Singapore Airlines has confirmed rumours that its next A380 destination is Paris.
The puffery that accompanies the announcement of daily links between its Australian flights and a new daily schedule for the giant Airbus between Singapore and Paris from 1 June doesn’t go into the strategic implications for Qantas but they are considerable.
Qantas has seen its plans for a two brand expansion with Jetstar of its routes to Europe set back severely by the inability of Boeing to keep any of the series of promises it has made for deliveries of its stalled Dreamliner 787 airliner since it rolled out what was since discovered to be just the shell of that ‘game changer’ medium sized jet on 8 July 2007 and declared it would be tested and in service a year later.
Overnight Jetstar confirmed that it didn’t know when it would get any Dreamliners, the first of which has yet to fly, but took a stab at sometime in the second half of 2010. It was supposed to have been flying the first of them last year and have 15 in service by the end of this year. The ambition was to use them to retake the European market, cheaply but uncomfortably, in 300+ seating arrangements, with flights to Rome and Athens and Germany, possibly using Munich or one of the regional airports favored by low cost carriers like Ryanair, easyJet and Air Berlin.
Instead it has been beaten to the long haul low cost approach to Europe by AirAsiaX, which starts extending its reach to London Stansted in the next few months, and may have two or even three years left in which to grow its current modest schedules from the Gold Coast, Melbourne and Perth into connections over Kuala Lumpur while Jetstar is left standing without the equipment with which to respond.
The Singapore move on Paris with a full service product in a multi-class jet puts even more pressure on the problems Qantas has in selling any type of fare to customers who are heading to cities on the continent, and are subjected to the inefficiency of making connections with its revenue sharing partner British Airways at London’s Heathrow airport.
Paris Charles de Gaulle isn’t a notably efficient airport for connections. But compared to Heathrow, it is wonderful, and has regular fast trains to Belgium and the Netherlands.