Feb 4, 2013

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.

Ben Sandilands — Editor of Plane Talking

Ben Sandilands

Editor of Plane Talking

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.

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28 thoughts on “Qantas cuts more Asia services amid ‘improvements’

  1. ARK451

    Ben: Am I right that these changes leave Perth with just one QF metal international flight and Adelaide with none?
    If so, sad commentary on Australia’s international airline !

  2. Wild West

    As I predicted last year QF management deliberately planned the demise of their second daily SIN-PER service by running it back of the clock arriving in PER at 0435 and its departure time ex Singapore connecting with nothing. Meanwhile SQ have been running 4 flights per day PER-SIN over summer and it must only be a matter of time before QF will close down its final international services ex PER given their hopeless HK service is now going leaving them on one service per day PER-SIN.
    Said it then and say it again now may as well rename it Sydney Airlines. All it will be doing is flying a lot of Canberra and east coast pollies around up the front from Sydney and Melbourne (all with their free loading Chairman’s lounge passes) whilst what is left of customer base deserts them totally.
    Joyce makes Gillard look like a genius.

  3. reeves35


    Are we to assume that the much vaunted QF Asian revival is now deferred until 2016 when QF “may” receive 787-9s? I say may because these aircraft are not currently officially ordered and given the current 787 dramas may be later than 2016 anyway. QF must be thinking that other Asian carriers such as SQ, CX and the Chinese carriers will hapily sit on their hands and not launch any new routes in the intervening period.

    As far as the new KUL service is concerned, anyone who looked would see the EK arrival and departure times into and out of MEL are hardly attractive. Now MH is in Oneworld, you’d be better off earning Qantas FF points on one of their many services.

  4. Kezzer

    So, Qantas International has dropped all flights from Adelaide.
    They expect us to fly domestic to Sydney, or at best Melbourne to fly out of Australia, and the inconvenience of customs/immigration in those cities, before catching their domestic flight back to Adelaide.
    Qantas disregard of the Adelaide market has been appalling for years, now it has just got worse.
    Everyone in SA should boycott Qantas, and use the many overseas airlines that do service Adelaide with direct flights.

  5. Kezzer

    ARK451 You are correct. Adelaide is left with NO Qantas international flights.
    Our supposed National Flag Carrier is happy for to pay for the inconvenience of purchasing a domestic flight to and from SYD or MEL if we wish to travel with QF overseas.

  6. reeves35

    Kezzer, QF would argue that they still have services from ADL, providing you are happy to fly Emirates. This is not a proper Qantas service but in the modern world, this is what Qantas Int’l has become. If you want to go to Asia however, best you call Singapore, Malaysian or Cathay.

  7. ltfisher

    Spot on reeves35, but don’t forget that there are Chinese airlines who can offer services, at a modest price, and who might just be ready to swoop on Adelaide, like CZ seems to be trying to do in Perh. And for the record I think I am correct in saying that QF has never really embraced Perth. In the 60s for example wasn’t the favourite ‘kangaroo route’ airline out of Perth Air India?

  8. patrick kilby

    It is worth noting that there are two Australian international airlines (not one) and the other one offers an even worse service out of Perth, and the same out of Adelaide i.e none. Note is it cheaper to for an airline to visit a city and fly back, than base aircraft there which QF would have to do, hence why both Virgin and QF code share out of these cities. There is case for a QF base in Perth if it can fly to Dubai and onto Europe but no word of that at this stage, and then they can mix planes around with Asia. Basing some 737s for Perth-Singapore may make sense but business the punters may not like it unless they go better seats.

  9. MJSIN

    Reeve35 the idea of using Malaysian and getting QF points is a good one but people should be aware of the “NEW” earning rate for MH flights on QF the Frequent Flyer Program. The earn rate is very low where the MH flight competes with Emirates. In First class the earning rate is 100% of miles no cabin bonus, Business Class is 75% of miles(no cabin bonus) and Economy is 25% of miles.


