Qantas is set to soar in 2016 with the resurgent airline using its success of the previous 12 months as a springboard into the new year.
February will see the airline declare a bumper $900-odd million pre-tax profit for the July-December 2015 period – a figure almost as high as Qantas’ entire 2014-2015 results of $975 million.
By August, when CEO Alan Joyce opens the books on the full 2016 financial year, analysts expect Qantas will tally a record pre-tax profit of $1.64 billion.
So what’s on the Red Roo’s to-do list for 2016?
Countdown to the Boeing 787
With the first of eight new Boeing 787s due from the end of 2017, Qantas will begin exploring options on the seats and interiors of its new Dreamliner fleet.
Each of the red-tailed Boeing 787s will be fitted with approximately 250 seats split between business class, premium economy and economy.
It’s expected the business class seats will be based on the highly-regarded Qantas Business Suite of the Airbus A330s.
Also read: Where will Qantas fly its new Dreamliners?
By mid-year Qantas will complete the refresh of its Boeing 737-800 fleet, adding more economy class seats and in many cases beaming movies, TV shows and music via WiFi to passenger's own iPads and other devices.
And come December 2016, all 28 of Qantas’ domestic and international Airbus A330s will sport the Business Suite business class seat, with additional upgrades in economy and to the in-flight entertainment system.
The issue of a similar business class upgrade for Qantas’ Airbus A380s, which will soon reach the mid-point of their expected life with the airline, is certain to be raised again as an increasing number of competitors shift to modern seats with direct aisle access, larger screens and more storage space.
This year will also see a measured expansion of the Qantas network, with additional flights to current destinations and possibly a new pin on the route map.
Sydney-San Francisco flights will ramp up to six days a week by the end of January, while Melbourne will gain an extra three flights each week to Singapore – runnings Friday, Saturday and Sunday – from late April.
2016 could also see Qantas trialling inflight Internet, particularly on domestic routes.
“We are continuing to explore options to introduce on board WiFi” Qantas Head of Customer Experience Phil Capps tells Australian Business Traveller.
“We know many of our customers want to stay connected at all stages of their journey, but we want to do it right – so we are in talks with providers as new satellite platforms could create some fantastic opportunities, particularly on domestic flights.”
In the lounge landscape, Qantas will progressively open its new lounges at Brisbane Airport throughout 2016.
Work on Brisbane's domestic Qantas Club, Qantas Business Lounge and Chairman’s Lounge will be carried out in stages so that all lounges can be partly open while a second stage of expansion continues into 2017.
The all-new Qantas International Lounge – an extra-large space for first class and business class – is expected to open in September 2016.
Read more: New lounges coming to Brisbane Airport
Qantas will also be weighing up refreshes for other business lounges in its domestic network, using the new design template showcased by the recently-opened Perth lounge.
Woolworths + Caltex version 2.0?
On the frequent flyer front, by mid-year the revamped Qantas-Woolworths partnership will swing into high gear as shoppers trade their Woolworths Dollars into Qantas Frequent Flyer.
10 Woolworths Dollars will convert to 870 Qantas Points, but with Woolworths Dollars only earned on selected products (marked with an orange ticket) the stage is set for savvy shoppers to pounce on deals which represent the best points-per-cent haul.
A wild card in the equation will Qantas’ intent to sign up a new fuel deal with the likes of Caltex to earn points at the pump, replacing the now-defunct Caltex/Woolworths offer and countering Virgin Australia's alliance with BP.
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