Qantas axed its last remaining service to continental Europe this week with the closure of its daily QF5/QF6 flight to Frankfurt via Singapore.
London is now the only European city served by Qantas’ own planes, these being the Red Roo's daily A380 flights from Sydney and Melbourne via Dubai.
But according to Simon Hickey, CEO of Qantas International, travellers to Germany will find themselves much better off under the Qantas-Emirates alliance.
“I think Emirates actually provides a better proposition to Germany”, Hickey told Australian Business Traveller, citing the airline’s reach into four German cities – Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Hamburg and Munich – with several daily direct flights from Dubai.
(However, the best connections and shortest waiting time for those flights will be to travel from Australia to Dubai on an Emirates aircraft – so be sure to book this as a Qantas codeshare to maximise your frequent flyer points and also earn status credits.)
Qantas had planned to run the Frankfurt service until October this year, but claims it was simply losing too much money.
“One of the issues we had with the Frankfurt service beyond Singapore was the age of the aircraft’ Hickey explains. “They’re getting towards the end of their life, and Frankfurt’s been a struggling route for some time."
“It was a difficult decision, but it was also very difficult for me to go to the board and say ‘I’d like to get some brand new aircraft to fly a route that we’re losing a lot of money on.’”
But the Boeing 747 still flies to Singapore
QF5/QF6 remains on the Qantas schedule but now runs only between Sydney and Singapore, with a tweak to the timetable which sees it departing Sydney at 1pm and arriving into Singapore at 7.20pm – a better arrangement for Singapore-bound travellers than the previous 10pm wheels-down at the Lion City before continuing to Frankfurt.
These flights will use both Boeing 747s and Airbus A330, Hickey says.
“We’ll still fly a bit of a mixed schedule with the 747 and A330. We’ll keep flying the 747 to Singapore because that leg is efficient flying for us.”
Hickey discounted any notion of flying Airbus A380s to Singapore, even when Qantas begins to receive its second batch of superjumbos from 2016.
“I think the A380 is probably a better aircraft for longer sectors like Dubai and London”, meaning that new A380 routes would be “really about what opportunities present themselves for an aircraft like that.”
Hickey’s strategy for Singapore “is to get frequency with an efficient aircraft like an A330 or Boeing 787, as opposed to putting an A380 on.’
Hong Kong is a different story, Hickey says, and the A380 will continue to serve Sydney-Hong Kong flights several days per week.
“It’s still a very good proposition for Hong Kong, and it’s very popular because we have the only first class to Hong Kong.”