  10. Aidan Stanger

    Here in Adelaide this is old news. We’ve known for months that our Qantas flight to Singapore will be discontinued – the most surprising aspect is that we’ve had to wait so long for the official announcement. But Kezzer’s call to boycott Qantas is just silly. Their international services have been irrelevant for years – when we want to fly direct we already do. EK’s going daily, SQ’s announced it intends to up its frequency to twice a day, and CZ intends to start regular Adelaide services later this year, so QF won’t really be missed.

    I hope some day QF international will return to Adelaide, preferably as tag flights for one of its America services. But while they’re only doing what their competitors are, and not even doing it as well as their competitors, most people will ignore them anyway.

  11. Bill Parker

    The only reason I use QF is that I was given a lifetime QF Club membership some years ago. So I go on collecting the points and taking the odd free glass of wine and the solid stuff they call food.

  12. moa999

    And worse for the people in Adelaide they now need to connect to flights departing Sydney at 940/955,

    Which essentially means the 0600 flight that arrives at 0825.
    Makes it a very tight connection.

  13. Ben Sandilands

    There may be a new dynamic at play here. Qantas is shrinking faster than customers can boycott it.

  14. patrick kilby

    Ben a reality Check QF not shrinking but growing

    2008 2009 2010 2011 2012
    Passengers (m) 38.6 38.4 41.4 44.5 46.7
    load factor (%) 80.7 79.6 80.8 80.1 80.1
    No. of aircraft 224 229 254 283 308

  15. Slingshot

    So am I correct in listing the following achievements during the Clifford/Joyce era….
    Services from Bangkok, Hong Kong and soon Singapore to London gone.
    Singapore to Frankfurt gone. Sydney to San Francisco gone. Sydney to Buenos Aires gone. The opportunity to travel on a qantas jet to europe or london from Perth, Adeleaide or Brisbane soon to be gone. Auckland to La gone.
    One wonders about the economies of scale vs cost argument here.

    And the continual loss of jobs and the continued flight of capital offshore having an impact on the financial coffers of canberra. Not that Wayne seems to be worried.

    I’m sure Alan continues to be “delighted” by his own handy work.

  16. Concorde

    This is really a big F U by Qantas to its loyal Adelaide & Perth based Frequent Flyers.

    In the case of Adelaide, Singapore Airlines can sustain 10 x weekly services and Qantas isn’t even interested in providing one. Aidan is correct by stating that Qantas International has largely become irrelevant anyway ex ADL.

    The point is that it could have been Qantas with 10 weekly flights to SIN if they really had any interest in the South Australian market.

    Qantas – You’re The Reason We Fly Singapore Air!

  17. TT

    patrick kilby:you quote: “It is worth noting that there are two Australian international airlines (not one) and the other one offers an even worse service out of Perth, and the same out of Adelaide i.e none” is not entirely correct. “The other one” do have international flights out of ADL – VA4195/4194 to Denpasar. Not a lot of than Qantas but VA has some runs on their ADL board, rather than a duck for QF.

  18. comet

    What’s Alan Joyce’s rationale?

    Is it simply the claim that Qantas’ cost structure is higher, so it can’t compete against the government-owned Singapore Airlines and Emirates on those routes?

    Is it another shock & awe stunt from Alan Joyce, to frighten the Australian government into giving concessions to Qantas?

    What’s Joyce’s motive?

  19. Geoff

    Comet – I’m with you, I’m still waiting for the end game!

    I do however disagree with the double standards being applied by and to Qantas. Joyce still calls Australia home but seemingly wants to be just another airline; everyone else wants Qantas to fly from their town because it’s..well Qantas, but only a few like Patrick ask why is that not expected of Virgin?

    On with the end game, what is really going on?

  20. Dan

    Geoff I don’t think there are necessarily double standards being applied to Qantas vs Virgin and I don’t think everyone expects either to fly everywhere. I think it relates more to the use of so-called ‘partners’.

    To use the example of someone in Adelaide wanting to travel to Kuala Lumpur, you’ll be able to book ADL-SIN-KUL on Virgin’s partner Singapore Airlines and earn status and miles.

