Qantas still cool on non-stop flights from Perth to Paris, Frankfurt

The prospect of direct flights from Perth to Paris, Frankfurt and Johannesburg remains in limbo.

By David Flynn, May 22 2020
Qantas still cool on non-stop flights from Perth to Paris, Frankfurt

Now that Qantas and Perth Airport have come to an agreement in their very public and long-running stoush over in fees, does this mean that non-stop Qantas flights from Perth to Paris, Frankfurt and potentially Johannesburg are back on the agenda?

Not quite. Obviously everything has changed in the past few months, and apart from New Zealand and other nearby Pacific Island neighbours, ranging from our own Norfolk Island to New Caledonia and Fiji, international travel isn't expected to return until sometime in 2021.

But travel won't automatically snap back to its 2019 state. Some countries will open up before others, some routes will remain off the map for longer than others, and some destinations will likely restart with just three or four flights per week rather than the immediate resumption of a daily schedule.

There could also be a leaning towards 'bubbles, corridors and air bridges' – routes carved between designed Covid-safe or low-risk countries, which could still rely on virus tests and so-called immunity passports before passengers can board their flight.

That said, how close are the prospects for Qantas to mark up non-stop Boeing 787 flights from Perth to Paris and Frankfurt? And might the almost-launched service from Perth to Johannesburg make it back onto the schedule?

Qantas vs Perth Airport

Qantas and Perth Airport have long been at loggerheads over the payment of airport fees and rent, with Qantas disputing the scope of the charges and an inability to reach accord with the airport's owners and pressing pause on plans for new routes into Europe and South Africa.

Almost a year ago, at the International Air Transport Association (IATA) Annual General Meeting in Seoul on June 3 2019, Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said “today, we would be in the process of preparing for further services out of Perth into Europe – we would be ordering aircraft to do Perth to Paris, which would be the next one on our list, except for the fact that there’s a dispute with Perth Airport.”

“We’ll be very excited about doing Perth-Paris as the next cab off the rank," provided those disputes are resolved, he added.

Joyce also had his eye on a non-stop flight into Germany, with Frankfurt – which the airline previously flew via Singapore before axing the route in 2013 – sitting on the shortlist.

"Germany is still a big market and it's been hard for us in the past when we were flying through a hub, so the opportunity there is actually quite real."

Terminal dispute

A year before that, at IATA's Sydney AGM in June 2018, Qantas confirmed it had scrapped planned flights between Perth and Johannesburg due to disagreement with Perth Airport over which terminal the service would use.

Perth Airport has insisted that Qantas use the main international T1 terminal for the seasonal service to South Africa. However, Qantas planned to run the flights from the newly-developed international wing of its domestic T3/T4 terminal, which is used by the airline's flights to London and Singapore.

This would also streamline connection for Qantas' domestic passengers flying to Perth to make the journey to Jo'burg.

"We had planned to operate a seasonal service this November (20180 to March (2019), which would have put about 4,000 passengers a week through Perth," Alison Webster, then-CEO of Qantas International, told Executive Traveller on the sidelines of the aviation summit/

"We couldn’t operate it through Terminal 3 where the aircraft would in fact come in (from a domestic flight) and turn around, and towing (from T1) would make it completely logistically not okay."

Settlement reached

Last week saw Qantas and Perth Airport announced they had reached a confidential agreement on the issue of outstanding fees, which Perth Airport claimed had reached $20 million.

"While the details are commercial in confidence, the agreement ensures Perth Airport and Qantas will be able to continue to support vital FIFO flights, freight services into and out of Western Australia, and repatriation flights to bring Australians home," read a joint statement.

"The agreement provides greater certainty for Perth Airport on the payment of aviation and lease charges while Qantas has secured a partial abatement of payments to the airport in light of the particular challenges facing its operations due to the coronavirus crisis."

The agreement will also see progress in the sale of the Qantas-owned Terminal 4 back to Perth Airport, provided they can agree on its value. Qantas has previously indicated it believes T4 is worth as much as $200 million, while Perth Airport pegs the price closer to $50 million.

Both parties will made submissions to an independent expert by June 30 so that a fair market value' can be determined.

Détente, not peace

However, one well-placed source described the current situation to Executive Traveller as a temporary cease-fire rather than an end to the war, given that Perth Airport still has a case against Qantas open at the WA Supreme Court over non-payment of aviation fees in 2018.

That continues to rankle the airline and has put a stopper in Qantas' plans to fully develop Perth into a unique West Australian hub for non-stop flights to Europe – flights which could become increasingly important now that Project Sunrise has been put on hold.

Referring to the battle over airport charges, Joyce said in June 2019 “until that’s resolved, we’re not going to reward bad behaviour. We don’t think that’s the right thing to do with our business, so unfortunately, we’re not expanding (out of Perth) at the moment."

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.

Etihad - Etihad Guest

21 Jul 2019

Total posts 39

Being unfamiliar with the politics of Perth Airport, it seems to me that airport management there is very strident in its approach with QF and VA over fees and other issues, compared to other capital airports. Or is it the other way round and QF and VA are not dealing straight with management? Can someone shed light?

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

05 Sep 2013

Total posts 53

Perth Airport and Qantas have always had a troubled relationship over recent years.

Perth airport for the most part is a monopoly, there are no key secondary airport that Qantas or other airlines can turn to for the base of its Western Australian operation.

Qantas has complained multiple times about how high Perth and other Australian airports fees are.

At the end of the day, they both need each other, so hopefully the independent expert can find a middle ground for the wellbeing of all parties and consumers.

Etihad - Etihad Guest

21 Jul 2019

Total posts 39

Thank you. The more I find out, the more it seems my initial impression about PER airport management throwing its weight around like a mad monopolist was indeed correct. This "squeeze 'em dry" approach never works long term. Thank God Changi management (my most frequented 'monopoly' airport) doesn't think like Perth management!!

QF

11 Jul 2014

Total posts 464

Due to Covid the push for direct flights from the East Coast to safe zones would be worth the switch to fly Qantas

25 Mar 2015

Total posts 31

I just don't understand why PER build terminals at the farthest corners of the airport, so much so that in order to move between terminals one needs to take a public transport bus that exists airport grounds, traverses through neighbouring highways, before entering airport grounds again.

I usually avoid SYD because of the hassle of changing terminals, but PER takes the cake.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

05 Sep 2013

Total posts 53

If you look at the Perth Airport Masterplan all passenger flight will move to the centre of the airport where Terminal 1 (international and virgin flights depart from) and Terminal 2 (Alliance Airlines, Tigerair & Regional Express Airlines Flights) are located.

In the future Terminal 3 & 4 where Qantas and Jetstar fly from will be demolished and moved to a new Terminal area next to T 1 & 2 and create horseshoe shaped passenger area. Once this happens, all terminal will be contacted together like Singapore airport with 2 key runways (1 on each side of the terminal zone). You can see more about the plan on Perth airport website or if you google ‘Perth Airport Masterplan' there are plenty of images that show what it will look like in the future.

25 Mar 2015

Total posts 31

Thanks for the explanation. However, I have been in boardrooms long enough to know a ‘Masterplan' could mean anything from a specific tangible, achievable, vision to a pie-in-the-sky pipe dream.

The masterplan you outline sounds grand, but I guess it lacked enough detail that Qantas was not convinced to buy into it. I don't know the details, but I am guessing PER did not have a, say, 5-year change plan to go from PER today to the realisation of the said masterplan.

04 Jun 2018

Total posts 18

It'll be very interesting to see what happens to the Terminal 1 Domestic lease going forward. VA 2.0, especially if it is a LCC / Hybird could easily operate out of T2 (and would likely not want to pay to use T1D anyway which would likely be too big for any rebirth of VA). Part of me wonders if PAPL and Qantas could come to a joint agreement to move Qantas to T1D, close T3/T4 earlier than scheduled and postpone the construction of what would be the QF Domestic Terminal on the other side of the International Terminal.

T1D already has two swing gates that would be suitable for use for LHR & CDG/FRA if it happened.

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

07 Mar 2018

Total posts 14

Squeeowl - this seems like a very sensible plan to utilise the Virgin pier if they move out and bring all operations together until traffic grows toward the need for the new (Qantas mooted) eastern end pier and parallel runway are completed. Perth airports suggest this was to start in 5yrs but my guess more likely 10 yrs now with air traffic growth stalled. Could not understand Perth Airports being so uncooperative when they insisted QF operate the proposed Jo'Burg flight from T1. Apart from limited gates and crowding during peak times, there was no sense having just one international flight departing T1 when the Singapore and London flights all departed from T3 alongside T4 domestic with seamless transfer. Ultimately we lost a great opportunity to gain an alternative to SAA on the route and Perth Airports lost valuable revenue.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

15 Aug 2017

Total posts 101

Good idea in theory but it's far too small. Nowhere near enough gates for the sheer amount of 737 & 330 Qantas have (or had pre Covid) operating simultaneously from Perth. Especially in the mornings. No room for extra lounges etc either. QF domestic currently has 3 lounges at t4 (Club, business & chairman's) compared to only 1 VA lounge at T1d.

08 May 2020

Total posts 44

I would never consider 18 flight hours in one go, unless it is Business Class with Flatbed. Given that prices will probably almost double in cost in the coming 12-18 months to pre Covid 19 meaning that I rather settle a trip to Europe via Singapore on Premium Economy with a couple of hours at Changi Airport.

From Melbourne why would I waste a trip to Perth and then 18hours nonstop to Europe.

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

07 Mar 2018

Total posts 14

Pete sw - Pre Covid, this route happened to be one of the most profitable routes for QF. Lots of people it seems like the non stop option.

@pete sw

Load factors would suggest otherwise. Qantas achieve over 90% constantly on the PER-LHR flights.

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 709

Pete from Canberra why waste a trip to Sydney when there is one stop via Perth. By the way in my experience it has never been 18 hours. More like 16.5.

10 Apr 2016

Total posts 43

Doesn't Perth airport get it. The prize is really the increased rent they can charge the retail tenants by having thousands of affluent international travelers stop over in the airport ...... have they never visited the Singapore airport! In my view, the airport should be welcoming Qantas and be offering them free of charge access.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

27 Aug 2014

Total posts 31

Monopolies should never have been privatised.

08 May 2020

Total posts 44

Just come of a Qantas A330 Plane Economy Class this week, can't even read a News Paper with the Seats that close. No way Jose will a go on a non stop flight Perth to Europe. 16.5 hr is dreaming 18-19 hrs is more likely. with Melbourne Perth 4 hrs plus stop over is the same as I can do with Singapore Airline in 23 hrs. Melbourne - Zurich and have a shower in Singapore lounge.

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 709

Pete having done it to London many times 16.5 hours is common and Frankfurt and Paris may be half an hour shorter and like Singapore Perth also has a shower. One stop less for me from Canberra and the planes have been very full.

23 Oct 2014

Total posts 183

Fly Singapore Airlines, their economy is streets ahead than 17Hrs at 9 abreast ECON 787 seating ex Perth at about 17.1” seat width = the same as a domestic 737. 17Hrs no way. I'd book SQ.


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