Qantas will axe its daily Melbourne-Dubai-London Airbus A380 flights from late March 2018, with the long-running superjumbo route cancelled in favour of the new non-stop Boeing 787 service between Perth and London.
The last flight of the current QF9 service to London via Dubai will be on March 23, 2018.
As previously and exclusively tipped by Australian Business Traveller, dropping Melbourne-Dubai-London flights reflects Qantas’ rationale the Kangaroo Route market cannot sustain both of the daily Airbus A380s from Sydney and Melbourne plus the new Boeing 787 from Perth.
Here are the new options for Melbourne flyers who are bound for Blighty from March 24, 2018...
1. London via Perth (Qantas Boeing 787)
The daily Boeing 787 Perth-London service will actually begin at Melbourne, with a cross-country leg departing Melbourne's international terminal at 3.20pm to reach Perth at 5.20pm.
After a 90 minute layover – with most of that time spent at an all-new Qantas Perth International Lounge – the Dreamliner will set off for its non-stop run to London, reaching Heathrow at 5.10am the following day.
The return journey on QF10 sees the Boeing 787 wheels-up from London at 1.30pm, arriving into Perth at 1.15pm the next day; at 2.45pm it continues onto Melbourne, touching down at 8.10pm.
2. London via Sydney (Qantas Airbus A380)
The Melbourne-Perth-London option won't appeal to all travellers, however.
Some will shy away from spending 17 non-stop hours in the air (in what will rate as the world's third-longest passenger flight).
Others will want to fly in first class, which won't be available on the Boeing 787 because the Dreamliner tops out at business class.
This leaves a domestic leg to Sydney for the 3.50pm departure of QF1, and of course a southbound rebound from Sydney to Melbourne once QF2 returns.
(An upshot of this: Sydney-based QF1 flyers can expect to see fewer points-based upgrades available from business class to first class, as Melbourne travellers will soak up their share of the superjumbo's 14 first class suites.)
3. London via Dubai with Emirates
Qantas partner Emirates has three daily flights to its Dubai hub – two direct and one via Singapore – with onwards connections to London as well as several other destinations in the UK.
And from March 25, 2018, all three of those flights will be on the Emirates Airbus A380.
Potential wrinkles: Emirates doesn’t offer premium economy seating – although the airline has revealed plans to launch the ‘better than economy’ class by mid-2018 – and you can't use your Qantas frequent flyer points to apply for an upgrade such as from business class to first class.
4. London via anywhere else with another airline
Of course, Qantas and Emirates aren't the only options for Melbourne-London travellers – and the A380's axing could prompt some Melbourne-based Qantas flyers to reconsider their loyalty to the Roo.
Front-runners would include Oneworld partners Qatar (which from mid-2017 will run its flagship Airbus A380 to Melbourne) and Cathay Pacific (with six flights a day connecting Hong Kong to London).
Outside of the Oneworld family, Singapore Airlines and Etihad Airways will have strong appeal.
If you're a Melbourne reader who currently flies to London with Qantas on QF9, what will you do after March 23, 2018..?
PREVIOUS [December 11, 2016] | Qantas could axe its daily Melbourne-London flights from early 2018, with the long-running route cancelled in favour of a new non-stop Boeing 787 service between Perth and London.
A Qantas source, speaking with Australian Business Traveller on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter, said the airline's plans to pull out of the Melbourne-Dubai-London route were driven by concerns that the debut of the non-stop Boeing 787 service between Perth and London could over-saturate the Kangaroo Route with more seats than passengers.
The airline’s network analysts posit the local market may not be able to sustain both of the daily Airbus A380s from Sydney and Melbourne plus the new Boeing 787 from Perth, which modelling indicates will carry a significant number of Qantas travellers jetting in from Australia’s eastern capitals to make the direct Dreamliner flight.
Under the plan, the Perth-London Boeing 787 route would begin in Melbourne – with the Melbourne-Perth leg flown by the same Boeing 787 as bound for London – and the flight would take over the QF9/QF10 flight numbers currently assigned to the Melbourne-London Airbus A380.
Pulling the plug on the Melbourne-London service would free up several Airbus A380s which the airline could reassign to other popular routes or potentially open new routes.
The airline is believed to be considering other scenarios which could see Emirates roster one of its own aircraft onto the Melbourne-Dubai leg as a codeshare with Qantas, or have the Qantas A380 fly from Melbourne to Dubai with Emirates offering onwards connections to London and other destinations in the UK, Europe, Africa and even India.
One potential wrinkle is that unlike Qantas, Emirates doesn’t offer premium economy seating – although the airline has recently revealed plans to launch the ‘better than economy’ class by mid-2018.
In response, a Qantas spokesman told Australian Business Traveller "we have no immediate plans to change the Melbourne or Sydney services."
"The arrival of the Boeing 787s will open up new opportunities and result in some changes to our network over time. We'll work those through and make any adjustments based on what’s happening in the market."