Last week’s diversion of a Qantas 747-400 inbound from Los Angeles to Brisbane to Rockhampton because of fog gave David Blackwell at its airport some more trophies for his portfolio of jets you don’t really expect to see at an Australian country airport.
It can only be a matter of time, and nature, before he gets to include a V Australia or Emirates 777, and maybe a first A380.
The photo of the Bombardier Q400 and 747-400 struck me in particular, because it was taken on one of the last days before Jetstar quit Rockhampton and the regular and more frequent Qantas presence passed to the looong thin turbo-prop flown by Qantaslink.
Jetstar said it was pulling out because Rockhampton wouldn’t give it the deal it wanted. Be that as it may, Jetstar is also going to have to move fast to counter increased inter capital trunk route pressure from Tiger, which has replaced it as the low cost A320 operator on the Rocky-Brisbane route.
So it can be argued that Jetstar will try to counter more Tiger flights between capital city flights the way it has on the Sydney-Melbourne route, even though that may draw traffic off Qantas Cityflyers to the JQ flights at a time when the corporate spend on air travel seems more price sensitive than before.
The Rockhampton situation also sets up a likely future contest between Virgin Blue Embraer E-jets and the Q400s. The turbo-prop is undoubtedly more fuel efficient over short distances like Rockhampton-Brisbane, but in my opinion, struggles to come second to the E-jet for the comfort of a smooth jet ride and a wider seat.
But anything with propellers has a novelty factor these days. One of the worst decisions I ever made as a kid was to choose to fly in a new Boeing 707-138 instead of a soon to be withdrawn Lockheed Super Constellation, losing without thinking my only chance to ever experience that incredible machine in airline service.
Please respect the copyright on these photos, which is held by David Blackwell and Rockhampton Airport.