EXCLUSIVE | 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.
Emirates would move to fill in the new gap in Qantas’ network, rostering one of its own aircraft onto the Melbourne-Dubai leg as a codeshare with Qantas, according to a plan developed between the airlines.
The Gulf airline already runs three daily flights between the cities – two on the flagship Airbus A380 and a third on the long-range Boeing 777-300ER.
After arriving into Dubai passengers would transfer onto other Emirates flights to London or 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.
A Qantas source, speaking with Australian Business Traveller on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter, said Qantas’ 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.
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.”
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.
Australian Business Traveller