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Qantas has this morning surprised travellers with an earlier than expected announcement of its massive restructure, including a reshuffle of its international routes.
CEO Alan Joyce made the announcement at a press conference called at short notice in Sydney today, under the catchphrase "There's a new spirit".
The airline plans to use Malaysia Airlines to fly passengers to Istanbul, Rome and Amsterdam under Qantas flight codes.
It will stop flying to Buenos Aires and instead fly to Santiago where LAN Chile will pick up passengers and forward them on. Joyce says Santiago is a more important destination for Australian businesses.
Qantas will consolidate its A380 fleet onto the Australia to Los Angeles and London via Singapore routes, but says to save on costs it will delay delivery of six of its A380s by five to six years.
Passengers wanting to fly from Bangkok and Hong Kong to London will have to fly British Airways under Qantas codeshares, a strategy the airline says is designed to reduce "loss-making, asset-intensive flying", while still providing connections with airlines that provide Qantas Frequent Flyer benefits.
No other Qantas routes are affected -- CEO Alan Joyce called out Johannesburg, New York and the new Dallas/Fort Worth destination as examples of ports that won't be affected (but added that if Qantas wasn't announcing a change on a route today, there is no change.)
Qantas will also establish new Marc Newson-designed First Class lounges in Los Angeles, Singapore and Hong Kong.
According to Alan Joyce, the combined size of the business and first lounges in Los Angeles will be three times bigger than they are today, signalling that Qantas has no intention of backing away from LA as an alternate US hub to Dallas/Fort Worth.
More to come.