Qantas plans new Sydney, Melbourne flights to Tokyo/Haneda

Qantas eyes a second Sydney-Haneda service plus a Melbourne-Haneda flight to replace the current Narita service.

By David Flynn, September 17 2019
Qantas plans new Sydney, Melbourne flights to Tokyo/Haneda

Qantas plans to add two new flights to Tokyo's Haneda Airport beginning March 2020, following a decision to open up more routes from the near-city airport.

The airline says it will launch a daytime flight between Melbourne and Tokyo/Haneda using an Airbus A330, which would "replace Qantas’ Melbourne-Narita service," the airline notes in its submission to Australia's International Air Services Commission in support of the bid.

Qantas also plans to add a second daily flight between Sydney and Haneda using either an Airbus A330 or Boeing 787 Dreamliner to complement the existing Boeing 747 service. This would also be a daytime service, compared to the overnight Boeing 747.

More flights, more connections

The Melbourne-Haneda service would tie into the domestic network of Oneworld partner Japan Airlines with "new or improved same-day connectivity to 18 cities".

"Qantas’ existing Melbourne service operates into Narita, where there is no connectivity to domestic Japan on partner airlines," Qantas notes. Additionally, "Victoria is the second largest market to/from Japan for business purpose travel, reflecting close corporate ties with Japan"

Meanwhile, the second daily Sydney-Haneda flight "will provide even more options for the strong demand between the two cities, particularly for the large proportion of business travellers, by offering Haneda service at different times of the day," Qantas suggests.

"The new slots provide for greater choice for consumers with a daytime travel option to Haneda in addition to Qantas’ current overnight service."

If approved, the new Sydney and Melbourne flights would begin on 29 March 2020.  Japan Airlines would continue its daily flights between Melbourne and Tokyo/Narita, which launched in September 2017.

Haneda is Tokyo's hot new airport hub

JAL and Star Alliance member All Nippon Airways (ANA) have also been allocated "one frequency per day during daytime hours between Haneda and Australia," although neither airline has yet revealed which Australian cities will see those new flights.

The pair of new Haneda routes are open to application by any Australian airline, and Virgin Australia has also staked its claim to one of the slots.

However Qantas' submission tellingly notes that "Qantas is also the only no risk option to meet the requirement for this allocation of capacity to commence services to Haneda on 29 March 2020", in a nod to the headwinds facing Virgin Australia.

The beleagured challenger recently posted a $315 million loss for the 2018-2019 financial year and, having returned seven straight years of losses adding up to $1.9 billion, is now engaged in a sweeping program to 'rightsize' the airline including a focus on routes and fleet.

"Allocation of the two additional Haneda frequencies to Qantas would ensure there is no risk of the capacity not being fully utilised in the required timeframe and would promote effective competition by Australian carriers on one of the country’s most mature but complex travel markets," Qantas claims.

Tokyo's Boeing 747 headed for retirement

With Qantas planning to retire its Boeing 747 fleet by the end of 2020, the airline had also been examining using its Airbus A380 superjumbo as a replacement.

“We’d like to go to an A380 (on Sydney-Tokyo)" Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce told Executive Traveller earlier this year, but the airline faced a limit on the number of A380s which Haneda could accommodate.

"We need that (policy) changed, and we’re working to figure out how we’d do that," Joyce revealed – but failing that, Plan B was to replace the daily Boeing 747 with two daily flights of smaller aircraft, "so it may be a frequency solution if we can’t get an aircraft solution."


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.

Asiana Airlines - Asiana Club

09 Feb 2017

Total posts 41

Having a 747 sitting around for 12 hours didn't seem like a good business plan ... glad they're at least giving options. I'd be disappointed to see this be a 1x747, 1x787 schedule instead of a 2x787, so you don't have to compromise quality for timing.

We can say goodbye to the Qantas Narita Lounge.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

02 Jul 2011

Total posts 1381

Narita lounge wouldn't be a big loss.

