Qantas cuts more Asia services amid 'improvements'
In the subtext Qantas announces that Perth, the resources industry capital of Australia, gets its Qantas services to Singapore cut to one daily and loses its Perth-Hong Kong services, and Adelaide loses Singapore flights.
Updated with Xenophon statement and SA Tourism issue
Qantas has given and taken from services in its own right between Australia and Asia in the ‘improvements’ announced this morning.
In the headline text, Qantas says it has increased capacity to ‘key’ cities in Asia by between 10-40%, and improved schedules to give earlier arrival times in Bangkok, Singapore and Hong Kong by up to three hours to allow for improved connections, although it doesn’t say with whom.
But in the subtext it announces that Perth, the resources industry capital of Australia, gets its Qantas services to Singapore cut to one daily, ends its Perth-Hong Kong services, and also ends its Adelaide-Singapore services.
It is increasing its Brisbane-Hong Kong services to daily from four times a week, and adds four more Sydney-Singapore rotations.
Qantas also passes off the existing Emirates service to Kuala Lumpur from Melbourne as a ‘new destination’ for the airline, which is rubbish of course for anyone familiar with the history of Qantas in Asia, and an insult to those who do not regard Emirates as being a substitute for the Australian carrier.
In an insight to the authority being exercised by the recently appointed CEO Qantas International, Simon Hickey, Mr Hickey has retreated from group CEO Alan Joyce’s commitment to a new flat bed business class product in its A330-200s made in November, saying instead “Qantas is examining a refresh of its international A330s to include a lie-flat bed in business class.”
This is the table of Asia changes by Qantas aircraft:
It also includes a ‘dedicated’ Melbourne-Singapore service QF35 seven times a week with earlier arrival times from 15 April.
This is the table of the Emirates services between Australia and Asia which can now take former Qantas first class passengers, unless they choose not to be so redirected.
Qantas has also brought forward the cancellation of its popular daily service to Frankfurt via Singapore from the end of October to 15 April. You can get there on Emirates. And many other airlines.
I noticed during writing this story that the ABC is reading off the statement as a big improvement in Qantas flights to Asia. The ABC needs to engage brain before parroting PR statements. Its Perth, Adelaide and Brisbane reporters may discover an alternative view of the significance of Qantas cutting back on some flights to Asia and Europe and assuming that its customers will readily transfer to the approval pending Qantas-Emirates relationship.
The statement also makes blue sky references to new non-stop services to Asia cities using the options it has for deliveries of Boeing 787-9s from 2016. At this moment those references are aspirational. And at least three years away if brought to market.
South Australia’s independent senator, Nick Xenophon has hit out at the Qantas decision, raising serious claims about the ideological direction of Qantas and the honesty and transparency of its claims about reducing its long haul full service brand losses.
This is his statement:
Independent Senator for South Australia, Nick Xenophon, has slammed the announcement today by Qantas that it will abandon international flights out of Adelaide.
Qantas will cease its three times a week Adelaide/Singapore/Adelaide service at the end of March, forcing South Australians wanting to fly Qantas overseas to go via another state.
Senator Xenophon appeared before the ACCC in Sydney last Friday to oppose the Qantas/Emirates deal because of fears it will further shrink Qantas and Australian jobs.
“Qantas’ senior management assured me in September last year that the Adelaide/Singapore service was safe – that assurance has been broken,” Nick said.
“Qantas in its Orwellian media announcement today calls its moves ‘network improvements as part of Asia strategy’ – that has to be a sick joke for South Australians.”
“Why is it that other countries’ airlines fly in and out of Adelaide over 80 times a week – yet our national carrier is now abandoning South Australia on international routes?” Nick said.
“Qantas CEO Alan Joyce should hang his head in shame in marginalising South Australians from having the choice of flying Qantas internationally out of Adelaide.”
Senator Xenophon said he will mount a fresh argument to the ACCC that Qantas International abandoning Adelaide is not in the public interest.
He also challenged Qantas and the ACCC to fully disclose all financial documents relied on for the Qantas/Emirates deal that Qantas International was in ‘terminal decline’.
“My information is that the Adelaide/Singapore route had strong load-factors and was profitable, yet it seems to be sacrificed as part of this misconceived deal with Emirates,” Nick said.
While this has been happening Tourism South Australia is working to rebrand or redefine the South Australian image that it presents to the world.
The irony that this world will be one that can no longer fly Qantas to South Australia is apparently not lost within tourism and government circles in the state.
The notion that Qantas has been pushing, that giving assigning its business in WA and SA to Emirates code shares, somehow grows Qantas, and brand Australia, is likely to come under tough scrutiny after today’s retreat from Adelaide announcements and their tarting up as increasing access to Asia.
PS The ABC continues its brain dead recitation of the Qantas press release, including an erroneous reference to the ACCC’s approval of the Emirates deal. The ACCC has yet to give final approval to the deal, as the Qantas statement being propagated by the ABC makes really clear in simple, unambiguous English further down in the text.
Ben Sandilands has reported and analysed the mechanical mobility of humanity since late 1960 - the end of the age of great scheduled ocean liners and coastal steamers and the start of the jet age. He’s worked in newspapers, radio and TV in a wide range of roles as a journalist at home and abroad for 56 years, the last 18 freelance.