Qantas will swing its Melbourne-Tokyo flights from Narita Airport over to Haneda from late March 2020.
The daily QF79/QF80 route will make the switch from March 29 2020, joining Qantas' daily Sydney-Tokyo flights which also call at Haneda – an airport much closer to the city centre than Narita.
Passengers already booked onto Qantas' Melbourne-Narita flights will be automatically accommodated onto the new Melbourne-Haneda service, which retains the same flight numbers.
However, the airline confirms that travellers can also make "alternative arrangements" to fly into and out of Narita, such as by rerouting onto Qantas' Brisbane-Tokyo flights which continue to serve Narita, with a domestic connection to and from Melbourne.
"Japan is arguably the most in-demand place in the world to visit in 2020 and our new flights will make it even more convenient to travel there from Australia," said Qantas International CEO Tino La Spina.
"We expect the new Haneda service to be particularly popular with business travellers, who will save more than an hour of transit time in getting to the city and also starts ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics."
Eligible Qantas passengers have access to Japan Airlines' Sakura Lounges at Haneda Airport, including business class guests, Gold and Platinum frequent flyers, and Qantas Club members booked on a QF flight number.
Additionally, top-tier travellers also gain access to the Priority Lane for security screening at Haneda Airport, now available too for passengers bound for Sydney with Qantas.
Qantas partner Japan Airlines also provides daily Melbourne-Tokyo flights, but which will continue to serve Narita Airport, being JAL's home hub and providing better opportunities for onward connections within and beyond Japan.
Qantas' broader boost for Japanese flights
The news for Melbourne flyers comes on the same day that Qantas resumes its seasonal Sydney-Sapporo flights, offering travellers a non-stop service to the slopes ahead of the busy ski season in Japan.
Qantas also confirms that this seasonal route will return again next Japanese winter (Australian summer), with Sydney-Sapporo flights running from December 14 2020 through to February 27 2021.
"Sapporo has been a very popular route with our leisure travellers," La Spina adds.
"We’ve seen strong demand for the new service, particularly out of Australia, but have also doubled the industry demand from Sapporo (to Australia) since announcing in April this year."
The Qantas Group now runs more than 40 flights per week between Australia and Japan, including Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane to Tokyo; that seasonal Sydney-Sapporo service; a year-round Sydney-Osaka flight; as well at Jetstar routes from Cairns and the Gold Coast to Tokyo Narita, plus Cairns-Osaka.
Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce had previously said the airline's pick for Haneda – which was between Sydney and Melbourne – wouldn't be made until early 2020, but the early call means that Melbourne-Haneda flights will go on sale today, allowing travellers to lock down the other parts of their trip.
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