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Non-stop flights from Sydney and Melbourne to Europe's major cities could become the secret weapon in Qantas' international network.
Qantas CEO Alan Joyce has pencilled Sydney-Paris and Melbourne-Rome onto the “here’s where we could fly” route map, in a move which would see the airline cherry-picking the top European destinations for direct flights using ultra-long range aircraft.
“We’re never going to fly to the 40 destinations Emirates has, but you could be flying to a few of those top destinations,’’ Joyce told AirlineRatings.com, noting that the combination of direct and via-Dubai services “gives you a very feasible and economic operation in Europe that works very well.”
Joyce has repeatedly circled in on Perth-London as a hero route for the Boeing 787-9, with Qantas’ east coast travellers flying to Perth and connecting onto a direct flight to London as an alternative to A380 flights to the Dubai hub of partner Emirates.
The Qantas-Emirates partnership requires that Dubai serve as the stopover for Qantas’ European flights, but the new generation of aircraft – from the Boeing 787 to the Boeing 777-8 and the Airbus A350-900ULR – can serve as ‘hub-busters’ which let travellers fly direct instead of connect.
From orange to red
It’s a reflection on the changing fortunes of Qantas that Jetstar, which in 2010 touted southern European destinations for its Boeing 787 network, is now ceding the continent to its red-tailed parent while the low-cost carrier looks to further develop up its asian footprint.
Qantas will also take over Melbourne-Tokyo flights from Jetstar as of February 2017, following the launch of its own daily Airbus A330 flights on the route in December.
Joyce has also flagged non-stop Boeing 787 flights to the US such as Melbourne-Dallas and Brisbane-Dallas, which would bypass the necessary evil of an LAX stopover, while longer-term plans using longer-range planes could make Sydney-New York as well as Sydney-London a non-stop reality.
Those aircraft would likely be the Airbus A350-900ULR or Boeing 777-8, but Qantas remains “some time away from a decision,” Joyce told The Wall Street Journal this week.
Qantas will begin flying its first Boeing 787-9 in November 2017 on an existing international route which the airline will reveal – and begin selling tickets for – in the next few months.
The first quarter of 2017 will see Qantas reveal the first of several new international Dreamliner destinations, based on the additional three Boeing 787s due for delivery by mid-2018, with four more of the fuel-efficient jets to follow by mid-2019.
Joyce is bullish on the Dreamliner's potential and willing to take up the airline's total order book of 45 Boeing 787-9s, but only once the first tranche of jets have proved they can turn a clear profit.
"We have to demonstrate that we can make money out of the eight we have – but once we’ve done that, we’ll be comfortable in ordering more."
"I'd like to order all of them if I can make a good return out of them."
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