Qantas, Virgin Australia fight for domestic bragging rights

By David Flynn, July 5 2012
Qantas, Virgin Australia fight for domestic bragging rights

UPDATE | Qantas has lashed out at yesterday's report by AAP (Australian Associated Press) which claimed that Virgin Australia carried more Australian domestic passengers in the year to May 2012 than Qantas.

"Qantas, including its regional domestic airline QantasLink, carried 20.25 million passengers over that period" the airline said in a press release issued this morning, while "Virgin Australia (including its regional domestic flying) carried 15.53 million passengers."

"In addition to the 20.25 million domestic Qantas flyers, the Qantas Group's low fares airline Jetstar carried 9.84 million passengers.  More Australians continue to fly with Qantas than with any other domestic airline."

PREVIOUS | Virgin Australia has pulled ahead of Qantas in the number of passengers flown around Australia, marking a celebratory 'first' for the challenger.

AAP reports that in the 12 months to May 31 this year, "Virgin Australia carried 15.53 million domestic passengers compared to 15.49m on Qantas-branded flights."

But there are some caveats to be noted before Virgin pops the champagne.

Firstly, that 12 months includes not only the dramatic Qantas shut-down in October 2011 but the many preceding months of cancellations and reduced timetables due to industial action – all of which cost Qantas dearly in terms of bums on seats.

And of course this is a purely Virgin vs Qantas Domestic stoush, not Virgin facing off against the 'Qantas + Jetstar' behemoth.

That said, Virgin CEO John Borghetti has set his sights more on The Red Roo than its low-cost offshoot, especially with this year's debut of domestic business class.

Virgin is claiming an outright win in May, claiming 1.42 million domestic passengers in May compared to 1.37 million Qantas domestic passengers.

"Virgin's domestic operations have previously carried more passengers than Qantas in a single month, but the latest data marks the first time Virgin has out-performed Qantas over a 12-month period" AAP notes.

There's also an interesting aside from CBA analyst Matt Crowe, who says the numbers reflect a growth of Jetstar domestic routes at Qantas' expense.

"Qantas is moving a lot of passengers from domestic to Jetstar, over that period of time, Qantas Domestic has become relatively smaller to Jetstar," he told AAP.


David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

10 Mar 2011

Total posts 526

I'm not sure that Virgin can just compare to Qantas without the inclusion of Jetstar.... Sure, Jetstar might not offer Business class, but Virgin and Jetstar are still pretty much on par with everything else.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 784

Saying Virgin and Jetstar are pretty much on par is a very poor call. 

10 Mar 2011

Total posts 526

yet true....

09 Nov 2011

Total posts 88

Well fantastic news Virgin. Keep treating your passengers with top service and attention to detail. Qantas needs to learn a few lessons as their service standards have slipped to a poor level and they will pay the price. This is going to be a bigger jolt that Ansett ever was as Virgin has a clear direction and fleet management. Qantas are still flying 737-400's and 767's from the 80's and it shows. The recent great news for Virgin with tie ups to Singapore Airlines, Virgin America and round the world/circle pacific offerings will set the pace for very interesting times. If anyone can compare Jetstar to Virgin, you clearly have blinkers on!!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

20 Nov 2011

Total posts 186

I am with AusFlyer.  There are a LOT of Jetstar routes that would otherwise be Qantas routes, but leisure heavy traffic dictate a different approach.  I reccently flew VA ADL - DPS.  4.5 hour short haul international.  There approach to everything being buy on board was near identical to a JQ flight i took to CNS last year.  

In ecconomy JQ and VA are verry comparable.  Buy on board food, access (with the right FF card of QC membership) to lounges, the ability to pay more for better seats etc.  VA do have an edge in some of the rights/customer service aspects; however, for the sort of travellers (i.e. leisure) that typically fly a lot of the routes where JQ and VA are the main competitors these behind the scene differences are not of high importance.

At the other end of the plane it is a different matter.  VA business class is aimed squarely at Qantas.  QF Fly a combination of 20+ 767 aircraft, often 4+ A330s and a 747 in addition to the 60+ domestic 737s all with J class.  If you take this combination and compare that to the VA fleet of mainly 737s and 3-4 A330s on the key Cityflyer routes and regional business routes then I am sure QF will come up as the key player.

A few more thoughts ALL VA aircraft are pooled in the same bucket.  Do those figure include Qantas Link?  If not that would skew routes like SYD-CBR and MEL-CBR to VA


04 Nov 2010

Total posts 670

I don't think AusFlyer was saying that "thereare a LOT of Jetstar routes that would otherwise be Qantas routes, but leisure heavy traffic dictate a different approach", although I agree with that assessment of the way QF have offloaded a lot to JQ in areas where the majority of passengers just want low fares, cheap flights.

I took AusFlyer's comments to be that apart from business  lass, Virgin is like Jetstar. I think that's not the case, I find Virgin crew to be a LOT better than Jetstar, and they have lounges where JQ have none, their overall approach is less JQ and more QF. The old Virgin Blue might have been more JQ but not these days, even taking business class out of the mix Virgin is still well ahead of Jetstar and a very different beast.

27 Jul 2011

Total posts 42

This is great news. The real winner is us with more price, product and service compeition.

15 Aug 2011

Total posts 33

CLEARLY AusFlyer has not fly with Virgin of late and to compare Virgin to Jetstar is like comparing the parent brand Qantas to Tiger...........OH PLEASE AUSFLYER do yourself and other a favour and get real.

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