, Thanks born2fish!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

14 Sep 2018

Total posts 14

I was booked MEL/HKG/KHH mid April. Qantas changed me to MEL/SYD/HKG/KHH now MEL/BNE/TPE . I will have to catch a high speed train to Kaohsiung, and hope to get back home via HKG at the end of April.

I rang as soon as I got an email with a change of flight notification and the process was relatively easy.

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1028

I was wondering KHH and TPE was. I think I worked it out but spelling them out is much easier for all.

21 Feb 2020

Total posts 6

Not first class, but I have a business class flight Singapore-Melbourne in mid May. Sorry to be selfish with all this drama and stress due to the virus, but I would be happier to fly in 1-2-1 configuration, than a 2-2-2. Fingers crossed.

What an absolute nightmare for number crunchers and seat organisers for all airlines now.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

21 Mar 2017

Total posts 36

Lol burgers... I'm book very early May LHR SIN MEL on this affected flight. I see they're still selling seats showing as an A380 on their websites booking engine, but my booking now reflects the 787. The seat they've given me is one of the annoying seat's that pokes out into the aisle >_< It won't let me change it on the website/app, as I have an unaccepted change elsewhere in that booking (they've downguaged another flight's equipment to not have busienss class whatsoever). Anyways I've so far been on hold for exactly 1h, 1min and 30 secs to discuss both of these things. Does anyone know if I'm unhappy with the change if I can ask to be rerouted via SYD or something? I loathe their business class seats of the new seats where the seat closest to the aisle pokes out - it feels so exposed. Feels like a real first world problem, I know, but I paid 9k return and specifically chose the flights I chose as those specific seats were avail :(

15 Nov 2019

Total posts 1

I have a Qantas flight in early May from MEL - SIN as part of my RTW trip. They moved my wife and I from first class to business class because of the aircraft change. Got Qantas call me back after 3 hours and they said there are no first class available at Emirates.

So I got them to change my flight to MEL-SYD business class and then first class on QF1 to SIN.

They had to charge me an extra 108000 points but will refund $360 in fees.

Although still annoyed they didn't waive me the points and no way I'm flying business after paying for first class in the end my dream of flying Qantas first class using points is still alive and well.

15 Sep 2012

Total posts 92

With the reduction in services to Asia providing 18 spare aircraft, they now have no excuse for not starting international services out of smaller cities. Coronavirus is mainly affecting China services. Not affecting Euope or NZ! Qantas has consistently said shortage of aircraft was main reason they didn't serve theses cities. No reason now Qantas can't start services to Singapore and New Zealand from Adelaide, Cairns, Townsville, Newcastle, Canberra and Hobart. They already have rights and staff in these locations so could start quickly. From Singapore start service to Paris and Frankfurt, turning Singapore into hub again. Qantas already has slots at both cities as planned non stops from Perth delayed by battle with Perth Airport. A380 could run Melbourne - Singapore- Paris or Melbourne - Singapore - Frankfurt. A330s and 787s can operate services from regional cities to Singapore and NZ with spare 737s

04 May 2015

Total posts 263

"No reason?" How do you expect an airline to fill all those flights with paying passengers at the drop of a hat? Qantas usually sells new routes a year before they first depart, not the day before launch. The current coronavirus reductions are also temporary: things may well go back to normal in a few months, at which time the aircraft will be needed to fly existing routes, and all those routes you dream of would be quickly shut down.

(Not to mention the hope of Melbourne's A380 continuing from Singapore to Paris or Frankfurt isn't going to happen, when that A380 won't be flying to Singapore soon.)

Etihad - Etihad Guest

19 Mar 2018

Total posts 53

Australians overestimate the attractiveness of their nation as a tourism destination.

What's there to do in Townsville.

What about Asians, who don't drive in general, or have little opportunity to.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

09 Mar 2017

Total posts 20

I was booked in first class on QF35 during these dates. I saw this article and checked my booking online. I'd been downgraded to business class. Noone from Qantas called me to ask my preference. Forget too that I'm a Platinum member - such poor process. I've now got myself on the QF1 via Sydney, but I had to initiate the call and request to Qantas. Should not be the way


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