The stresses Emirates with its A380s puts on its competitors, and ally Qantas, continues to grow, this time by converting a daily 777-300ER from Melbourne to Singapore and on to Dubai to the larger sized Airbus from 1 March 2016.
The move highlights the existing tensions for the two main flag carriers on the Melbourne-Singapore sector, Qantas and Singapore Airlines, in relation to their respective low fare tight fit brands, Jetstar and Scoot.
However the owners of Melbourne and Singapore airports and their retailers and local tourism stakeholders would have millions of reasons to celebrate the benefits of all of these carriers boosting the numbers of shoppers by slashing their own fares in the inevitable ‘enhanced’ fare war.
The conversion of a 777-300ER to an A380 on the route means Emirates will be offering a non-stop and a one-stop (Singapore) A380 service from Melbourne to its Dubai hub, with Qantas also flying an A380 non-stop to Dubai on its way to London Heathrow (where Emirates will have six daily A380 rotations, plus two more to London Gatwick and a further two to Manchester).
Singapore Airlines currently only offers its A380 to Melbourne flyers on a seasonal basis, and has apparently enjoyed being undercut at the low price end of the market by its 100 percent owned Scoot operation, which uses Boeing 787s with more seats than the US maker ever dreamed of, and with Jetstar presumably matching it with its 787s come next March, while similarly pulling at least some traffic off the full service Qantas A330 flights.
What is Emirates up to? Anyone who has flown its A380s will know all too well that it offers a much roomier economy product in terms of seating configurations than those services flown by 787s and A330s, although Singapore Airlines is among the diminishing number of 777 operators with the original and well proportioned nine across economy seating, and a new premium economy offering as well.
The Emirates proposition is thus arguably considerably more about Singapore than Dubai, as its multi-daily non-stops from there to its ME hub appear to be very successful in their own right. It’s a difficult situation for Qantas, since it stops in its own metal at Changi. Unless you then want to continue a deeper venture into Asia by changing to Jetstar where feasible, the quality option for continuing on to Europe on a Qantas aligned carrier is Emirates, or maybe British Airways, which has four A380s a week each way between Singapore and London Heathrow at this stage.
When it comes to the breadth of connections in either the low fare or full service forms of air travel, Singapore and Scoot will have the most options, with Tigerair Singapore as well as Scoot services into Asia as well as on Singapore Airlines’ full service single aisle airline, SilkAir, and SQ’s extensive wide-body regional network.
The painful part for Singapore Airlines, as the first airline to operate the A380, is that it doesn’t have enough of them to compete with the Emirates fleet of giant Airbuses in Australia, for those flying one stop to Europe via Changi, or on the substantial SIN-DXB route.
From next March (and in the absence of any further announcements by Emirates) the Dubai based carrier will operate six A380s daily between Australia and its ME hub, two each from Sydney and Melbourne, and one from Brisbane and Perth, in additional to A380s flying the trans Tasman routes where they are a much roomier ride than the single aisle jets and occasional medium sized wide-bodies used on the main routes to Auckland and Christchurch.
However Qantas mightn’t feel the bite from Emirates as much as others. On 20 August it will report what might well be its most profitable full year of operations and if the comparison is adjusted for scale, might possibly be more profitable per head of passengers flown than its much larger alliance partner.
That’s not guidance, just a recognition of the possibilities.