    Yet Qantas’ penalises their FF program members for booking Malaysia’s ADL-KUL direct, instead expecting them to fly ADL-SYD-SIN-KUL, with the last leg on Jetstar Asia.

    If Qantas partnered with Malaysian and Cathay in the same comprehensive way that Virgin does with SQ (i.e. codeshares to many of their destination and proper reciprocity), someone in Perth might mind less that Qantas doesn’t fly PER-KUL on its own metal.

  21. patrick kilby

    Dan as MH is now Oneworld its flights will appear on QF booking engine and most QF FF benfits will apply. Not a code share but not far off it. Remember QF sponsored MH into Oneworld so not so ‘penalising’ as you suggest.

  22. Dan

    Well aware they are now in oneworld. If you look at the earning rates on QFF for Malaysian flights – http://www.qantas.com.au/fflyer/dyn/partners/airline/malaysia-airlines – on any flight from Australia or New Zealand to Malaysia and also if you then fly on from Malaysia to Europe, even full fare economy will only earn you 25% of base miles. Even if you were flying via KUL to say Vietnam, only on the KUL-Vietnam leg would earn you 100% of base miles.

    QFF are clearly trying to incentivise passengers to take EK flights to Europe or pick up Jetstar Asia in Singapore for Asian connections over their OW partners.

  23. moa999

    Yes MH is now a QFF partner via oneworld, but as Dan points out QF tries to push people onto its own metal by virtue of reduced frequent flyer points earning (albeit not status credits) on flights from Australia to Asia and Europe on MH.
    MH is the only oneworld airline that gets this differential treatment.
    Despite the limited codeshares and frosty relationship, CX is at least treated more equivalently to QF, although elite status holders miss out on the Status Bonus

    As a Sydney resident I like the new flight timings but feel sorry for those who need to connect to Sydney

  24. discus

    Good call Wild West. I do recall you posting the demise of that SIM-PER service.
    Trying to equate VA and QF in regards to smaller capital city services does not wash with me. VA are just dipping their toes in the water with international services and trying to grow.

  25. patrick kilby

    An interesting observation is if one booked QF to KL on the QF website then both MH and Jetstar are offered (Jetstar $50 cheaper but no status credits). If we go to a higher fare still no status credits on Jestar (odd!!!), but you could do a separate Jetstar fare from SQ with status credits thrown in, and still be cheaper. Very odd pricing by Qantas here.

  26. Allan Moyes


    On non-stop flights from Sydney to Tokyo, there is no mention of JAL on the QF booking site, yet it is a Oneworld partner and, so far as I know, has a daily daytime service to NRT. The QF page gives you JAL flights from QF connections in BKK or SIN or, God forbid, OOL with OneStar.

    Also try booking a flight from NRT to HEL on that webpage and it will send you via Hong Kong using Cathay and an evening flight on Finnair – again no mention of JAL, or even the non-stop daily morning Finnair flight.

    So not all Oneworld partners are listed for convenient flights, which I must admit I find odd although there is possibly some business reason for it. It stumps me, bearing in mind the alliances were supposedly created to offer their passengers “seamless” connections and common benefits. Alas, no.

  27. Flying High

    Correct me if I am wrong, but I want to draw the following scenario.

    Wen a QFF takes a flight on another One World airline, the QFF points granted to the QFF are paid for by the One World airline – not Qantas.

    That is why you have these reciprocal arrangements. The other airlines benefit because they get access to all the QFF members who are now more willing to fly their airline. Qantas benefits because it gets paid for the points.

    So the below par points scenario for flying MAS may be because MAS wont pay the going rate for QFF points. So Qantas is being commercial and sending a message to MAS that they are not going to get a free ride.

  28. patrick kilby

    Thanks Fkyig High I thought there would be commercial reasons why MH gets a lesser deal. FF poitns are a tradable commodity. QF gets paid for the points it gives out (probabaly a little over cent each as that is what they are worth when redeeming them for flights). Silly of MH as they get the price of the flight

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