Qantas has axed its chauffeur drive service for all first and business class passengers on flights between Australia and its US hubs of Los Angeles and Dallas/Fort Worth.
As of June 30 Qantas will no longer offer a free chauffeur service for flights to and from Los Angeles and Dallas/Fort Worth, with final bookings closing on June 9 according to the Qantas website.
"Chauffeur Drive in the US has had relatively low take-up, so rather than persist with the overheads of keeping the service on offer we're removing it will reinvest in things that are of more value to our customers" a Qantas spokesperson told Australian Business Traveller.
However, the spokesperson declined to detail how Qantas would accommodate first and business class passengers booked on flights beyond June 30, saying only that "Customers with existing Chauffeur Drive bookings after 30 June 2014 can contact Qantas directly to discuss the options that are available to them."
It's believed that chauffeur drive bookings for Qantas travellers headed to London are some four times that of bookings for LAX and Dallas flights.
Ironically, Qantas will upgrade its Sydney-Dallas flights to an Airbus A380 from September 29, bringing first class onto a route that currently sees business class as the top rung of the travel ladder.
The service was introduced on April 1 2013, matching that already offered by Qantas partner Emirates. It was among the first moves in Qantas’ efforts to align its services with those of the Gulf airline under the Qantas-Emirates alliance.
At the time, Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce hailed the service as one of the many benefits stemming from Qantas and Emirates aligning their products to provide a consistent, world-class customer experience.
AusBT review: Qantas chauffeur drive service
“We know this door-to-door service will be very well received and it’s a prime example of the kind of benefits customers can expect from the new partnership” Joyce said.
Qantas will continue to offer a chauffeured drive to first and business class passengers travelling on flights between Australia, Dubai and London.
The chauffeur drive service was extended to US flights in July last year, and at the time Qantas said in a statement that it would be "extended to other international flights greater than 12 hours long progressively in 2014", which would have included Johannesburg and Santiago.
Virgin Australia says it will continue to offer 'complimentary limousine transfers' for most business class travellers to the USA.
Qantas' decision comes as the airline seeks to slash $2 billion in costs over the next three years following a loss of $252 million in the July-December 2013 period, its biggest since the airline was privatised almost two decades ago.
The airline will lay off some 2200 staff by June 30, with another 1800 jobs to go in the next financial year.
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