Qantas could decide on the next European destination for non-stop Boeing 787 flights from Perth as early as March 2019, with Paris a front-runner for the direct Dreamliner flights from Perth.
Those flights may not begin until late 2019 or early 2020, after Qantas picks up the keys to six additional Dreamliners, but CEO Alan Joyce says that strong bookings on the Perth-London Boeing 787 flight give him confidence to push another pin into the Dreamliner's network map.
During a visit to the UK this week, Joyce revealed average occupancy on the Perth-London service at 94% in business class and 92% in economy class, reports The Australian Financial Review.
"We've been really amazed at how well the service has been received," Joyce remarked. "That's unheard of on a new route."
Joyce later told The Australian Financial Review that the decision to add new direct flights to Europe from Perth could be taken as early as March next year.
Paris and Frankfurt on the shortlist
Joyce has previously talked up the prospects of a Paris-bound Dreamliner (or should that be Seineliner?) and in late 2017 revealed to Australian Business Traveller "for the first time we have daily rights for Paris."
"Last time we were in Paris we only could do three days a week, which made it sub-economical and meant that we weren’t attracting the business market, but now that has changed," Joyce said on the sidelines of the delivery ceremony for the first Qantas Boeing 787.
Joyce added that he hoped to see a third non-stop Dreamliner 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."
With the second tranche of Dreamliners also serving to put the last Qantas Boeing 747s out to pasture, the advanced jets could be based in Sydney and thus offer a Sydney-Perth-Paris Boeing 787 service, along the same lines as the current Melbourne-Perth-London service.
Perth-Johannesburg also to return?
There's also evidence of a thawing out in the recently-frosty relationship between Qantas and Perth Airport over which terminal would host Qantas' future international flights.
Qantas wants to capitalise on its investment in an 'international wing' at the otherwise-domestic T3, while the airport has been pushing for the airline to step up its use of the current T1 international terminal.
This stand-off saw Qantas put future international services from Perth on hold, which – as Australian Business Traveller exclusively reported in June this year – saw Qantas scrap planned flights between Perth and Johannesburg.
"We had planned to operate a seasonal service this November to March, which would have put about 4,000 passengers a week through Perth," Alison Webster, CEO of Qantas International, told Australian Business Traveller.
"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."