There might be an outbreak of more paranoia about Jetstar among Qantas employees, and in other Asia-Pacific carriers, following today’s announcement in Singapore of an interlining pact between the full service European carrier Air France KLM and all the Jetstars, in Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and Vietnam.
The deal is intriguing at many levels.
It is between a low cost franchise and a full service carrier, and takes Jetstar well beyond its current lock-step co-operation with Qantas.
It leaves Qantas oneworld and code share partner British Airways out in the cold and is contrary to the intent of arrangements between those carriers to drag connecting European traffic through the pathetic misery that is London Heathrow.
And while Paris CDG does have its challenges (the answer to many of them being the inter terminal shuttle bus or the VAL mini-train) this deal links potential feed from the two large European hubs at Paris and Amsterdam to Singapore, from which Jetstar plans to begin non-stop flights to cities as yet unannounced in Europe from late this year in new and further improved Airbus A330-200s.
The deal makes no mention of Jetstar’s best friend in Asia either, AirAsia. But it will potentially take business off AirAsia X’s nascent link between Australia-Kuala Lumpur-Paris (Orly).
Interlining means the customers of the five Jetstar operations and those of the Air France and KLM brands can be offered fares and connections right through to each others destinations, rather than having to buy the components themselves or get the travel agent to stitch them together. It makes life easier, but not necessarily cheaper, for individuals booking on-line and travel agents.
From a European perspective, an interline deal between AF KLM and the various Jetstars is rather shocking. The contempt with which AF KLM holds low cost brands in Europe is such that this deal signals an interesting shift in that view, although no doubt not to one of being less contemptuous about the profitable giant that Ryanair has become, nor the growth of other European LCCs such as easyJet, Air Berlin and the Wizz franchise.
Qantas isn’t totally out in the cold however in relation to Air France, with which it code shares to Paris.
The new arrangements look very much like foundation stones for a medium term larger scale Jetstar International expansion via an offshore base in Singapore into Europe. And a further shrinking of the Qantas brand a world in which it seems to be losing relevance.
Here is the body of the Jetstar announcement: