Executive Traveller exclusive
Qantas will consolidate its Tokyo routes at Haneda Airport when international flights return later this year, at least temporarily swapping the more distant Narita Airport for Haneda's downtown convenience.
Services from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane are now all scheduled to call at Haneda from October 31 2021, when the airline expects overseas travel to take off once again.
Unlike Narita – located further away from Tokyo’s hustle and bustle – Haneda’s location makes it far more convenient for business travellers and leisure flyers alike.
Qantas' 'international restart schedule' shows that once flights return, Sydney-Haneda will run daily and Melbourne-Haneda will operate four times per week, with Brisbane-Haneda served three times weekly.
Prior to the COVID-19 shutdown of international travel, the Roo’s flights from both Melbourne and Brisbane to Tokyo touched down at Narita Airport instead.
From Narita to Haneda, and back again
Melbourne-Narita was planned to become Melbourne-Haneda in late March 2020 – running daily and making use of a new slot granted to the airline – although these plans, like most other Qantas international flights, were put on hold the same month as Australia’s ‘travel ban’ came into force.
However, as international passengers return to the skies and demand comes bouncing back, Qantas may return some flights to Narita Airport, due to slot constraints at Haneda.
Qantas declined to comment on those expansion plans, although Executive Traveller understands that Brisbane would be the most likely candidate for a shuffle back to Narita, given Qantas’ newly-gained capacity at Haneda had previously been earmarked for Melbourne alone.
The airline’s low-cost arm Jetstar would also continue serving Narita Airport once flights between Australia and Japan are restored.
Even in the short term, Qantas' debut of Brisbane-Haneda flights would scupper the intentions of rival Virgin Australia to be the first airline to fly from Brisbane to downtown Tokyo.
Those plans remain on ice, given Virgin now has no long-range aircraft, having ditched its Airbus A330s and Boeing 777s as part of the downsizing by new owners Bain Capital.
Lounging at Haneda and Narita airports
Prior to COVID-19, eligible Qantas passengers departing Haneda Airport were directed to the lounges of Qantas’ Oneworld alliance partner Japan Airlines.
This will continue as flights resume, with Qantas business class guests, Qantas Club members, Gold frequent flyers and other Oneworld Sapphire cardholders directed to the JAL Sakura Lounge.
Higher-tiered frequent flyers including Qantas Platinum, Platinum One and Chairman’s Lounge guests – plus Oneworld Emerald members – can access the JAL first class lounge instead.
As these lounges are not operated by Qantas, single-use Qantas lounge passes, such as provided to Silver frequent flyers or through an eligible credit card, cannot be used here.
Over at Narita Airport, Qantas continues to have its own (rather dated) lounge, and as Qantas may move some flights back to Narita, the lounge could well reopen when those routes return.
However, the space could equally be seen as an unnecessary expense for Qantas, particularly with the lounges of partners such as Japan Airlines able and ready to serve Qantas guests at Narita.
Jetstar’s flights also normally use Narita’s Terminal 3 – separate from the Terminal 2 departures area where the Qantas lounge is found – which in any case puts Qantas’ lounge out of reach to those low-cost flyers.