[caption id="attachment_27303" align="aligncenter" width="610" caption="Laid back Honolulu Airport with Diamond Head in distance: Govt of Hawaii image"]
Just how much more would you expect a full service economy fare on a Qantas 767 (refurbished or not) to be to Honolulu and back from Sydney compared to flying on a Jetstar A330 on temporary loan from Qantas?
The answer this morning was $97, and we are talking a return fare for total flight times of more than 18 hours.
For travel in February the best price on Qantas.com was $1108 return, all operated by Jetstar.
But when the days of departure and return were chosen to coincide with the availability of a Qantas full service 767 the quote minutes later on the Qantas site was $1205 return. And that's in an admittedly older jet than the A330 but with a long haul economy class seat that has more spatial amenity in international services out of Australia than anything other than an economy class seat in an A380.
Which makes the dual brand strategy of Qantas on its Honoulu services an interesting exercise in marketing if nothing else. It could be that it is a strong endorsement of the dual brand strategy at work, since Qantas has continued to fly both full service and low cost products on the routes because both are well supported, or it could be that it is a nonsense, because no-one who is spending thousands of dollars on an excursion for two or more to Hawaii is going to chose such long flights on a lesser standard of service and amenity to save $97 per person.
Maybe the answer is to be found in Hawaiian Airlines' offers. Hawaiian flies 767s and A330s on the routes, with the latter gradually replacing the former, and in due course, themselves being replaced by A350s. The best price for similar days on Hawaiian out of Sydney and back in February was $1233 return, or $125 more than Jetstar. But Hawaiian was only $28 more than Qantas, so could Qantas be getting wedged here into having to ensure that it appears to fare surfers to be the least expensive full service offer while hoping that consumers won't notice it is not much more expensive than Jetstar, making them wonder, if they have ever flown Jetstar before, why they would do it a second time on what are longish flight stages?
To put it bluntly, if Qantas management wants us to seriously believe that Jetstar long haul is all about finding a new bargain orientated market segment, why is it selling Jetstar flights to Hawaii for nearly as much as Qantas, and, second question, do they think consumers are fools?
The whole idea of the comparison was inspired by a note from Jetstar yesterday saying it had re-instated its Melbourne-Honolulu non-stops and increased its Bali and Phuket frequencies out of Sydney and Melbourne. Which was just PR double dipping, since this had been announced earlier.
Jetstar, or any low fare brand, has to have a convincingly cheaper fare on offer to make an experienced flyer trade down from a full service brand. It needs to be $300-400 cheaper, not $100 cheaper, over a long return flight. If it can't do that then it just causes people to repeat the often asked question as to what is the real purpose of Jetstar on long haul flights?