12 Dec 2012

Total posts 1024

They kept it between 2011 and 2014 when the only Qantas flight to Japan was SYD-NRT (PER-NRT was dropped in 2011, MEL-NRT was [originally] dropped in 2008). They kept it through Dec 2015 when BNE-NRT was the only flight before MEL-NRT resumed.

The QF NRT lounge might be poor, more like the MEL international J lounge, but there isn't any need to get rid of it. They make money out of it from the other airlines that use it.

Instead of adding a second Sydney service, it would be great if QF could connect the new daytime service through BNE.

Great to see the voting love for Brisbane :-)

so does this now mean they goto haneda three times a day? i thought they were only allowed 2?

does this also mean that a 787 is going to sit in haneda for 12 hours? surely not

12 Dec 2012

Total posts 1024

Qantas currently has a night slot, for arrival and departure between 10pm and 6am.

These 2 new slots are for day slots and are in addition to the existing night slot.

They won't keep a 787 parked at HND all day. Assuming they get the day slots, they'll do double daily on SYD-HND. This will allow them to do 90-120 min turnarounds at HND without the need to park an aircraft all day.

eg, a day slot arrival around 8pm (having departed SYD in the morning), then the aircraft turns around to depart at 10pm, arriving SYD the next morning. While a second aircraft departs SYD around 9pm, landing in HND at 5am and departing back to SYD around 7am.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

21 Jan 2017

Total posts 51

I could see JAL moving SYD-NRT to HND. ANA maybe opening BNE-HND or MEL-HND?

Thai Airways International - Royal Orchid Plus

16 May 2011

Total posts 114

NH opening MEL-HND would be nice.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

01 Nov 2016

Total posts 130

With the 747s on their last legs and leaving the fleet, the current 747 service may switch to a 380. Regarding better utilisation of aircraft options are, the morning departure out of Sydney can return as the evening departure out of Haneda, and the evening departure out of Sydney can return back as the morning departure out of Haneda.

12 Dec 2012

Total posts 1024

QF can't use an A380 on the HND route. The airport won't allow it. Due to the spacing requirements of the A380 and congestion at the 3rd busiest airport in Asia, HND only allows A380 movements during the night slot period and only 1 allowed on the ground at a time. They won't allow QF to keep it parked there all day like they do now with the 747.

This means that, in order to use an A380 on the route, they would either need to depart Australia around midday to land at 10pm and depart at midnight, or arrive at 4am and depart before 6am. A 6am departure is problematic because of the lack of ground transport options to HND between midnight and 5am.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

09 May 2011

Total posts 363

About time

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 Aug 2016

Total posts 23

Virgin Australia has announced they are wanting the slots as well

20 Oct 2015

Total posts 233

The writing is definitely on the wall for Qantas' Narita lounge.

American Airlines - AAdvantage

02 Jun 2019

Total posts 16

The difference in plane sizes between a 787-9 and A380 show Qantas has a need for something in between. 787-10 or some interim 777-300ER would be wonderful for Qantas until the 777-9 or A350 are ordered. Such a plane would be great for Sydney to Haneda.

08 Jul 2014

Total posts 12

Two more A332 aircraft (VH-EBM, EBN) are currently being reconfigured with additional crew rest, galleys and toilets for long range flying so this type may come into the mix for these flights (or replace 787s on other sectors like HKG)

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 Apr 2013

Total posts 387

EBN is the only one left not to be reconfigured for international flying.


09 Mar 2016

Total posts 57

Air Sydney at it again. I go to regional Japan often. I won't fly into NRT (it's so hard to connect to a domestic flight out of NRT and totally inconvenient for Shinkansen connections) and I won't transit SYD (a time consuming drama and very iffy given how Air Sydney cancels flights ex-MEL). SQ gets my business, but, man, do I resent spending a total of about 20 hours in airports and in flight to traverse what should be about 12 hours door to door. I yearn for an NH service to MEL.

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